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Department of Awfully Embarrassing Situations



To the editors:

Here's one more outraged respondent to Mary Shen Barnidge's review of Anita Stenger's Make Yer Bed and Lie in the March 15 issue.

I missed the review in the paper--so a friend handed me a photocopy of it. That was no problem for him, since he was circulating them among friends and sexual abuse professionals. I then showed it to a coworker who told me she had "heard about it" from her friends.

You people have an awfully embarrassing situation on your hands.

Ms. Barnidge belches forth ignorance I would be shocked to read on the pages of the National Review, never mind Chicago's leading progressive publication. Then she lacks the modicum of decency to apologize for her inflammatory stupidity with her response published in the letters section of the March 29 issue. Who is this pea brain and why is she reviewing theater in the first place? Are you that hard up for reviewers?

Obviously, Ms. Barnidge has a warped perception of the issues surrounding childhood sexual abuse. Her most ignorant statements include such gems as "it has become fashionable in artistic circles to have been sexually molested as a child" and "it is overworked as a subject for art." I shall resist the temptation to methodically blast all of her incendiary statements one by one for several reasons: (a) the person who wrote the March 29 issue's letter to the editor covered them well; (b) I want my letter to be reasonably brief; and (c) devoting that much mental energy to Ms. Barnidge's idiocy makes me want to puke.

Although it's satisfying to unleash a tirade against Ms. Barnidge, it's really not the point of my letter. The point is this: what were you people thinking? Don't you have editors? Isn't somebody employed to intercept this sort of thing before it encourages ignorance and misunderstanding about an issue as major as childhood sexual abuse? One twisted individual can end up writing for the best of publications, but other people are supposed to be in place to edit such ignorance.

The staff of the Reader owes this community an apology for their part in this shameful oversight. It was bad enough to print the review in the first place, but to respond to the March 29 letter by printing more of Ms. Barnidge's muddled defense of an indefensible position without comment from any of the editors is disgraceful. I hope your staff has the sensibilities to accept its responsibility for this gross error in judgment.

R. Jacobson

E. Ontario

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