I was 27 years old, new to Minneapolis and excited to be here. But everything changed quickly on a hot summer night, when a man cut our kitchen screen, crawled in and raped me in my bedroom. It was both painful and life-changing.

Yet it pales in comparison to the horrific gang rapes and hangings of two girls, 14 and 16 years old, in a remote area of India. I cannot imagine the grief and fear, let alone the outrage, of the families and community. The initial response of ministers in that area was “boys make mistakes,” and the police didn’t want to help, saying: “Why have you come to us?”

Rape is common in India and other countries that have little or no respect for females, especially those in poverty. Besides the anger around the world for the treatment of women and girls, what will we do to make it a safer life for these vulnerable human beings? It’s up to all of us. Raise your voice in protest.

Kathleen Crow, Minneapolis

THE TRUTH

Do you believe what you read? Really?

Two commentaries reminded me that a good percentage of what you and I believe, say, even advocate vigorously, is simply not true.

First, Nicholas Kristof’s data-rich commentary (“How gender bias swirls around us,” June 13) demonstrated, once again, our normal and embedded gender bias. (Remember a couple of weeks ago, when public reaction forced Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to apologize for saying he is — as I think virtually all of us are — a subconscious, even if unwilling, racist?) We are all influenced by biases so subconscious that we doubt they’re even there.

Then, on the same page, Tony Clarey’s counterpoint (“The real Poland, 25 years later,” June 13) responded to an earlier evaluation of Poland, 25 years after the fall of communism. For me, Clarey showed fairly persuasively that the first article had gone out of its way to make President Obama responsible for failures that don’t even exist in modern Poland. I’m guessing that’s because the earlier author was writing from a perspective shaped by a political viewpoint he sincerely believes.

I just wanted all of us to remember that a solid percentage of what we believe to be true is simply not. (In fact, a percentage of what we think we remember is false, too.)

Phil Bolinder, Woodbury

 

PRIEST ABUSE

Recalling when Flynn did indeed remember

I find it beyond curious that Archbishop Harry Flynn suddenly draws blanks when he tries to remember whether he ever observed any sexual abuse going on in the Roman Catholic Church when he was active in it (“Flynn can recall few details of sex abuse,” June 5). I interviewed the archbishop for an article I wrote for Mpls.St.Paul magazine’s October 2002 issue. At that time, he was pretty much the go-to guy for child-abuse cases in the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana and later in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In this interview, Flynn acknowledged listening to scores of child-abuse stories. “I loved Lafayette,” he said. “I loved the people. But the pain was tremendous. I did try to visit families of those who had difficulties. [I saw] that no matter what the brokenness might be, the human spirit can really heal and move beyond it.”

Evidently Flynn’s spirit has moved so far beyond it that he can’t recall that it ever happened.

“I’ve had visits from them in this very room [at the Chancery in St. Paul, where I interviewed him]. It’s a terribly painful experience, and I learned never to start to minister to another who is in pain until, in some way, the minister can experience some of that pain.”

I had tremendous admiration for Archbishop Flynn after I interviewed him, and it’s hard to believe that he no longer has any memory of the actions that once made him famous within the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps he has developed some of the general amnesia of the church for any bad things that ever happened.

Paul Froiland, Eden Prairie

• • •

Strip the names and titles off the testimony in the latest scandal in our local Catholic archdiocese, and it would be difficult to distinguish it from that of Colin and Andrea Chisholm, who are charged with welfare fraud, and whose own testimony would, if so anonymized, be indistinguishable from any racketeer, grifter or fraud anywhere, ever.

Criminality and coverups are largely the same; what is different is how these things are handled by our courts. Because they’re white and wealthy, the Chisholms got away with their scams for a long time. Because they wear ecclesiastical robes and pretend that they work for God, clergy under investigation for decades of crime walk forgetfully free where other men might improve their memories in a cell.

As annoying as it is to be mugged on the street, at least one might expect the mugger, if caught, to face justice. When these wealthy, powerful individuals mug us, they add insult to injury by thumbing their noses at the justice system, and the justice system lets them. The rule of law is supposed to apply equally to everyone — when it doesn’t, our society is in dire trouble.

Robert Alberti, Minneapolis

• • •

Just a quick note to the Catholic Church and to those who subscribe to the idea that the church is being unfairly targeted: It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup, as is becoming increasingly evident every day.

Richard A. Pommier, Long Prairie, Minn.

 

BOOGEYMEN

Even Batman, Robin were once the bad guys

I was upset to read a recent article linking the tragic stabbings in Wisconsin to a fan fiction site on the Internet (“Girls in Wis. stabbing face adult charges,” June 4). This is another instance of an older generation blaming a new influence for a tragedy, where the true culprit is clearly two disturbed girls. The horror genre is rather old, and books in this genre have been available at local libraries without restriction since most Star Tribune readers have been alive. I and many others were assigned Edgar Allan Poe’s books in middle school and have managed to not get our rivals drunk on Amontillado and brick them into the niches of cellar walls.

These kinds of moral panics aren’t new. When I was growing up, the boogeymen were Judas Priest and “Dungeons & Dragons.” In the early 50s, psychologist Fredric Wertham promoted the homophobic idea that Batman and Robin comic books were turning kids gay. In recent years, the bad guy is video games. Now it’s horror fiction appearing on a website. It’s time that we learn our lesson and stop blaming things we didn’t have as kids for corrupting our youth.

Steve Sether, Minneapolis