TO THE EDITOR: I am writing to you as the proud mother of a beautiful five-year-old with Down Syndrome. I have always enjoyed your paper and its views of dissent. However, the movie review of Van Helsing ["Monster Mess," May 6] absolutely stunned me. It is clear that anyone reading this review would completely understand its author, Wm. Steven Humphrey, believes the movie was "stupid." But to give "stupid" a name and face with such distinction (and cruelty)... WHY?

In the review Humphrey writes, "Van Helsing is sent to Transylvania to kill Dracula (Richard Roxburgh)--who, by the way, is somewhat less convincing than a kid with Down Syndrome wearing a cape and rubber teeth."

C'mon Mercury, aren't you better than this? You are directly attacking one of societies most vulnerable and innocent groups, children with Down Syndrome, for a cheap laugh.

How will you respond? How can you respond? I am encouraging everyone I know (and don't know) to respond to the Mercury. I have forwarded this article to all local and national DS and advocacy groups. I have also contacted every local television station, the WWeekly, Oregonian, and posted on Craig's list.

Theresa Corrao

WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY RESPONDS: As the proud father of the Van Helsing review, I take offense to you labeling my beautiful, hilarious joke as "cheap." That was one of the better jokes I've written, and I'm only sorry I'm not talented enough to come up with jokes that good on a regular basis. Secondly, the joke was clearly aimed at badly portrayed vampires, which I assume does not include your five-year-old. And lastly, while I do have sympathy for your plight--why don't you freaking relax? Just because a joke comes within 100 miles of your kid doesn't mean it's a "direct attack." Remember, nobody--not even a child with Down Syndrome--wants a mom that comes across as nuts. (P.S. I'm sending MY response to "Humorless, Overprotective Mothers Anonymous," the New York Times, as well as posting it on eBay. TOP THAT.)


TO THE EDITOR: People have a right to their opinions-- however illogically they state them. But the letter accusing Marjorie Skinner of mocking crime victims was mean-spirited and unfair ["Letters," May 6, in reference to "Kidnapped!" April 22]. Follow this fallacious argument to its conclusion: Rape and murder are heinous crimes. Skinner did not condemn real-life incidents when writing about her "kidnap ping." Therefore she is insensitive to crime victims. Sorry, but you can't get there from here.

For one thing, "designer kidnappings," in which a client pays for a service, are limited to parameters set by the client. Real life, sadly, is not. Skinner specifically prohibited any sexual contact between her "abductor" and herself. The "kidnapper" respected her wishes.

This is fantasy role-play between consenting adults and has the same relationship with real events that paintball and laser tag do with assassination. Many women admit having rape fantasies, but they do not feel it is necessary to explain they would not want to actually be raped. Some things are so obvious they can be assumed.

The archetype of the bound and gagged "damsel in distress" resonates through popular culture. Power exchanges between willing partners involve a level of trust that brings a sexual frisson even to platonic relationships.

That's what is being commercialized by "kidnap for hire" businesses, not brutal sexual assault. Enjoy it--or reject it--for what it is. Skinner did not invent this trend, she merely reported on it vividly and non-judgmentally.



TO THE MERCURY: I was disappointed to see the Mercury endorse John Kerry on its voter cheat sheet [Election Issue, May 6]. We all know he's going to win the primary, and he's the horse we'll have to back if progressives in this country hope to slow the conservative steamroller. Nonetheless, with no spoilers in the primary election, a vote for Dennis Kucinich sends a message to the Democratic party that progressives must be acknowledged. A vote for Kucinich is a vote against involvement in Iraq, a vote for universal health care, and a vote against centrist complicity in the Republican takeover, but I guess the Mercury wants to make really, really sure John Kerry wins.

I'll vote for Phil Busse anyway; he may not have a chance of winning either, but the more people who vote for him, the more whoever wins will feel compelled to respond to those who voted for him. And he's white-hot.


CONGRATS TO STEF for winning the Mercury "Letter of the Week," which includes two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, and two passes to see Sun City Girls at Berbati's on May 21. But we're still not voting for Kucinich.