Incivility at 'BEZ | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Incivility at 'BEZ


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To the editors:

I am writing in response to David Whiteis's defense of the violence of the blues. In his letter December 17, he said rather eloquently that "only by passing bravely through the darkness can we hope to apprehend the light." I agree. Life is a torment, our urges can be violent, and through art we give form to the complexity of our experience. However, I think he missed an important point.

Whiteis wrote in response to WBEZ listener Frieda Dean's complaint to Hot Type October 22 about the violence in the lyrics of the theme song of the show "Blues Before Sunrise." Dean contacted Hot Type only after she made attempts to express her concerns to WBEZ staff and was treated rudely and dismissively. If anyone at WBEZ had taken the time to take a listener complaint seriously, if anyone at WBEZ had cared to engage in an exchange of views with Dean, I doubt this issue would have come to the pages of the Reader. It's fine for Whiteis to lend his expertise in defense of an art form, but this isn't his battle. This isn't about censorship of the arts, as Whiteis would have us believe; it's about civility--telephone manners, even. The heart of the matter is the failure of Chicago's public radio staff to participate in dialogue with a member of its public.

S.L. Wisenberg


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