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Facts wrong?

Jack Lessenberry’s amusing commentary regarding Royal Oak’s upcoming May 15 vote on a discriminatory, so-called "gay rights" ordinance ("Human rights and Royal Oak," MT, Feb. 28-March 6) included at least one misstatement of fact that Jack knows to be false — that being his inaccurate characterization of Christian bookstores as "nonprofit" or "religious" institutions.

This would no doubt come as a surprise to the owners of such bookstores, who derive their own livelihood and ability to pay the salaries of others from the profit they earn on the sale of books and other materials. Royal Oak happens to be home to one of the largest such bookstores in the metro area.

Since such stores are clearly "for-profit" enterprises, under Royal Oak’s proposed discriminatory ordinance, they — like all other businesses — would face the threat of a $500 fine and litigation for refusing to hire an individual who is openly involved in homosexual behavior, even though that behavior is in direct conflict with the store’s mission and the owners’ First Amendment-guaranteed religious convictions.

Such a violation of the owners’ constitutional rights is itself discriminatory, and just one of many reasons Royal Oak citizens are likely to vote "no" to stop the discrimination before it starts.

Jack, you've been called on this mischaracterization in numerous communications. If you refuse to correct something you know to be false, better drop your own pen into that vat of Lysol. —Gary Glenn, President, American Family Association of Michigan, Midland

Editor’s note: For the record, the proposed Royal Oak ordinance would offer protection to individuals regardless of sexual orientation. It says nothing about behavior.

Honored scout

Thank you for doing a fine job of investigating the Michigan Metro Girl Scout Council ("No merit badge for whistle-blowers," MT, March 7-13). I worked at the organization for two years and found the emotional working conditions to be very oppressive because upper management was closed to any input regarding improvements unless it benefited them personally.

It wasn’t long after I began working there before I realized the situation to be very complex. I felt I could not influence any positive change so I left the organization instead of "rocking the boat" with any complaints because I feared suffering negative repercussions.

I worked with Diane Puhl and respect her highly. She is the kind of person that you want on your team because of her strong work ethic and sense of fairness. It would be a pleasure to work with her on any project.

Michigan Metro Girl Scout Council has excellent programs for girls, a hard-working staff and several thousand wonderful volunteers. I trust this current situation is only a bump in the road and MMGSC will soon begin driving on a smoother highway under better management. —Carolyn J. Fisher, Taylor

Raising a stink?

We don't think the Rouge River deserves the gratuitous cheap shot you gave it in your "Best of Detroit" listings (MT, March 14-20), referring to it as "Best Pace to Hold Your Nose."

Maybe that was true back in 1986 when Friends of the Rouge was founded, but after 15 years of annual volunteer river clean-ups, and a substantial investment of federal, state and local dollars, we think you'll find most people agree that the Rouge looks better, flows better and even smells better.

But the work is not done, so how about a new "Best of Detroit" category: "Best Way to Spend The First Saturday in June" — Rouge Rescue 2001? To volunteer, call 313-792-9900. —Jim Graham, Executive Director, Friends of the Rouge, execdirector@therouge.org, Dearborn Heights

Narrow view

In his column about the California bank robber ("Multiethnic fear," MT, March 22-27), Keith A. Owens writes: "I’ve got to admit it strikes me as comical that in a nation where race probably matters more than it does anywhere else on the face of the earth."

Maybe Owens needs to take a look at the rest of the world before making centrist remarks like these. Granted, the United States has plenty of race problems, but I'd make the argument that race matters a hell of a lot more in South Africa, Germany or Turkey.

Read any story about high crime rates in Eastern Europe and you still hear white people venting about the gypsies. And any one who's been to rural Austria can confirm there's still plenty of anti-Jewish sentiment to go around.

Racism is a global, human problem and while the United States has plenty of trouble with it, we're certainly not alone.

The biggest criticism of America abroad has nothing to do with racism but everything to do with our persistent inability to get over ourselves and look at what's happening beyond our own borders. Remarks like these only add fuel to the fire. —Eric E. Wittmershaus, Managing Editor, Flak Magazine, eric@flakmag.com, Santa Rosa, Calif.

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