Thanks for covering Malachi Ritscher's story in the Reader [Hot Type, November 24; Peter Margasak's Post No Bills blog, November 7]. I did not realize I knew him until I saw the picture--I'd confused him with Malachi Thompson, who also died this year. To refute "tim," whom you quoted, Malachi had a long commitment to human rights--this is how I knew him. In the late 80s and early 90s he and I both worked as volunteers with Amnesty International's local group 570. We worked to free prisoners of conscience in many countries, including Iraq. I don't know what "tim" was doing 16 or 17 years ago, but Malachi was working to fight Saddam's reign of terror (and other brutal regimes) when very few members of the American public were aware of it. He was there, spending evenings writing letters, planning, giving his invaluble input when "tim" and most Americans were home watching some stupid television program.
Malachi was hugely helpful to me in organizing a benefit concert for our group in the Augenblick tavern in 1990; his knowledge of the music business was invaluable in putting together a wonderful evening that raised a lot of money to promote human rights. I never knew about any alleged domestic problems or mental illness--I personally found Malachi to be quiet, intelligent, self-effacing, and just a nice guy. I disagree with what he did, because we need more Malachi Ritschers in this world alive, not dead. I am just sick that it took his suicide to make public a message he quietly carried for decades.