Letters to the Editor

George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" is a lie; Tibetans don't deserve their oppression; is "sex ed" just a way of controlling teenagers?

By Letters to the Editor
Published August 16, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)
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Guns and money



CORRECTION: In a story about former George W. Bush fund-raiser Richard
Dyke, owner of Bushmaster Firearms, Salon News repeated a police reporting
error that a Bushmaster rifle was used in the shootings
at the North Valley Jewish Community Center. In fact, the Bushmaster
rifle was found in accused killer Buford Furrow's van, but was not
used in the shootings. Salon regrets the error.


Gov. Death



Finally, the straight story
about Bush and his record of "compassionate conservatism." I have yet to
understand why the mainstream press has avoided the obvious hypocrisy
between Bush's religious faith and his decision to allow a born-again
Christian like Karla Faye Tucker to be executed when she was
clearly a good influence and a huge comfort to many women in prison. People can and do change. Individuals differ, and the state has the responsibility to
examine each case individually. Gov. Bush is laboring under a dark illusion if he believes that his hands are clean.

-- Jacqueline Marcus


Christopher Hitchens appears a bit confused regarding the Texas
execution rate and Gov. Bush's ability to review all of those capital
cases. Hitchens may be surprised to learn that the average inmate has
had about 10 years of post-conviction judicial review prior to execution and
that the Texas governor's office has its own office of legal counsel and an
18-member parole board, both of which advise the governor on each individual
death penalty case. So Hitchens need not be concerned regarding the
governor's ability to properly review cases.

Hitchens is but one of a number of intellectual giants to
question Karla Faye Tucker's execution. I feel certain that had Gov. Bush
commuted Tucker's death sentence based on sexism or her "born again" status,
that such would be roundly applauded by hypocrites such as Hitchens.

-- Dudley Sharp

Vice president, Justice For All



I am no fan of Gov. Bush, but I do not think that your article was fair.
Texas' large number of executions is not a new phenomenon; a substantial number of executions also occurred during the governorship of the relatively liberal Ann Richards.

-- Tom Desmond

McKinney, Texas


At some time during Gov. Death's reign, a black man who had
already served eight years of a life sentence for rape (of a white
woman, I might add) was found conclusively innocent by DNA
testing. The only reason he could be held, according to the test, is
that he was human. Gov. Bush hesitated to sign the man's pardon
because he didn't want to look soft on crime. Need I say more?

-- Peter D. Barry

Austin, Texas

The fact that Clinton, Gore and Bradley favour the death penalty,
indicates the mood of the majority of the American people.
Frustrated with the violence in American society and the gun murders
of young (as well as old) people, Americans throw up their arms and favor the
death penalty for criminals whatever their status.


If the death penalty were made a political issue in the prevailing
climate of the United States today, it would simply favor the
candidate who was in favor of it -- unfortunately, George W. Bush.

-- Allan Bernstein

Thornhill, Ontario

China good? China bad?




Hank Hyena seems to think that it is wrong to impose our Western values
(human rights, freedom of religion) on other cultures, but that the Chinese
government has somehow done Tibet a favor by introducing Marxism. Yes,
the Tibetans now have their language, culture and religion suppressed
now that they are liberated from their backward, feudal government, but
the food is so much better! I'm glad to have been introduced to the
subtler, gray areas of world politics.

-- Bill Ravdin

Oakland, Calif.

Does the author honestly believe that raping nuns,
destroying monasteries, kidnapping children so they can be raised
without their own language or heritage; that any of these things can be
compared to the idea that he considers Tibetan culture "primitive?" When
he mocks the monk who gave China the thumbs down, does it occur to him
that the old man might not be a simpleton with no nuanced political
beliefs -- that he might simply not speak English?

Hyena's whole tone is one of amused superiority, the classic ugly
American tourist. He seems endlessly amused with himself for having taken such a "non-PC" attitude, as if being an obnoxious joker in the
face of real human pain were somehow clever. The killers and torturers
of this world will always have people like Hyena for their allies, I
suppose -- people who will not feel outrage, people who will not protest,
because the torture is not happening to them or their children; people
who will joke about it, or argue that it is a necessary evil on the road
to modernity as they snack on some bean curd.


-- Paul Chhabra

"Manipulating world leaders with ... religion" is a well-endowed art of Western societies and, it
appears, of Eastern establishments as well. Neither modern nor ancient
versions of this ever worked well absent the elimination or total
submission of minorities. While the human condition is entitled to its
share of moralists, institutionalizing them beyond the church door wreaks
pain and havoc on society. That's the way it's always been -- and in that
context, I'd prefer communism.

