Letters to the editor

Fired up about Jake Tapper's take on guns and Columbine Plus: The marijuana, sausage, and Mr. Misty cures for a hangover; "Hey Horowitz -- Socialism gave us Chernobyl, but capitalism gave us Bhopal."


Letters to the Editor
January 12, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

The real culprits at Columbine
BY JAKE TAPPER
(12/30/99)

What a wonderful anti-NRA hatchet job by Jake Tapper. This is the quality of journalistic integrity I've come to expect from Salon -- skip the facts and go straight for sensationalism.

For example, the sentence "The SKS is light and easily concealed" is about as devoid of fact as you can get. The SKS is a rifle weighing eight pounds (unloaded) and is over 40 inches long. This is "light and easily concealed"?

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Pistols don't use clips, they use magazines.

Yes, the Tec-9 has "excellent resistance to fingerprints." No, this doesn't mean that the police won't be able to lift prints from the gun; it means that unlike most guns, the oils from your fingers won't cause the surface of the gun to be ruined by rust.

But of course spreading misinformation isn't enough, we also need some sensationalism, with sentences like: "But only a gun with real firepower could mangle three young bodies from head to toe in a matter of just seconds."

But then, I guess the sentence [at the end] of the article says it best: "Jake Tapper is the Washington correspondent for Salon News and a former employee of Handgun Control Inc."

-- David Richards

Tapper blames the NRA for the lax gun control laws. But what if something else had been used in place of guns? The fact is, nearly any human machine or device can be used as a deadly weapon -- cars, kitchen knives, baseball bats, machetes -- the list is endless. What if they had used poison? I believe that to rely on the government to protect you is ludicrous. All great countries' governments have failed eventually; it is an historical fact. So, if you rely on the government for protection and let them take our guns, who protects us from our government? A glaring example is the German people in 1932 who lost their guns to Hitler through registration. Hitler declared Germany to be a model to the world for gun control. The trusting citizenry believed in it. In hindsight, how much different would WWII would have been if the Jews could have fought Hitler from within?

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-- Dana A. Hines

The use of guns is not a matter of constitutional freedoms but whether we are capable of conducting ourselves in public as respectable citizens while pursuing our daily affairs. That "gun control" is touted as the major player in this tragedy is a shame; the real major factor was the improper parenting of these young men and a lack of controls on children. If you want a waiting period on something perhaps there should be a waiting period on procreation as well as an evaluation of future parents to ensure their progeny will be properly developed and nurtured to be the "good citizens" of tomorrow.

-- John Paul Tyner

As usual for the members of our media, Tapper fails to correctly understand the essential point of the murders at Columbine. Evil exists, and only when good is strongly armed can it defeat evil. The two murderers were stopped by armed police, not by soft words. The media is complicit in their acts by glorifying their murderous rampage. The liberal media is attempting to divert the real issue -- it is easier to blame gun owners' strong commitment to maintaining Second Amendment rights, than it is to admit that the media itself contributes to the violence and decay in our society.

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-- Robert Vance

I hope Salon will now balance the scales by printing the truth about the Columbine killers. They were criminals and no amount of laws are going to stop criminals from plying their trade.

As a proud NRA member, please keep putting up articles like this. The unintended effect is to cause our membership roles to swell, because the people -- yes, the very same people who have a constitutional "right to keep and bear arms that shall not be infringed", a right that our fathers and grandfathers gave their lives to defend -- aren't fooled by the Nazi wannabes at Handgun Control.

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Whose side should any American be on? People like this: "Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA. Ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State." -- Heinrich Himmler

Or people like this: "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined." -- Patrick Henry

-- Bill Zimmerly

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This article makes some great points, but it curiously shies away from others. Making dealers at gun shows perform background checks is not the answer; all that'll do is make the actual exchanges take place off-site. What is needed is national gun licensing and mandatory background checks as a part of gun transfer. I can't buy or sell a car without telling the government; why on earth should I be able to buy or sell a gun?

-- Matt Brown

Bottoms Up
BY STEVEN A. SHAW
(12/29/99)

Hey Fat Guy, I can't believe you'd write an entire article on hangover cures -- and even prevention -- without one mention of the good herb.

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For me, and countless others, the single methodology standing between even a few after dinner drinks a nasty tinny-feeling headache is smoking marijuana before, during, and after consumption, and maybe the next day, too. My theory is that the pot keeps your metabolism going while you sleep and burns up the alcohol that would otherwise just make trouble.

Of course, when you wake up, greasy, pickled foods, coffee, showers, cigarettes, aspirin, vitamins, water, fruit and masturbation are great, but aren't they always?

