Letters to the Editor

Would Jimmy Swaggart's God forbid sex? Plus: Merger rumors behind hot VA Linux IPO; reducing Russia to vodka-swilling stereotype.


Letters to the Editor
December 17, 1999 10:00PM (UTC)

"Swaggart" by Ann Rowe Seaman
BY VIRGINIA VITZTHUM

(12/10/99)

As someone who has practiced glossolalia, I would disagree with Anne Rowe Seaman that the practice
itself could be adduced as evidence of sexual abuse, which I never suffered.
I particularly appreciated Virginia Vitzthum's observation, "You wish he and his
brethren could find a god who wouldn't demand the compartmentalizing that
tears them apart."

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Exactly. A Pentecostal former girlfriend flip-flopped, for a while,
between e-mailing me provocative photos of herself, and sending me
admonitions to "get right with God."

It's interesting that the Old Testament hero King David, who denied
himself very little when it came to enjoying the company of the opposite
sex, was called "a man after God's own heart." His transgression was in
murdering to get a woman he wanted; there is no record that the Almighty
was displeased by his taking numerous other wives and concubines.

-- Michael Huggins

Virginia Vitzthum doesn't grasp that sexual addiction, Jimmy Swaggart's "demon oppression,"
is clearly a symptom of what is known as "animated depression," a virulent
form of clinical depression. She fosters the idea that all depressed
people are "low functioning," when many are highly charged, compulsive
individuals who, in order to mask feelings, require frequent doses of
stimulation.

-- Karen Blumenthal


Play "Misty" for me

BY DAVID ALFORD

(12/10/99)

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The more I read David Alford's columns, the less I like him. So far this
year, he's admitted to sleeping with a student and to not doing the reading
that he assigned his class; he's referred to a student as "dinosaurish,"
and he's exploded at his class because the level of discussion wasn't to
his satisfaction. I, too, am an educator of college students, and can
only hope that Salon's readers don't think him typical. Most educators I
know are far more professional than to ever dream of conducting
themselves in the manner Alford seems to find acceptable. My
parting words to him, since this is his final year -- good riddance.

-- David Campbell

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I'm quite offended at the author's emphasis on physical attributes in
describing his student. It seems as if he needs to jab at her to this
day. "Jowly" might have something to do with self-esteem problems leading
to this girl's dangerous tendencies, but the description isn't used in such
an objective fashion. Instead, we get "dinosauric." Someone should sic Camryn Mannheim on this guy.

-- T.E. Lyons

Dissecting the VA Linux IPO
BY MARK GIMEIN

(12/11/99)

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I think there may be another story behind the scenes of the VA Linux IPO.
One needs only to read the December '99 issue of Linux Magazine: "Can Linux
Revive SGI?" The article argues that if VA's IPO were a success, CEO Larry Augustin might "just buy SGI outright."
Other things to consider: VA and SGI engineers have been sharing technology and working on the Linux kernel
along with Linus Torvalds; and the two companies collaborated on the Debian/GNU
Linux for distribution worldwide. According to a source in the article,
"the idea that a post-IPO VA Linux could acquire SGI is actually more than
a remote possibility."

-- Ray Ferrari

Sharps & Flats: "Amplified"
BY MICHELLE GOLDBERG

(12/10/99)

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You cannot call a hip-hop group a "band." (I got to that point in the
review and just about stopped reading.) And to compare A Tribe Called Quest to Black Eyed Peas is bad hip-hop
writing. Black Eyed Peas do have a live band backing them; they're
MTV-backed new jacks, and there are a litany of other more meaningful
groups that should have been mentioned instead -- Gang Starr for example.
Your reviewer didn't even mention that Jay Dee produced the album. How can you write a hip-hop
review without mentioning the producer? The whole album (minus two tracks) is Jay Dee's sound.

The mistakes are too bad, because Q-Tip came out with a great album -- against all odds, really.

-- Kenneth Kohlmyer

What the National Guard is doing for New Year's Eve
BY SAM STANTON AND GARY DELSOHN

(12/10/99)

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Sam Stanton and Gary Delsohn apparently
neglected to read the FBI's "Project Megiddo" report itself. Had they actually done so, they may
have realized that Christian Identity is not a "group," as
their article incorrectly stated, but rather a noxious White Supremacist
theology. They might also have recognized that the report did not mention
a "group" called "the New Americans, an offshoot of the John Birch
Society," but rather referred to the New American magazine, which is an
affiliated publication of the John Birch Society.

