RE: Cover [Jan 16], an illustration by Brian Viveros.
DEAR MR. [WM. STEVEN] HUMPHREY AND MR. [JUSTIN] MORRISON—I'm dismayed and extremely disappointed in the selection of the cover art for the most recent edition of the Portland Mercury, regardless of how it may tie in with the content of the article "Staying on the Beat." Portraying a "babe" wrapped with a bullet belt (and a cigarette) sanctifies and glorifies the use of guns and smoking in a manner that is irresponsible and completely unnecessary. As leaders in the media world, I would ask that you be more conscientious and thoughtful about your selections to not falsify the "enhancement" of a woman's image with props that encourage violence and smoking.
DEAR MR. BRIAN VIVEROS—Can you put that piece on velvet? That would be the shit.
RE: One Day at a Time [Jan 9].
I noticed that in your One Day at a Time column this line: "Friendly reminder, dears: Jenny McCarthy believes vaccines cause autism, and she should no longer be allowed to speak, whether she's on her back or not." I wanted to let you know that the Vaccine Court has recently awarded damages to a family of a child who developed autism as a result of routine vaccination. So, the government has admitted, in this and several other cases, that vaccines can cause brain encephalopathy (swelling), and it is generally accepted that this condition in infants can lead to the symptoms we call autism. I enjoy the One Day at a Time column, but as the parent of a child who had a reaction to vaccines and who now has autism, I wonder if this is really a subject for glib, uninformed humor.
RE: "Dreaded Violence" [Sexual Politics, Jan 9], regarding an incident in which a Southeast Portland man attempted to strangle his girlfriend with his dreadlocks, which included a comment dissing the hairstyle.
While I'd like to commend you for addressing sexual politics, domestic violence, and the pervasive sexism in our culture, one particular statement made me stop dead in my tracks and think, "Whoa, back up here!" In your second paragraph, you state, "dreadlocks are disgusting and everyone who grows dreadlocks should be publicly mocked." Let us not forget: Sexism is an intersectional problem. Dreadlocks are a historical and current way of maintaining and styling hair for people of color (POC), and they were doing it for centuries before us dirty Europeans even started using soap or shampoo on ours. Then there are the white people who dread their hair—this is cultural appropriation to the max. Who dreads their hair aside from POC? Basically, white people who think it's "natural" and "earthy" and every other hegemonic, ignorant, and privileged adjective based on this centuries-old notion we have of POC being, well, "natural" and "closer to the earth." While it's pretty easy to conclude that "dreadlocks are dirty" in an area that only has 1.7 percent POC and the only dreads you see are on a bunch of privileged middle-class kids who think it's cool to emanate poverty, please don't forget the racial roots of the style. While it seems like a small thing, doing so just reinforces the notions we have of POC and perpetuates inequality.
RE: "Will Write for Food" [Letters, Jan 16], in which this reader posits that the quality of letters to the editor was negatively impacted when the prizes ceased to include lunch at No Fish! Go Fish!, which has since closed.
DEAR MERCURY—Regarding the letter of the week prizes. I suppose I sounded whiny and ungrateful and not without some entitlement issues. I just thought it was great when you had the food prizes, too. It also supported a struggling local business. But I didn't mean to sound like a free movie was worthless. Maybe it was my attitude that was worthless.
"WORTHLESS" IS A LITTLE harsh, E. "Wrong," maybe, but not "worthless." No hard feelings, though. We'll even give you the letter of the week prize of two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater. But... you still have to buy your own food.