Letters to the Editor

Viewers lament Salon's "Silence" (or lack thereof); Hillary can prove her moxie in New York.

Published June 10, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Will Hannibal the Cannibal eat Hollywood?



"Hannibal" synopsis


While I am gleefully fascinated by the politicking behind the "Hannibal"
film, and enjoyed much of Nikki Finke's article, in the future I
recommend Salon indicate approaching narrative "spoilers." To summarize Harris' entire plot in the
penultimate paragraph was an unnecessary and bone-headed move, and one
that bushwhacked me, at least. Despite my sick interest in this probable
train wreck of a movie, even I am more interested in reading the book
than listening to industry gossip. Or I was, anyway.

-- Pat Harrigan


As much fun as it is to take a peek behind the scenes of a potentially hot Hollywood property, let us not forget that this is also a novel that the author spent a decade working on, and I feel rather certain Harris would prefer readers get a chance to actually read the fruits of his labor. Revealing the story line to a novel in such detail strikes me as incredibly rude and disrespectful of a writer's efforts, and a particularly odd and nasty thing for a writer -- Finke -- to do to another writer. This is not "news." The public doesn't have a "right to know," and if they want to, they should be encouraged to read the actual book.

-- Craig Spector

Printing the plot of Thomas Harris' new book was a
wonderful public service, allowing me to save money by not purchasing
it. This is not literature, but a giant "what's grosser than gross"-fest -- behavior that most people give up at 13 years of age. Apparently, the movie moguls and the book
publishers don't realize that Harris is most likely messing with their
heads and mocking them by writing the book with a "Let's see how
revolting this story can get and still get me paid millions for it" mentality.

I'm really sick of uselessly violent movies being shoved down the public's throat for the sake of
sheer, unadulterated greed. Too many producers and studio heads deny
responsibility for mindless, violent or otherwise irresponsible
productions with, "We just give the public what they want." I trust
there will be a portion of the public that is not going to want "Hannibal" in any form.

-- I. Moya

San Francisco

New York stakes



Joe Conason's article applies good,
level-headed thinking to a very exciting proposition -- a current,
popular first lady reshaping her political relevancy into a
citizen-authorized institution. Hillary Rodham Clinton's "potential" bid for the Senate seat in
New York coincides with the termination of her
and her husband's "thanks for the ride" years in the White House. It
cements Giuliani's role as the villain proper in a dramatic
landscape ripe for his contest with a perceived white knight. And
Clinton's bid comes at a time when -- for better or
worse -- an American public indifferent toward its presidential
prospects for 2000 will concentrate on a struggle defined by
fashionable domestic issues and perennially sexy gender politics.

Conason lapses into fantastical territory, however, when posing a number of questions that haunt or strongly influence Clinton's candidacy.

"What will Hillary do when the administration proposes policies that are unpopular with the New York electorate?" he asks. She will do what she was elected to do -- exercise the
judgment for which we hold our officials responsible. I doubt a
player as canny as Clinton will agonize over any disparity between her
constituents and the White House. Her exposure to top-level politics
throughout the husband's tenure gives her the kind of experience we
expect but don't often get from our representatives.

"What will she say if she doesn't agree with a position taken by her
husband or his chosen successor?" Conason's question hints that Hillary Clinton is a shrinking
violet next to the majesty of Bill or his successor. I
don't think it would be too hostile to suggest that Clinton will
demonstrate she has just as much moxie as her male compadres.

"What will protect her from the vagaries of a sudden economic downturn
or an unsuccessful conclusion to the war in Kosovo?" Nothing will
protect her. That's one of the beauties of her risk.

-- H. Andrew Lynch

San Francisco

Black and white and read all over


Two things are obvious from Steven Pyrrho's article -- that his
Korean-American classmate Regan is an out-and-out racist of the worst
type, and that the author himself is a hopeless weenie.

I was always under the impression that racism was defined as the hatred of a
person or persons based on their race. If I understand Regan's
self-righteous pontificating correctly, however, it seems to be fashionable now,
at least within the cloistered halls of academe, to define race as a social
construct or a power relationship, with "whiteness" being defined simply
as the state of being on top of the heap. For Regan to hold this view shows how
pathetically she has internalized the real racist paradigm of this society:
that white people are successful and powerful and non-white people are not. I
have to ask: Are poor, powerless Caucasians rendered non-white by their
powerlessness, their skin becoming darker the more disenfranchised they
become? As Asians rise higher up the social and economic ladder, does their hair turn
blond, their eyes blue and their skin pale? The very real racism in this society directed against non-whites will not be eradicated by such a fantasy.

