I like Jack Lessenberry, but take exception to his calling a Freep series on spring break in Cancun an "atrocity" ("What’s wrong with the media," MT, May 9-15). The story Tammy Audi told was, to my mind, important, not prurient.
It's one thing for parents to hear second-hand reports, and another for them to see what really goes on. Moreover, Jack's criticism misses the most illuminating aspect of Tammy's reporting — how these tour companies create a climate in which teenagers are made to feel like outcasts if they don't drink to excess or shed inhibitions at tour-coordinated parties.
I think of that DJ scolding one reluctant girl, "Back home, you might be daddy's little girl or prom queen, but here in Cancun you're just another beeeeiitch!" These companies create an environment that is so coercive that sexual assaults were taking place on dance floors. Girls are raped or groped, students die alcohol-related deaths, drugs are slipped into their drinks, and that's not something readers should know?
There is a discussion to be had about naming the teenagers shown in bed. But the more important discussion is the one parents across our readership had with each other, and their children, about the wisdom of placing teens into the care of these tour operators. —David Zeman, Detroit Free Press staff writer, Beverly Hills
Help is here
I am writing in reference to Jack Lessenberry’s column "GilHill and Covenant House" (MT, May 2–8, 2001). There are a number of social service agencies in metropolitan Detroit which provide residential services to homeless teen moms and their babies. These services are currently provided by a six-agency collaboration including Catholic Social Services of Wayne County (CSSWC), Lula Belle Stewart Center, Federation for Girls, St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center, Detroit Rescue Mission and the Wayne County FIA. This collaboration has been operating since 1998. CSSWC currently has several beds available at our facility at 5247 Sheridan in Detroit.
This collaboration provides a comprehensive range of services to these young, homeless moms and their children including counseling, education, parenting skills, mentoring, child care, housekeeping and spiritual guidance. Other local agencies that serve this population include Alternatives for Girls, Vista Maria and Ennis Center.
All of these local agencies have been serving the Detroit metropolitan community for many years and we all face the serious dilemma of limited and/or diminishing resources. Please inform your readers that we would all welcome their support, either financially or as a volunteer. For more information, please call 313-883-2339 or 313-922-0094. —Patrick J. Heron, President/CEO, Catholic Social Services of Wayne County, Detroit
Better than Cincinnati
I commend Keith A. Owens on a wonderful column ("Just like Detroit?" MT, April 18-24). Fangman has some nerve stating that if his cops didn’t do what they do, then Cincinnati would become another Detroit or Washington, D.C. Is he blind? Can he not see that Cincinnati is nothing more than a shithole version of Cleveland, or Detroit for that matter? The Detroit Police Department is under investigation, but so are about 30 other departments around the country, and the situation in Cincinnati has just sped up that process. I don’t know how many "terrorists" (what a ridiculous way to describe unarmed traffic violators) Detroit cops have killed since 1995, but I will say that I think they have a much larger problem in Cincinnati than we do in Detroit at this point. I’ve lived here all my life, and when I hear jackasses making uneducated statements about a city they have probably never been to, I lose all respect for what they have said. —Russ Cusamano, firstname.lastname@example.org, Eastpointe
Why they fight
The drug czars’ jobs depend on the perpetual prosecution of, but never a victory in, the drug war ("War resisters league, MT, May 2-8). Politicians depend on the drug war and its rhetoric to scare up votes by scaring voters. They also rely on the drug war to sustain their constituent industries that depend on the economics of prohibition in order to make generous profits and campaign contributions that keep the drug warrior politicians in power and, therefore, keep themselves in business. —Myron Von Hollingsworth, Fort Worth, Texas
On the money
Thank you for Liz Langley’s garage-sale piece ("Sale away with me," MT, April 25-May 1). Not only was it hilarious, but I also enjoyed the nice metaphor she sneaked in there to disguise the whole article. It’s always amusing to spot the people who figure it out and the ones who don’t. —Alex Vojnovski, Auburn Hills