Letters to the editor

Are SUV drivers overconfident? Plus: Louisiana's governor of hearts; Can a million moms be wrong?


Salon Staff
May 16, 2000 8:00PM (UTC)

Ford's SUV shocker
BY THE SALON NEWS STAFF

(05/13/00)

When David Horowitz offers safety as a compelling reason for SUV ownership, he forgets one important detail about SUV safety: His "safety" comes at the expense of other drivers. Tests have repeatedly shown that smaller cars get pulverized in collisions with monstrous SUVs. Even in relatively minor collisions, when large SUVs such as the Ford Excursion, with its massive momentum and weight, impact smaller cars, such as the Ford Escort, the results are typically catastrophic.

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Horowitz seems to smugly imply that his wife's safety is more important than giving other drivers a fighting chance in a collision. Professional drivers of larger trucks have shared the road with small cars for a long time. Unfortunately, we're now putting those larger vehicles in the hands of status-conscious neophytes who don't drive their SUVs any more cautiously than sports cars or minivans. I think that larger vehicles such as the Ford Excursion should require tougher licensing schemes and additional driver training. We're turning loose an entire class of kamikaze drivers behind the wheel of behemoths.

Horowitz seems to think that the market should get whatever it demands. The market, like Americans in general, tends to be selfish, smug and aristocratic -- the consequences be damned.

-- Matthew Meyer

Contrary to popular belief, you are not safer in an SUV as opposed to a similarly sized car. SUVs are trucks. They are not held to the same safety regulations as cars. This may be why they flip like pancakes. Then they can hose you off the dash and sell it on to the next fool.

-- Tom Pease

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I'm sure the only reason that Ford made their announcement was that their lawyers told them to. They're right about the tobacco industry. The cigarette makers should have done this long ago. Now Ford can't be sued for not telling the truth about their products.The blame has been shifted to the consumers who buy them, where it belongs. Ford made a good move.

-- Joshua Belsky

I doubt SUVs are harming the environment more than tractor-trailer trucks and I don't hear people going on about that. Every time I get on the highway, I see those trucks belching their exhaust into the air. Do they even get tested? I don't see how they could pass any meaningful emissions test.

-- Dana Trantham

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Interesting series of opinions, but I was surprised that no one mentioned that Ford was in the process of buying Land Rover from BMW, probably the most famous (outside the U.S.) SUV in the world.

-- Dixon Kenner

End of the rogue
BY MATT LABASH

(05/12/00)

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Your piece on former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards reminds me of a story I heard in New Orleans in 1987. A columnist for the local paper told me that her niece, a young reporter, once called Edwards at a hotel; the young woman wanted an interview. Edwards told her he had some champagne up in the room and she was welcome to come up for a little visit. His tone was playful. Their dialogue continued as follows:

Reporter: "Governor, I've told you, I don't fuck politicians."

Edwards: "How 'bout a blow job?"

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Like Edwards himself -- like Louisiana -- this story strikes me as funny until I think about it for a minute. Then it makes me angry. Then it makes me sad.

Edwards had four terms -- four opportunities to help make Louisiana a better place to live. Instead, he put on a show. As a native of the state -- my father's family arrived there in the 1850s -- I guess I ought to be mad at him.

Instead, like I said, I mainly feel sad.

-- Clint Willis

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Louisiana is my home. I am a child of the demonized Louisiana oil
industry, and as such I was raised throughout the nation and abroad,
but I always seem to land here. My perspective on Edwards is
tainted, or tempered, by distance in my formative years.
The state electorate, by and large, suffers from battered wives'
syndrome. You see, we don't just elect our governor, we fall in love
with him. When he breaks our heart, as he always will, we tend to
forgive, and raise a stiff drink in toast to his damned soul.
It's a relationship built on a drawl, a handshake and a blush that
few outside the state can understand. We need the governor to entertain
us.

