No Bearing

Editorials are meant to convince. They are opinion pieces so they are not as bound to facts as news stories. However, if an editorial has any hope of convincing anyone outside of those who are already in agreement with its posture, it must surely present some facts with logical connections to the issue at hand. "Fear and Loathing in Farragut" [by Jesse Fox Mayshark, Vol. 8, No. 19] did not present any proof that the Indigo Girls' concert at Farragut High School was canceled due to bigotry.

You state that the officials "deny that the Indigo Girls' sexual orientation was the driving force behind the decision" [to cancel the concert]. Your conflicting evidence consists of an assertion: "but students say otherwise." Maybe some students and you did not believe the officials, but gainsaying is not refutation. There was no evidence presented that the officials were not telling the truth.

You dismissed the stated reason, "that the folk-rockers had used profanity at another high school performance" then reported that the "innocuous [emphasis added] folk rockers...had apologized in that case," giving credence to the officials stated concern. If the band apologized for something other than using profanity at a high school, then surely you could present evidence to that effect. Finally, even if it is true that "swearing's not even enough to get you detention" it is facetious to suggest that actions, if perpetrated by a student, do not result in a given punishment then school officials must allow similar action by an outside guest performing under school auspices.

Your best attempt at establishing a causal link was reporting that "several parents and students [apparently not the same students who 'say otherwise'] were quoted saying they didn't want the group to 'promote their agenda.'" Assuming that these were the same parents "whose complaints got the...concert canceled," you do imply that some parents and students had concerns about the band promoting a lesbian agenda. You did present reasonable evidence why this concern may not be valid; congratulations. But how does the existence of this concern by some parents and students disprove that the officials acted for their stated reasons? Where is your evidence that the officials were lying about "the driving force behind the decision"? To offer an alternative explanation while doing nothing to disprove the "given reason" is no more than idle speculation and hardly warrants the front page's proclamation of "the real reason." You did a fair job establishing that prejudice against gays exists. You failed to prove this prejudice resulted in the cancellation of the Farragut concert.

Even if I grant every other assertion in the piece [and I don't, but let's keep this short]: Knoxville has gay citizens, gay nightspots, and activities supported by gays; the debate about what causes homosexuality is pointless and "shouldn't matter"; the Bible has anti-gay sentiments, the Bible has been used to support causes which are now not well received; the Farragut principal may not think there are gay students or may not have thought of them, etc., none of them have the least bearing on the principle assertion: that the stated reason behind the concert is a lie and bigotry is the real answer.

It certainly has no bearing on any of this that I like the Indigo Girls' music, either.

Roy Schubert
Oak Ridge

No Verdicts, Please

Thank you for challenging me enough to open up a dictionary and find out what "vapid" means ["Ear to the Ground," Vol. 8, No. 22]. In my dictionary it means lacking animation or flavor. It is a word I have never heard of or its use. It must be a good word for it was used again in Time magazine the same week of your article. I do not know if anybody else looked it up, but you made me do it. Henry David Thoreau, a.k.a. a great person, wrote "SIMPLIFY"—this might help your writing style or lack of.

I have been Mr. Kim Stephens for over two-and-a-half years now and have to say that you are wrong. My wife is far from vapid. She is unemployed. That is all you had to write. Give the readers facts, not your verdict.

Rick Pendergast

p.s. My wife is
(almost call letters, ha?)

Fun and Informative, That's Us

Your send-up of Knoxville "postcards" was laser-sharp satire [Vol. 8, No. 22]. The riverfront view really hit the target.

No matter how many millions are spent sprucing up our riverfront, we're still looking at an unsightly gas tank farm. Purchasing trees (tall) and landscaping (dense) for the other side of the river is the only way to enhance this area, short of relocating the gas company!

Thanks for making your publication fun as well as informative.

Mark Schaefer