Letters to the editor

Readers squawk over Conason's offer of crow Plus: Electronic music isn't dead; a new club for Bush watchers.

Published March 16, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Fresh feathers, Mr. Safire?

That the Clintons have been adept in dodging criminal prosecution isn't the same as being innocent of the charges. It's irrefutable that the Clintons have masterfully avoided prosecution and it's this fact that Conason seems to celebrate. Safire should apologize, but only for his underestimation of the Clintons' corruption and the thickness of political insulation it provided them.

-- R.M. Allen

It would appear to this reader that perhaps Conason wishes to apply for the position of "Secretary of Mishaps and Snafus" in the Gore administration should Gore win the election. For Conason to carry the water for the most corrupt administration in history continues to astound. It is noble to uphold the premise of innocent until proven guilty, but it is insulting to the intelligence of thinking Americans to continue to propagate the "dog ate my homework, so therefore you have no proof" defense that is the benchmark of the Clinton crime family.

-- Jim Caples

It takes a lot of guts to stand up for our current president. Come on Mr. Conason, you must admit that this administration has caused itself most of the problems it has faced. Safire reflects the thoughts of the majority and you the minority.

-- Les Cole

Once again, Conason has trouble following the bouncing ball. Justice for the Filegate criminals will not come from any independent counsel's report, it is going to come from the Judicial Watch lawsuit.

-- J.C. Moore

The fact that someone has been not been indicted or convicted does not establish their innocence. While the American legal system presumes innocence until proof of guilt has been established beyond a reasonable doubt, a legal presumption is not a fact except in the narrow minds of folks like Conason. If a criminal is very adept at covering his tracks and/or manipulating the justice system so as to avoid proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (eg., O.J. and the Clintons), his criminal cleverness can no more establish his innocence than a magician can pull a rabbit out of an empty hat, no matter how much people like Conason want to believe the illusion.

-- Richard Allen Vinson

Conason is technically correct. Safire should eat crow. It might also be surmised from the investigation of "Filegate" that the "smartest female lawyer on the planet" appointed an inexperienced idiot to run White House security. Hillary demonstrated a level of incompetence which clearly qualifies her for a Senate seat from the great state of New York.

-- Charles P. Reilly

Safire should apologize to his readers since President and Mrs. Clinton have been proven correct in their denials that "no evidence will be found" that they had done anything wrong.

-- David Russell

Who sold out electronic music?

As a fan of that most "fatuous" and "solipsistic" of musical genres, guitar-based rock, I must express bemusement at the forlorn hand-wringing of Michelle Goldberg's eulogy for techno. Though she tries to play it down, she's obviously miffed over electronic music's failure to do and be all the things she expected of it. Though, when faced with the evidence at hand -- endlessly repetitive, sledgehammer-like percussion and abstract synthesizer noodling -- it's hard to believe that anyone could have expected anything from it in the first place. What social/artistic barriers are supposed to be knocked down by music that contains no lyrical content or anything even approaching melody? To these ears, it's little more than sonic wallpaper, a soundtrack for sweaty nights of hedonistic dance floor debauchery -- as memorable and long-lasting as a breath mint. In essence, it is (or should we say "was?") music for people who don't like music.

-- Ken Munch

Face it: Techno is soulless Musak for automobile ads disguised as a youth phenomenon to sell clothing and records to the stylistically insecure. The DJ acts as a Greek Chorus, not as a performer. He is nothing without records to play made by other entities. The element of soul and emotion that rock, jazz, hip-hop, folk, etc. offer -- lyricism, human expression -- is absent, and that very absence is celebrated by the techno genre.
Going to a rave is like dancing to architecture (to borrow a phrase).
And architecture, like just about anything, is surely sublime when you're whacked on Ecstasy.

-- Matt Hutton

Goldberg is confusing the wholesale appropriation of the raver lifestyle by corporate interests looking for new ways to appear hip with the people actually involved in it. The existence of the Monkees didn't invalidate rock 'n' roll anymore than a sleazy attempt to cash in by Rhino makes club kids "sellouts."

Her assertion that raves were never really that subversive has a certain amount of truth, but not in the way she assumes. A bunch of ravers on E, preaching Peace, Love, Unity and Respect (PLUR) hardly seems subversive, does it? But Goldberg forgets (if she ever understood) that this represents a challenge to the status quo and the powers that protect it. If techno really was "the soundtrack to global hyper-capitalism," raves would be taxed, instead of busted. I think Goldberg is a little premature in pronouncing the scene dead.

-- Matthew Davidson

Anyone who is so bitterly disappointed at dance music's failure to be sufficiently "transgressive" needs to lay off the lit-crit classes and enroll in Real Life 101. Dance music isn't about fighting the power, it's about enjoying yourself. If you have some uncontrollable urge to fight the system, get a day job working in politics and fight it head on.

-- Andrew Norris

The problem with Goldberg, and the rest of the music journalism establishment, is that they always want to find, define, and discard "trends" that they themselves create. Techno music never became mainstream because it doesn't have star power. I'm a DJ myself, and I don't know who created most of the records I spin. I go the record store, try out like 50-100 records, and pick the best ones. Talk about the ultimate anti-consumerist experience. A lot of records don't even list the artist's name or a track title.

Sure, the rave "scene" may be dying down. And sure, the giant 20,000-person commercial raves are going away, but the underground remains vital. As long as there are people who want to dance, and I mean really dance, house music will never die.

-- David Isbister

Going Dutch

Boy, there's a good idea: let's replace our present drug laws, which are unjust, irrational and ineffective, with new laws that are even more vague and which effectively put more power into the hands of the police in determining when a "crime" has occurred. What we need is new drug laws which clearly articulate the legality and/or illegality of the sale, possession and use of various hard and soft drugs, based on the realities of the negative impacts these substances have on society. Only then will the United States have a sensible and just drug policy, one based on the reality of drug use and abuse.

-- Nick Fryer

Even in a presidential election year, where issues large and small are supposedly debated in detail, America is inundated with candidates who propose no change to our current policies, which have flooded our prisons with hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders. Ignoring scientific reports highlighting the benefits of certain substances, America continues to spend billions and billions vainly attempting to stop the inexorable forces of supply and demand.

In this year of papier-machi prop-up political candidates, isn't it time for some intelligent, non-dogmatic debate on the effectiveness of our drug policies? Shouldn't the United States, the so-called leader in human rights and freedom of the world, begin to at least consider alternatives to the policies that lock up thousands of people per year in stinking, crowded jails for using a few substances declared illegal decades ago by the same legislature that denied whole segments of our population the right to vote?

-- Vincent D'Nofrio

This modern world

It is time to form a new group called "The Bush-Utters-a-Coherent-Sentence Spotters." It should be a purely voluntary organization with chapters in all states.

After all, we never know where or when George W. might utter a coherent sentence, and we all want to be informed when he is spotted uttering one. It'll be sort of like trying to spot a spotted owl -- possible, but not easy.

Any person, journalist, pundit or English teacher would be eligible. Political junkies are especially encouraged to try to spot the elusive Bush-uttered coherent sentence.

-- Lois Erwin

Waldwick, N.J.

By Salon Staff

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