September 8, 2010

Inbox — Sept. 8, 2010

Letters to the Editor

Unfair Fees
I read with complete interest the recent article about the “business” of protecting copyrighted music to ensure the songwriters and artists get their fair take for their efforts (LEO Weekly, Aug. 18). I have dealt with these “overseeing” agencies in the past as the fitness director at a health club. They are relentless in the pursuit of their “protection” for the music industry.

As a patron of a struggling local bar, I have witnessed their tactics. The owner no longer feels free to book any bands because of ASCAP’s demands. The bar is barely surviving because of the smoking ban and the economy. The agents must work on commission like any bill collector. How much of that goes to the agent? How much goes to the company? How much finally gets divided among artists? I am all for giving the artists what they deserve, but there has to be a better, fairer way.

What is a trademark or copyright? There are thousands of patents that, if changed by a little tweak, the patent no longer applies. Look at prescription drugs: A whole market of generics do not cost nearly as much as the “original.” Patents eventually expire. Why isn’t music the same? When a band is doing a “cover” of a song, why it is not considered a generic version? If a band changes the lyrics or the chords, it’s like making a generic drug.

My advice for all bars is to band together and fight this ridiculous scheme. There should be a lawyer out there who can prove that every time a different band plays a “cover” song, it’s unique. If a business uses original artists’ music, maybe they should have to pay some uniform fee, not whatever the agent in charge can threaten the business out of, but a set, realistic price. If a business offers live music and bands make songs their own, leave them alone. They are trying to stay alive. What other protective business pays that much money for rent? Animal shelters? Homeless shelters? Why aren’t the artists they “protect” demanding more?
Gina Huiet, Shively/PRP

Preserving a Piece
Thank you for running Jo Anne Triplett’s informed piece on the importance of preserving Louisville’s historic architecture and, in particular, the urgency of saving Whiskey Row (LEO Weekly, Aug. 25). Louisville is my home. I admire the old buildings and take pride in showing them to visitors. We must not allow developers like Todd Blue to rob us of important pieces of our history.

Though not a member at the time, I attended a meeting of Preservation Louisville Inc. where I was happy to sign my name to various petitions to preserve the iron-front buildings on West Main. Recently, I received a request for a contribution to Preservation Louisville and had not responded. After reading Triplett’s article and being greatly impressed by the way the pictures of the Row were presented, I was inspired to immediately write a check. It was in the mail the next day. I hope many others will write checks also. My congratulations to Triplett.
Doris L. Anderson, Seneca Park

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
In your Aug. 18 issue, a Jeffersontown resident wrote of his experience and observations in respect to the correlation of student achievement with poverty, making specific reference to Shawnee and Fern Creek high schools. He stated that teachers, administrators and students should not be blamed for the low CATS scores of those schools; rather, the culprit is ... POVERTY! Hmm. I wish he had delved more deeply into his thesis.

Might there be a direct correlation between student poverty and the unstable and broken families from which those students come? And might not a major reason for their lack of motivation and high dropout rate be an absence of the direction a stable, two-parent family provides? And can’t the same be said for the extraordinary numbers of fatherless youngsters today who are engaging in illicit drug use, criminal activity and irresponsible sexual relations?

Too, let’s remember that two-parent families generally are better-informed and more responsible citizens, and among those, the ones that are religious are more charitable with both their personal time and their financial resources.

In the 46 years and $1 trillion expended since Lyndon Johnson declared his “War on Poverty,” the nation’s poverty rate has remained virtually the same. In addition, we now have millions of people addicted to taxpayer-funded government largess programs, which stifle and discourage entrepreneurial effort and financial independence. Question: Is the answer to poverty throwing more money at it and punishing those who have escaped it by raising their taxes? Answer: I think not.
Daniel F. McHugh, East End

Hearing Crickets
About a year ago, I joined a group launching Tyler Allen’s mayoral campaign. Whilst huddled together, Allen insisted the term “inclusive engagement” be listed in our campaign values. I didn’t know the meaning of that term. I did, however, become enlightened quickly. When Allen went around Louisville, he didn’t preach, he listened. Without even considering there was another way to do it, we kept that culture of listening alive via social media. When inquiries were posted to our Facebook or we received Tweets, our campaign responded. It was exhausting, yet it also was exciting to connect directly with voters the way they wanted to communicate.

Recently, the Bridges Coalition uploaded a video to YouTube with comments enabled. Within 24 hours, the video was removed and uploaded with the comments disabled. Not even the National Organization for Marriage disables YouTube comments. This isn’t inclusive engagement, but rather “Stupid Cricket Syndrome.” There is, however, hope. Some candidates are becoming rock-star famous for their responsiveness in social media. Ed Martin, John Waltz and Attica Scott come to mind.

Last week, after the Greg Fischer campaign uploaded a video with comments disabled, I complained, and the campaign removed the video and re-uploaded it with comments enabled. Lesson learned: It’s never too late to nip “Stupid Cricket” in the bud and engage voters. I commend Fischer for this small step. Just keep in mind the next step is being responsive to the comments that are posted.

What is the leading cause of “Stupid Cricket”? It is likely to occur when leaders hold a belief that social media is an instrument to rape us with their propaganda, instead of a tool for engaging us about our collective future. But the days of controlling information while ignoring dissent are over. Thanks to the Internet, when you come down with “Stupid Cricket,” we’ll use our creativity not only to blog about it, but we’ll then trivialize you for all your other weaknesses. We can say NO to “Stupid Cricket Syndrome” and demand our leaders inclusively engage us on the Internet, and the best of them will, or else.
Curtis Morrison, Highlands

Dear Mom
I’m sorry you couldn’t make it to the tea party, Mom, but I really don’t think this was your cup of brew. I’m not sure what tea they serve, but it sounds like they flavor it with the bitter “bark and saps” from their trees of liberty.

I know it was held at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but they were not there to honor his dream or what it means to the millions he still inspires. I’m really not sure what their agenda is, Mom. Some say they want their country back. Others complain about taxes and big government. Their emerging leadership talks about honor and a return to the Christian foundations of this great country.

I know the Constitution specifies freedom of religion along with other cherished rights we celebrate as Americans, Mom, but these self-professed “strict constitutionalists” pick the rights they want to be strict about. It seems the only one they are really absolute about is their divine right to bear arms and play militia.

It is ironic that they chose a hockey mom who has morphed from a barracuda to a lip-flapping pit bull to a snarling, angry grizzly bear as one of their leaders. Light on the thinking and heavy on the winking. Her charlatan gold-hawking prophet spews lies and vitriol and then sells the faithful gold that will give the chosen ones an edge when the Apocalypse comes.

Yes, Mom. The good book did say Jesus drove the “money changers” from the temple, and those who tried to profit from the word of God were also cast out, but that parable was deleted from their rewrite of the word, and besides, who has time to notice when there is so much hate to sow? No wonder it tastes so bitter.
Joseph C. Wohlleb, Highlands