Letters to the Editor for Sept. 20, 2013

Waste of resources

To the Editor:

The Cornerstone Church sent me a diaper and a message about needing a change.

Someone thought it would be a cute marketing idea, but it is a waste of natural and financial resources.

This mailing is the definition of junk mail. You just turned resources into instant garbage and harmed your institution in the process.

Ellen Barr
Coon Rapids

Profound production

To the Editor:

I recently saw “The Laramie Project” at the Lyric Arts Theater in Anoka. Contrary to the comments recently submitted to this paper by Sue Wood and Sue Peterson, I would like to thank the Lyric Arts for having the courage to bring such a profound, thought-provoking and moving production to our community.

For purposes of full disclosure, I am a volunteer at the Lyric Arts Theater. But I would have written this letter even without that connection.

Unlike what Ms. Wood and Ms. Peterson believe, this play is not based on a lie. This play is based on interviews conducted by a theater project who went to Laramie and interviewed townspeople who knew Matthew Shepherd, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson.

The play focuses on the reaction of the people in the town to the heinous crime that was committed. It directs our attention to the fact that this was a hate crime … but the sexual preferences of the victim are not glorified or even elevated to be the main focus of this story.

Ms. Peterson and Ms. Wood both claim that the reason for the robbery had nothing to do with Matthew being gay. They claim it was two meth heads looking for drug money who just happened to pick Matthew out of a crowd at the local bar.

Apparently, they believe that Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson didn’t know Matthew or what his sexual preference was, despite Matthew being well known by many of the townspeople.

Even the interviews with the perpetrators conducted by the theater project, contain an admission that “advances” made to one of them by Matthew contributed to their heinous actions.

Apparently, Ms. Wood and Ms. Peterson believe that McKinney and Henderson were just looking for somebody to “roll.” Do they believe this was simply a “robbery gone bad”? It may have started out as simply a robbery, but it didn’t end that way.

I don’t recall the last time I heard of a robbery victim being taken out into the middle of a remote rural area, savagely beaten, tied to a fencepost and left to die. Would this have happened had Matthew been “straight?” Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

I will agree with Ms. Peterson on one point in her letter … this is the play for you if you want to see a production with a subject matter that is “offensive to Christians.” It should be offensive to all of us … Christian or not …. it is a story of a hate crime.

Whatever the reason behind the hate crime, a young man was killed because two other young men had no regard for his life. He was “fair game” to them for whatever reasons they conjured in their minds.

When life becomes that valueless to young people, it is time for humankind to look deeply inside themselves and ask what we can do to contribute to the changing of that kind of society.

I urge Ms. Wood and Ms. Peterson to go see this important play and then make their judgments. I urge those of you who have not seen it to get your tickets as soon as possible.

It contains an important message in this day and age of bullying, non-acceptance of diverse lifestyles, and just plain meanness to others.

I am hopeful that, through vehicles such as this, conversations will begin that will drive us toward a day when we are all accepted for who we are and what we have to offer the world and our community.

But it won’t happen unless we are willing to listen to both sides of the story and ask what we can do to help. This important play is one place to begin listening.

Kathie Kelly
Coon Rapids

Diversity of community

To the Editor:

In a Sept. 6 Letter to the Editor titled “Play based on lie,” Sue Peterson is overly presumptive and assumes to speak for Christians far and wide with her statement that the play “is offensive to [all] Christians.”

I would like to remind readers that Christianity casts a wide net of theological positions and includes persons with differing sensitivities.

Some Christians might be offended by certain aspects in the play. Some Christians might not be offended.

Sue’s use of hyperbole and exaggeration does nothing but further the sense that there are elements in our community that feel they have the market cornered on being a Christian. I’m glad that humans aren’t the ones who have that final say.

Community theater represents the diversity of its community. Lyric produces a range of theater including many plays during the year that are family and child friendly, some that are appropriate for older children and some that are appropriate for adults.

If you are wondering whether a certain play fits with your sensibilities, use their ratings page on its website. It is naivety and narrow mindedness that seeks to have community theater reflect only one lens of the arts.

I hope that Christians will find more important things to be offended about than a play they can choose to go to or not.

Here’s one – Anoka has more than three times the number of children living in poverty than Ham Lake. How about we start getting offended at that instead?

Robin Mavis
Coon Rapids

Thought provoking

To the Editor:

Lyric Arts Theater is at it again. In April it will be presenting “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.” This play is based on a lie.  We all know cows cannot type. I will not attend this play. I may inform the ASPCA.

If you want to take your family, especially children, to a performance based on a lie, this is the play for you. Of course, I know nothing about this play, as I have not seen it. Perhaps, I should not judge.

However, I did attend “The Laramie Project” at Lyric Arts Theater. It was a very moving and thought provoking production.

To quote the Catholic priest in the play, “Just deal with what is true. You know what is true.”

And a final quote, “I guess I don’t understand the magnitude with which some people hate.”

Eileen Rathbun

The ‘Laramie Project’ show

To the Editor:

I would like to reply to two letters that were published Aug. 14 and Sept. 6 about Lyric Arts’ decision to produce “The Laramie Project.”

First I would like to make two things perfectly clear. One, I am a member of the cast of “The Laramie Project,” so take my comments with any perceived bias you may think that I might have. Two, these are my comments and my comments only. I do not attempt to speak for any of my fellow cast members or, more importantly, for Lyric Arts.

One of the letter writers said that the “play is based on a lie,” the other that the show “is based on the fictitious premise that Matthew Shepard was killed out of hate for being gay.”

They make these statements based off an episode of “20/20” that implies that Matthew Shepard was killed because of drugs, not because he was gay.

There were a number of things left out of the “20/20” segment that raises some questions about the objectivity of “20/20.”

The “20/20” segments relies heavily on statements made by Aaron McKinney, the confessed murderer, and Kristen Price, his girlfriend and mother of his child.

Other than statements made by these two people, “20/20” does not put forth a shred of evidence that the crime was related to drugs. I encourage your readers to do their own research into this subject before making any decisions of their own.

Secondly, one of the writers said that the show is “offensive to Christians.”

I first heard about “The Laramie Project” about seven or eight years ago and my first thought was that this was going to be a show about a town of redneck cowboys and would be heavily biased based on the opinions of a group of people from New York City coming to “the sticks.”

My outlook was quickly changed when I saw the show three years ago. The writers show us a town, like any other town in America, where the likes of McKinney and Henderson are exceptions and not the norm.

The main thing that I take away from the show is that love and peace have to triumph over evil and hate. I would like to know how that can be offensive to anyone.

Corey Okonek
St. Louis Park

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