Letters to the Editor

Make men deal with birth control; race, music and Macy Gray; Lycos should run "Jews for Jesus" ads.

Published August 18, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Brave new world?


Why do all the articles surrounding this topic put
the burden upon women for contraception prevention, while men are left out
of the loop entirely? What about research for a male contraceptive device,
pill, technique etc.? Ever try looking up male contraception on Yahoo?
You'll get one link -- but the research
on the types of techniques the author suggests have not been tested or
evaluated by scientists in the West. I envision a male "pill" that will
reduce/eliminate sperm counts to low levels; then men will have to take
some responsibility for family "planning." I've heard the argument against it -- "Men
don't get pregnant, so they've got no vested interest in birth control" -- but
I think that isn't necessarily true for all men.

-- Jenn Dryden

This statistic -- "For three-quarters of a
woman's child-bearing years, she is trying to avoid getting pregnant" --
really rang my bell. I cannot help but wonder why, after
attending a women's college and volunteering at a Planned Parenthood
clinic for more than a year, this is the first time I have heard such an
inflammatory statistic. It illustrates just how dysfunctional public and pharmaceutical industry perception of this market really is.

-- Jessica Mosher


Lacking in almost all information regarding contraception is the option of
natural family planning. This method involves educating women about exactly
how their body's cycles function, what causes ovulation (and fertility)
and how to follow this cycle. There is a great deal of money made off of all
forms of contraception and I suspect this is why this information is so difficult to locate.

This knowledge has been truly powerful in my life. I am completely free of
the dependence of artificial hormones, doctors or nurses, drug stores and
pill-taking schedules. But the greatest benefit of natural family planning is the closeness I have shared with my partner as he has learned about my natural cycles; birth control is
something we truly share. It takes a level of maturity and communication to
practice but is not difficult. This maturity level may not be present with
teenagers, and I see this as a problem, but the reality is that sexual activity
is truly an adult activity and should not be embarked upon by kids.

If women were instructed in how to monitor their cycles, determine their windows
of fertility and avoid intercourse for a few days, I think many would choose
this over chemical hormones and their many side effects. But pharmaceutical
companies don't make money off women who choose natural family planning, and many women don't even know that it is an option. I suspect those in the position to make a buck don't have any intention to educate them otherwise.

-- Karen Kelly

Sharps & Flats: "On How Life Is"



As a black musician, I've been tracking (for
too many years) a racial dichotomy in the critical
reception of pop records. Decent white artists come
out with decent records that display a precious
modicum of originality or intelligence (these are,
after all, pop records) and receive warm reviews.
Decent black artists come out with decent records
that display a modicum of originality or
intelligence and are pilloried, by black critics and
white critics alike, for (among other sins) failing to
save the planet. An example of the former would be
Radiohead and "OK Computer"; an example of the latter
would be Macy Gray's debut.

Gray's recording sounds just fine, as fine
as anything can sound anymore. The sound of
Macy's voice is a real pleasure, A&R hype or not -- most
definitely as fresh as just-laundered sheets hung out
in the June sunshine to dry.

Against the standards of what aural utopia is
her record "thin"? Is this the same universe that
lauds Sarah M. for her honey-toned four-minute mantras
of nice? "Thin" against a framework in which the pop
charts are little more than vertical relay races
between pimply boy groups and atom-bomb-breasted

Oh, I see: We expect more out of Macy because
she's black! That is precisely why it too often sucks
to be so.

-- S. Augustine

Kandia Crazy Horse seems to have it out for any artist trying to fuse the
musical stylings of yesterday with instruments and styles of today. We
cannot compare every contemporary artist with their predecessors or
classify them by their race or the racial stereotypes of their music as
the author does. Listeners should accept today's artists for what they are;
time will judge their place in history. In New York City, there are plenty of people enjoying the music of the artists Crazy Horse trashes (including Gray, Eagle Eye Cherry, Erykah Badu and Jamiroquai).

-- Gregory Heller

New York

No "Jews for Jesus" on Lycos



The decision by Lycos to end Jews for Jesus ads due to pressure from the
Jewish community is wrong. Just because some members of the Jewish
community disagree with the beliefs of JFJ is hardly a valid reason to
prevent the group from exercising its right to free speech. The quote from
Diane Kolb that "Jews can't be for Jesus" is blatantly wrong. Check the
history books. Nearly all of the first Christians were Jewish and, in
fact, debated strongly about allowing gentiles into the fold. Lycos will
certainly have limited advertising if they use only non-controversial
organizations or companies. I have nothing but respect for the JFJ
organization and will exercise my right to not choose Lycos as my search
engine, knowing that they resort to such unfair censorship.

-- Mark Wineinger

"Jews can't be for Jesus"? It sounds like the Anti-Defamation League needs to study its history a
little better. Wasn't Jesus a Jew? Weren't most of the disciples Jews?
Wasn't most of the early church Jewish? Jews can be for Jesus. Such a
statement isn't blasphemous or misleading. It's what Christians have been
saying for 2,000 years.

