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Wow. CityBeat Columnist's Bizarre Rant About Rape & Covington is... Ugh. Just, Ugh.

Hi. I'm Michael Monks, the editor and publisher of The River City News and I don't usually editorialize but I read something today that had me seething and shaking with anger.

I don't want to assume that you, as a resident of Covington or a neighbor or a friend of the city, will feel the same way I did after reading what I read, but I think you might. 

First off, it involves the alleged rape of an underage girl in Covington, something The River City News covered as police were searching for two of the four men accused of being involved.

Secondly, what I read today seems as though it blames all of us who live in Covington for that rape.

It also describes us as, basically, backwards hicks living in the shadow of glamorous Cincinnati and Newport. The spirit of an entire city is encompassed by an act of violence against a teen girl at one house on one block on one night here.

But CityBeat columnist Kathy Y. Wilson in an offensive, inaccurate piece filled with hyperbole and a vague reference to having visited Covington a few times a long while ago, managed to indict all of us as the girl's rapist.

First, take a look at her ridiculous piece at CityBeat, titled They Raped That City, then come back and join us here.


OK. Welcome back. You mad, bro?

Look, her telling of the crime isn't even as brutal as the alleged details I've learned about it. These allegations are very serious and if these suspects are guilty (something Wilson assumes throughout her garbage piece), then I hope they are punished appropriately. 

The brutality of a violent crime can illicit an emotional response from people and perhaps that is what happened to Wilson when she went on this ill-advised tirade about a city that she clearly doesn't know a thing about. What exactly does she mean by this line:

The larger point of all this small-focus heinous behavior is that Mason, Conrad, Tyler and Perry didn’t just hold and rape someone’s daughter — though that in itself is bad enough — they have further besmirched the reputation of an already bedraggled, mostly poor and Appalachian burg caught between the shadows of the bright lights illuminating the happy, drinking revelers of Newport — which might very well be the same population crowding along The Banks to Cincinnati’s stadiums — with very few venturing a few blocks south into Covington beyond the bars dotting the near side of the Roebling Suspension bridge.

A community already known for its poverty and rampant drug use because of the state’s zero-tolerance laws punishing but not treating addicts and its less-than-stellar track record of public education and public housing doesn’t need the stench of rapists and a rape videographer added to its long list of ills and woes.

I'm happy for the success of Cincinnati's The Banks (and, for that matter, urban revitalization throughout the city) and even happier for what's happening in our River City neighbor, Newport that we cover frequently and passionately, too. But let's not act like Covington is over here rotting.

Wait, is Kathy Y. Wilson the faceless internet troll behind that God-awful string of Facebook "news" sites. You know the ones, "Covington News", "Cincinnati News", "Boone County News", "Latonia News", etc. No... can't be her. Those are operated by some strange, lonely old man who lives closer to Covington, Georgia than Covington, Kentucky. But the tone is the same, right? The point is to create some image of Covington as a forgotten wasteland surrounded by communities getting it right.

Kathy Y. Wilson

The Facebook "news" troll's motivations are known: He's just a mean old ass. Did you catch his recent racist threads about all the "white people" at Covington events because it's such a racist city?

Maybe he should hire Wilson. Of course, she's busy as the writer-in-residence at the Cincinnati Library. Yeah, that's right. She's actually a reputable writer and even has a book that was published by the company from which The River City News currently leases its office.

So why was she so reckless and lazy in her depiction of Covington? Worse, why did she attach the violent rape of a young girl to a city's socio-economic woes? Look at this crap:

I know Scott Street in Covington; I once had a long-ago friend I used to visit there in a two-family house that looked onto the backside of a grocery store parking lot that looked especially creepy at night.

Her neighbors were never particularly friendly. They always looked wary and suspicious and reminded me, stereotypically, of the weather-worn faces of the mute-mouthed mountain people in Deliverance, one of my favorite movies. Covington is a place that makes a visitor feel like she could turn a corner and be smack dab in the middle of a dirt farm in the middle of nowhere.

I wonder now as I did then: The good people of Covington have more power than they realize to change their reputation, beginning with a house on Scott Street.

Ugh. Seething! Deliverance? Maybe she is that Facebook "news" troll who lives in Georgia. Have you ever actually been to Covington, Kentucky, Kathy? I mean, your publication's annual Best Of... issue consistently nominated Covington Mayor Butch Callery as favorite Northern Kentucky politician as recently as last year even though he left office in 2008 (and is, while an awesome dude, so three mayors ago). 

Look. I know. I am accused of wearing rose-colored glasses and being a cheerleader for Covington and Northern Kentucky. I dispute the first charge about the glasses. The good, the bad, and the ugly (like the rape of a young girl) are reported here. But am I cheerleader? You bet. And I'll never apologize for that. I want this community to succeed because I love it and over the past few years there have been incredible difficulties, on top of the long-standing ones, and there have been brushes with greatness.

