Another side to story

I am writing this to Carolyn Rummel in response to her People’s Culture article in the 1/15-21 PWW titled “Compelling film spotlights rape injustice.” I appreciate the People’s Culture section of the PWW very much and think you’re doing a great job. My heart went out to Florence Holway for the ordeal that she experienced. At the same time, though, the article raised some troubling political questions in my mind.

You describe as “even more disturbing” than the vicious attack itself the fact that Ms. Holway was “denied her day in court” due to a plea bargain done without her knowledge or consent. As a result of Ms. Holway’s organizing and publicizing her experience, her local state Legislature strengthened their anti-rape laws.

An important point in the film is evidently where Ms. Holway “challenges the parole board to keep him [her attacker] locked up.” The lessons being drawn from this story seem to me to go against the concept of a humane and rehabilitative criminal justice system as I imagine it existing under socialism. Society should not become a proxy for victim revenge. That logic leads to draconian sentences designed to meet victim’s emotional needs justified by references to prevention. There is a lot of evidence that the threat of punishment does not deter many violent crimes, including murder.

In a racist society where the legal system is relentless in incarcerating millions of people of color and putting us to work as slave labor, I stand completely against that system.

You end your article: “By spearheading a tireless crusade to change rape laws, she [Ms. Holway] has helped other victims, as well as herself, obtain a measure of justice.” I have to disagree.

It is not possible to win justice as long as the legal system is unjust at its core, a mechanism to support exploitation. In the United States under capitalism the justice system cannot provide justice for anyone, let alone justice for all.

Eric Brooks Via e-mail

Carolyn Rummel responds:

Your thoughts are absolutely valid. That was a dilemma I had: dealing with the injustice to Holway without condoning excessively harsh punishment. I believe Holway was treated unfairly but this case shouldn’t be used to bolster arguments for throwing away the key. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and agree I should have at least raised some of these issues, regardless of space constraints.

Same old tactic

Regarding Bush’s ongoing Social Security scare tactics, I wonder how many people noticed, during the tributes to Johnny Carson after his passing, the film clip of his 1980s character Carnac the Magnificent that clarifies the whole situation via humor. [Carnac would predict the answer and then open an envelope to reveal the question.]

Carnac’s given answer was “105.” The question was — not verbatim, but close — “How old will you have to be under Reagan’s plan to apply for Social Security benefits?”

The Republicans wanted to “fix” the unbroken, most successful social program then and they’re not going to give up!

A readerVia e-mail

A sweet treat

I am happy to finally renew my subscription. My late uncle, Roy Webb, said reading your paper was “like eating candy.” I couldn’t agree more — “candy” for the mind, spirit and soul. We need you more than ever! Hasta La Victoria!

Brian VerdinVia e-mail

Price is too high

The price tag for a soldier’s life is now being debated in Washington. $12,000? $50,000? $100,000. Some advocate the larger number, pointing to the victims of the 9/11 tragedy. Many families of victims received $1 million-plus.

While the compensation was in deliberation for those killed, I kept thinking: Had my daughter not left her job two months prior to September 11, she would have taken her normal route to work, which would have taken her through the trade center at the time the first jetliner struck the north tower. She could have been among the 3,000 dead or injured.

Would the compensation have brought her back to her family? Can the compensation love and comfort them? What price? As the price tag is debated, the men and women continue to die in Iraq, hundreds coming home maimed for life. Yes, money will help the families defray the costs of daily life, but what will have changed?

We ordinary people who make this country prosper pay the price and the price is too high. Imagine our government fully funding education from grade school to university. Educating our children to be full participating citizens, able to pursue productive lives. Filling jobs in science, the arts and humanities. People taking on the tasks of solving the myriad of problems we face here and around the world. We have the resources to accomplish this. We need the will to make it happen.

Gabe FalsettaNew York NY

Shirley Chisholm

I had the pleasure of participating in Shirley Chisholm’s campaign for the presidency (PWW 2/5-11) while I was a law student at Philadelphia’s Temple University. The memory of her true patriotism still stirs me.

George W. has made himself an empire builder. That is not what our forefathers had in mind. We are turning into the kind of government we revolted against in the first place. Greed may do us in yet. I choose to be optimistic but acknowledge that we must get busy taking our government back from the bluebloods.

Cletis BeegleTucson AZ

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