Letters to the Editor

Don't sanitize America by censoring "South Park"; "Nancy Quan" glamorizes prostitution; breast is best for most (but not all) new moms.

Published July 26, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Why Gore would censor "South Park"


"Moral" conservatives and
"concerned" liberals love to invoke the name of "the children" whenever they
want to disguise the fact that they're trying to sanitize America. They
especially love to, in their rhetoric, combine their favorite victim with
the ultimate villain. Everyone can hate TV!

Folks, if you hate TV, don't buy one. You are free to do that.

As a liberal, it makes me a bit afraid to mention such a candidate, but a
fiscally conservative civil libertarian would wipe out the competition. A
"hands off my personal life and wallet" message would resonate with those
tired of Tipper and her silly, paranoid mentality about children; with
those tired of people in government telling us what we can say on the
Internet or do with our bodies; and with people whose lives, or whose
friends' lives have been destroyed by the misguided "drug war." All in the
name of our children.

What will we leave "our children" if we don't act soon? A country where the
media is censored, drug users are locked away for life, violent children get
the death penalty, and where we drop bombs on countries with more freedom
than ours. That's not America. That's not even Singapore.

-- David Isbister

Freedom of expression has long been a bipartisan cause and whipping boy
simultaneously. Liberals and conservatives alike have fought for it, and
liberals and conservatives alike have done what they could to undermine it
over history. If Clinton and Gore like the V-chip too much, well, how's that
different from the elder George Bush campaigning against the American Civil
Liberties Union in 1988? The ACLU is far more consistent in supporting
freedom of expression than anybody who walks around with a party label on
his or her lapel.

Horowitz keeps trying to pretend that the Christian Coalition and its
anti-free expression agenda is not a large and important constituency to the
Republican party. They aren't "caving" to the V-chip, they're embracing it
as naturally as their lungs embrace oxygen. Some Republicans still remember
what conservatism actually means; unfortunately, they're rapidly following
Barry Goldwater to the happy hunting grounds.

And I'm getting tired of people who defend the gun and tobacco lobbies on
"free expression" grounds. When you stretch the metaphor that far, you end
up making it available to the Ted Bundys of the world too.

-- Francis Volpe

Carlisle, Pa.

Little did I expect to see an anti-censorship stance taken by this conservative author. A daring
stance indeed, considering conservatism's track record on censorship. I
applaud him for having the guts to take a stand for what he believes in and
not conforming to the narrow mind-set of the typical conservative.

-- Victor Allen

Mobile, Ala.

While I don't find "South Park" humorous, the Gore/Clinton thrust toward
censorship is revealing -- and it's scary. Once again, the theme that
"government can solve all our problems" raises is ugly head.

I think people first see all the marketed toys, T-shirts, lunch pails and other junk,
and assume that these moon-faced kids are simply "cute," without watching
the show to realize that they truly are foul-mouthed, bigoted
creatures. Parents should look to themselves, and not the
government, for responsibility about what their children watch. The
"soccer moms" should actually watch a couple of shows and understand that the foul-mouthed little
cartoon characters are no more suitable for little children than Fritz
the Cat (the R-rated animated cartoon) or "Beavis and Butthead."

-- Gary A. Smith

New Milford, Conn.

Nancy Chan: Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl


This is the most painful and personal story I could have read. Some six years ago I was madly in love with the most wonderful person in the world. Kathy was an angel sent from heaven, a perfect match for me. I was working diligently as a creative person in the music business, and she ... well, was chronicly unemployed, but had the sweetest drive and ambitions. Kathy spent the beginning part of our relationship living with me, but then she moved back in with her roommate Percilla -- an odd type, who had just recently moved to New York City from Australia, and was Asian as well. Percilla's well-paying job was as a nude model. (I, of course, assumed she was modeling for art students.) Percilla harassed Kathy weekly to work for the same agency; and when Kathy decided to pose nude as well, she suddenly came into money. She explained it as ill-gotten gains from working at the Palladium, where she said she received hefty commissions for setting up drug deals.

Three months later, I came home to my roommate and best friend crying. They explained that Kathy had been working as an escort; a mutual friend had hired her by calling her agency's phone number.
After days of fighting, excuses, lies, and stories of sexual abuse by her father, Kathy came clean and told me the truth. Percilla was a call girl, and Kathy was working at the same escort agency as my boss's future wife, and he was aware of the whole situation. Kathy charged $600 per half-hour, of which she paid $200 to the house. She only went on 10 or so dates where she actually performed sexual acts for them. Most of the time she required her clients to wear two condoms, but she also admitted to having once john who offered her $1,500 to have sex without protection.

To the best of my knowledge, Kathy is no longer in this business. She caught Herpes 2 years later, and is now a seriously disturbed individual, full of self-hate. I had a nervous breakdown, and was unable to continue my career in the music business.

The moral: An escort's life in New York is not glamorous. It is a long downward spiral of self-abuse. AIDS is upon us, and the glamorization of the sex industry will only instigate the continued ignorance practiced by heterosexual men and women.

Name withheld at writer's request

The unbearable whiteness of being



I can't believe the way the author practically justifies why these
people did what they did. How is it possible that you can attribute the
violent actions of these young, white males to the premise that they are
disillusioned with the life they were born into?

