Letters to the Editor

Ducking the issues in "Prodigal Son"; readers debate homophobia in Cunanan book.

Published April 15, 1999 4:12PM (EDT)

Prodigal son


The problem with Jake Tapper's article "Prodigal Son" is the same as with virtually all other media accounts of George Bush Jr.'s candidacy: Reporters focus only on his personal peccadilloes and not on the numerous allegations of financial wrongdoing by him, his cronies and other members of his family. Why aren't there hard questions about Bush's financial dealings with Harken Oil, BCCI, the Texas Rangers baseball team, to name only a few? These issues raise legitimate questions of whether he can be trusted with the federal treasury. And lastly, reporters should focus on his comparative lack of political experience (and rather mediocre record as governor of Texas) and the fact he is counting on the family name to get elected.

If all the facts concerning Junior came out, I doubt he would score so big in opinion polls.

-- Susan Nunes

Reno, Nev.

Why is Salon wasting its lead on a non-story about George W.'s alleged
youthful indiscretions? Earth to Salon: Nobody cares. However, there is
an astounding lack of information in the press about just what Bush
believes, or how effective he is as a governor. Salon should be filling
us in, not hunting with the all-scandals-all-the-time pack.

Step one: Take Molly Ivins up on her offer. Jake Tapper quotes her as
saying: "I offer to explain how Bush flubbed the tax reform proposals last
session -- couldn't even get his own party to go along -- and the visiting
journalists want to know if he ever used drugs." Clearly Tapper is
one of those journalists. If George W. Bush can't govern his way out of
a paper bag in Texas, how's he going to cope with Washington? Isn't that
more important than what he did in his 20s?

-- Joseph Buck

Judging from Jake Tapper's article, when Republicans really feel cornered
about Bush's drug use they try to minimize the extent of his drug history by
comparing him with a demonized Clinton. But my memory of Clinton's
independently confirmed history, despite the media's attempt to mock his
"never inhaled" line, is that in fact he tried pot but couldn't tolerate the
effect of smoke on his lungs, and was never able to inhale enough to get
stoned. And despite Dee Stewart's attempt to revise history by
claiming Clinton bragged of smoking pot, my memory is that Clinton has
always been very clear that even his minimal youthful experimentation was unwise.

I hope responsible journalists have the courage to disabuse their readers of
this media-created caricature of Clinton, rather than allow Republicans to
use that false image as a cover for Bush.

Going even
further, I wonder when reporters will compare Bush's vs. Clinton/Gore's
proposals for the greatest killer drug scam of all time: the tobacco industry.

-- Peter Thompson

San Francisco

True crime


As a 30-year-old gay man who is, unfortunately, all too familiar with
the sort of fast life of Andrew Cunanan, I take exception with Ted
Gideonse's contention that Maureen Orth's book is homophobic. Just because the
author doesn't present the gay party subculture in a positive light and in a
manner to the reviewer's liking, doesn't mean that she is inaccurate. I find
it very disconcerting how the gay community's self-imposed spokespeople seem
to cry "homophobia" whenever the media portray gay culture in a way that
doesn't fit the community's vision of itself.

-- Michael Bernard

Andrew Cunanan's disturbing behavior cannot be pinned on gay and lesbian
culture any more than Maureen Orth's stupidity can be pinned on
heterosexual culture. Kudos to Ted Gideonse for revealing Orth as just
another homophobic journalist who resorts to the tired, lurid and
inaccurate stereotypes about gays and lesbians that were shocking,
perhaps, two decades ago.

-- Michael Taeckens

I have not read Maureen Orth's Andrew Cunanan
book, but other reviews have left me vaguely
uncomfortable. Ted Gideonse's piece clarified what was bothering me.

Sometimes in the news business I hear editors say, "Well, he's gay, so
he can't be objective about that story." Gideonse's ability to provide
the context Orth seemed to lack when researching her book is a perfect
example of why queer journalists need to be able to cover these kinds of

Orth's obvious lack of personal context for what she saw during her
research led her to write a sensational, shallow book that described a
gay community that I, a card-carrying member, certainly am not familiar
with. And the other reviews I've read have suffered from the same lack
of context.

-- Nancy Murrell

Miami, Fla.

In his attempt to make the absurd claim that Maureen Orth pushes
homophobia in her book "Vulgar Favors," Ted Gideonse writes that he spent
a weekend in South Beach two months ago, "and managed to avoid sex with
multiple partners and overdosing on crystal meth without even trying!"
He should hang out with a better class of people. He clearly doesn't
hang out with the types of people Andrew Cunanan hung out with, which
helps explain his negative reaction to Orth's book. Orth was writing
about the life of a guy on the edge. Why is it that so many gays who work in
respectable jobs and live respectable lives get upset whenever the
darker side of being gay is brought to light? Immediately the tired
claim of "homophobia" is thrown about. Please. Gideonse and his
friends may enjoy the cool side of gay life, safe in their South Beach
retreat as they plan their PC days and nights, but there are others
who live a life more dangerous, doing things in the dark with people
they do not know. Indeed, some like it hot.

-- Damion Matthews

Sebastopol, Calif.

Backward, Christian soldiers



It's interesting how animated the left becomes when discussing the religious
as shown in this article. Groups such as People for the American Way are
felt by liberals to be "doing good" when advocating causes near and dear to
their hearts. Religious conservatives apparently should never express their
views or work to elect their candidates. Liberals constantly shout that
conservatives seek to impose their value system on America. Yet it is
liberals who wish to eradicate every traditional value, belief or conviction
held by Americans, all in the name of multiculturalism, egalitarianism and
radical feminism. I am much more fearful of an America controlled by the
left and its bankrupt ideas than by most conservative concepts I have heard
articulated in recent years.

-- Dennis Wales

Arlington, Texas

The man in the blue coat



My son is fighting testicular cancer. It has been a year-long battle.
He lost a kidney to disease and had to deal with three rounds of chemo
before the surgery and two after. He should be finished now; he should
be considered a survivor, but we are waiting for him to go in for his CT
scan before we can say for sure.

This has not been easy. He is 23, and now has to face the rest of his
life with all the fear and anxiety that come with the territory. His
attitude has been so good it has helped us all deal with the issues
better, but he never talks about it. He shies away from the questions,
appears embarrassed if I tell someone. I never know what he is
thinking. I fear the thoughts that he won't share.

I belong to an online support group,
and they have been discussing how well the article describes their fears
and hopes. My son won't participate, so I do to learn as much as I can
in order to be there when he needs me.

I printed a copy of the article and pinned it to his pillowcase. I can
only hope he will read it.

-- Diana Keeton

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