Good astrology and bad criminals

Readers weigh in on Dogs and Dragons, Elton John, James Woolsey and the glamorization of murderers.

Published January 7, 2002 8:00PM (EST)

Read "Love Collision: Can a Dog and a Dragon be more than friends?" by Lucie Chevalier.

Keep Lucie Chevalier around writing this great column. Lots of fun, and way more entertaining than those placemats of Sidney Omarr, combined even!

-- Chuck Cushman, Washington, D.C.

It was fun to read, but what's the writer's problem with "toxic Virgo Rabbits?" That requires some explanation, please.

-- Irene Park


-- Doug George

Read "A serial killer analyzes serial killing" by Stephen Lemons.

With this sentence, "Brady may be technically correct here, but with a few more Osama bin Ladens in the world, freelance psychopaths might one day even the score," Mr. Lemons abdicates his humanity. Torturing helpless children and delighting in their screams for their own sake is inhuman to a degree even the calculating bin Laden could scarcely imagine, let alone anyone appalled at the taking of any life, especially of the innocent.

Mr. Brady's fulminations are nothing more or less than the typical ravings usually restricted to the quiet solitary echoes of diseased minds. Unfortunately, some moral idiot decided to publish them. So what? Which leads me to ask why Salon would see fit to publicize them, except to shock.

-- Rob Anderson

It's sad to see Stephen Lemons, who is apparently an otherwise smart man, fall for the Hannibal Lecter-style posturing of self-styled "Superman" child rapist/torturer/killer Ian Brady. One can see by Lemons' somewhat admiring tone that he's quite willing to buy into Brady's self-serving "I'm so much better than you so I get to kill you" set of excuses.

The brutal truth is that, far from being superior to others, criminals and murderers -- especially those of Brady's and Bundy's stripes -- are not superior, but rather inferior. They're like the old, infirm tigers that turn to hunting humans because they can't chase down goats or deer anymore. Ted Bundy, who Brady exalts, was a gormless drifter who went from job to job, unable to do anything well besides lie to himself and to others. If Bundy were truly the superior Lecteresque being Brady says he was, he'd not only still be alive, he'd be rich and happy like Dr. Lecter. But Bundy died a coward's death, and Hannibal Lecter does not exist.

If one must seek inspiration from fictional characters, go instead to those created by Josephine Tey. She said it best in her novel "The Daughter of Time," when she had her policeman hero, Alan Grant, describe what he called the "unbelievable silliness" of the criminal mind: "Everyone can reason from A to B. Most adults can reason from B to C. But criminals can't reason from B to C." Just like, it seems, their overly worshipful chroniclers.

-- Tamara Baker

"Imperious nihilism as foreboding as it is seductive"? Stephen Lemons should be ashamed to glamorize Ian Brady with this sort of poisonous tripe. Brady and his wife Handley are not philosophers, either imperious or seductive; they are the lowest form of criminal, who kidnapped, raped and murdered young children and then dumped their bodies in unmarked graves. Describing him as "stylish," as Lemons did on Page 1 of his article, is the printed equivalent of putting John Wayne Gacy in a tux on the cover of Vanity Fair. It's offensive and appalling -- and pretentious bad writing to boot.

-- Sue Lewis

Read "Brilliant Careers: Elton John" by Bill Wyman.

While writer Bill Wyman is quite correct in his assessment of Elton John's musical output from his glory days in the '70s, he makes one glaring omission: "Rock of the Westies." This album followed "Captain Fantastic" in 1975 and included such AM radio hits as "Yell Help," "Grow Some Funk of Your Own" and John's own version of the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar": "Island Girl."

"Rock of the Westies" featured a mostly new band and as Rolling Stone magazine's Robert Christgau put it: "[It] kicked more ass ... and was the best [Rolling] Stones derived album between 'Exile' and 'Some Girls.'" Indeed. One listen to the driving "Hard Luck Story" and you realize that THIS album was the real endpoint of John's classic '70s era, and NOT "Captain Fantastic."

This guy rocked and all the soggy shit that followed -- the whining, self-indulgent "Blue Moves," and the embarrassing, over-produced ballads in the '80s and '90s -- only makes this last blast of Stones-based get-up-and-go all the more powerful.

Elton John's work with AIDS charities notwithstanding, Keith Richards was right when he recently dismissed him as a guy who now "can only write songs about dead blondes." Sad, but true.

-- James Martinez

Read "The midnight ride of James Woolsey" by Asla Aydintasbas.

There may eventually be a case for working with other countries to neutralize a threat from weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but James Woolsey loses all credibility when he blames the Clinton administration for intelligence failures in that part of the world.

It's been well documented that CIA operatives dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries lack even basic language competence in the cultures on which they have been gathering information. The fault here lies not with former President Clinton but with Woolsey himself and his fellow CIA administrators. The whole interview exuded an attempt on Woolsey's part to distract observers from his own dereliction of duty.

-- James M. Manheim

If "we owe the people the respect to let them figure out how to choose their rulers," and if that statement is as constant and immutable as the difference between simple right and wrong, why do we choose to ignore it so often and so violently when the rulers the people choose aren't capitalists under an American style democracy?

Also, if Hussein kills everyone that is a threat, why hasn't he mass murdered his own army, which Woolsey asserts is not loyal enough to the Hussein regime to be considered reliable?

Woolsey is our real-world equivalent of Col. Jack Ripper, and it's no surprise that the only claque that takes him seriously are other similarly degenerate nutballs in the Bush administration.

-- Marc Schlee

James Woolsey's law firm, Shea & Gardner, is registered as a "foreign agent" for the Iraqi National Congress. Salon should immediately and prominently clarify this relationship. Woolsey is, after all, urging war.

See James Woolsey's profile at the firm of Shea and Gardner and Shea and Gardner's registration as representative of the Iraqi National Congress.

Shea and Gardner's notification is required under the terms of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). FARA attempts to "ensure that the American public and its law makers know the source of information (propaganda) intended to sway public opinion, policy, and laws. In 1938, the FARA was Congress' response to the large number of German propaganda agents in the pre-WWII U.S."

I suggest that further pieces dealing with Iraq be vetted by more experienced staff, perhaps by Jeff Stein who is grudgingly respected by all sides of this complicated debate.

-- Drew Hamre, Golden Valley, Minn.

By Salon Staff

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