-- William Norman Grigg


The congressman from Columbine

BY JAKE TAPPER

(12/08/99)

Jake Tapper noted that "more than 470,000 people -- almost 75 percent of whom were
convicted felons -- have been prevented from purchasing firearms"
since the implementation of background checks.

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The number is correct, but the logic jump is not. More accurately, 470,000
attempts at purchasing a firearm were stopped. It is likely that the
individuals made other attempts elsewhere, whether at a gun show or from a
black-market dealer. Both are loopholes, but the latter will sell firearms without bureaucratic difficulty regardless of what
background checks exist.

-- James Moyer

"Would God forgive Lenin?"
BY JEFFREY TAYLER

(12/01/99)

I have lived all my life in the very Krasnoyarsk Jeffrey Tayler writes
about. I look at the faces of my co-workers, trying to find
the traces of "hangover pallor" we all should have. Then I come to the
window -- where are all those bums in threesomes, those picturesque
proletarians, and the factory walls topped with barbed wire? The real
Krasnoyarsk doesn't have much in common with the city of Jeffrey Tayler's
gloomy imagination. The city behind the window is covered with snow --
white streets, white trees, the sky of all shades of blue, gray and pink
-- a nice view, by the way.

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I am an ordinary middle-aged woman, with a perfectly average salary, and my
lifestyle is incredibly average -- go to work every day, go to the gym
twice a week. (We are not supposed to go to the gym, are we? We are to
experience "cabin fever" and to find "escape in vodka-drenched oblivion"),
I try to watch my diet, like good movies and books, have a boyfriend -- sorry, not
an exotic mafia guy, just an ordinary Web programmer. And I
am shocked by this article.

It is not worse then the usual image of Russia in Hollywood movies or
novels. But this article is not about the real place or the real people here. The line
between journalism and fiction is blurred. This is a
comic-book Russia, with the usual set of stereotypes and common places. To the hackneyed "proletarians, vodka, Russia,
balalaika, Lenin" collection Tayler adds some new facts, but he often he distorts and misinterprets them. He feeds his readers with little lies, exaggerations and banalities, and you buy it
because you like it.

Yes, the situation here is worse than in the United States during the
Great Depression. There are millions of unemployed, lots of homeless -- we are in the middle of a crisis, and life in Russia is understandably hard, sometimes tragically absurd, often depressing. But take a look at any Russian and you will find a person with the same desires,
feelings and aspirations as yours. We hope to have decent jobs and
careers, to have loving families, to be successful, we try to live our
lives in dignity, we want peace and justice, we need to have something to
be proud of and something to believe in. Not all of us are bums. We are not always depressed. We
are not weary, gloomy proletarian masses who are able to find escape
only in vodka or in fanaticism of Orthodox Christianity. This is just not
fair.

In Russia, it seems, Tayler can be as outrageous as he wishes and get away with it. His heart is more empty and cold than all the Siberian tundra.

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-- Svetlana Lusik


Who were those masked anarchists in Seattle?

BY L.A. KAUFFMAN

(12/10/99)

It's really simple: Acts of destruction directed at either property or at
human beings are "violent." That said, there's a clear
distinction that must be emphasized. Violence against humans is always wrong, under all
circumstances, but violence against property is sometimes justified as a political strategy. And the violence against property in Seattle was doubly
justified. It worked as a counter-weight to the continuing
Reaganesque worship of property rights as ascendant
over social justice and environmental balance. And it
worked as a device to attract the media attention without which the
"Battle in Seattle" would have been relegated to a minor story.

-- David C. Orr

Anyone who advocates violence as a solution for political problems needs
only to look at Northern Ireland. It doesn't work.

-- Genevieve Carnell

I find it strange that L.A. Kaufman refers to the Wobblies without mentioning that the IWW is not a historical curiosity, but a viable, active union. There were a
lot of Wobblies in Seattle protesting the WTO, marching and getting tear-gassed and beaten. These protesters were entirely distinct from the
Eugene brick-throwers.

-- Marya Janoff

Isn't it interesting that, according to Kauffman, the most notable
accomplishment of this fringe group is the occupation of Federal property?
Their first impulse upon gaining any sort of power is to set up a new
state, run by themselves. Instead of anarchy, we find order. Instead of
elimination of private property, we merely find property changing hands.
Sound familiar? These "anarchists" are anarchists in name alone.

-- Alex Sheppard


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