SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


By Gerry Knasiak


February 03, 2009
Tuesday PM

First let me assure Mr. Rob Holston that should you have any opinions that are repugnant to me I would defend your right to have them; they belong to you. Having said that I would add that that right stops, as it should have at the Cabaret performance on Friday , January 23,, 2009, when you blatantly included as part of your act something that obviously reflects your opinion that can only be termed racist.

I can almost hear your defense, "it was meant to be humorous". I am sickened by the number of times I have heard that as an excuse. Bigotry under the guise of humor is not a new defense. Typically the next utterance is, "what's the matter doesn't he/she have a sense of humor?".That tactic puts the onus on the offended party. Clever, but it doesn't wash.

Although meeting the objectives of civil rights has been an uphill journey we have made many strides, at the same time, knowing that we have a long way to go. Certainly actions such as yours attest to that fact. My 20+ years in the Forest Service began at a time when a "new" type of of employee was entering the work force....women and minorities. With that came a plethora of new issues and management's determination to make that major sea change work. Thus a priority was focused on civil rights. I feel honored that my entire career was devoted to making those changes happen. Retired for 19 years, has not lessened my commitment one iota because I have been an advocate for as long as memory serves.

With our new African American president I had a notion that there would be those who would resent the very fact of his race. Certainly the net and its anonymity has given rise to visceral comments that don't even attempt to disguise the bigotry.

I was not prepared to learn about an offensive incident in our community and certainly not at a public event. There was laughter and some applause, I'm told. Unfortunately not everyone gets it.

I know that First City Players had no idea of what you had planned. It would not have been allowed. To put its management in the awkward position of having to apologize to a number of offended patrons reflects a gross lack of sensitivity and further exacerbates Mr. Holston's actions. At the very least Mr. Holston owe them an apology.


Gerry Knasiak
Ketchikan, AK

Received February 01, 2009 - Published February 03, 2009



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