Letters to the editor

Smoking or nonsmoking? Readers take sides. Plus: Learning from Austria's past; celibacy as a reaction to feminism.

Published February 10, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Smoke 'em if you've got 'em?

I first started bumming cigarettes at the ripe old age of 30. I felt guilty about it, but then read an article in the Washington Post about the low risks of social smoking. I stopped worrying and joined the ranks of the chippers. I would buy a pack, smoke a few and throw the rest of the pack away. Soon I was doing this every day. Now I'm more inclined to agree with the theory that social smoking is an early stage of addiction. Anyway, I'm quitting tomorrow. I mean it this time.

-- Andrew Huston

I smoke cigarettes, and my brand is OP's. Yes, I smoke Other People's cigarettes. I pay my contributors back, by buying a pack of whatever they are smoking. Better them than me, I figure. If scientists want to study the phenomenon, I say, go for it. Of course exactly how they are going to figure out what I inhale in the cigarette versus what I inhale in the bar is frankly beyond me.

-- Barbara Manning

In fact, nicotine is several times more addictive than both heroin and cocaine (and alcohol is about equally addictive as those two drugs).

About 10-20 percent of those who try cocaine, alcohol and heroin will develop serious problems stopping or controlling their use of these drugs. With nicotine, depending on definitions of use, the percentage is 30-90 percent. It is the most addictive drug known to humanity, period. Those who have quit both heroin and nicotine report that quitting cigarettes was harder.

When you are trying to debunk conventional wisdom, it's important not to rely on it!

-- Maia Szalavitz

I am a smoker; I hate you, too

I do not hate you because you are doing something unhealthy to your body. Heck, I don't even hate you because you are very likely doing something unhealthy to my body.

No, Ms. Chocano, I hate you because you stink.

What's more, being around you causes others to stink as well. Every time I go to a bar or coffee house I leave smelling like a Marlboro Light, as does everything I was wearing at the time.

I mean, if you want to slowly kill yourself, go right ahead. God knows I am, through a hundred minor choices I make every day. But when I down Wednesday's fourth beer it is just me that feels the effect. The teetotaler sitting next to me will leave the restaurant smelling like a rose.

-- Chris Owens

Because I have asthma; because my asthmatic condition makes me highly prone to bronchitis; because when I have bronchitis, nothing irritates my lungs like cigarette smoke; because every time I venture outdoors when I'm sick with bronchitis, there you are, puffing away and sending those disgusting poisonous fumes into my lungs, I hate you even more than you hate me.

-- Stephen Pride

I always find it amusing when I see a smoker who is obviously "alternative." They sport various piercings and tattoos, and rail against "The Establishment" and the evil corporate giants that rule the world.

Don't these people realize that they are supporting what is possibly the most openly evil group of corporate slugs the world has ever seen -- the tobacco industry? Want to be really alternative? Want to actually make a difference? Want to hurt the cause of corporate greed that is enslaving our society? Don't smoke.

-- F. Ramsey

So much for singing nuns


As an Austrian living in the United States I would like to respond to some inaccuracies in your article about Joerg Haider and the current situation in Austria. You mentioned that Austria's former president Kurt Waldheim had served in the SS. To the best of my knowledge this is incorrect. Mr. Waldheim served in the Wehrmacht (the German Army) but not the SS. You further implied that Austrian school textbooks included the Holocaust and Austria's role during the Nazi era only after the Waldheim story broke. I went to school in Austria and can tell you that we have learned about all aspects of our history, including the Holocaust, for a very long time. In fact, visits to the memorial site of the former concentration camp in Mauthausen have long been part of a typical high school education in Austria.

Your article seems to simply restate the all-too-common assertion that Austrians have not dealt openly and honestly with the dark sides of our country's past. Some may not have, but the majority has done so for many years and continues to do so.

-- Michael Gigl

Although Rodgers' "Edelweiss," sung in defiance of the Nazi officials in "The Sound of Music," is a catchy tune, it was not the Austrian national anthem as stated in the article, nor is it even Austrian. Ironically, at the time, Germany had "requisitioned" Austria's national anthem, composed by Haydn, and reworded it with the familiar "Deutschland Ueber Alles" poem.

As for the Austrian Freedom Party, it has been democratically elected and the world must accept this choice. Admittedly, Haider has expressed some unpleasant views, but has done no wrong so far. Bringing these views out of the shadows and into mainstream politics may even be beneficial in the long run.

-- James Freitag

The only reason that Haider is in power is due to the incompetence and corruption of the 13-year-old ruling coalition. The Austrian people were sick of its arrogance and had no other viable choice. Imagine an election between Bill Clinton and Pat Buchanan. That was the choice of the Austrian people.

-- Adam Murl

Bogus bride

I have followed this story for several years and have come to be friends with a number of prominent scholars of Wild West history. Suffice to say, some of these folks are more scholarly than others. However, there is one omission to your story: the fact that besides being a snake oil salesman and a buffoon, Glen Boyer is a terrible, awful, unreadably bad writer. I've read and studied scores of memoirs and autobiographies by unlettered gunfighters, lawmen, roustabouts, and rodeo cowboys, and even a few widows from this period of history, and none of them wrote as badly as the people Glen Boyer purports to have edited in his books. This includes not only "I Married Wyatt Earp," but another of his controversial books, "Tombstone Vendetta," which purports to be written by a real person as well, but was published under a pseudonym.

-- Jesse Sublett
Austin, Texas

Love is just a moment


For those of us who are still enamored of human beings, there has long been another direction to take: celibacy. Not just momentary, between-trysts "celibacy," but the real item: lifelong, devoted abstinence. Let the poor, perennially oppressed have their "love circles" and coffee klatches. Increasingly, for those who would demand a human world, one with integrity and heart, the only way to live is to live apart from the sexual exploitation of which feminism is prominently a part.

-- Dan Raphael

By Letters to the Editor

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