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Clevenger’s Offer of Redemption to the Leroy Scammers

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Besides being a hugely more talented writer than I’ll ever hope to be, Craig Clevenger is far, far more magnanimous in his treatment of the Leroy bunch. In this calm, measured, and well-stated open letter to Laura Albert, Geoffrey Knoop, and Sarah Knoop, Clev offers a wonderful suggestion for how some good can come of this whole affair.

After pointing out the very real, very harrowing statistics of HIV/AIDS, Clevenger suggests that the Leroy gang donate some of their ill-gotten financial gains (I would also toss in any money made from telling “their side of the story”) to any number of worthy charities. He sums up his request with the following passage:

You three have profited to a degree far beyond that which most writers can only dream. You have done so by your use of certain social ills to play on the sympathies of your audience. I strongly suggest you follow the example set by your vast audience who gave so much to you, and in turn give at least a portion of your time and money to the people who are truly afflicted with the conditions which have been such a boon to your career.

A very, very fine suggestion. Please pass along this open letter to your bookish friends. I have my own cynical doubts as to whether the scoundrels can be swayed by public opinion, but at least we can try. And along the way, we can refocus our attentions away from the scumbags and put it on the real tortured souls that J.T. Leroy callously mimicked.