AN OPEN letter to David Eisner, CEO of the National Constitution Center:
Thirty years ago a young Philadelphia Police Officer, Daniel Faulkner, #4699, was shot on the streets of Philadelphia by a coward named Wesley Cook, but who chooses to be called Mumia Abu-Jamal. As the officer lay on the sidewalk outside 1234 Locust St., bleeding and incapacitated from a gunshot wound to the chest, Cook stood atop this gravely wounded officer and shot him in the face, ensuring that Faulkner would never go home to his young wife, Maureen, again. Faulkner took an oath - an oath that clearly states that he will defend the Constitution. The very document your building is named for and represents. Faulkner died that night because he took that oath.
Fast-forward 30 years. It is with a great sense of alarm and, may I say, disgust, that I come to find the Constitution Center hosting a rally for and a phone call from the same man who executed a Philadelphia police officer in cold blood. I'm at a loss for words. That document actually stands for and means something to many of us. It does not stand for celebrating a killer, let alone a killer of a sworn police officer. A police officer who served with the very department your facility relied upon several years ago, during your July 4, 2003, event at which protesters tried to overrun your building. The officers ensured your safety and ensured that the rights of the protesters were protected.
This is how you repay them. With a slap in the face. The irony here, however, is that given the opportunity, those same officers whom your facility slapped in the face will be right back there again tomorrow if called upon to protect you, your staff, your guests, and your property.
The Constitution Center was a crown jewel in Philadelphia's ever-expanding role in tourist attractions and dedication to history. Now it has become a supporter of a cop-killer. It will forever be remembered as the place where Abu-Jamal gave his first public statement after having his death sentence vacated. Congratulations on that feat.
I pride myself on being an open-minded person, but Stu Bykofsky's column on the joys of sex tourism in Thailand is unacceptable for a credible newspaper, especially one that calls itself "the People's Paper."
He wrote: "Finally, to help heal, I ran here"; and "Thai women tend to be slim, with soft features and thick black hair. Thailand's No. 1 export to the U.S. may be wives. If the No. 1 industry isn't catering to sexual tourists, I don't know what is." Bykofsky doesn't openly admit the nature of his healing, but you don't have to be a Mensa member to read between the lines.
Bykofsky takes the stance that "Prostitution is terrible; poverty may be worse," before launching into a list of prices, portraying a free market paradise of independent women who sell themselves to elderly tourists. Stu might want to fact-check that "no pimps" claim: Google brought me more than 8,500,000 results in less than a second, many linking to human-rights organizations. He might also want to check the AIDS statistics in Thailand; HIV is rampant.
In Thailand, around 800,000 children are involved with the industry, many as young as 12. Poor families sell their kids into prostitution, either from need or direct coercion. Women are often kidnapped and have no escape from the sex trade. And as is well- known, we have a pretty bad problem with the Asian sex-trafficking here in Philadelphia.
There is no public or human interest served by Mr. Bykofsky's story of his "healing." This doesn't constitute investigative journalism, or even the kind of "slice-of-life" story expected from a column like Mr. Bykofsky's. It's something better-suited for the letters section of Hustler.
I always thought the goal of a newspaper was to "afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted," not "to exploit the exploited." Mr. Bykofsky's column is shameful, and he should be reprimanded, but who is responsible for deciding to put this in the newspaper and the website? Is there no one with any kind of editorial judgment at the Daily News?