Our civilization is headed for the dustbin of history (“The Courage of His Convictions” 01-28-00). In turning the pages to complete the article, I saw that Cecil (in “The Straight Dope”) came out for homosexual marriage which is an endgame death wish if I ever saw one! The eternal consternation of a lawmaker having been arrested 32 times for breaking the law! While the article was not specific it would appear that this lawmaker was convicted over 20 times, including once after being elected, for no less an offense than physically attacking a law-enforcing police officer. And he was not just elected once or twice, but four times! Most would think that this is a campy oddity for “News of the Weird” but this guy has been written up twice, in a favorable light, by national publications. If I had done nothing but sell dope, jackroll people, pimped, and burglarized homes for 32 of my 47 years and somebody wanted to publish my story, I would think that they were trying to make a fool of me. And there is no socially redeeming reason for his criminal descent in that his parents had distinctly bourgeois traits of owning a gas station, a tavern, and an apartment building. (I wonder where they got the money?) I’m even suspicious of the 32 arrests since he admits, “I did things to support the habit.” What things?! Did he kill anyone? Cops usually catch criminals about 5 to 10% of the time which means that this guy could have committed 300 to 600 crimes! Why in the world do we black people elect people like this to office? D.W. Griffith is regarded as the archetype of the virulent racist for depicting us as drunken, irresponsible criminals when placed in authority in his 1915 movie The Birth of a Nation and a former president, Richard Nixon, said we “live like dogs.” Pretty soon people will believe that the politically incorrect is correct. The O.J. trial has made us suspect as jurors and you wonder if 50 years from now some David Duke or Pat Buchanan type is going to come along and disfranchise us all, probably by presenting reports from the Reader over the past 20 years on dysfunctional black culture. This is no accusation because, on the whole, your reports have been generally accurate and well spaced with ample opportunity for subjects to respond.

There was a reference to Alderman Burnett’s conviction for armed robbery. About a half dozen other black aldermen went to jail in the Silver Shovel sting and we elected Marion Barry after he had been convicted for cocaine possession. There is also the tendency of high-profile black people not to marry, i.e.: Oprah Winfrey, Carol Moseley-Braun, Lauryn Hill, Kweisi Mfume (who shamelessly fathered five or six children out of wedlock by various women), and almost every week there is some famous black athlete committing a crime, including murder, or being hauled into paternity court for philandering, topped by the late Wilt Chamberlain who boasted of bedding over 20,000 women. And you can’t blame people for thinking that we don’t have solid values or a codified culture or even put up a decent pretense at faking it. After all, hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.

John Mayhew

W. North