Readers respond to Dawn Shurmaitis' "Smoke and Mirrors" and Cary Tennis' "Come On In, the Water's Fine."

By Salon Staff

Published September 20, 2002 8:00AM (EDT)

[Read "Smoke and Mirrors."]

"Smoke and Mirrors" struck very close to my heart, since my own mother recently succumbed to lung cancer after a lifetime of daily smoking. Yet I found this article, and Salon's decision to publish it, tremendously upsetting.

Losing a parent, especially through a long and debilitating illness like lung cancer, is a devastating experience. I hate to presume to judge Ms. Shurmaitis' coping mechanisms. But I sincerely hope she breaks through the denial that allows her to believe smoking is a tribute to her mother. Otherwise, she is dooming herself and her loved ones to more devastating illness. I'm more troubled by Salon's decision to publish this extended cigarette ad. The possible consequences of glorifying and excusing a destructive addiction in this manner should have been weighed more carefully.

In an attempt to extract something positive from my own mother's tragedy, I'd like to suggest a different moral to Stella's story: All our choices have consequences, whether we choose to buy a pony or light up a cigarette. Please encourage your readers to choose health, strength and independence, not illness and the crutch of addiction.

-- Kimberly Scearce-Levie

Wow, Dawn needs to grow up. This article about her mother -- or was it all about Dawn? -- was a sad commentary on a selfish daughter who apparently knows nothing about compassion.

It's an honor to care for a dying parent, not a chore. It's an expectation, not an occasion to write self-serving articles for Salon.com.

Dawn's mom is lucky to not be alive to read this.

-- April Manns

I have but one word for Dawn's piece: ridiculous. You watched your mother die of cancer, and you decided that smoking was a fitting memorial? Do you really imagine that your mother would want you to go through the same torture she did? To be utterly dependent on someone else, to watch your own body whither and die, bit by bit, and know that you did it to yourself? That you could go from an adamant nonsmoker to a woman who describes this appalling habit with such seeming admiration is utterly baffling to me. But I guess you are uniquely prepared for every moment of the lingering death you are bringing on yourself, and far be it for any of us to question your judgment ... ridiculous though it is.

--Jan H.

[Read "Come On In, the Water's Fine." ]

It's 6:41 a.m. on the East Coast and I'm already starting the day in a foul mood thanks to Cary Tennis' "Buy a House" pep talk. Perhaps some of the roiling bubbles he extols have hit his bloodstream, but there are many people who (a) want to buy a house and (b) don't think they can buy a house -- presumably the audience for his facile rousting -- but who (c) do not have the money to buy a house. We are either unemployed or underemployed, saddled with debts and responsibilities the likes of which could not pierce Cary's glib rah-rah real estate approach.

Really, now. My sweetheart and I discuss buying a house all the time, but what stops us is not our fear of real estate transactions, but the fact that with our $85K combined income, property beyond the noisy condo, the fixer-upper in East Brackwater, or maybe rural patches of Tennessee are out of our price range. We in fact are being driven out of our current home because we don't have the money to fight the lawsuit necessary to correct this particular miscarriage of justice.

Grow up, Cary, and smell the capitalist foundations of homes as commodifiable properties in an open market. Duh.

--Margaret Weigel

Salon Staff

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