Who should cast first stone?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dear Editor:

In last Saturday’s paper, you published a letter written by the Rev. P. J. McClung in which he questioned the standards of the Star-News for its list of notable citizens of Andalusia. Your recognition of Mandy Gantt, a.k.a. Erica Boyer, an adult film star provoked his ire. Rev. McClung said that the inclusion of her name on your list of some of Andalusia’s most notable citizens dishonored those who have gained “genuine success in their fields.” No one’s merit or worth should be measured by another’s. Does Rev. McClung think that the reputation of James Cross as a trusted pilot was lessened, that Luther Terry’s value as a surgeon is now diminished or that Robert Horry’s fame as a basketball star is less worthy of praise because Erica Boyer was included on the same list? That is absurd — nothing Erica Boyer did will ever alter the value of their contributions. I strongly disagree with his insinuation that Mrs. Boyer did not gain genuine success; on the contrary, she was considered one of the best in her field, winning the equivalent of an Academy Award for her work.

I never met Mrs. Boyer personally, but many of my contemporaries who did remember her fondly as a genuinely nice person. I first learned of her while doing research for a paper I was writing on the Civil Rights Movement. Mrs. Boyer’s father, Joseph Breckenridge Gantt (Joe Breck Gantt), son of a Covington County sheriff, was, in May 1965 as Assistant Attorney General, the prosecutor in the mistrial against Collie Wilkens for the murder of civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo on March 25, 1965. As far as I know, his reputation is intact and entirely unharmed by his daughter’s career choice. Indeed, I would be willing to bet that (if alive) he feels pride in her accomplishments.

Few who live here have the gifts God gave Erica Boyer. If so, many would likely follow her lead and leave Andalusia. Instead, they resign themselves to working at low-paying, thankless jobs in this bastion of male chauvinism and smug moral and religious superiority.

Rev. McClung seems to enjoy throwing around Bible verses. He conveniently seemed to overlook John 8:7 — “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus explicitly declined to judge a woman on her sexual behavior, so why does P. J. McClung believe that he has the right to do so?

Erica Boyer died in a traffic accident on New Year’s Eve, 2009, at age 53, leaving behind her husband and 13-year-old son. She reportedly died instantly when she was struck by an off-duty Florida Highway Patrolman. I am told she never returned to Andalusia.

As for Star-News standards, I believe that in this matter they are above reproach.

Mira G. Walker