Letters to the Editor

Keep the morning-after pill away from our daughters! Plus: Buffy" fans strike back; McCain is the perfect "anti-Clinton."

Published December 13, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Let them eat pills


As a parent of a little girl, I am astonished that any government would
administer the morning-after pill to a child without the consent of that
child's parents or guardians. It amazes me that the French government sees
this as a "quick fix" to the problem of teen pregnancy, when the problem
lies with the child's sexuality. Perhaps if young girls were
taught that becoming pregnant before marriage was no one else's fault but
their own (except in the case of rape), and that they must live with the consequences
of sex, then we might solve this problem. It is about time we taught our
children that abstinence is the only safe and effective method to avoid
becoming pregnant.

-- Andre Konstant

The morning-after pill does not function by preventing implantation of the
embryo. It functions in exactly the same way ordinary oral
contraceptives work: prevention of the release of the mature egg from the

There is a risk that by taking the morning-after pill an embryo
will not implant -- but that risk is the same as the risk associated
with the ordinary, lower-dose birth control pill.
Salon would do well to actually read up on the current medical literature
before freaking people out about "killing the children."
If the morning-after pill fails to prevent ovum release, you get pregnant.

-- Timothy Kordas

Life begins at conception, not implantation in the uterus. If the morning-after pill prevents
implantation and therby destroys the fertilized egg, it is most certainly
an abortofacient. I know it is nicer, or less upsetting, or more pleasant, to think
otherwise, but it is not true. One may be able to fool 15-year-old school
girls, but not us pro-lifers.

-- Jessica O'Connor

Bayonne, N.J.

The adaptation racket


I have not seen the movie, but when I saw the trailer recently, I
half-winced, half-bristled at its ludicrous distortions.
Why dress the actresses in high-waisted dresses and the actors in silk waistcoats if
you're essentially presenting a modernization that takes the peel of
Austen's plot but cores the meaning at the center? It sounds as though the
makers of this "Mansfield Park" tried to make Fanny exactly like Gwyneth
Paltrow's Emma, with a dash of sensible sweetness added to the portrait of
feminine spiritedness. But when writing "Mansfield Park," Austen wrote her sister
Cassandra that she intended to compose a sort of antidote to the flippancy
of "Pride and Prejudice." That intention, it seems to me, explains why "Pride and Prejudice"
is the superior novel.

In academic circles, there is much controversy over whether Fanny is
a feminist heroine or a conservative embodiment of feminine virtue. I read
her as the latter. Fanny's defiance of family opinion concerning her
marriage to Henry Crawford is, to my mind, more a reflection of Austen's
commitment to Tory freedom of conscience and religious virtue than it is to
"female autonomy." (There's also, I think, Austen's spinsterish and sentimental attachment to marrying
only for "true love.")

-- Katie Saral

Breaking up is hard to do


The wonderful thing about "Buffy" is that it has always trodden that
fine line between the everyday and the fantastic. It is still working on
this level, and doing it beautifully. Joyce Millman used the word
"flailing" to describe "Buffy" this season. Is she serious? I
think this season has been wonderful; the show is still better than anything
else on television in terms of creativity, acting, writing, and production

-- Julie R. Millar

Joyce Millman complains that Joss Whedon's brilliant
show now focuses too much on downbeat, new-girl-on-campus subject
matter. But the original show was so great precisely because it merged
the overt Gothic-horror adventure plot with metaphors about adolescent
angst (high school as hell-mouth and all that jazz). Not only has this
season continued to do that exceptionally well -- with the exception of
one dopey episode about beer-drinking -- but it's been building a bunch of
intriguing plot arcs, from the Initiative science lab, to defanged Spike,
to heart-broken Willow and her out-of-control magic and apparent identity

Angel, on the other hand, wobbles from kinda-cool McGyver With Fangs
moments to utter lameness of execution and theme -- as with the
groundbreaking Nazis Are Bad episode Millman found so compelling. I know
she misses the Buffy/Angel love affair, which was wonderful, but heck, it
ran its course -- it's time to let go! And did she really
love the "I Will Remember" episode so much she was willing to excuse those
cheesy oracle sequences?

"Angel" isn't bad, but it isn't Buffy -- at least, not yet. Luckily, the
original is still going strong.

-- Emily Nussbaum

"The Trouble With Normal" by Michael Warner



One of the ways in
which Michael Warner and reviewer Peter Kurth tar gay marriage (and, more generally, committed,
loving relationships between men) is by linking it to consumerism. Yet
how, exactly, are the two linked? In fact, the kinds of sex Warner
celebrates (in bathhouses, over phone lines, at adult movie theaters, with
prostitutes) all contribute to a multibillion-dollar industry, while
there is little commercial exploitation of the sex that happens between
monogamous partners. It is time for "sex activists" like Warner to realize
that they are unwitting shills for capitalism's aggressive commodification
of the body.