-- Kevin D. Hendricks

Sweating the big stuff


Tara Zahra's assumption that students at elite institutions are all
children of privilege who never give thought to class issues is
inaccurate. There are many students at elite colleges who come from
working-class backgrounds, and many privileged students
who do give thought and effort to class issues. It is unfair and
patronizing to assume that student interest in labor is just another
extracurricular activity, or that students don't wonder about college
attendance rates or admissions policies and the educational injustices that lead to them. In many cases, these injustices are acknowledged by students and they are working to change
them -- in the low-profile community service and activism that Zahra mentions in
her article, but then ignores because it
contradicts her preconceived ideas.

-- Heather Kofke-Egger

Monson, Mass.

"All the Wrong Men and One Perfect Boy"


Just what the world needs -- yet another book by a neurotic, self-absorbed
woman who made bad choices and is raising a child on her own. Get the
woman to therapy; don't ratify her nutcase lifestyle by reviewing her
book. How would you like to have her as a mother?

-- Kathe Moore

Will Barak stop "ethnic cleansing" of East Jerusalem?


The subtle capitalization of the terms "East Jerusalem" and "Israeli West
Jerusalem" propagate a myth that exists only in the popular press. The
only place where there are two Jerusalems (or a single divided one) is in
the collective imagination of journalists. Unfortunately, this imaginary
division weakens Israel's claim to its capital city, and strengthens
Palestinian claims.

Also, it is a crime of omission to write about Israel's 1967
annexation of the eastern section of Jerusalem and not mention the
circumstances surrounding Jordan's control of the area. When the United Nations
offered that land to Palestinians in 1947, they refused the offer, not
wanting to co-exist with a Jewish state. It was, in a sense, up for grabs,
and Jordan captured it as a spoil of the 1948 war. When Israel won the
land in 1967 it was as legitimate as Jordan's occupation, regardless of
the opinion of "the rest of the world." For 30 years Israel has been
the sovereign governing power in the eastern section of Jerusalem.

It is a travesty if Israel is systematically forcing Arabs to
leave the city. However, it is crucial to keep our conversation accurate,
and to present the story in its proper context in order to get to the
bottom of it.

-- Andrew S. Becker


I object to the placing of the term ethnic cleansing in quotes in Ian Williams' article. By placing the term in quotes, Salon makes it seem like there is a debate about whether or not the Israeli government is practicing ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. But ethnic cleansing is most definitely taking place in Israel today, as it has throughout the history of that country. Palestinians are removed from their land and not allowed to return because of their ethnicity. A system of apartheid exists in Israel with separate laws for Israeli Jews and Palestinians (even if they are Israeli citizens): Palestinians have fewer rights than Israeli Jews when it comes to housing, land rights, citizenship, running for political office, political organizing, etc. I didn't place apartheid in quotes because the term means "separateness" and that is exactly what exists in Israel.

Just because the mainstream U.S. media systematically downplays Israeli crimes doesn't mean that they aren't being committed. Williams criticizes the "American press" in his article for ignoring the story of Musa Budeiri. However, his own reporting is misleading and perpetuates the myth that Israel is legally and humanely dealing with the Palestinians.

-- Brian Ledesma

There is no such place as "Arab East Jerusalem." There is only
the city of Jerusalem, the undivided capital of Israel. It's true that east
Jerusalem was partitioned in about 1948 when Jordan and other Arab nations
invaded Jerusalem and chased out thousands of its Jewish residents in a war
of aggression. It is not true that the Israeli Interior Ministry "has been
trying to ... reduce the Arab population." More
building permits have been issued to Arabs in the last five years than to Jews.
As to the complaint of Musa Budeiri regarding the lapse of his residency
visa, let us not forget that he was offered no less than full Israeli
citizenship in 1971 and he refused. He had his opportunity and turned it
down. How many Arab nations of the Middle East have
offered citizenship to Jews?

-- Ivan A. Rogers

Des Moines, Iowa

Total eclipse

A quote from the Qur'an was included in Jeff
Greenwald's article "Total Eclipse." The sura in question was one I studied
as part of my M.A. course in Arabic and Persian. My professor, a well-respected authority on the Qur'an, assured us that the English translation of this verse was incorrect in rendering the Arabic plural "awlia" (singular: "wali") as "friends." The proper meaning of "awlia" is "leaders,"
so a better translation of the verse would be:

"O you who believe! Do not take the Christians and Jews for leaders; they
are leaders of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them as a leader,
then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust

To support this correction, I would add that Muslims consider Jews and
Christians to be "People of the Book" -- in other words, followers of divinely
revealed religions that precede Islam, but whose scriptures have been
corrupted over time. One of the early Islamic traditions tells that some of
the first converts to Islam who were being persecuted in Mecca fled across
the sea to take refuge with the king of Ethiopia, a Christian. He is said to
have welcomed them as people of God and belittled the differences between
their respective faiths. The early Muslim conquerors returned the favor by
giving Jews and Christians under their control complete freedom of worship.

-- Philip Husband

By Letters to the Editor

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