Your Sept. 7 excerpt, "A Place for Women," from Brock Thompson's book "The Unnatural State: Arkansas and the Queer South" attempts to give some history of the Razordykes collective of the Women's Center of the University of Arkansas during the late 1970's. As a founding member of the collective, I note there are several factual errors and some of his conclusions appear to be historically inaccurate interpretations of events.
First the Women's Center never included a battered women's shelter. Second, the University of Arkansas solicited the community's Women's Center and offered funding for them to move to campus because the U of A needed to add women's programming. Third, Mr. Thompson's time line is off, collapsing incidents that happened over almost a two-year period within a few months.
Most importantly, however, the assertion the Lesbian Rap Group had become disillusioned with the politics of the Women's Center, whether earlier or later in the struggles with the University, is a total fabrication. The Lesbian Rap Group changed its name to the Razordykes at its third meeting. This very small group knew each other well, had nothing to discuss, and had decided to engage in a consciousness raising action before disbanding: ask for funding, be denied and write a letter of protest to the University newspaper, The Traveler. To our amazement, we were funded for a total of three funding cycles, grew in numbers, provided speakers to university classes, bought books and a film, and planned two social functions each year (a fall cotillion and a spring mixer).
Members of the Razordykes did not see themselves as "alienated" from the feminist politics of the Women's Center — as women, the politics of sexism, the right to choice and the right to self-determination were no less important to us as lesbians than they were to any other woman. There was no rift between our collective and the Women's Center's politics — we were part of the Women's Center's politics.
Also, contrary to Mr. Thompson's statements, the Razordykes primarily refused to change our name because we realized the attacks and criticisms weren't about our name. It was about homophobia being used to attack a feminist organization. The cost of this struggle was unthinkable — threatening the very existence of the Women's Center and its collectives, including Rape Crisis. I know there were wise women who rightfully and angrily saw the destruction of so many good things for women seeming to hinge on a group of young and politically naive women (the Razordykes), however, the bigger picture of what was happening was clear, even at the time.
Finally, Mr. Thompson is confused in his knowledge of the women's land movement in Northwest Arkansas, and draws an erroneous conclusion. The women's land movement had nothing to do with the Women's Center's struggles with the University. Many, many women from the land movement supported the Women's Center and the Razordykes collective — but the women's land movement was thriving before all this happened and continued to thrive after it happened. The two things were not related.
Dumas off mark
Ernest Dumas was uncharacteristically off the mark Sept. 9 regarding his "... prosecuting lawbreakers in the Eastern District of Arkansas." Rather, of course, those involved are hapless suspects and defendants who are not only the apple of their mothers' eyes but also presumed innocent.
Also, having catalogued some of the sins of Tim Griffin, Joyce Elliott's opponent in the Second Congressional District race, that Mr. Dumas would throw in the towel in Ms. Elliott's behalf, this idea: Not so fast, please. Spread the truth around and keep the faith for goshsakes.
Troubled by judge
I talked to Max Brantley and asked him if he would like to have a story about a court case in Searcy County Circuit Court. He told me he didn't want to go there. So, the next day I receive in the mail the Arkansas Times with a story in The Week That Was, August 18-24, that the very judge, Judge Mike Maggio, who rendered the decision in Marshall in favor of the good old rich boys, was at the same time having "financial difficulties."
The case involved this lady who took a fence-line dispute to Circuit Court. Adjacent property owners had put up a fence across her property. She had it surveyed by the best surveyor in the state of Arkansas. The defendants claimed that the fence line was agreed to years ago and since then her husband has died of a heart attack after fighting this problem for seven years. The judge declared that the fence line would stay and she "didn't prove the survey." The judge also is letting the defense lawyer write up the case results, which means she will be subject to paying the attorney's fees and the cost of putting the fence back up. She will be fenced off from 10 acres of her property and the defendant will, as always, be cutting timber off her property or whatever, while she pays taxes on it.
I want to know why a survey line is not the same as a fence line in the state of Arkansas. All my neighbors say this is the way it has always been and you can't do anything about it. Is there anyone in this state who really cares about justice?
Lethal injection stalled
In all the discussion of lethal injection protocols, no one has focused on the supplier of the key component, the drug sodium thiopental. Hospira Incorporated, the only supplier of the drug in this country, has been unable to obtain the active ingredient for the drug and apparently will not make new shipments until 2011. Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear has held off signing two death warrants because his state's supply of the drug expires Oct. 1. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections recently tried to substitute another drug for the sodium thiopental for the execution of Jeffrey Matthews. His attorney challenged that substitution and a federal judge stayed the execution. Arkansas uses essentially the same protocol for lethal injections as Kentucky. Maybe now is the time for a moratorium on execution in our state while we review the death penalty to see if it is effective public policy.
David L. Rickard
Pulaski school woes
The parents, grandparents, guardians and others should be appalled at the leadership of the Pulaski County Special School District. The bell times were not well thought out and caused more problems than the solutions intended. The Board has not shown fiscal restraint with Board members who have not repaid funds to the district. The Board has made a debacle of its attempt to replace the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers as a bargaining agent for teachers with a personnel committee voted down by over 80 percent of the teachers.
If the loss of 1,000 students this year is correct, that equates to roughly a $6 million shortfall. How does the District make up that much of a shortfall, while paying legal fees to fight the recognition of PACT?
I can only hope the voters go the polls and I can only hope that the incumbents are defeated. I can also only hope that those elected do a better job and help restore some legitimacy to the second largest school district in the state. I'm sure the legislative audit committee is reviewing all of this and will ask about it in September when the PCSSD is due to report back to them. The only people happy about the turmoil in the PCSSD are the Little Rock School District Board and administration.
Richard L. Moss
Now that Arkansas is experiencing a wave of gas exploration, drilling and land leasing, I think you need to draw your attention to the conditions of our highways that the equipment uses to facilitate these activities.
The trucks are ruining our highways. I can put up with the noise at all hours. I can easily deal with the smells their exhausts leave behind. But their destruction of my front yard and the intersection before my property is something I would expect that the Arkansas Highway Department would — and should — take into account
The grass once grew all the way to the road's edge. Now there are MANY FEET from that road's edge used by these wide-load trucks requiring to turn into the side roads leading to their drilling points. And the asphalt edges are slowly being eroded by these trucks. Once winter comes these highways will be patched. Patching is hardly the answer to destruction.
These are NOT simple wear-and-tear issues. These are specifically caused by these drilling companies. The areas are easily seen while driving on our smaller highways. They carve out feet upon feet of landscape, tearing our roads inch by inch, and placing a load upon the surface that the surfaces were not designed to take. They have even knocked down street markers and signs.
The gas company trucks may pay their duty in taxes to travel. But when they cause a burden beyond the general taxation for general travel, it is time for your department to investigate, repair and be reimbursed for that destruction.
Come the Republicans
Everybody's talking about what will happen if the Republicans take over the House and the Senate in the elections coming up in November. Let me look into my crystal ball.
First thing the Republicans will do is put away worry about the "children and grandchildren." They only need them when the Democrats are trying to pass legislation.
Second: get out that list of bills that have to be rescinded. For instance, financial reform. Also health care reform. Citizens again will be able to choose among hundreds of insurance policies that can only be cancelled if you are sick. They'll want tax cuts for the rich. They'll build more expensive embassies, like the $700 billion one in Baghdad. I can also see a bunch of soldiers sitting around with nothing to do. That's not good. You just know that somewhere in the world they'll find someone may just have a WMD or is thinking about getting one. In November, if we hear them singing "Happy Days Are Here Again," it's really deja vu all over again.
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