Letters to the Editor

Dicks of the world unite! Plus: Enough already about John Rocker the bigot; who needs to sniff glue when you can read Horowitz?

Published January 27, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

It's not easy being a dick

Sure it's easy being a Dick. I've been one for three decades now and have no complaints. I ceased answering to the squishy and precious "Rich," "Richie" or "Richard" after high school. I don't know who Mr. Bruno works with, but my female co-workers -- who range from a semi-pro salsa dancer to two Orthodox Jews who favor floor-length dresses and head scarves -- all call me by my declared name with no evident trace of discomfiture. As for being called a "Big Dick," I just give back my best Jeremy Irons eyebrow arch and reply, "You have no idea."

-- Dick Eagleson

It could be worse. My last name is Waste, my father was a doctor named Richard, and he was Dick Waste, or to his patients, Dr. Dick. Also, my wife works with a young lady with the last name of Dick, so when they go out on meetings, it is Mrs. Waste and Ms. Dick. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.

-- Mr. Waste

I never had a chance. I was born in 1957, so by the time I was old enough to notice, the name was already tainted. Also, since I am a Junior, and my dad uses Dick, it was either be known as Little Dick or go to something else. To compound the problem, my last name is Harder. If I were a porn star, Dick Harder might be OK, but otherwise forget it.

-- Rich Harder

Hey, chin up Dick; things could be worse. Sincerely,

-- Warren Kuntz

I found your piece on "Dick" very amusing indeed! You'll be surprised to know that one of the widespread family names here in Russia is (has always been) Uvagin or Vagin. A "female" version for a woman becomes Vagina, which sounds absolutely innocent here. Whenever this person travels abroad so many eyebrows are raised, some mischievously... Many years ago I was dating a cute blond who was heroically bearing that name. She got married a couple of years ago and her new family name is Shitova, which sends no ripples in this country ... so far.

-- Eugene


Sledding in Davos

What fun! Mary Roach did a wonderful job taking us down the mountainside, and then along Main Street, on that red sled of hers. What a great way to start another work week. We Americans have long ignored the fun and innocence of childhood with a simple dismissive wave of a hand and the all-too-familiar thoughts of "What does a child know?"

We should all grab some toboggans, Flexible Flyers, or even a piece of cardboard and literally take a chill pill. If more of us could enjoy the thrill of sledding down a serious hill, following the lead of our foreign friends, winter could once again become, as Andy Williams sang, "the most wonderful time of the year." Thanks for the virtual flashback.

-- Shannon Hicks

Mark Fuhrman in cleats?

Amazing. Just when the Rocker debacle was losing steam in the press, along comes Collier, who becomes an apologist for Rocker's inexcusable behavior. Whining about the so-called "double standard" in race relations reveals the mean-spirited myopia of Collier and similar sycophants of the "angry white men" theology.

Rocker hurt a helluva lot of people with his bigotry, and although he may not be a hood-wearing, Confederate flag-waving, Christian Identity Movement bigot, his words could not have been more reprehensible had he been.

Collier's Stalinist and Orwellian allusions -- decrying the idea that there might be words and beliefs so horrible that people might actually (gasp!) object to them -- merely trumpets a brand of virulent anti-p.c. dogma whose time in the arena of legitimate public discourse, God willing, is quickly winding down.

-- A. J. Stone III

While I agree that John Rocker should not have been forced to undergo psychological evaluation, and that my fellow New Yorkers' taunts of Rocker likely precipitated his bile, Peter Collier's hyperventilating attack on anti-racist efforts in general misses the point. "Set up" or not, Rocker's comments wounded people psychologically, and if a little hyperbole and even a bit of hypocrisy in the responses to him helps to mark such commentary as socially unacceptable, so that the targets of such bile don't feel abandoned by the wider culture, so be it.

If Rocker really stood to lose his livelihood over this flap, defending him might make sense. But, unlike my fellow passengers on the 7 train who were the targets of his attack, he's not going to be blacklisted. He's mostly going to be scorned, and he's earned it.

-- Greg Diamond

Queens, N.Y.

Peter Collier's article about John Rocker forgets one simple thing: Sports players remain our children's heroes. This is despite what we have learned about the bad behavior of Simpson, Strawberry, Sprewell, et al.