We have momentum here. We have attitude. We have... yeah, we have problems. Serious ones. But my goodness, Kathy, you have no idea at all what you're writing about. It's offensive to me, I bet it's offensive to many more, and it should be offensive to the victim. How dare you. Disgusting. Get a clue, and then get on the bus and come visit Covington.

Be careful though. You might turn a corner and run into someone who JUST MIGHT SAY HELLO!

Even if they read your bullshit column.

-Michael Monks


And now, The River City News contributor Pat LaFleur offers his letter to the editor at CityBeat in response to Wilson's column:

Dear Ms. Wilson, and the CityBeat editorial board:

I love CityBeat. I pick up an issue pretty much every week, and appreciate the alternative, forward-thinking reporting your publication continues to produce. I am happy to consider myself one of your loyal readers.
But I have a confession that might frighten and possibly disgust you. I imagine it might send waves of fear and resentment down your spine as you sit in your downtown offices, reading.
I live in Covington. And I do so (deep-breath) voluntarily.
Now, I must admit, before Wednesday, I honestly did not see this as something I needed to confess. But I hope you can forgive me, one of your loyal readers, for residing in what Ms. Wilson's most recent article ("They Raped That City," Oct. 22) called a "bedraggled, mostly poor and Appalachian burg caught between the shadows of the bright lights illuminating the happy, drinking revelers of Newport."
This is me, hanging my head in shame, wading through "a cloud of generalized low self-esteem."
Thank you Ms. Wilson, thank you, for making me realize that my city is nothing more than that dark house on Scott St. where a young girl was gang-raped earlier this year.
I realize now that I, and my friends and neighbors, are nothing more than "mute-mouthed mountain people," and should be treated as such. We're dirt farmers posing as city-folk. 
How dare we?
I realize now that, if I'm ever crafty enough (will probably never happen) to trick one of my out-of-towner friends into visiting me here at my seedy apartment in Mainstrasse Village, that I should at least show them the courtesy to warn them to be on their guard.
They'll probably figure that out on their own anyway, though, since, as Ms. Wilson implies in her article, would-be visitors should look at our city as a teenage girl should look upon a darkened, unfamiliar house on the 1600 block of Scott St... one which, also according to Ms. Wilson, she probably arrived at against her will.
After reading the article, I understand now that we, "the good people of Covington have more power than (we) realize to change (our) reputation." 
After all, imagine if we did know what we're capable of. We'd probably be doing things like:
- investing in green space (I bet there are LOTS of ways we could be doing this!)
I bet we'd also invest in streetscape rehabilitation throughout the entirety of downtown Covington, and, oh, for good measure, why not transform an unused parking lot into a pop-up community and performance space?
If only we knew what we're capable of.
And everyone knows, too, that Covington's crime rates far exceed those of its neighbors, Cincinnati and Newport, those two brightly-lit cities Ms. Wilson contrasts with Covington's shadowy alleyways and side streets.
If only we could do better.
Oh, one second, though. You know, I'm embarrassed to admit so deep into this letter that, it turns out, all of those wild ideas I listed before... actually are happening. It just took a quick look at The River City News -- that's Covington's own alt-news publication -- to see what Covington has been up to... in just the last month.
Oh, and it turns out Covington's violent crime rates are actually on par with, when not lower than, its neighbors'. I just saw those figures, too. Oops. They weren't that hard to find, turns out. I guess I'm not the one who should be hanging my head in shame, after all. 
Now, Ms. Wilson is right to call out Kentucky's zero-tolerance policies that favor jail-time over treatment as part of the problem. And she's also right to say that, overall, Covington has work to do regarding its gateways and welcome mats throughout the city.
But we are not a city of criminals, violent or otherwise. We are not a city of mute-mouthed mountain people. We are not a network of dark alleyways, plotting to prey on you outsiders.
We are a city and on the rise and a community that wants to be a part of the Greater Cincinnati machine. 
And, more so than those four men raping that teenage girl and distributing video footage of the crime, it is fear-based, elitist articles like Ms. Wilson's that are actually raping our city, setting back the progress so many of us are working so hard everyday, in so many different ways, to make happen.
Ms. Wilson, I -- and many others -- know what Covington is capable of. And I also believe that you're capable of better, if you only knew.
Is it okay if I cancel my "loyal reader" status? While I'm at it, do you mind if I let my fellow, Covington-based CityBeat loyalists know they should go ahead and do the same? Y'all don't need the lawless, senseless, and depraved for readers. Besides, most of us can't read down here, anyway.
Pat LaFleur
Covington, KY
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