In addition, don't Warner and Kurth see any contradiction
between advocating multiple-partner sex (with its attendant higher rates
of HIV) and demanding that the government pay for AIDS research and
treatment? On a theoretical level, they try to have it both ways by combining a libertarian sexual ethos (we should be free to screw whoever, whenever, wherever) with a collectivist economic theory (national health care for all). On a personal level, they want to have it both ways
as well: Each individual should feel free to be as reckless as possible,
but not have to worry about the consequences because Uncle Sam should pick
up the tab.

Warner and Kurth also worry that, if gay marriage becomes
legal, there will be coercion to get hitched and a shaming of the
unmarried. This is, indeed, the "Trouble With Normal." Yet all cultures
have a "normal," including the one advocated by sex activists like Warner.
The dominant "normal" in the gay community beginning in the late '60s
has been the kind of freewheeling sex Warner condones. What is "deviant"
to the larger society became "normal" in the subculture. Indeed, those
who don't conform to this notion of normal are viewed as deviant "turdz,"
or misguided (all those deluded gays who want to be in a relationship).
Warner wants to limit gays' and lesbians'
freedom, by keeping the option of gay marriage closed off, in order to
maintain the current regime. He seems to have no trouble with normal, as
long as he gets to define the word.

Finally, what happened to love? For
most humans walking the face of the earth, sex and love are connected in
deeply complex and mystifying and often maddening ways. Yet nowhere in
this review does the word "love" appear -- and that should sadden anyone who
cares about how gay men construct their intimate lives.

-- Dan Perreten

The agony and the ecotourism



I did not stay at the Explora in the Paine Park; their already-inflated rates only allow you to purchase even more expensive multiday packages. I did eat dinner
there, however. The drinks before dinner were generous, but the meal was mediocre
-- more like a competent chain restaurant in the United States -- and the staff was
pretentious and nasty.

In Puerto Natales, we met a couple who had stayed at the Explora for their
honeymoon. They described their stay as an extended version of our
dinner. The locals that we met in Puerto Natales -- some of whom have
worked at the hotel as staff -- have nicknamed it "the Exploita" for its poor
maintenance and horrible pretentions.

There are other hotels in the park -- some with even more spectacular locations,
such as the Pehoe -- which offer 90 percent of the perks at a fifth of the price. What
this hotel really has going for it is aggressive international publicity.

-- Michael Prisant

McCain's world order



GOP stalwarts will support the final nominee if he is Bush, but my
gut sense is that most in their hearts prefer McCain (even
with his lack of executive hair and physical height). He's the complete
anti-Clinton -- a war hero, blunt, less than charming -- and he's frankly
right on campaign finances, foreign policy and federal controls.

Will that carry the national ticket? Probably, given Gore's over-the-top
enviro-geekishness, and the true Bradley's leftist agenda.
Bush would likely be a positive surprise -- ` la Reagan -- but the surprise
part is the problem: He's still not a known entity, and the various
youth stories do hurt him (whether they are true or not). We're had seven years of stupid,
and we're all a bit tired of it.

Bill Clinton is John McCain's best friend in that respect -- and the GOP
process is not close to being over.

-- Jeff Ulmer

It takes one to know one


First, the Venona Transcripts and the KGB archives are not open for public
viewing, as are, say, the Pentagon Papers or the Nixon White House
transcripts. Numerous writers from the intelligence community (and not a
leftist in the bunch) warn against taking these sources at face value, as
overseas KGB operatives were notorious for exaggerating (to save their own
butts), and the current custodians of the KGB archives are hungry
people who would come up with documentary evidence for just about anything
if it would feed their families. Bad evidence begets bad conclusions.

Secondly, J. Edgar Hoover warned us of extensive penetration by Communists (in
"Masters of Deceit"). Isn't this the same guy who told us that there was no Mafia?

And finally: The initial intent of the House Un-American Activities Committee was
to screen for fascist spies. It is widely known that penetration of the
military and government by subversive rightist elements was (and may still
be) widespread. Hell, MacArthur's right-hand man was an unreconstructed
Nazi sympathizer. Why does Horowitz spare these Fifth Columnists his

-- Michael Treece

Sustainable agriculture or Shakespeare?


In the early part of this century, workers here were unable to unionize,
and were exploited. There were no environmental rules, and portions of the
country were laid bare. Yet the net effect of this was to get us where we
are today. Should the same process occur in the third world? The WTO
thinks so. By removing trade barriers, the WTO makes unions unrealistic.
Sure, unions could organize in a Latin America sweatshop, but with the
ability of capital to quickly move, the company would just shut down and
move elsewhere. Unions and environmental regulations don't work in this case.

We enjoy a standard of living that was brought about by unions and environmental
standards. If we damage the ability of people, companies and governments
in the third world to enact these same measures, then they will always be
third-world countries.

-- Erick Thompson

How can the tariffs against the United States and other developed countries that the
various free trade agreements put on them be considered "free" trade?

-- John Harvey

By Letters to the Editor

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