Major league players need to remember that they are no longer high school kids who can do and say whatever they want. When they earn the big bucks and get the national attention they are media stars. Children look to sports stars and model their behavior after them. When I was young, boys in school would try to pitch like famous pitchers, spit like the players they saw at baseball games and repeat phrases they heard their favorites say.

The reason the media response to Rocker's behavior was so important is because it showed kids that his remarks were bigoted and wrong. Media (and police) response should be quick for all the bad behavior by our professional sports players. I certainly wouldn't want kids across the country thinking it is OK to do a "Rocker."

-- D. Carter

When Collier refers to "the good old days" of sports writing, does he mean the good old days when Jackie Robinson had to battle his way into the major leagues, or perhaps the good old days when the whites lynched blacks with impunity?

Collier's hysterical contention that reactionary liberals are acting in what amounts to totalitarian ways is undermined by his own use of every tyrant's favorite tool -- fear. His use of the meaningless term "gangsta hoops" and an unsubtle drive-by shooting metaphor in his concluding paragraph are clearly meant to bring to mind the oft-used media image of young black men as dangerous, predatory and "other."

Racism and prejudice are not always simple, obvious and explicit forces. John Rocker's comments inarguably show disregard for the humanity of those not like him. It is this disregard for the "other" that has led to, and continues to lead to, America's social policy of neglect and repression of minorities, including women.

-- David H. Kahn

Peter Collier is right on about the John Rocker "story." All the fascist/Marxist filth bags in the media and in politics who have been lambasting Rocker should just get lost. They're the ones who need reeducation to get deprogrammed from their totalitarian delusions.

I believe this year is the turning point, when the new era of common sense will begin. With the publication of David Horowitz's "Hating Whitey," and with the John Rocker incident, and with a million other indications large and small, whites are saying individually, and agreeing as a group, that guilt is dead. I'd say that this wake-up call is about 15 years overdue.

What a dumb social experiment the past decade and a half have been. The leftists have wasted so much of our nation's time. I want to know how they are prepared to repay us for that waste.

-- Mark S. Seely

War of the classes

Horowitz neglects to mention that Republicans raise significantly more campaign money than Democrats -- a fact at odds with his premise.

He also complains of liberal dominance within academia and newspapers. The degree of dominance his chosen statistics seem to illustrate is doubtful. But he's right: There are more liberals than conservatives in academia and the press.

Perhaps my response to the tired charge of liberal dominance is typical, but these professions depend on an ability to question both sides of an issue without the cunning Republican skill of looking away from scary things and snuggling up to cozy faith in Christ and capitalism. Some liberals are certainly guilty of looking away from solutions at odds with their orthodoxy. But as Horowitz pointed out, President Clinton was not (e.g., welfare reform, albeit with arm twisting).

How could a conservative reporter or academic do her job well considering the egregious denial inherent in conservatism? Remember that thousands of people died of AIDS -- several years went by -- before then-President Reagan even uttered the word. Today, many conservatives only acknowledge homosexuality as a pathological oddity to be cured with ineffectual, God-fearing Christian group therapy.

Reporters and academics attempt to examine and question every aspect of an issue. When this is done, how could any person of conscience continue to hold onto the sometimes bizarre and illogical convictions of Republicanism? It must be faith.

-- Andy Bosselman

David Horowitz's columns are a sure corrective to the care and feeding of an intelligent mind. Who needs to sniff glue or smoke a formaldehyde-laced joint when they can just as easily ingest nuggets like this: "There is not a single major American newspaper whose features and news sections are
written by conservatives rather than liberals." Washington Times, anyone?

As for his claim that Noam Chomsky's "exclusion [from the media] is ideological rather than idiosyncratic and not just because he is an insufferably arrogant and difficult individual," professor Chomsky's exclusion is due to his "difficult" habit of speaking some rather unfortunate truths about this country and its history that cannot be summed up in neat two- or three-minute soundbites between commercials on "Nightline."

I have an idea. Why doesn't Salon invite Noam Chomsky to write a monthly column? That way its readers could have a probing and provocative voice from the left to compare and contrast with Horowitz.

-- Rob Anderson

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