Four-star rebuttal

Letters to the Boston editor, April 4, 2008

Regarding Gerald Peary’s one-star review of the film Shelter, I wonder if Peary realizes just how detrimental his dismissive panning of this movie could be? Yes, Shelter is a film about coming out as gay; and no, creating high art was not the intention, clearly, of the film’s writer/director Jonah Markowitz. But what this particular film does offer, bravely and generously, is a forthright, sensitively rendered story of two relatively “everyday” guys who develop a loving, mutually supportive romantic relationship. Because such positive representations are rarities in our culture, to say the least, many of the college students whom I teach crave these kinds of narratives and images. I would hate for Peary’s blindly misleading critique of the film to dissuade these young people, or anybody else, from seeing the movie and determining its worth for themselves.

Jason Roush

Cruel and unusual
Small wonder Boston Cops get “confused” about constitutional issues. Consider who’s leading the charge. In his February 12 interview with the BBC, Antonin Scalia seemed to be saying that torture is not punishment because a suspect has not been convicted of a crime in a court of law. Therefore, torture is not punishment. I’m no legal scholar, but sometime between now and my high-school civics class, they must have changed the part about a “suspect” being presumed innocent. Is Scalia trying to say that assault and battery is okay if you’re scared something bad might happen? It makes no sense to torture someone who is “presumed” to be innocent.

According to Scalia’s rational, it would be okay to have someone drawn and quartered, as long as they have not been convicted of a crime. But if convicted, it would be considered cruel and unusual punishment. The Constitution does not directly address punishment or torture of the innocent. It shouldn’t have to. That’s a stretch, even for a Rove-bot.

Sterling McCosh

In the cards
I thought David S. Bernstein’s article on the defeat of Governor Deval Patrick’s resort casino bill was right on point. Polls have indicated that the majority of Massachusetts residents want casino games in the state. Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi questioned the governor’s projected positive impacts. One projection, provided by Suffolk Downs, said that gaming in Massachusetts could create 30,000 construction jobs. That was probably overstated. But the others — which suggested the state could gain some 20,000 permanent casino positions and $400 million in casino taxes, and spend a minimum of $1 billion to build the facilities, plus an additional up-front license fee of at least $200 million — were probably conservative. As an example, two race tracks in Indiana just agreed to a license fee of $250 million each, for the ability to add 2000 slot machines to their tracks ($125,000 per machine), and pay an additional tax of 41 to 51 percent on slot revenues. Wouldn’t a casino license in Massachusetts be worth much more? If three of Atlantic City’s casinos were moved to Massachusetts, they would have paid more than $500 million this past year in win taxes, at the 27 percent rate mentioned in the Patrick proposal.

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