Columns » Letters

Window Dressing

Letters from the week of March 3, 2005

Through the looking glass: Regarding Bryan Noonan’s “Shots in the Dark” (February 17): Someone says the man punched out a Jeep side window? Hmmm. Front and rear window glass is laminated safety glass and can be damaged if you are strong enough and hit it hard enough, so maybe a real bruiser can crack it — but not penetrate it.

Side glass is tempered safety glass, however, and I suggest you call an auto-glass vendor and ask him what it takes to smash that sort of window. Better, ask to try it yourself on a pane the dealer is willing to let you take a swing at. I could be wrong here, but as a retired mechanic, my bet is that there is no way you will be able to break that glass with your fist. Or anyone else’s effort with a fist, either. It takes a sharp object (hammer, chisel, bullet, etc.) to bring tempered glass to fracture.

David Evans
Park Ridge, Illinois

Steeple Chase Jackass in the pulpit: If Jerry Johnston thinks marriage is “under attack,” maybe he should look at the divorce rate instead of scapegoating gay people for wanting equal rights (C.J. Janovy’s “Open Wide!” February 10). He can’t guarantee anything about a marriage amendment except the fact that it will deny a good portion of the population equal footing under the law. If stopping gay marriage is a cause worth dying for, why is freedom the only thing dying?

Johnston’s claim of homosexual marriage causing a cascade in sex education to elementary children is spurious. Unless things have changed significantly, I don’t recall receiving sex education until sixth grade or junior high school. Like so many other “religious leaders,” Jerry has chosen to prey on unfounded fears of gays “recruiting” children.

Jerry Johnston seems to think of himself and his “ministry” as the only true faith around. If that isn’t Jerry making himself Deceiver, what is?

Will Jones
Kansas City, Missouri

Shove it: Your front cover displays a wide-eyed woman with a Bible thrust into her mouth, but after reading the article, all I could picture was a gullible KC reader with a Pitch shoved down her throat. If the Pitch has determined to do a “story” on you, they’ll do it with or without your consent, a practice no doubt comforting to those who believe that the end justifies the means in journalistic spin.

J.C. [sic] Janovy, having failed to get an interview with the Rev. Jerry Johnston of First Family Church, decided to cobble together an article with impressions from Topeka political demonstrations, observations of First Family Church services, a little tax-office investigation, and, of course, his [sic] own conclusions, based on his personal and professional integrity.

But Janovy’s tone, more than his ephemeral substance, raises the warning that his motives are suspect, his message distorted. Using Johnston’s message on the Deceiver, Janovy finds a way to accuse Johnston of deception. Finding Johnston’s statement on the impending success of a traditional marriage referendum to be gleeful gloating, Janovy displays his own understated glee in uncovering the reverend’s delinquent tax bill. Oh, the joy in finding sin in the life of those who acknowledge the reality of sin!

The article was primarily a skillful piece of deception, but there was one thing Janovy was dead right about: “It’s not just gay people and liberals he’s [Johnston’s] after.” As a member of the FFC congregation, we know that Jerry Johnston looks to God for his guidance, and God’s interest and commitment does not exclude yet far exceeds those populations.


Jeff Townsend
Blue Springs

Editor’s note: After such a careful reading, Jeff, it might have occurred to you that C.J., who mentions being a lesbian, is a woman.

Bad religion: It’s interesting to see the relationships between groups such as Concerned Women for America and Sen. Sam Brownback and the messianic Jerry Johnston. These groups continue to push for an America that is dominated by a theocratic form of government and one that has little to do with democracy. Their attacks on minorities such as gays and their attempts to realize a discriminatory gay-marriage amendment underscore their desperate bid for political power.

I think one of the things we should be looking at as states (both in Kansas and Missouri) is whether these radical-right churches should continue to receive tax-exempt status. Johnston continues to get involved politically to the point where he is using his congregation as an active voting bloc while attempting to align himself with other churches for strategic reasons (to influence political outcomes and attempt to intimidate politicians who don’t vote the way he would like them to), and that comes very close to violating the separation of government from religion, as Jefferson and Madison warned.

Jeff Witt
Prairie Village

Fred state: I declare! After reading C.J. Janovy’s article, am I to assume the ilk of Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, is getting a run for his money by the Rev. Jerry Johnston?