As a Hispanic female, born into what is considered a working-class household, I find that
notion ridiculous. Minorities deal with being excluded, discriminated
against and ostracized on a daily and continuous basis. We encounter and
deal with the same feelings of so-called exclusion,
yet we minorities, for the most part, do not go out and shoot people for
no reason. As a society, we realize that the cause of violence is
the perpetrator's willingness to commit a violent and illegal act. So
please, spare us the sob story about how these well-to-do white boys had
such a hard life. Tell them if they really think life's hard, they
should come stay in Brooklyn for a few days and see how the other half
lives. They wouldn't last through the night.

-- G. Velez

Change every reference to race in this article from white to black (or
Latino or Native American or any other race) and you have an article so
filled with racist diatribes that I doubt Salon would
have bothered giving it the time of day. Responding with hate toward
what Dobie calls "lonely, none-to-pretty white boys" only feeds the
hate and isolation they may be feeling. This articles continues the cycle of violence I'm sure
the author deplores. These men and boys don't need more of our scorn,
they need more of our compassion. But telling them that they might as
well commit suicide because "their families would survive fine without
them; indeed, they would be happy to see them go" is not an answer. This
article is a misguided, ill-informed and ignorant attempt at
addressing this issue.

-- Daniel Crandall

Kathy Dobie was inaccurate in
her glib reference to "white supremacists in Sacramento accused of murdering
a gay couple." The accused killers live in Redding, 200-plus
miles north of Sacramento, and the murdered gay couple also lived in the
Redding area. The tie to the Sacramento area was that the FBI has
determined that the same men accused of the gay hate crime killing also
allegedly torched several Jewish temples in Sacramento recently,
illustrating the link between gay bashing and other, more
racially motivated hate crimes.

As a resident of Sacramento I concede that we too have skinheads, but none
of them has killed anyone -- yet.

-- Stacy Selmants

Formula for disaster


One of the things my wife looked forward to with the birth of our first
child was the chance to breast-feed. Unfortunately, it was physically
impossible for her to do so for longer than a very challenging two months.
Switching our daughter from the breast to the bottle was an incredibly
difficult decision, but one that had to be made for her continued health.
Our daughter has not had poorer health than any other of the many children her age in our
neighborhood. There are many other contributing factors to a
newborn's health, such as home environment and genetics. It's just not so that
using formula is tantamount to a death sentence. And
stating such a one-sided, alarmist opinion is not good journalism.

Of course it's better to feed a baby breast milk. But sometimes it's just not a decision that's in the
best interest of a child, for a thousand different reasons.
Making a new mother who cannot breast-feed feel guilty for this does not
help anybody. Just think where we would be if there was no such thing as formula.

-- Jay Milton


Parents deserve to make informed decisions in how they
will care for their children and are only cheated by the misguided attempts
of parenting advocates (doctors, nurses, parenting magazines) to assuage
possible guilt by withholding facts about the risks in using infant
formula. While infant feeding has been upheld as a "lifestyle choice," the
truth is that whether a family chooses to breast-feed will impact
their child's present and future health.

-- Dawn Friedman

The reach of the infant formula makers is so pervasive that a child
may be hooked without the parents' knowledge or permission before the
child leaves the hospital. Our first child was breast-fed, and we planned
to do the same with our second child, born in May. We kept our new
daughter in the room with us to facilitate the feeding process. The
hospital staff, after dropping off two "gift" diaper bags filled with
infant formula samples, took our daughter to the nursery for a routine,
state-mandated blood test. With the Virginia baby swap fresh in my mind,
I tagged along to keep an eye on my daughter.

The nurse conducting the test had a bottle of infant formula ready
for my daughter. When I protested that my daughter was being breast-fed,
the nurse sniffed that my daughter was obviously hungry (as if a
heel-stick could not be the source of the screaming and tears). Had I not
been there, there is no doubt that my daughter would have been started
down the road to infant formula dependence.

-- David Agosto

Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The war over KPFA


The real diversity issue at KPFA is
about the need for diverse viewpoints in an increasingly monopolized
broadcast environment.

Mary Frances Berry and the Pacifica national staff have been attacking
KPFA's audience, staff and volunteers, the people who built the Pacifica
network with their time and money, because they don't like criticism.
Under the pretext of creating more diversity, Pacifica attempts to
dismiss all of its critics as violent racists. This in turn justifies
calling in the Justice Department, employing armed
guards and locking out the staff.

I worked for Pacifica (not KPFA) in the early '80s as a Washington
correspondent. As a producer of national programming, I've generally
sided with Pacifica on the need for more national programming, a more
professional air presence and the need to expand the audience. But
expand is the operative word here. The current audience of KPFA is not just a bunch of old white males, a
putdown used by Berry and others to justify abandoning the left-wing politics
of the station's loyal supporters. The current audience is a foundation
to build on. The damage done by Berry and the Pacifica staff may soon be irreversible. Their actions in this dispute violate everything Pacifica stands for. Let's
hope these two resign before it's too late.

-- Lewis Cohen

Oakland, Calif.

By Letters to the Editor

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