Dear Reader Editor,
The castration of Windy City Times publisher Jeff McCourt by Michael Miner (issue 5/26/95) is one of the most unbelievable pieces of journalism I have recently read (only to be followed by the continually factless and bitchy pages of Babble). Mr. McCourt has many friends, of which I am one. Mr. McCourt is a business owner who has the right to terminate any employee's tenure. I myself and others whom I know that own businesses have terminated employees, and we have luckily not found our way into the pages of the press. Of course the difference is that we are talking about two very high-profile leaders of our community (McCourt and [fired columnist Jon-Henri] Damski). It is not the reporting of the situation that I find trite, but the hackneyed quotes from others that Mr. Miner chose to print in his Hot Type column. It is obviously a McCourt/WCT smear campaign created for the sole enjoyment of Babble's Richard Cooke which Mr. Miner sold out to.
I understand that Mr. Damski was duly paid for his services, and thus it is not the fault of Mr. McCourt that he has not had the foresight to begin even a simple savings account for himself or for his future. Frankly, I do not read Mr. Damski's column (maybe only twice in the ten years I have been aware of Mr. Damski). This is not to say that I do not recognize the difference he has made to the gay community, but I (like so many other WCT readers I have spoken to this week) simply do not enjoy reading or necessarily agree with what he has to say. It has not wrecked my world that Mr. Damski was fired. In fact as a WCT reader, advertiser and friend to the publisher, I doubt if I would have even realized he was missing from the pages without this expose. And I am sure Mr. Damski will be in print again soon due to all this incredible media focus on his plight.
My concern is for my good "friend" Jeffrey, who I know as not the paranoiac idiot portrayed by those interviewed by Mr. Miner. But as an extremely compassionate man, who created a newspaper that has an incredible amount of support and integrity in its weekly pages, as he has within himself.
With every consideration in this matter I remain sincerely,
Douglas L. Hartzell