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Letters to the Editor 

Editor's note: We received numerous phone calls and letters questioning our decision to publish our June 10 cover story "Johnny Rebel Speaks," a profile of C.J. Trahan and his career in racist music. The following letters are representative of what our readers had to say. Gambit Weekly responds on p. 7.

WHY JOHNNY REBEL?

I am writing in response to reading the article "Johnny Rebel Speaks" (June 10). I am deeply disappointed in the staff at Gambit for letting an article containing such obvious racist overtones be published. After I read this article, I was left dazed and confused.

How did the staff at Gambit think that the people of this area would want to read about someone who professes hate to his fellow man? And, in addition to this, give your readers all of the information necessary, including his Web address, to be able to purchase his so-called "music"? It was as if it was assumed that your readers assign themselves to wearing sheets and burning crosses on people's lawns.

A newspaper that has been trusted for years has betrayed the greater New Orleans area with its irresponsible journalism. There are millions of other topics in this city, let alone the world that would have left your readers feeling enlightened and positive. You just dragged your newspaper through the mud and managed to offend thousands.

Heather Wright


I am outraged and incensed by the publication of a recent article about C.J. Trahan ("Johnny Rebel Speaks," June 10). I have read through the article carefully and regret that I do not see any newsworthy content whatsoever; unless, of course, it is news that racism is alive and well.

How ever did you arrive at this topic, anyway? Were you just looking for the most ignorant, self-contradictory, back-woods hick on the planet and arrived at C.J. Trahan? Did you have nothing better to do? Is there nothing else going on in the state of Louisiana?

Shawn Lamb Bowen

 

I was very disappointed with the content and story of this so-called legend ("Johnny Rebel Speaks," June 10). I failed to grasp how it was relevant to any issues, and it featured very little talk with "Johnny" himself. Instead, the writer seems to be promoting white supremacy views -- listing Web sites people interested in such music can go to, etc. I think that any person with over-the-top racist views knows where to go to find others with the same interest.

I suggest you re-read this feature and look for any other positive music achievements this man has made other than becoming a legend within hatecore groups and "white power music." Very distasteful, considering the many great musicians that have put and continue to place New Orleans on the map.
-- L. Torres

  THE ACCIDENTAL RACIST

C.J. Trahan is the poster boy for Southern racism ("Johnny Rebel Speaks," June 10). You can practically hear him wheezing up the old sawhorse, "I got a lot of friends who are black." He says, about writing "segregationist music," that "that just seemed like the natural thing to do." That's funny because I've often thought quite differently about that time. Trahan doesn't seem like a thinker, though. He is the embodiment of the Accidental Racist. This mythical creature usually just "happens" to do insulting things or, in the case of Trahan, was just making a buck from it. They say that race means nothing, but then say things like "(b)lacks develop an attitude toward the whites, and they won't let it go." Trahan says he wants to forget all of this Johnny Rebel business, so he goes on the Howard Stern show in 2001 to promote the album. Trahan says it wasn't his idea to write and record these songs and then says that he did it without any inducement. He wants to appear unprejudiced, but who wrote those songs? You don't write a song like "Kajun Klu Klux Klan" by accident. Trahan is a child who won't be responsible for his actions. No wonder he's a hero to racists.

Dylan Posa

 A LIVING VICTIM RESPONDS

Regarding Tim Borel's letter (June 24), the family members who have been victimized by the calculated, brutal slayings of their loved ones will never again have "normal lives." If we became "reluctant experts" on serial killers, forensic science and politics, I assure you it was out of the sheer necessity of awakening a community and law enforcement that something sinister had been taking place for at least one decade -- scores of unsolved female homicides that were now cold cases, many of them with frighteningly similar patterns.

The living victims had advocates, however, and they weren't "Tom or Harry or every private Dick." They were generous, concerned experts -- people like Dr. Peter Scharf (UNO criminologist), Gene Fields (seasoned homicide detective) and Patricia Cornwell (forensics institute founder). These experts advised us as we navigated through a vacuum of public information and a void of police communication. Ironically, our intuitive experts' "cacophony of opinions" will probably prove to be correct: that Derrick Todd Lee is responsible not only for a "relatively isolated batch of cases" but a large number of brutal deaths spanning 10 years.

Of course, there is appreciation for the "incredible technology and human precision" at the state police crime lab, but without the prodding of the living victims, the DNA from Geralyn DeSoto's case (labeled "inconclusive" by the state crime lab) would not have been sent to ReliaGene Lab, where more sophisticated technology conclusively linked Lee. Mr. Borel's time would be well spent fighting for funding to further equip the state crime lab facility. The "college-educated biochemist on the slave decks of the state police crime lab" does have something to be grateful for. When Rep. Yvonne Welch asked Lynne Marino what she could do, Marino replied, "Get funding for the 3,000 untested rape kits." Shortly thereafter, the legislation was passed, appropriating $650,000 for this purpose. That doesn't sound like two women who are interested only in "isolated cases."

Perhaps I am naive, but I still think it noble that grieving, living victims used their resources, time and monies to publicize the danger that awaited college students on LSU's campus and to implore the women of Baton Rouge to remain vigilant. When ordinary citizens warmly thank you for that sacrifice, I suppose it is polite to say, "You're very welcome." We wish we didn't have to say, "I told you so."

"Self-appointed watchdogs" can be a positive thing. Thank God that the living victim John Walsh didn't just "go home." I have a request of Tim Borel, the living victim of myopic reasoning -- get real.

Nancy P. Thomas
Sister of Pam Kinamore

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