Going Postal 

Parallel experience
Thank you for taking the time to investigate and report on the social therapy "movement." Steve Fennessy's article ("Head games," May 21) was most enlightening and indicative of the cult's rapid encroachment into cities beyond their historical New York City base. Although we may come from vastly different worlds, Erika Van Meir's dreadful experience closely paralleled my own painful seduction, inculcation and entrapment by seedy social therapists -- so much so that I was compelled to seek her out and offer my support.

Despite what Murray Dabby may claim, absolutely no "informed consent" ever occurred during my initial encounter with social therapy. In my case, it wasn't until more than a year into the "process" that I even learned that there was a Marxist-Leninist political movement creeping in the shadows. By then, it was too late to escape into relative sanity and I spent five mindless years inside Fred Newman's International Workers Party (IWP). Contrary to the claims outlined in your article, the IWP cult was still in existence when I left in 1990, and I have seen no evidence that it has since been disbanded.

The majority of "outsiders" are generally able to see Fred Newman and Murray Dabby for the smooth-talking confidence men they are. However, Fennessy's generosity in allowing them their propaganda while limiting the voice of their critics struck me as rather unfair. It also sends a dangerously nonchalant message to potential victims upon whom these cultists might "perform." While he used words such as "enemies," "uneasy" "obsessive" and "bristles" to describe Erika and I, the fawning adjectives with which Fennessy describes Murray Dabby ("earnest, interested, self-deprecatingly funny") might lead some to believe that he had fallen for his scripted (and well-rehearsed) lines.

These few criticisms aside, I think Steve Fennessy wrote a great article, and I sincerely hope he follows up on this horrible cult.

-- Marina Ortiz, Bronx, New York

Don't have to believe lies
As always Mr. Sugg, you prove to be a valuable thorn the reading public has in the side of the greedy Cox family (Fishwrapper, "Stuffing our minds with garbage," May 21). You have shown us the dishonesty and underhanded tactics used by the AJC for years now -- so much so that I only pick one up if it's on an empty MARTA seat to catch the sports page or read the BOONDOCKS. Luckily I can say that you are wrong in that we do not have to endure their lies and deceit. We have many alternative papers.

The alternative sources for media are plenty. Radio is my favorite. I salute WRFG (89.3 FM) in Atlanta for offering everything all other radio, TV and print outlets cannot seem to match: diverse and informed reporting, entertainment and very few commercials. Those who want an alternative to the lies and bullshit can find it. They may just have to look a little farther than the empty seat next to them on MARTA.

-- Mike Deezl, Savannah

Dog haters unite
I thought I was the only one in the world who despised dogs, but alas, I have found a soul mate (Headcase, "Tired of Fido," May 21)! Your piece was music to my ears. It seems like every time I mention that I do not like dogs, I get dagger-eyes from everyone in the room like it's a crime not to enjoy those "sweet puppy dog eyes" (and licks, barks, etc. etc.) What is it about those slobbery, smelly, nasty creatures that people love? I'm sure enough people will fill your inbox with letters regarding your piece, and I'm sure not all will praise you as I have. I just felt the need to take a minute and write a quick letter of appreciation.

I guess I'm not alone in the world, which all of the sudden makes it seem a better place.

-- Sarah Cairns, Kennesaw

Pound puppy
Cliff Bostock: I laughed, I cried, I even hoorayed out loud as I read your words (Headcase, "Tired of Fido," May 21). It is as if you crawled right into my brain's vault and pulled out my secret thoughts. Now I must confess, I actually have a dog, and he does smell. And my friend Robert, who is gay, does borrow my dog, specifically for the purpose of taking him to Piedmont Park near his home. When my son wanted one, I caved in and rescued one from the pound.

What a sad little creature this one is. Shadow turned out to be a great dog; he is silent, small and rather un-annoying. But alas, when I took him to the vet for his shots, that is when the real horror started. Turns out he is allergic to pretty much everything -- carpet, humans, cleaning products, etc. The symptoms of said allergies include a rather pungent odor, a horrible rash that never goes away on his tummy and my favorite symptom of all: a red swollen a-hole. Did I mention this dog's tail is also permanently positioned upright as to grant full access view of said hole?

-- Amy Schwartz, Duluth

What a choice
(In response to News & Views, "If only Alabama were farther away," May 14): I am a 36-year-old Decatur, Ga., transplant living in Anniston for about 10 years. The whole reason I moved here was because of the dangerous drug situation in metro Atlanta. And now I live in what is referred to as the PINK ZONE, where I have to make room in my closet for gas mask, air purifiers and things to tape my house up JUST IN CASE. At least I can fight the drug situation, but not the incinerator. I might be back in Hotlanta real soon.

-- Sabrina Guyer, Eastaboga, Ala.

F for freedom
So if a majority protests the Patriot Act, it will be revoked (Fishwrapper, "We're from the government ..." May 14)? Not likely, although I will protest along with millions of "unapathetic" real patriots. Only until we can get George out of office will we have a chance at regaining the freedoms we cherish.

-- Susan Welch, Atlanta

Back to the beginning
I support your noble efforts to stop the vandalism of our freedom (Fishwrapper, "We're from the government ..." May 14). However, I believe it is too late. This is always the road a corrupt government begins to take as they fade into the past. The sun is setting on our liberties and our nation as we knew it.

I wish there was something that could be done. Even as I write this, it is probably being read by the NSA.

Take heart though, as we degrade our currency like we are presently doing, we will also ruin this nation and maybe start all over again.

-- Ralph Braley, Chattanooga, Tenn.

There's much more
Andisheh Nouraee: You're no doubt going to get a lot of e-mail criticizing you for being so down on the Confederacy when you mentioned Ashcroft thought of them as true patriots (Don't Panic, May 14). The war was fought over many things. How much slavery contributed is an argument that will go on forever and will never be resolved. Some people look at every living soul that breathed air in the South in 1860 as a slave-beating bigot, and that's just not the case. But I digress.

However, the fact that twice in your article you demonize Ashcroft for admiring Southern leaders missed the point. Ashcroft is more dangerous than Bush and supports so many Orwellian ideals it is really scary. Couldn't you have found something else to blast him on? His record and his ideals are waiting to be attacked, but you dwell on the fact that he "praised the leaders of the Confederacy as true patriots." Come on, find something better. I love military history and I can appreciate the sacrifice soldiers and leaders of both sides endured. People who thump their chests like you did about the evil Confederacy ticks me off just as much as rednecks waving 1956 Georgia state flags do.

-- Jeff Ballentine, Atlanta

Stand up
Thank you for your provocative column on media giantism and the coming FCC disaster (Fishwrapper, "Big media doesn't want you to know," May 7). In all likelihood, this ship left the dock awhile back but challenging it remains vital nonetheless. As a quasi CNN exec who walked for health and sanity, the enormity of our cultural loss as these trans-national corporations grow and grab staggers the soul.

-- Byron Harris, Atlanta


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