-- Michael Pitre


The hands that rocked the capital

BY ALEXANDRA STARR

(05/15/00)

Thank you, Alexandra Starr, for a wonderful story on the Million Mom March. As a participant in the demonstration, I was increasingly frustrated with all the media attention given to the Second Amendment Sisters. In the name of objectivity and even-handedness, both sides should be given, but when 500,000 to 750,000 show up for one side and a few hundred (or a bit more) show up for the other, devoting equal time and equal sound bites is ludicrous. Starr showed the flaws in the Sisters' arguments (Get rid of seat belts! Who needs driver's licenses!?) and restored my faith in the media. Thank you.

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-- Amy Leonard


"Sisters" take on mothers


BY CHRISTINA IANZITO

(05/12/00)

I'm standing with the "Sisters" in spirit on Mother's Day. I have never owned a firearm, and probably never will, but I support the right of others to legally own them. I grew up in a home where rifles were hanging on a rack in the den. It would never have occurred to me to shoot anyone with them! The violence from guns doesn't start with the weapon, but with the person using it.
This country needs to enforce the laws it already has rather than encroach on our Second Amendment rights by adding more. You go, girls!

-- Susan B. Kitchin

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I have read a number of articles today about the Million Mom March and the counter Second Amendment Sisters rally. It saddens me because both groups have more in common than they think. Both groups would hate to see their child killed senselessly or accidentally by a gun. And I am sure that self-defense is important to both groups. I believe that both groups should pool their resources to advocate combating guns sold on the black market for they are the real threats to our children's safety.

-- Sandy Lamy

The shape of dreams
BY ANDREAS KILLEN
(05/11/00)

I'm sort of embarrassed for these people who call themselves sleep researchers. They dress up like Doogie Howser, wearing white coats and carrying clipboards and somehow believe they can out-think Freud.
Allan Hobson has the nerve to scorn Freud, one of history's greatest and most courageous thinkers, while comforting the rest of us non-Harvard non-researchers that we have no need to think about things we do not think about.

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-- Larry D. Lyons

Andreas Killen's article "The Shape of Dreams" was quite well-written, but it missed the single most important new development in current dream research.

The latest findings of neuroscience indicate that dreaming is not identical with REM sleep -- you can have dreaming without REM, and REM without dreaming. This discovery refutes the attempt of researchers like Allan Hobson to dismiss dreams as random neuronal events. In fact, dreaming seems to involve some of the most sophisticated regions of the brain-mind system. This is why dreams so often provide people with deep emotional insights, creative ideas and even new moral and spiritual discoveries.

-- Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D.

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The author neglected to mention the leading modern interpreter of dreams: Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt Therapy.

-- Sheldon Litt


"Battlefield Earth"

BY ANDREW O'HEHIR

(05/12/00)

Though I have not seen the film, the review sounds as if the movie is a completely faithful adaptation of one of the worst books ever written. Full of clichid characters and dialogue, L. Ron Hubbard did, in effect, submit the reader to endless off-balance and poorly framed shots.

The tagline to the review called "Battlefield Earth" a "sci-fi classic." It is a classic only in the sense that "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is a film classic -- as an example of how pathetically bad a novel can be.

The truly depressing thing for the Church of Scientology is that "Battlefield Earth" is one of Hubbard's BEST works. We can only hope that they do not attempt to turn the horrific "Mission Earth" series of books into a TV miniseries.

-- Jeremy Anderson

Let me state for the record that I am not a Scientologist. However, there are two things brought up in Andrew O'Hehir's review of "Battlefield Earth" that I would like to address.

First of all, O'Hehir states that "I imagine the novel on which the movie is based, by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, is ludicrous trash (although I haven't read it and have no intention of doing so) ... " The novel itself is a fantastic, rollicking sci-fi masterpiece filled with emotion and action. As a 20-year sci-fi fan, I feel quite qualified to judge its merits. It should be read, as the movie -- I fear -- will never do it justice.

Second, O'Hehir believes that this movie is a "'Matrix' rip-off." I can't speak for the direction, and won't be able to until the movie comes out on video, but the learning machine that Terl employs on Johnny is well-documented in the original book, written years before "The Matrix" appeared. If O'Hehir has bothered to read the book, he would have known this, and could stick to bashing the movie, not a book he has no knowledge about.

-- Jay Turley


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