Editor, the Gauntlet: Letters

By Dennis Kerber

Editor, the Gauntlet,

Re: “TLFs,” Nov. 14, 2002

Your November 14 issue contained a TLF which my friends think may be directed at me.

This TLF was not sexist, racist, or homophobic, but don’t you think it could be perceived as a personal attack?

You seem to think that I don’t want people to know that I can walk. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’d like everybody in the world to see from my example that, in the words of my favorite Bible verse, “all things are possible through Christ, who strengtheneth me.”

What you don’t know, my friend, is that in 1975, when I was a Ph.D. student in the Department of English, one night in April I was driving my red sports car home from the university with my two small sons, when sleep deprivation caused me to go through a stop sign. A truck hit me, giving me a head injury that put me in a coma for two months, and then left me unable to walk or talk.

I was totally helpless, and had to relearn absolutely everything. My children were not hurt, thankfully, but I spent six months in the hospital. My injuries caused arthritis, which causes pain and weakness. However, as you point out, I can walk. I have several friends who are quadriplegic, so I attempt to do everything that I am able to do.

If you have been watching the TV coverage of Christopher Reeve’s recovery, you will acknowledge that it is a difficult process.

– Colleen Perry-Knudston

Editor, the Gauntlet,

Re: “Our violent world,” Nov. 15, 2002.

I agree that we are becoming increasingly desensitized to the stories of violence and destruction that constitute a large part of television programming. In this article, the question was posed as to whether the average viewer would “rather see images of UN peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East broadcasted in the news headlines, or the recent civilian killings in Indonesia.” Personally, I would be much more captivated by the latter. “Feel-good” stories about peacekeeping and goodwill are morally held in high regard, and important to develop a rounded view of the world around us. But to put it bluntly, they’re boring.

Hearing about “sex, violence and drugs” not only informs, but entertains–and that’s why these stories sell. Without the stories of violence and corruption in our newspapers and on our televisions, a large number of people would simply lose interest altogether.

Another interesting question posed by this article asked, “when did we get so obsessed with [stories about violence]?” My response would be that our attraction towards violence and disorder is nothing new, but has been deeply embedded in us for ages. The Roman Empire derived an almost sadistic pleasure from extremely violent gladiatorial combat, and public executions have been popular in many civilizations dating back to biblical ages. It is the nature of our species to crave disorder, as long as it’s not affecting us directly. Honestly though, would anyone watch Survivor if all the contestants did was sing “kumbaya” around a camp fire, in perfect harmony? Hell no! We want to see betrayal, animosity, deceit, vindictiveness, conflict, and (if we’re lucky) violence. That’s entertainment.

Finally, the article stated that, “television serves as a reminder of how gladly society chooses to be easily manipulated.” In my opinion, rather than television manipulating society and individuals, society and individuals manipulate television. Television stations show what we want to see rather than us seeing what they want to show. If one has the choice to be manipulated, then it’s not manipulation at all.

– Juan Riedinger

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