The strangest thing is her bizarre belief that, since only whites can be
racist, the Japanese oppression of the Koreans could not have been a racist
oppression. I assume that she holds this view out of a feeling of
pan-Asian solidarity. Well, I have news for her: The concept of homogeneous
"Asianness" in this country is purely an American construct, a function of two
complementary phenomena: the laziness and ignorance of whites who see all
Asians as interchangeable members of an undifferentiated mass and discriminate
against them accordingly; and the loss of culture-specific traits on the part of
members of distinct Asian communities in this country as they, like all immigrants,
gradually assimilate and become Americans.

There is no pan-Asian solidarity among Asians in Asia. I suggest that Regan go
to Japan and talk to those Koreans who have been living in Japan for
generations but who are still not given citizenship, who still must submit to being
fingerprinted and who must still carry around an internal passport upon
pain of being arrested.

I also suggest that Pyrrho grow a backbone and stop sucking up. Trying to
establish your racial bona fides by parading your non-white siblings around
veers dangerously close to "some of my best friends are ..." Still, at
least he knows that he chickened out when the chips were down. I commend him for his
honesty if not his bravery.

-- Earl Hartman

It struck me, as I read Pyrrho's recounting of the PC-infected Regan's
comments, that I had heard her exact argument before. It was offered by a
young neo-Nazi wearing full SS regalia, who was explaining in a television
interview why the Jews are and should be persecuted. "They've been hated for
2,000 years," he said. "There must be something going on there to account for

The fact that this kind of ignorant double-think supersedes proper critical
thinking in our "higher" educational programs infuriates me. The purveyors of
this sloppy, overly subjective horseshit ought to be deeply ashamed of
themselves, as they have forsaken any notion of academic rigor in favor of
producing faddish, palatable pap. I would like to see Pyrrho's classmate
produce an even moderately coherent, 2,500-word essay on Aristotle's thoughts
about women and slavery, or on Plato's notions of erotic love. She
couldn't do it, because the system has taught her that it is perfectly acceptable to
retroject modern ideas into the past. This is why papers on such nonsensical
topics as "Aristotle's Views on Animal Rights" continue to pass academic
muster. The idea of making a difficult and brave attempt to extract meaning from a
text within its own cultural context -- as far as that can be determined -- has been
abandoned, and replaced by the shabby, third-rate blathering that is postmodern "scholarship."

It is precisely this kind of ill-considered acceptance of an ideological
authority, as demonstrated by Regan, that leads to the mushy-headed nonsense
spouted by neo-Nazis, Klansmen and bunker-dwellers in Montana. I was
disappointed to see that Pyrrho succumbed in the end to the emotional
blackmail of his soft-brained classmate. As any philosopher worth the
descriptor knows, courage is required to maintain an appropriate intellectual
posture in the face of ignorance, emotionalism, and sloppy thinking.

-- Ian Wood

What did Democrats sacrifice to win gun control?


Jake Tapper is right: The juvenile justice bill stinks. It is a
collection of law-enforcement wish-list items and shameless political
pandering. In this, it resembles other recent crime and terrorism
bills. But Tapper is a bit disingenuous here. It was his former employer,
Handgun Control Inc., that took advantage of the Columbine massacre to
drum up public hysteria in the hopes that doing so would allow the
passage of gun control legislation. The problem is that it's easier to
whip up public hysteria than to control the result.

-- Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Professor of Law

University of Tennessee

Isn't there something deliciously ironic about the ACLU, of
all American institutions, complaining that the Democratic Party has
sold its soul to the gun control movement? After all, that's a transaction
the ACLU completed years before the Democratic Party even contemplated it!
As witness their absurdist defense of "states' rights" in the case of the
Second Amendment, despite the overwhelming consensus of constitutional scholars that the
amendment unquestionably was intended to guarantee an individual right to own firearms.

The ACLU's anti-gun stance has condemned it to a membership only a tenth the size of the
NRA's. Who knows how much safer our rights would be if it were the ACLU with
2.5 million members, and not the NRA? It's something that can't happen so
long as the ACLU refuses to defend the entire Bill of Rights.

-- Brett Paul Bellmore

By Letters to the Editor

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aclu Gun Control Guns Hillary Rodham Clinton Joe Conason Paul Shirley