-- Tom DeLuca

Hyena's unsympathetic descriptions of Xiahe Tibetans,
interestingly similar to the same images that many Han Chinese recount, do
little to rectify the oppositely glowing images that Free Tibet activists
create. A stereotype cannot be counteracted with another stereotype; a
healthy gray is never achieved.


-- Adam Smith

Zigong, China

It's very easy and convenient for pro-Tibet people to forget
that the Chinese occupation of Tibet is the direct result of the big
game that was played by the British and Russia at the end of the last
century in order to expand their influence and power. The 13th Dalai Lama
tried to use the Western influence to gain more power and limit
the power of the Qing Dynasty. It was reasonable from Dalai
Lama's perspective, since the Qing Dynasty was too busy defending itself
from the Western invasion to defend Tibet after the British army
slaughtered the Tibetans and marched into Lhasa.

It was history at its darkest moment for both Tibetans and
Chinese. But maybe there is hope for Tibetan culture considering
that Tibet and China have existed side by side for many centuries.
If Chinese really wants to get rid of the Tibetan culture, they could
have done it centuries ago.

-- Liyang Zhou

Milpitas, Calif.


Don't be sore


Susie Bright is one of the first to tell the honest truth. Sex education's sole purpose in the United States is to try and scare kids into not having sex.
The question I've always had with this idiotic policy is this: If it is so dangerous for teens to have sex because of "unreliable condoms" and "unstoppable" STDs, how does being 25 change those dangers exactly? The answer is simple: It doesn't.

For American teens, sex ed is all about controlling the sex instinct. And by controlling people's sex instinct, you control them. (This not only is evidenced by the 1,500-plus years of influence that the Catholic Church enjoyed, but also is explored in the George Orwell masterpiece "1984.") Sex ed is simply another symptom of the oppression of teenagers. The reason that this oppression has increased in recent generations is simple: The oppression of minorities and women has been stopped, so we are the last group that can still be oppressed legally.

-- Lorenzo (Last name withheld at writer's request)

Susie Bright's article reflects the ignorance and recklessness that
has led to the spread of so many cases of herpes and human papilloma virus
(aka genital warts). Both can be spread even when wearing condoms, and
neither is "curable." As a physician who has worked in both private
practice and at an STD clinic, I have treated patients who have practiced
"safe sex" using condoms, and still contracted both diseases. Herpes
infects one out of five sexually active Caucasian women, and nearly 50 percent of
sexually active African-American women. I'm glad Susie's infection is only
a mild problem for her, but others are not so fortunate. It is costly to
the individual, in missed work and medications, and to society as a whole.

To minimize the disease is also irresponsible. True, neither is
fatal, and a male might only need a few warts frozen on his most
sensitive area, or have to take an antiviral agent intermittently for the rest of
his life -- but for the young female the results are not as benign. Strains
of human papilloma virus have been linked to cervical cancer, and warts in the vagina or on the cervix are not as simple or easy to detect as on the penis. If a woman has an outbreak of herpes at the end
of her pregnancy, then a C-section must be performed to prevent infecting
the newborn (which can be fatal).

For our children's sake, they need to be given the facts regarding
STDs. Monogamy is the only way to truly prevent the spread of STDs, and
minimizing the disease will only make things worse.

-- J. Okamoto, M.D.

Real Life Rock Top 10

High 10 to Salon for enlisting Greil Marcus. The man has his
ear to the ground and detects big rumbles long before they
reach the surface. I'll be forever in his debt for the
column he wrote in New West magazine defining
why "Rocket to Russia" was (then) the one album he would
take with him to a desert island. I promptly sought it out and
was instantly transported back to a younger, more innocent
place by the frenzied goofball youthful lunacy of the
Ramones. I haven't followed all of his pointing fingers
since then, but when I have, I haven't been sorry.

-- Stu Watson

Portland, Ore.

Fanatics of the far right


This article states that "The Southern Poverty Law Center -- the nation's leading organization monitoring the activities of extremist and hate groups -- has the USTP on its radar and considers it a conduit for the activities of a radical band of racists, anti-Semites, violent pro-lifers and other nefarious characters."

The claim that the USTP is "a conduit for the activities of a radical band of racists, anti-Semites, violent pro-lifers and other nefarious characters" reflects either reckless negligence with respect to the facts or intentional malice in your effort to misrepresent and discredit the U.S. Taxpayers Party and its members all over the United States.

This is to advise you of our demand for an immediate and complete retraction.

-- Howard Phillips

Executive committee, U.S. Taxpayers Party

EDITOR JOAN WALSH RESPONDS: Salon News stands by the story.

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Christopher Hitchens George W. Bush Sex Education Texas