-- "Mustang"

San Francisco

For hangovers, you may also try something from southern Germany: When you feel fragile the morning after, have half a bottle (they've even got cans of it nowadays) of weizenbier. The sparkling weizenbier is good for thirst, the alcohol in it puts you back on the bicycle. If you need to eat something with it, try some weisswurst with your weizen. Weisswurst (just heat 'em in hot, nearly boiling water, and suck them out of their skin, one or two of 'em will do for the purpose -- they are traditionally served with mild, sweet mustard) is gentle on your stomach.

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-- Harald Hildebrandt

Germany

Shaw somehow failed to mention the most prolific beer drinkers on planet -- the Czechs. I had read, and assumed to be true, that Czechoslovakians were second in the world behind the Germans in per capita beer consumption until the breakup of Czechoslovakia. (The creation of the Czech Republic created a new number one.)

Besides reading statistics, I have also lived in both Germany and the Czech Republic (where I worked for a time as a bartender) and I can say from my own experience that the Czechs, and the expats that share their capital, reign supreme. Sad? Certainly. But have you ever had Krusovice on tap in busy, warm pub on a cold Prague winter night?

As for hangover cures, I recommend sucking down a large Mr. Misty from Dairy Queen (or suitable substitute) until you have a brain freeze, then suck some more until it feels like your eyeballs will explode. Afterwards play basketball until you work up a good sweat, if possible, and drink another Mr. Misty. If this doesn't work, start drinking again. Happy New Year.

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-- R. J. Straub


In our bubbly is our beginning

BY BURT WOLF
(12/24/99)

Iloved Burt Wolf's article on how different cultures mark the New Year. I am familiar with his TV shows and am so happy to see his great article on your Web site. Way to go! I hope he'll share more of his fascinating stories with us here. Leave it to Burt to make history fun, relevant and memorable. Thanks for this terrific addition. I raise my glass and toast to him -- and I bet he can tell you where that ritual comes from too!

-- Merry Aronson

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A Question for the Millennium
BY DAVID HOROWITZ
(12/28/99)

Again, David Horowitz proves himself incapable of using his minuscule Manichaean mind to conceive of anything but polar opposites. He informs us that socialism has brought nothing but misery (tell that to the Swedes) and capitalism naught but growth and freedom (let the Ogoni and the U'wa know that, won't you?).

News flash, David: Both systems are open to abuse by oligarchs. Socialism gave us Chernobyl and the gulags; capitalism, Bhopal and the sweatshops of Saipan. Both systems enslave themselves to a weird notion of forced labor (gotta work -- hunting and gathering are illegal) and both have been encouraging pollution for the past century.

And the argument that all human right are based in property rights is laughable -- why, some of my best friends are descended from private property, imported at great expense from Africa.

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Command economies, whether corporate capitalist or Stalinist socialist, trample on the rights of the many for the enrichment of the few. Benefits are invariably of the "trickle-down" variety, and citizens have fewer and fewer options with respect to getting by. The lesson of the millennium is that any system, when rigidly adhered to, creates misery.

-- Michael Treece

David Horowitz thinks that the major lesson of the millennium is that "socialism" has been proved evil and capitalism good. Skipping over the unstated conflation of socialism with communism, which are not the same, I would think that the lesson of the 20th century was the importance of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, not the economic organization of a society. What were evil were both communism and fascism; both were anti-democratic; both violated the rule of law, domestically and internationally; both violated the most basic human rights. Communism was "socialist," fascism was "capitalist." Indeed, most advanced societies today have developed, to a greater or lesser extent, a balance between pure capitalism and pure socialism.

-- Harry Sticker

Socialism's failure is because it is a based on a fundamentally flawed model of human nature and motivation. Libertarians and other proponents of unfettered free markets, however, often try to sweep capitalism's own limitations under the rug.

Those who would ignore these limitations and propose unfettered capitalism (corporate or otherwise) as the basis for civilization are advocating a utopia which, in its own way, is as fundamentally flawed as the socialist utopia. This has inherent implications for its long-term stability. It is too bad that socialists aren't the only ones who haven't learned anything from the 20th (or 19th) century.

-- Paul-Andre Panon

The assertion Horowitz makes that people who protested the WTO in Seattle are "Marxist" is simply wrong. Most are willing to work with the WTO and transform it into a democratic institution (a political system in which free enterprise flourishes). And it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a democratic institution. The members make their decisions in private without consulting the people whom their decisions will affect -- the citizens of nations.

I see these global market institutions usurping the democratic process. In the current scheme, corporations are indeed held in higher esteem than the citizens of a nation. Does this seem good for humanity? All corporations do for me, in essence, is raise my rent and pollute the air and water. Of course, if I had a legacy of monetary wealth in my family past, I might have the time and money to play the stock market and get pointlessly rich. But I don't -- which is the case for most people.

-- Stephen D. Forte


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