Letters to the editor

Is Arianna Huffington naive about poverty? Plus: Don't arrest Whitney Houston, legalize marijuana! Esperanto is not a "fake" language.

Published May 5, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Elian and Elio


I hope that when Arianna Huffington wonders why we feel so much for Elian and so little for Elio, she is being rhetorical, for surely she can't be this naive.

Politics aside, it is a simple matter of economics. The supply of Elios far exceeds the demand for them, therefore, each Elio is virtually worthless. On the other hand, there is only one Elian, which makes him virtually priceless.

It's the same reason why society values a rich, white woman like Arianna Huffington more highly than it values a nameless minority single mother of three working for minimum wages: There are many more poor, nameless minorities than there are rich, white Arianna Huffingtons.

This may not be "nice" but it is the reality of the world we live in.

-- Walt Roberts

Arianna Huffington has scored a direct hit. Like hers, my regard for insincere opportunistic hypocrites like Diane Sawyer and Gloria Estefan has now evaporated. While the Elios of America suffer, our media continues to ignore them, because they aren't "cute." There is no more dispassionate journalism on television, there is only infotainment. Perhaps we should ask Darva Conger what she thinks?

-- Jack Lifton

No other columnist, pundit or politician has put this matter so eloquently and beautifully as Arianna Huffington. If we can muster all of our righteous indignation over the plight of one 6-year-old, think of what we could do for all of the Elios in this country who will never see a trip to Disney World, or the bright, glimmering future we promise to every child born into a family with $100,000 in disposable income.

-- Chris Tharrington

Talking Dirty


I loved your article about the perils of everyday antibacterials and how our immune systems need gainful employment so they don't get overexcited about pollen. After 13 years working in a hospital microbiology lab I have seen antibacterial resistance rise horribly. These "superbugs" are rarely the classic disease-causing organisms such as salmonella. They are far more likely to be our own skin or intestinal bacteria run amok. I don't use antibacterial soaps or lotions in my own home and discourage other people from doing so. (They are surprised to hear this from a microbiologist.) Of course antibacterial products are routinely used in the hospital, but there is a difference between scrubbing for surgery and washing your hands for dinner.

-- Susannah Keegan

The dirt-is-good theory of the hygiene hypothesis sounds quite rational, and in fact echoes what I learned at my mother's knee: Every kid should eat a peck of dirt before they're grown.

However, I'd be interested in seeing research into the antibacterial products themselves. Are they (like many pesticides) only superficially beneficial? Or are they contributing to the rise in asthma and allergy rates because they are also irritating to the human immune system?

-- Brigid Cassidy

The Whitney Houston rules

Even though the most likely reason Whitney Houston was not arrested was because of her fame, I can't justify wanting to see her get in trouble for violating the United States' asinine and infuriating marijuana laws. A government has no right to prohibit its citizens from the simple act of smoking a plant, especially when the harm caused to oneself by the act, if it even exists, is minimal and the harm caused to others is nonexistent.

What's that sound we hear in the background? I believe it's the government pissing away billions of dollars on the DEA, one of the most useless and inefficient government administrations of all time (and that's a pretty goddamn hard title to get).

-- Dan Gagliardi

The fact that celebrity equals leniency in prosecution of certain crimes is unimportant here. Whitney Houston is lucky to be rich and famous, but anyone angered by the fact that she won't be punished for her terrible crime needs to think about their fellow Americans in prison: Their only crime was making a decision about what to put in their own bodies, thus breaking a law based on un-American ideas.

-- Aaron Gomez

Not big in Japan

In my opinion, after having spent a couple of years in Korea, the reason for the lack of success of "Memoirs of a Geisha" in Japan is that this type of story is a dusty clichi in every culture of Asia. The poor girl who rises to high society as a courtesan is a staple of costume dramas and soap operas.

I suspect it's more boredom than distrust of non-Japanese writers' ability that is the cause.

-- Steve Neale

How odd! Japanese people are apparently not interested in reading a book about geishas by an American author ... and yet we read so many tales of the American West written by Japanese novelists.

-- Marceline Therrien

Curse of the "Incubus"


Your article on "The Curse of the Incubus" was entertaining, but permit me to note a few corrections:

"Incubus" is not the only film ever shot entirely in Esperanto. At least one other film, "Angoroj" (shot in France about the same time as "Incubus") has appeared on the large screen, and more recently others have come out on video.

And Esperanto is far from being a "fake" language. It's a living, naturally evolving one with a respectable literature. Last year a Scots poet who writes chiefly in Esperanto was considered for the Nobel Prize in literature.

-- D. Gary Grady

I enjoyed Cara Jepsen's retrospective of 1960's film "Incubus." But, as someone who has been speaking Esperanto for 14 years, I somewhat resented her references to Esperanto as "a made-up" and "fake" language. Yes, Esperanto is a planned language initiated by Dr. Lugwig Zamenhof in 1887; but it soon took on a life of its own. Esperanto is indeed a very real language with some 2 million speakers, thousands of books in print and periodicals for practically any interests imaginable.

-- Michael R. Lewis

"Where the Heart Is"

Of course, no Oklahoma town could possibly have more than one beautiful "gamine" working-class woman. I mean, the statistical probability of one beautiful working-class woman who lives in Oklahoma must be on a par with, oh, I don't know, finding one writer in Salon who doesn't depend on regional stereotypes and the truth according to the Eastern Elite Gospel. Did anyone read O'Hehir's review before posting it? Did anyone else detect just a slight hint of superciliousness? Hello?

I am from Wilburton, Okla., the daughter of a divorced mother. My sister looks like Cybill Shepherd in "The Last Picture Show," and although I don't consider myself a beauty by any means, when my husband and I visited New York City last year (we stayed at the Waldorf), I couldn't walk down the street in Manhattan without receiving approving stares and compliments from the men -- and daggers from the eyes of the women.

-- Dianne Lopp

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------