Happy Saturnalia

Re: Calendar (pg 35); December 12, 2017; Vol. 14, No. 50

Thank you for putting the announcement of free breakfast with Santa under HOLIDAY, PERFECT!

Best wishes for a Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Joyous New Year, enjoyable Kawanza.

-Anne from Central Presbyterian Church via U.S. Mail

On social punishment

Re: “How will it end?” cover story; December 5, 2017; Vol. 14, No. 49

Letter to the editor:

I apologize for not writing promptly on a subject that was addressed a couple issues back.  

A quotation from the debate entitled “Social Tsunami Against Impunity Culture” caught my eye.  It reads “There were no punishments divvied out.  It wasn’t about the abusers.  It was about awareness.”  In the same article the author wrote “I want to sit across a table from him and tell him that what he did was wrong.  Tell him about the world and forgive him.”  One quote comforted me and the other quote angered me.

There are innumerable people who have spoken/acted in a way that’s deemed a sexual transgression.  Some are unrelated to their professions, some are indirectly related, and some are directly related.  Some are exploits of power, some are not.  Some are derogatory, some are clumsy.  Some are verbal, some are physical.  I would argue that the common ground on which ALL the actions/words defined as transgressions occur, is in an individual’s, or in the case of my letter, the collective social discomfort with what was said or done.  I would also argue that this discomfort is wielded as “social punishment.”

The quote which comforted me referred to “telling him that what he did was wrong … forgive him.”  It surely would be something to admire if there were more evidence of this attitude in the public eye.   I demur that there is no evidence of punishment.  Though it might not be legal, the reaction of  the businesses is punishment nonetheless.  The reaction I refer to is the capricious termination of employment.  The addition of being blackballed in a career, for their exploits, is indeed punishment  that my cousin, a female executive at Bank of America, admitted at Thanksgiving without reserve:  “Kevin Spacey deserved everything that happened to him, absolutely.”  Businesses are certainly acutely aware that the decision to terminate the men is, first and foremost, vital to the sustainability of the business.  A change/replacement to “House of Cards” will ensure continued subscriptions.  The absence of Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer will ensure the same for the respected networks.  I understand it is difficult for people to see the reality of “social punishment;” even more difficult to find accountability for it; being hard to identify.  How can anyone in our culture say that he or she contributed to the networks’ decisions to remove the men?   Social punishment is a reality that stems from public opinion and attitude.  Its reality is shown by the influence public opinion and attitude has on the networks/studios/labels decisions to terminate or not.  Years ago an R&B singer Chris Brown was in the public eye for domestic abuse against fellow R&B singer Rhianna.  I do not know the specifics of the results that came of it.  Did Chris Brown go into rehabilitation?  Was he offered the opportunity to change his ways?  I do know that today Chris Brown is currently on a label recording music.  Public opinion and attitude must not be the same towards the violent transgression celebrity Chris Brown committed as it is towards others.  Perhaps one day the men who are currently ostracized will be working again.  Perhaps one day suspension/rehabilitation will take the place of unilateral, table-clearing, termination, and irreparably tarnished reputations.  That would certainly be welcomed as more conducive to “sit[ting] across a table from him and tell[ing] him that what he did was wrong.  Tell him about the world and forgive him.”  Peoples’ discomfort, should it occur with someone’s words/actions, be understood and respected.  Since it is a person’s discomfort that is the common ground from “me too” all the way to rape, it is undoubtedly a factor in public opinion/attitude which unfortunately brings about “social punishment.”   

The author of the aforementioned comments also stated that at times she wants revenge.  Pairing that with my cousin’s Thanksgiving comment, and other instances of individuals admitting disgust, and malice remind me of my own cynicism.  It reminds me of my extreme reverence for Frederich Durrenmatt’s “The Visit” (NOT the musical version) and, though slightly removed, my appreciation for Schadenfreude.  Thank you for reading,

– Steve Heman via ContactUs@DaytonCityPaper.com


Re: “Field of vision” by Marc Katz; June 13, 2017; Vol. 14, No. 24.

I usually only see the Dayton City Paper a few times a year.  A friend of mine saw the above issue [6/12/17] and gave it to me just a few weeks back.  

My name is Tina Ross Merkamp.  Basketball coach John Ross was (still is) my father.  I enjoyed reading the article where you mentioned Dad.  I especially loved the part where you said “who became quite a friendly man in his later years,”…funny!  To those of us who loved him so dearly, he was a wonderful, funny, full of life man.  BUT, a very no nonsense man also.  You definitely knew where he stood on most issues and he didn’t sugar coat anything!  

Dad did have quite the relationship with the media.  The other night, my husband and I were watching the Purdue basketball game on TV.  The commentators were driving us crazy, with their back and forth banter, at one point whether player Haas would be a better Superman or Captain America.  Of course, all of this while play was happening on the court!  Dave and I reminisced that Dad sometimes would watch an entire basketball game on TV with the volume on mute (Depending on who the commentators were!)

Oh, how we miss him… a void that will never be filled.  We love hearing new stories about him.  Thank you for sharing this little moment in time.  

– Tina Ross Merkamp via ContactUs@DaytonCityPaper.com


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