In response to S.J. Gilman’s article “Capital Punishment” (11/22):
Once again an imperialistic voice rings through, like our ethnocentric forefathers of old, as they “discover” a new species of “savage” man in the contact zones of the uncolonized world. Once again, when we do not understand a people, we subject them to alterity and otherfy them as strange curiosities to be subjugated. It’s unfortunate that Gilman carries the flag of domination, and Washington City Paper has allowed her to do so.
Now, we can’t blame Miss Susan Jane Gilman for being a bigot. After all, she is simply the product of a closed-minded, ill-informed, repressive society. But we can blame her for unprofessionalism in her portrayal of “the life” of those who partake in S&M/B&D. Beyond her limited perceptual insights of this microculture, Gilman’s views reek from the smell of ignorance and are not far from those who would crush the rights of people’s sexual preferences.
Although her article was performed under the guise of “investigative reporting”, she obviously has personal hangups with the behaviors of the people she is trying to represent. Not only does she mock the people she is writing about, but she also selectively represents their views and their words so as to belittle them. Of course, this tactic has been used in the past by other such “reporters” as they “cover” the story of something that is not considered to be a part of norm, but to still carry such an egocentric view today is unacceptable. If Gilman were to be writing about gays, would she say, “I just don’t understand why they get turned on.” Or relate their behavior to that of a child? She would be flogged herself for doing so (preferably with a cane).
Within the discipline of reporting their should be an ethic that would attempt to avoid such forms of representation. After all, the readers can care less about her opinion on the people she is reporting on. If we wanted her opinion we’d ask, but please don’t force it on us. Her article could have been interesting and informative. But alas, I finished it not knowing anything new and had a bad taste in my mouth. Left there by the rage and frustration that I often get when I read a piece of crap that tries to repress the lives of free Americans. It seems to me that those people in “the life” are most definitely exercising their rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We should nurture and celebrate such beliefs if they make the practitioners happy. Otherwise we risk losing the right to do what makes us happy.