Letters: Brain Injuries, Restorative Justice

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Listeners comment on the effects of traumatic brain injuries, the future of radio shock jocks, restorative justice and best-and-worst movie three-quels.


It's Tuesday and time to read from your emails. We broadcast from the Bethesda Naval Hospital a week ago and spoke with Bob Woodruff of ABC News and with military doctors about the signature injury of the war in Iraq - TBI, traumatic brain injury.

Stan Meyer(ph) emailed us from Norman, Oklahoma, to share his experience. On April 19, 1995, I was standing about 170 feet from McVeigh's truck bomb in Oklahoma City when it blew up. As a result, my skull was cracked and my brain was severely swollen. My issues with memory, orientation, hallucinations, even balance were blamed on post-traumatic stress. Never was there a connection with brain trauma. Hearing Bob's story and work with others with brain trauma has helped me put many of the missing pieces together.

We also talked last week about the future of radio shock jocks post-Don Imus, and many of you took issue with the rationale that Imus was just mimicking pop culture, specifically hip-hop. Turning to hip-hop is the green light for making negative comments about African-Americans is absurd, argued Osada Peterson(ph) in Chicago. Not all African-Americans use negative language when referring to each other. What Imus said was wrong. No one should make excuses for it. As corporate America becomes more diverse, the less such shock jock comments will be tolerated. What was acceptable last year may not be acceptable this year.

To me, the firing of Imus marks a new day in radio and it sends a message: Speaker beware. For those rallying behind Imus, beware, there is a new day.

We also got some powerful emails after our segment on what's called restorative justice. A number of prison programs give crime victims an opportunity to confront their perpetrators. Jill Brosnahan(ph) emailed us from Perry, Iowa, with her family's story.

My husband was killed by a drunk boater, and I was nearly killed as well. A plea deal was reached and the person who was responsible is behind bars. At his request, my children and I met with him and his young family immediately after sentencing so he could apologize and express his remorse and condolences to us. It was an amazing gift to me and my children. I wish more victims could have the sense of closure that I now have. I lost the love of my life, however I refuse to live the remainder of my life harboring hatred and anger.

When E.J. Graff argued on our Opinion Page that the so-called mommy wars are a myth, listener Tia Rugero(ph) thought she was only half right. I'm a mother of three young children, she wrote, and I have a full-time job. I don't feel pressure from other moms, stay at home or working moms, but I'm at war with myself. I do just about anything to be staying home and raising my children, home schooling them as well. But financially, it just isn't possible. Are there mommy wars? Absolutely, but we're not fighting each other, only ourselves.

And finally, when we talked last week about some of the best and worst movie threequels, several of you emailed to complain, who cares about "Spider-Man?" Terry(ph), a listener in Charlotte, explained. People love "Spider-Man" because it's the comics that taught us about heroism in its basic sense. High ideals, conflict, and overcoming conflict at an early age. This is not special effects to people who read the comic books and imagined the effect already. The movie puts into play that which we have already imagined.

You can read more of what people had to say about that movie and their votes for the best and worst threequels of all time at our blog. That's at npr.org/blogofthenation, all one word.

As always, if you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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CONAN: And this is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

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