07/25/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT
The only thing I'm certain of is that Tawana Brawley has been raped (PEOPLE, July 4). But whether by six white men, one with a badge, in secret, or by three black men, all with political ambitions, in public, I just don't know. I hope she finds someone who cares more about her and her future well-being than anything else involved. And I hope the men responsible for raping her, whether figuratively or literally, are exposed and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Even though your cover on the Tawana Brawley case points out that "what happened to this 16-year-old girl is a mystery," your big, yellow headline brands her claims "A Pack of Lies." The story may be more balanced, but millions of people will only see that blaring headline. Despite the quote marks around the phrase, they will see its inflammatory message as coming from a major publication rather than from an adviser's aide whose attribution is 64 pages away. Whatever the truth, this kind of sensationalism further erodes people's confidence in the press. Worse, it makes individuals—especially members of minority groups—feel that, once accused, they probably won't get fair consideration from people with the power to pass judgments.
It was not our intention to imply that Tawana Brawley's allegations are untrue. Our headline referred to a statement about her advisers and in no way was meant to "brand" Ms. Brawley as a liar.—ED.
Mr. Mason's statement that the authorities haven't focused on the Brawley case as a rape-kidnap because it involved a black woman is the most ignorant, biased, deplorable and downright disgusting thing I have ever heard. This case has turned from a rape case with no evidence to an intended racial attack with lies as evidence. Tawana, stop lying and take your punishment for your four days of partying. And, Mrs. Brawley, put in one good, swift kick for me.
Sarah E. Barrett
Red Bank, N.J.
I applaud your article about the Tawana Brawley case. I'm certain that it heightened the awareness of many people—and accelerated the realization of others—that reckless extremism has no productive place in our society. The Reverend Al Sharpton and his cohorts clearly showed the rest of us how emotion rather than logic, paranoid fabrications rather than facts, and biased accusations rather than objective action can seriously jeopardize the worthy causes from which they spring. Sharpton, with his "I've got my mind made up, don't confuse me with the facts," mentality, managed to conveniently place the poor girl's case where it never should have been—in the murky shadows of political opportunism.
David M. Grunau
Michelle Anderson did make a point at the Miss California pageant. She has proved, once and for all, that dieting, bleached hair and tanning studios do not a Miss California make. She has proved that deceit, plotting, vicious lies, deception and disregard of friends is never beautiful. If this is feminism, count me out.
When Michelle Anderson, through her feminist organization, can match the millions of dollars awarded to girls through the Miss America program, then she can start fussing. Most feminists I have seen are usually lost
causes that wouldn't win a dog show contest. Why should they fault us for admiring one of God's grandest creations: woman. Jealousy can be a vicious disease.
Fountain Inn, S.C.
Your article on Carl Rowan reinforced my belief that possessing any gun should be illegal. There was a time in America when people were responsible enough to own handguns and rifles, but that time has come and gone.
My heart goes out to Carl Rowan for the ordeal he is now faced with. Benjamin Smith's attitude is infuriating—"I guess I was trespassing, but..." He sounds like a spoiled brat who maybe shouldn't have been so cocky.
Jim & Tammy Bakker
I was appalled to see how many people are still willing to support Jim and Tammy Bakker after they have apparently pocketed supporters' money for their own benefit. I think it is very sad to see so many homeless, sick and poor people with nowhere to turn, when all our society can do is continue to keep people like Jim and Tammy rich for reasons I am still trying to figure out.
Lori L. Ball
Jim Bakker says, "My initials are J.O.B." Well, Jim, I think S.N.O.W. should be in front of your initials—as in S.N.O.W.J.O.B.
Jim Bakker states that "money is not the problem." Too bad PTL could not make the same statement under his leadership. As a former PTL member, I say enough is enough.