Ray Paxton
Kansas City, Missouri

Church and straight: I found the article on Jerry Johnston to be quite disturbing. I grew up in a liberal, predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx and therefore find Johnston’s views so foreign to me. It all seems so negative and judgmental.

While on a family cruise a few years ago, we met and became friends with several people at our dining table, two of whom were gay. We visited them in their hometown of Salt Lake City one weekend, and they shared with us what it was like to grow up gay and Mormon. Their families did everything they could to “deprogram” them. Their stories were so awful, sad and disturbing. They grew up believing homosexuality was wrong, and they themselves did all they could to change. One even married! The wedding night was a terrible experience for both parties involved. I guess it would be like a straight person trying to make love to someone of the same sex. Needless to say, the marriage didn’t last very long.

How sad that these men had to go through so much unnecessary hell. If only they were born into families that accepted and understood. So much pain and heartache could have been avoided.

There is so much good Johnston can do with his money and influence. Rather than be the cause and encouragement of intolerance, he can encourage compassion and acceptance. We have had and always will have gays in our society. Our efforts should be in raising children to be understanding, empathetic and compassionate.

Janice Wasserman

My favorite Martin: Just wanted to say I loved C.J. Janovy’s article. I think it’s about time for another Reformation. Where’s Martin Luther when you need him?

Nathan Money
Lee’s Summit

Strike Out
Switch hitter: I was very saddened to read of the dispute between Larry Lester and the Negro Leagues Museum (Kendrick Blackwood’s “Stealing Home,” February 3).

I have known Larry Lester for more than 10 years. During that time, I cooperated with him on projects in which I photographed former Negro Leagues baseball players. In the years in which I have known Larry, I have always found him to be a person of deep and solid personal integrity and strong principles.

Larry has dedicated a great part of his life to preserving and disseminating the history of the Negro Leagues. He freely and generously gives of himself, sharing not only information but also his time and experience. He is not only a valued and proven historian but also, at heart, a true educator.

The history he embraces and strives to preserve is one that is essential in so many ways. It begs to be not only recorded but truly listened to and remembered. Larry’s writing, his life’s work, captures and presents not only the painful and gross injustices of racism inherent in the history of the Negro Leagues but also the joy and the dignity that were part of the lives of these great men (and women). They are part of a great generation, the likes of whom we will never know again, and all too quickly they are leaving us, taking their stories, memories and experiences with them. Time is of the essence. Let Larry get on with his work.

Lisa Feder
Highwood, Illinois

Stage Directions
Back to the futurism: Just wanted to clarify something I feel may be taken out of context in reference to E.M.U. Theatre. I see how Steve Walker’s referral to our 2000 production Futurism Restated is relevant to our current production of the one-act plays “Self-Torture and Strenuous Exercise” and “Futz,” but I worry it may be misconstrued by some readers as descriptive of the company as a whole (“Torture Chamber,” February 17).

E.M.U. is a very organic and malleable company in terms of participating members (all volunteers from various walks of life and experience) and performance material. I directed Futurism Restated, and we sought with that production to invade audience comfort zones, frustrate their expectations, and blast their presuppositions about what a night at the theatre traditionally entails. The selection of our productions is only dependent on what company members submit as proposals. We choose shows that we believe have artistic merit, are challenging to the company and that we feel we can do justice to, whether they be traditionally conventional or wholly abstract and alienating.

Genuine thanks to the Pitch and Mr. Walker for the attention you’ve given E.M.U. over the years. It is always appreciated. (Oh, yeah, and our first shows were in 1998, not 2000.)

Andrew Stowers

Last Call
Night stranger: Having been to Slam-erz for the Collection Soul Society’s mod parties myself, I was halfway optimistic that the rousing Wednesday-night events would provide for an enjoyable read — even if it was slopped together by Jen Chen (Night Ranger, February 17).

Chen uses as much ink describing her outfit as she does explaining her surroundings. Her one-sentence exposition appears to be pulled from the event fliers verbatim.

She once again follows the path of least resistance to settle in with the saddest, most uninteresting souls at the bar. After that, the column writes itself, as Chen declares, and Pitch readers are treated to another tale of sexual deviancy that is neither shocking nor amusing.

After completely ignoring one of the most enjoyable nightspots in Kansas City, I might suggest that the Night Ranger stay at home next week and play Zelda for drinks.

Jen, it might be your job to get soused, but I’m afraid you’re all dried up.

Adam Lee
Prairie Village

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