Letters to the Editor

Ventura says what's on his mind; should you blame the Net?


Letters to the Editor
May 14, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

Correction: Because of an editing error, early versions of the story "Wall Street
lovefest"
included a quote by Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer
describing some people's assessment of outgoing Treasury Secretary Robert
Rubin as "an abrasive prick." Henwood
used the phrase to describe Lawrence Summers, President Clinton's nominee to succeed
Rubin as treasury secretary. Salon regrets the error.

Jesse Ventura's gaffe riot

BY JAKE TAPPER

(05/07/99)

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Jake Tapper paints Gov. Ventura as a bumbling buffoon who doesn't have the first clue
about playing the game of politics. Thank God for that. Jesse Ventura may not be a political
insider, but he does have drive and a desire to see changes come about.
I think it is refreshing to have a leader who says what is on his mind, rather that
checking with his pollsters to find out what is popular.

-- Clifton Reed Johnston

Who started this fad of calling anybody who isn't a racist "sensitive"? It makes the racists sound like the normal people. Once again, "sensitivity" is used to describe what is just plain common sense. You don't need to be "sensitive" to realize, especially in this day and age, that racism is wrong and stupid remarks are, well, just plain stupid. And you make a career out of saying stupid, racist things, you are going to end up being perceived as a stupid racist.

-- Juliane Schneider

New York

Jake Tapper uses the increasingly popular media epithet "gun nut." I do disagree with Tapper, but does that also qualify me as a
"nut"? I certainly don't feel like one. Apparently, neither did Yale
University when they offered me a double-major degree a few years back. Nor
does my current employer, who sees fit to pay me quite well for my services.
And the federal government certainly offers me no insanity-based tax break.

Why is it then that an otherwise intelligent reporter feels the need to
attack political rivals with ad hominem attacks?

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-- Sam MacDonald

Baltimore, Md.

Web of doom
BY SCOTT ROSENBERG

(05/07/99)

Scott Rosenberg is missing some of the real differences that
this new medium has made in the availability of information.

The Net, first of all, is the cheapest and most accessible form of
publishing ever known. As a result, the Net is an immense source of free
information, with access limited only by one's skill at searching. That
includes all sorts of information offensive to good mores and conventional
morals.

The Net is also unmediated by a showing of general interest. If you can
find it, it doesn't matter that your local library or bookstore doesn't
consider the information worth stocking for commercial or moral reasons.

Unlike TV, movies and popular music, moreover, the Net is interactive.
Whatever your interest, there is likely to be someone else like you out
there who has written and/or made images about it. You can ask questions,
get answers, and develop relationships with people who are interested in
what you are, people from anywhere in the world, whom you would otherwise
not have a chance to meet.

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The combination of broadly available unmediated information and new
relationships makes the Net a validator. The gay 15-year-old in the small
town in the big square state can quickly learn that he is not, as everyone
around him seems to think, a weirdo, and that the world contains many
people who think and feel as he does. So can the white supremacist, the
goddess worshiper, or the kid who has sexual fantasies about the Olsen
twins. The marginal kid, who might otherwise be pushed back into
respectable behavior by social pressure, gets to draw new strength from
the knowledge that someone else like him is out there.

Finally, the Net leaves no physical evidence behind: no Playboy under the mattress, no CDs,
no package in a plain brown wrapper. As much as parents may hate and fear the
influence of commercial pop culture, it is at least out where they can see
it.

The American middle-class suburb is built on a foundation of class
segregation for the purpose of rearing children in what parents consider a healthy physical and moral environment, free from the bad people, bad ideas and physical temptations of the ethnically,
economically and morally diverse cities. The suburb cannot
keep out the professional bad influences of pop culture that pander to
teenage longings, but these are motivated mainly by what will sell
to a broad audience. The Net is a source of bad
influences that are much more diverse and individually selected and are
much less economically motivated than the older commercial media. It
represents a new level in middle-class parents' loss of control over
the associations and ideas available to their children.

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-- James M. Hirschhorn

Newark, N.J.

Parents let their kids go online without keeping an eye on what they are doing, then blame the medium for the things the kids find. This is a parenting problem. When are these bellyachers going to get their heads out of the sand and take responsibility for their own laziness?

-- R.J. McFate

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Lips made for ...
BY GREG NOTT

(05/08/99)

It's funny how men and women respond differently to sexual
situations, both initiate and advanced. Maybe it's based on cultural and
social stereotypes, or perhaps it's something biological or emotionally
deeper. Most women I know, including myself, "practiced" their first
kiss ultimately intended "for boys" with another girl. Whether or not
they ended up identifying sexually as an adult as gay, straight or
bisexual is another matter.

-- Jamie Joy Gatto

New Orleans, La.

Everything she had
BY VIRGINIA VITZTHUM

(05/04/99)

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How is this experience between a person living with AIDS, indeed dying from
AIDS, and a "public health expert" different from gay men "barebacking"?

I'll tell you -- the "expert" is straight, so that makes it a "real
experience," instead of being just a gay man's collective idiotic suicidal
impulse. How hypocritical and ultimately homophobic of your author to
present the story that way.

-- Rich Lane, Ph.D.

The bitter end
BY JACK HITT
(05/07/99)

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Hitt writes: "Whitewater ... ended not as malfeasance, not
as politics, not as sex, not as perjury, but as a classic American
morality play between absolutists and humanists."

I wish I believed this, er, factual account. Then I could be
happy that Clinton is still in office; I could dismiss the account
of Juanita Broaddrick as so much "stalking"; I could
wipe from my brain my own visceral sense of Clinton's pathological
dishonesty; I could convince myself that there is no long-term price
to be paid for placing the most powerful elected office on the
planet in the hands of somebody for whom there is no substantive
truth.

But since I can't manage the mental gymnastics that all this
would require, I guess I'll just have to be classed with that
absolutist anti-humanist puritan, Christopher Hitchens.

-- Erich Schwarz

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