Letters to the Editor

It's not the quantity of gun laws that counts; children's parties are out of control; Salon wasted Bill Gates' time.

Published July 13, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

What's gun control got to do with it?


You can have a billion gun laws, but if they don't address show sales or trigger locks, they
still won't stop a single gun-show sale or prevent one of hundreds of
children shooting themselves or a friend every year. That is why people
like me want to see laws requiring trigger locks and preventing gun show
sales, so that a few lives may be saved. The conservatives' argument --
that some people who go to a lot of trouble may still get
around these safety measures -- ignores the hundreds of lives that will be
saved in the overwhelming majority of cases where the children do not try
to get around the law.

As for Horowitz's assertion that Charlton Heston is a new deal
liberal, he should reconsider the difference between ancient political
history and current fact: Heston is not known for his efforts
supporting any liberal causes and has not been during my lifetime. He is
known for being in the "Planet of the Apes" movies, for playing Moses half a
century ago, for having been president of the Screen Actors Guild in reaction to a liberal
administration and for being a defender of Elia Kazan and president of the NRA.

-- Daniel P. White

Walnut Creek, Calif.

Horowitz hit the
bull's-eye. Against overwhelming evidence to the contrary,
the anti-rights forces are doing their best to fix the blame for the aberrant
behavior of a few evil people on the millions of responsible,
law-abiding gun owners in this country.

Very few of us are against common-sense regulations that will keep guns out of
the hands of criminals and unstable persons who misuse them. Few of us
are against common-sense measures to insure the safe use of firearms; most of
us have grown up in homes in which those measures were carefully drilled into
us as part of the responsibility of gun ownership. If our justice system would
simply enforce the laws already in place, we'd see criminal misuse of
firearms dwindle to record low levels.

Actually and unfortunately, not all the blame for intolerance lies with the
left. Their attack on the Second Amendment is only a single sortie in the
campaign by both the left and the right to destroy the Bill of Rights. The
creeping forces of political correctness and censorship fuel the specific
attacks from radicals on both sides -- the proposed flag
anti-desecration amendment, the unconstitutional "Ten Commandments" bill, and
the useless and deceptive gun restrictions now before the House and Senate.

-- Thomas W. Knowles

College Station, Texas

While I will admit that liberal rhetoric can get out of hand at
times, I must object to the idea that conservatives are blameless on this
score. Horowitz claims such obvious targets as Barney Frank have not been
touched. Maybe Horowitz was on vacation when Dick Armey called him
"Barney Fag"; maybe he was out of the country when Robert Dornan refused to
use the house gym after Frank came out of the closet. Maybe Horowitz was asleep when Trent Lott compared gays to alcoholics and kleptomaniacs. Maybe he was still napping when Lott spoke
before a group of racists and said they had the right values for America.

There is plenty of bigotry and name-calling on the Republican side of the aisle.

-- David S. Conroy

Lakewood, Ohio


Forty-four children a year under the age of 10 are killed in gun accidents. Twice that number die in bathtub drownings. What liberals don't seem to understand is that targeting
guns is a meaningless "fix." Why not ban automobiles because they kill so many people?

As for Heston's liberalism, supporting Elia Kazan is a liberal act, as is being president of an
association of 3 million mainly working- and middle-class Americans who support the Second Amendment. You have confused being a leftist with being a liberal.

And as for the "Barney Fag" incident: I never said conservatives don't occasionally call people names. The point was that conservatives' attitude toward liberals were that they were misguided (and therefore reformable); liberals' attitudes toward conservatives is that they are evil. It's a big difference.

And many more ...


Janet Mazur's gentle diatribe on kids' birthday parties captures perfectly the crazy excess of the annual festivities, sponsored by modern moms and dads who just want to give their
children the "best." She asks, "Have we conditioned [kids] to expect
increasingly more elaborate annual gatherings, creating greedy little
monsters?" The answer seems obvious to me: Yes!

After six simple backyard cake-and-ice-cream parties for my eldest daughter, I hired a magician for
her seventh birthday. This year we also hosted a gang of 10 children at a
loud kiddie play establishment --"The Jungle"-- for our 4-year-old. Now
you should hear my two girls talk about next year's parties.

I opened that Pandora's box, and I must be the one to rein in the demons
of birthday extravaganza before it's too late. This task is extremely
difficult -- so many American pursuits turn into expensive, frenetic, overhyped, pseudo-ideals of what really matters.

-- Hilary Neuweiler

Two months after my son attended his best friend's fourth birthday
party -- complete with a "bouncy house," face painting, and a visit from a
"real" superhero -- I let my son invite a few friends over for cake,
pizza and "pin the race car in the winner's circle." Guess what?
Not only did he have a good time, but a few months later, his other
best friend talked his mother out of a more elaborate party, requesting "one
in the basement." The kids don't need this stuff.

-- Kimberly Bradley

I was so pleased to read the article about how over the top
children's birthday parties have become. I was hoping
that it was a phenomenon only in the Bay Area, where
supposedly there are thousands of Internet millionaires
assuaging guilt about their long hours away from home. I, too, had a childhood where birthday
parties consisted of hot dogs, chips and maybe pizza, and pin
the tail on the donkey. We didn't even have goodie bags! Today's blasts
sound like one-upmanship. I long ago realized that
I can just as easily amuse a child with crayons,
a free toy from a Happy Meal and some imagination
as with some state-of-the-art, must-have, computer-chip-driven
fad toy. When will the parties focus on the child's desires rather than on keeping up with the Joneses?

-- Adrienne Eng

The secret world of Pokimon


As a mother of an 8-year-old girl caught
up in the Pokimon craze, I must thank Joyce Millman for explaining the game to me.
Even my 4-year-old gets it. I understand 'N Sync and American Girl dolls, but this
has eluded me. Thanks for letting me in on the secret.

-- Lori Levin-Hyams

My five minutes with Bill Gates


Now I know why Bill Gates is so difficult for reporters to interview. He has
to put up with questions from the likes of Gary Rivlin -- who, like most
journalists, can't get over the fact that Gates is the richest man in the
world, and other people are not. What a bore.

-- Tye Simpson

Brilliant Careers: Russell Simmons


Many of the artists Def Jam produced over the years are in my personal LP (yes
I'm old enough to have LPs) and CD collections. Simmons has done an
excellent job bringing this form of entertainment to the public; he
far exceeds what Motown brought to the table.

It's a shame he is planning to sell his 40 percent stake in Def Jam. Then
again, going from flipping weed in New York City to cashing out at $100 million isn't
all that bad after a mere 17 years in business. It may be pocket lint to Bill Gates of
Microsoft, or Bob Shapiro of Monsanto, but Simmons looks at that kind of money as "real money."

-- Charles E. Berry Jr.

Ladue, Mo.

By Letters to the Editor

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