Letters to the editor

Is onscreen love colorblind? Plus: An unintended message on George W.'s Web site; dog breeding is un-American!

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Black and white and taboo all over

BY CHARLES TAYLOR
(02/14/00)

Charles Taylor overlooked a simpler explanation of Eriq LaSalle’s request to have his character’s relationship with a Caucasian woman terminated. If the character has a history of unsuccessful relationships with African-American women, and he is depicted as being content in a relationship with a Caucasian woman, viewers who follow the story closely enough to actually care about the character’s motivation could reasonably surmise that the racial difference is a major factor in the success of his relationship.

If LaSalle seems hyper-sensitive on this point, consider the assertion made by Eldridge Cleaver in “Soul On Ice” that many black men consider Caucasian women superior to African-American women. I can’t cite other sources, but I don’t think Cleaver was the first to express that view. Cleaver went on to state that he considered it an insult to African-American women for an African-American man to be involved with a Caucasian woman, which sounds like the claim LaSalle is accused of making. Strident, perhaps, but not unfounded.

– James R. Henry

I was struck by one point that seems to have been overlooked: the difference in portrayals of black males with white females versus those of black females with white males. Even when considering the examples given in the article, it would seem that the real taboo is not in white/black relationships themselves, but rather with black male/white female ones.

“Mystery Men” and “Jurassic Park: The Lost World” are described as having a “nonchalant attitude toward race” when both of these movies portrayed BF/WM relationships. Further examples? The article mentions that Will Smith and Linda Fiorentino don’t get together in “Men in Black” — but Angela Bassett does end up with Ralph Fiennes in “Strange Days.”

– Jenna Alpizer

I am a 37-year-old white male married for eight years to a black woman. To me, the article’s conclusion has been as plain as the nose of my face. Increased mobility (financial and geographical) and the Internet have enabled people from different races and nationalities to mix together like never before. It is conceivable that if current trends continue, there may end up being only one race. It is evolution pure and simple. It is also unstoppable.

– John Bill

The article forgets to mention Warren Beatty’s line in “Bulworth,” possibly the most radical statement on race in an American film — and the most progressive, because it points to a future where the problem is solved:

“I think we should keep f***ing each other until we’re all the same color.”

‘Nuff said.

– A.R. Yngve


The medium in the message

BY SEAN ELDER
(02/14/00)

Your description of George W. Bush’s Web site as clueless made me follow the link — if only to see how bad
it really is. Upon my arrival, the following quote popped up in a small
window:

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“I am a reformer with results. Of the major candidates, the only one who does not have a
DC zip code. I come from outside the system with a record of reform and a record of results.”

I’m not an expert (I’m a professor of economics, not English) but I believe
this sentence does not relay the message Bush would like to convey. In
particular, the clause “with a record of reform and a record of results” is
modifying the noun “system.” Thus, Bush is confessing to being from
outside of a system that includes reform and results. We all suspected this but
no one ever expected to hear it directly from the candidate’s mouth. I do
take the misplaced clause as surprising evidence that Bush is playing at
least some role in writing his own propaganda.

Oh, the second sentence is also a fragment — maybe if
there had been a voucher system in place back in the Andover Academy days,
W. would know how to write like a Yale graduate.

– Cory Capps


Free software! Free night life!

BY ANDREW LEONARD
(02/10/00)

Your article about Jamie Zawinski gives the impression that he and I had a series of stubborn clashes over design issues for Lucid’s
changes to GNU Emacs, after which he finally decided to do things his
way. Actually he never once discussed these issues with me before he
started implementing them his way. The Lucid staff did not even tell
me they were working on these Emacs changes; I found out indirectly.

Hopeful, I called Zawinski and asked what they were doing. I
listened to a long explanation and liked a good part of what I heard,
but not everything. So I asked if we could discuss the design issues. Zawinski said their plans were already final and half-implemented,
and it was too late to change any aspect of them. In effect, Lucid
had given me no chance to have input into major changes which, he said, they wanted me to adopt in their entirety. I eventually used a
large part of their changes, but not all. Thus the two versions
began to diverge.

Freedom of speech means, above all, that people have the freedom to
say what we don’t agree with. Likewise, free software means people
have the freedom to publish their own changes — even changes that the
original developer does not agree with. I support this freedom with
all my stubbornness, so I have always recognized Lucid’s right to make
a modified version of Emacs and do so however they wished. By
releasing Emacs as free software, I irrevocably gave up all power over
their technical decisions. Perhaps if Zawinski had
understood that, he might have been willing to cooperate with me on
improving Emacs.

– Richard Stallman

president, Free Software Foundation (www.gnu.org)
and principal developer of GNU Emacs

Is there any reason on God’s great creation why I should possibly care about whether or not Club DNA in San Francisco gets a particular zoning variance?

Why are you publishing silly little Valentines masquerading as journalism? “Lush, dark hair … intelligent, expressive eyes … ironic smile … painfully articulate.” Please! I’m eating here!

– Carter Emerson


Mutts: Praising the purity of the impure

BY JEAN HANFF KORELITZ
(02/14/00)

Jean Hanff Korelitz’ delightful article about mutts so perfectly mirrored my own feelings on this subject, I had to write to express my appreciation to Salon for publishing it. Dog breeding, fawning over royalty, and demanding racial purity are pastimes which, while not in the same league as say, treason, have always struck me as distinctly un-American. Were I to ask one of these patrician nincompoops if a purebred is somehow intrinsically more affectionate and loyal than a mutt, the uncomprehending sneer would be all the answer I needed.

There’s no cause for Korelitz to apologize for harboring “reverse snobbery” in recognizing and lionizing all of the fine qualities these wonderful dogs possess; indeed, my only disappointment was that she neglected to nominate it to replace the Bald Eagle as our national symbol.

– Scott Melchionda


A good nanny is hard to find — so is a good employer

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

(02/15/00)

I highly disagree with Joe Cummings’ summation in his letter that guidebooks seem to have little effect on where and how tourists conduct their travels.

I have been traveling in Southeast Asia for seven years and worked in Vietnam for three, during which time I observed hundreds of backpackers following the same well-worn tourist trail outlined in Lonely Planet’s Vietnam guidebook.

Certain areas that were highly recommended in the guidebook, such as Sapa in Vietnam’s northern mountains, have changed in the past several years from quiet villages into overtouristed, polluted, impoverished, drug-ridden dumps in which displaced residents now rely only on tourism for income.

Encountering backpackers in such places, they are never hesitant to hold up a Lonely Planet guide and say proudly, “This is my bible. I would never have been able to find this place without it.” It is by far the most widely used guidebook in Southeast Asia.

It is sheer fallacy for Cummings to assume that Lonely Planet holds no responsibility for the negative effects of tourism in such places.

– Wynn Madrigal

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