Letters: Wednesday, February 20, 2003
What Will it Take?

To the editor: There is no statute of limitations on murder. Rightly so. No one should be allowed to take another person’s life, for whatever reason, even self defense, without being subjected to the full scrutiny and determinations of the laws of our society. By the same token there should be no statue of limitations for pedophilia (“Looking to Extend the Reach of Law,” Feb. 13, 2003).

When you destroy the hearts and souls of growing boys or girls, you have taken their lives as surely as if you attacked them with a lethal weapon. Our laws give these victims 10 years from their 18th birthday. Ten years for them to find someone they trust enough to tell their story to. Ten years to find someone who will believe their story. And the rest of their lives to try to convince themselves they were the victim not the perpetrator. Some of them make it, with the help of expensive psychiatric and rehab care. Some of them don’t.

The current statute of limitations means that the molestations committed against many men who have come forward recently cannot be prosecuted. So those men are going to live out their lives convicted by themselves and society and a legal system that still believes children should be seen and not heard —and even worse, not believed. That in turn makes it difficult to prosecute Will Hallman’s abuser, the one case that is within the statute.

Will Hallman is a young man with not much history on his side and no witnesses, since pedophilia is not generally a spectator sport. His support system will be made up of a couple of dozen men with nothing to gain financially, whose lives speak more of failure and dysfunctionalism than success because of what happened to them when they were still too young to know themselves. Will is going to have to defend himself alone against a sophisticated man with full knowledge of the legal system and the sophistry to make it work, a man who has persuaded a lot of people that he is a pillar of the community, a stalwart of the church and a protector of young boys. He convinced me, a mother who got the “Over-protective Mother of the Year” award on a daily basis.

There is more than one pedophile out there. You won’t recognize him; he’ll look like your scout leader, your preacher, your next-door neighbor. He’ll look and act like someone you’ll appreciate taking an interest in your kid. When you find out his real interest in your kid, it will be too late.

In Jay Lapham’s recent letter to Fort Worth Weekly, he urged my family to contact the Texas Legislature about extending the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. We are doing so, seeking not to extend but to eliminate the limitation and to make that change retroactive. But — how many times was Wirt Norris’ name turned into the district attorney’s office and no action was taken? Will it take one of our legislator’s children becoming a victim before they take action on behalf of all children?

The shame of Wirt Norris is he falsely presented himself as a safe haven, a mentor for young boys. He used his reputation to teach those young boys that his sick and aberrant behavior was a normal stage of manhood. And the more victims he found, the less twisted he could believe he was. The shame of society is that, unless the laws are changed, he’ll be free to continue.

Merry Kaastad

Fort Worth

Young Mann with a Horn

To the editor: Mr. Mariani [Fort Worth Weekly arts and entertainment editor Anthony Mariani] threatens who, exactly? Do not these whiners (“Eschew Babble,” Letters Feb. 13, 2003) have opinions, and do not their buddies agree with some and disagree with others, as is permitted in America? A music critic is even more entitled to print his opinions, since that is his job, and readers are — most of them, anyway — able to “just say no” and pass the article by, if they disagree.

I read with amusement Mr. Mariani’s review of Scott “The Love Song Balladeer” Mann’s c.d., and thought it was right on, both in terms of the c.d. and description of Mr. Mann’s personality trait of blowing his own horn quite loudly. The c.d. has one good thing — the lead guitar, which you won’t hear at Mr. Mann’s live performances. The rest of it is negligible. As a live performer, Mr. Mann cannot understand that his evangelistic content is suited only for those venues labeling themselves “Christian.” He has a nice voice, if only he would not yell through his entire set. His lack of dynamics, mediocre songwriting, and extremely self-admiring attitude prevents a potential audience from enjoying his music.

This performer wants only gushing praise. Anyone who asks for advice from veteran performers, then whines that he’s being picked on when the advice doesn’t stroke his ego, deserves a truthful review such as Mr. Mariani’s. The point will be missed anyway, Anthony — so fire away!

Chris Davis


Drug Money

To the editor: I am writing to express my support for Texas House Bill 715, which takes a step in the right direction of decriminalizing marijuana. It’s time we wake up and start redirecting that $7 billion in tax dollars we now waste annually in prosecuting non-violent marijuana smokers (“Reefer Sadness,” Dec. 12, 2002). As a taxpayer, I feel that this substantial chunk of the budget would be better spent on such things as AIDS or breast cancer research, Medicaid patients, or figuring out what we’ll do when we finally deplete the planet’s natural resources. As a student of biology and from firsthand experience, I can vouch that the active ingredients present in the cannabis plant are far less lethal, disorienting, addictive, and likely to induce violent behavior than those active ingredients present in your liquor cabinet. The fact of the matter is that the system itself will keep the gateway theory true by socially classifying users of a mild, common, and medicinal herb as criminals. We are spending too much money in keeping with our misconceptions about this plant. The current legal procedure regarding marijuana is making innocent people into criminals, because peaceful and responsible consumption of one of the most useful plants on God’s green Earth certainly does not constitute criminal activity.

Layne Tisdel

Grand Prairie


• In a Static item of Feb. 13, 2003, the name of the firm of independent auditors who have studied Fort Worth school district construction contracts was given incorrectly. It is Whitley Penn.

• There were several errors in a Feb. 13 story about the band Spoonfed Tribe. Here’s the correct information: The Tribe’s main drummer calls himself Kabooom; the second drummer is his brother, Chad Geouffattz. The group’s debut c.d. was self-titled Spoonfed Tribe. The drum and fire group Kuma is a side project of Tribe members Kabooom and Sho-nuff. The tribe’s effects are by Don Gentry. Fort Worth Weekly, whose collective head now hurts, definitely regrets the errors.

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