Letters to the editor

Readers scoff at Horowitz's Fidelophobia Plus: Were Columbine cops cowardly? Is testosterone a man's best friend?

By Salon Staff
Published April 27, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Shame on
Janet Reno



Question: Did David Horowitz need a bile transfusion after he finished his
recent screed, "Shame on Janet Reno"? This column crossed the line between
commentary and temper tantrum in every way, surprising since Horowitz himself
alluded to the fact that Elian might be a "hostage" in an earlier column.

-- James A. Dittes

Horowitz requested one reason it is better to be poor in Havana rather than
Little Havana. OK. In Big Havana, you get medical care regardless of your income
level. It may not match the level of care available to the highly insured in the U.S., but
it is care that 35 million Americans cannot afford.

-- Dick Paddock

After reading David Horowitz's assertion that the reduction in the press's
access to six-year-old Elian Gonzalez was evidence that he was being brainwashed by
government agents, I immediately became suspicious of many of my co-workers and
friends. After all, I see them eight hours a day at most. Might the other 16 hours be
given over to attending sinister government re-education programs, where adherence
to the Communist Party line was enforced through torture and psychological
manipulation, aided by the regular administration of super-secret mind control drugs?
How was I to know, since TV coverage of their lives was nonexistent? So I stewed,
tormented by the question, "Why are these people hiding behind a total news

Imagine how dismayed I was when I realized that I, too, had not been on TV since I
was about five, when I appeared on a circus-themed show on public access. Good Lord,
every untelevised moment of my life since was suddenly under suspicion. Luckily, I
retain enough sanity to know that I must submit myself to a battery of psychological
tests to ensure that my free will remains intact. I plan to go as soon as I report my
friends and co-workers to the proper authorities. Their protests -- that their lack of
television exposure reflects their desire for privacy and peace and a stable
environment in which to raise their families rather than any subversive motive -- will
fall on deaf ears.

-- Tyler Steward

In his diatribe against Janet Reno, Bill Clinton, Elian's father, Fidel Castro,
Rev. Campbell and everyone else who believes Elian should be with his father, David
Horowitz sounds even more hysterical than Marisleysis. He flings about inflammatory
words like storm troopers, disgrace, reprehensible, shame, slimy, criminal, etc. But all
this rich rhetoric cannot conceal the poverty of his cause: to kidnap an innocent child,
use him as a pawn in a cynical political game and turn him against his own father.

This was not a custody battle -- what right does a great-uncle who never met Elian
before this circus began have to contest custody with the boy's father? It was from the
very start an exploitive political game controlled behind the scenes by the corrupt
political machine of the Miami anti-Castro Cubans. Janet Reno did the right thing,
albeit several months after she should have.

-- James Hoeffner

Hooray for David Horowitz, who had the guts to wrap this hideous episode up
in a neat, tightly written nugget for the apologists to try to swallow. I have asked all
along why we were knuckling under to that dastardly little dictator (Castro) and pointed
out the discrepancies in what Reno was saying and then doing. All that Americans
seemed to be able to think about was "Elian belongs with his father." What a crock!
Elian was obviously given over to the custody of his mother, who chose freedom, which
the slimy little Miguel cannot seem to see is better than the mansion (with pool) he
has been promised in Cuba.

-- Lizbette R. Cox

Columbine "coverup"



After reading the various accounts of the events at Columbine High School
and speaking with several of my friends who are SWAT team members from other
cities, I can only conclude that the officers who were present at Columbine are cowards
and should be fired. They fall into two categories: those who failed to go in and
confront the gunmen and save lives -- and were too cowardly to do so -- and those who wanted to go in and tried, but were prevented by their
supervisors and have not reported their cowardice.

Having defended my life in a liquor store robbery -- and faced down and shot and
killed the two armed robbers -- I can say that any officer armed with a shotgun or
submachine gun who felt too scared to go in and confront the gunmen in the school
should be ashamed to call themselves a police officer and should start flipping burgers
or painting houses. I just hope that the police in my city are not complete cowards like
those who stood around for three hours while children were shot and killed and a
teacher bled to death.

-- Christopher White

Do we, as a society, think we are doing good to bring charges against law
enforcement on their attempt to bring order to the chaos of Columbine? We only hurt
ourselves when we turn the resources of law enforcement to defending themselves
instead of preparing for the next chaotic scene they will have to enter. Law
enforcement is not responsible for this situation and how dare we second-guess their
responsibilities and tasks that day.

-- Jim Berry

Living in shimmering


Putting aside the fact that Wilson and Branfman offer nothing to indicate the
"degradation of the environment over the last 30 years" and expect the reader to
take their words on faith, I fear their call for a spiritual approach. When Wilson asks
for a spiritual approach, he is necessarily demanding an abandonment of reason, the
only faculty mankind has for dealing with the world around him. If the environment is
to be made sacred, all other considerations are eliminated.

Despite Wilson's belief that Earth is the only home that humans may ever have, he
should begin to search for another home for the human beings who are foolish enough
to follow him. His new spirituality is a philosophy that is not designed for life on this

-- Edward Roberts

Profound thanks for the Earth Day interview with E.O. Wilson. I've observed
the occasion with a spring walk along Medicine Lake and e-mailing the piece to sundry

-- David Seppa

All about Vicky



Sean Elder's vicious piece on Vicky Ward was full of the gratuitous nastiness
and breaches of ethics that he accuses Ward of practicing. It is a blizzard of blind
quotes and anonymous assault. I don't know Ward very well. I have worked for her. I
never witnessed her being mean to anyone. The reason people find working with her
daunting is that she has an ability to home in on weaknesses in your copy with the
deadly accuracy and implacability of an Exocet missile skimming across the ocean 6 feet
above the white caps. She makes the copy better. Men who can do that get called
exacting. Uncompromising. Even brilliant. Women who can do that get called bitches.
Shame on you for buying into that.

-- Peter Fearon

Manly men take


Thanks to Douglas Foster for his piece on testosterone. We are, apparently,
doomed to repeat history because we don't know our past. Testosterone or extracts
from ground-up animal testes have been making this sort of news since the 1890s.
Each time a period of disillusionment follows the episode of hormonal hyping. In my
new book "Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality" (Basic,
2000), I devote three chapters to the historical and present-day efforts of scientists to
construct testosterone as the bio-emblem of masculinity. Of course, as Foster points
out, the real story is infinitely more complex and correspondingly less easily converted
to headline-grabbing sound or print bites.

-- Anne Fausto-Sterling

Douglas Foster's article on testosterone asked some thoughtful questions,
and recent research offers some clues about what the answers might be. For example
Foster, quoting Natalie Angier, raises a question about what explains "'randy,
aggressive, dominant'" women. The explanation is the same for women as for men. It
is testosterone, acting in conjunction with other biological and environmental factors.
Testosterone is not just a "he-hormone." It is a "she-hormone," too. While men
have eight to 10 times as much testosterone as women, women react to much smaller
amounts of it than men do. The result is that women with testosterone levels at the
upper range for women tend to behave similarly to men at the upper range for men.

Foster didn't ask about the difference between Androgel and anabolic steroids. An
endocrinologist friend told us that young men who have no medical reason to take
Androgel won't get their money's worth if they buy it on the black market. They will be
more likely to develop pimples and breasts than muscles. Anabolic steroids will
remain the route to Godzilla-like physiques.

-- Jim and Mary Dabbs

authors, "Heroes, Rogues, and Lovers: Testosterone and Behavior"

Salon Staff

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