Readers respond to stories about America's gun culture, film literacy and kids in the dugout.

By Salon Staff
Published November 5, 2002 12:50AM (UTC)
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[Read "One Nation Under a Gun," by Sheerly Avni.]

Though I have many issues with the subject, Sugarmann's call for firearms to be regulated like pesticides, pharmaceuticals and airplanes is possibly the biggest load of crap anyone has ever tried to foist onto Salon subscribers.

Pesticides, pharmaceuticals and airplanes are all highly useful items in day to day living, but they lack a fundamental trait that firearms have: A specific mention in the Constitution. If items once protected by the Constitution are now up for government regulation, how would that work?

Would all the Salon writers and editorial staff have to submit handwriting and long text samples to be incorporated into a federal database, so that their speech is "fingerprinted"? Keep in mind that anytime anyone sends a ransom note, each and every staff writer of Salon will have his or her text compared to the offender text looking for a match. Anytime anyone commits a crime that involves words, every law-abiding writer would be examined by a law enforcement official to determine whether they were suspect or not. How many times would Allen Barra or Arianna Huffington get a knock on their door from an FBI interrogation team, due to a curly handwritten "T" and creative 3rd person useage -- similar to a bank robber's note in Kansas? How heavy would the questioning be if they had written an article about bank robbers, or anyone associated with theft at any point in their past?

Anytime you hear someone making an argument for regulation or selective prohibition of firearms, try this: Substitute "speech" for "gun." They are right next to each other in the Constitution; its not that big a leap of imagination.

Do you like a tracking system that knows exactly what you read or profess to fellow person? (registration, transfer to another person)

Do you like a 5-day waiting period before you can read an article? (cooling-off period)

Do you want a fragment of text or sound from a crime compared to things youve said or spoken? (fingerprint)

Do you want to ask permission from your local elected official before you can speak in public? (personal carry)

-- Paul Prunty

Sugarmann says he doesn't want to ban "traditional hunting rifles," only assault weapons like the Bushmaster.

But I don't understand what unique property the Bushmaster has that made John Muhammad so dangerous. Wouldn't a bolt action hunting rifle with a scope have been just as deadly? Does Sugarmann really think Muhammad's rampage wouldn't have occurred if a military-looking gun like the Bushmaster hadn't been available?

-- David Ramsey

Sugarmann lies. He invented the term "assault weapon." Look it up. Every one of his proposals sound reasonable unless a person knows anything about firearms and their design. You should have asked him to define "sniper rifle," since that's the flavor-of-the-month with the gun-control crowd. The truth is that any center-fire rifle with a telescopic sight could fall under the umbrella of "sniper rifle." You can't just ban "powerful" guns either.

The .223 Remington cartridge used by the Beltway sniper is a relatively weak cartridge. It's not legal for hunting deer in most states because it doesn't have enough power. My point is that this incrementalism that he advances is based on lies and half-truths. Either we want to allow private guns in this country, or not. If he wants to ban them all, then he should have the courage to say so.

-- Rob Van Hoose

[Read "Daddys Home," by Joan Walsh.]

I hate to burst the fluffy, rainbow-colored, feel-good bubble, but if Baker's son had suffered a concussion or worse, Joan Walsh would be singing a different tune. Sorry, but a major league dugout, for a variety of reasons, is no place for a kid under at least 10 years old. It's simply too dangerous. Remember back in the day when Steve Yeager on the Dodgers caught a broken bat in the throat -- imagine the uproar if that little kid had been impaled? Or hit with a pop fly? Or any number of other scary things?

And since when do we all have to give it up for procreation? Some of us actually want to watch a game free from child worship. (Yeah, the kid was cute, but enough already; seeing shots of him over and over again was as obnoxious to me as when they showed shots of the crappy casts of bad Fox shows.) Just show me the damn game. And by the way, anyone who stuck around for the Thrill of Victory/Agony of Defeat saw that the evil (by Walsh's standards, I guess) Angels had all their kids with them celebrating on the field afterward, and wow, they seemed to love 'em just as much as the Giant dads. Go figure.

And finally, it's not cool to tar all the Angel fans with the same brush -- just because one bonehead misbehaved (nailing Sanders with the thunderstick), they're not all cretins. Maybe Walsh isn't aware, but Giants fans are notorious throughout the league as being some of the rowdiest and nastiest fans. But not all of them, I'm sure.

-- Alexandra LoSchiavo

Indeed, it is touching and proper to see fatherhood celebrated, but a baseball dugout, let alone during the World Series, is not the proper venue. A dugout is no place for a child. The physical environment, let alone the emotional one, is inappropriate. "The brave Giant in the bright white uniform" who swept the toddler out of harm's way? Yes, very nice. In a fairy tale or a Spielberg movie. In real life, however, which is still, despite all efforts, where the World Series occurs, the child could have been seriously injured. As could any of the other children trotting around in a take-your-kids-to-workplace where 90-mile-an-hour missiles whiz around.

The Giants' children were fitted with earplugs to protect them against the din of the crowd. What protects them against the crush of disappointment in seeing Daddy fail at the great quest (to continue the fairy tale motif)? Hey, I was SHATTERED at 6 when my team lost and I was at school, watching the game on TV (oh, and my Dad wasn't a St. Louis Cardinal). I'm all for hugging and kissing and fathers and sons. Really. But take your sons (don't ask me where the daughters are in this argument) out to the ballgame where you -- that is, Dad -- can watch them. The kids, I mean. Not the game.

-- E.B. Frank

Admittedly, I'm an Angels fan. After all, I live in Orange County. Root for the home team and all that.

But I can also love the Giants, and love the piece Salon editor Joan Walsh wrote about the Giants as fathers. The piece was so absolutely emotional and right on, as I was thinking this same thing as I watched the last couple of games. I could not remember seeing baseball players so demonstrative to their sons, and even though I rooted for the Angels, I secretly rooted for the Giants, too, for the way they loved their sons on camera. I wished there were some way they could both win.

Thank you, Joan, for an excellent piece.

-- Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

I have been a San Francisco Giants fan since I went to my first game in 1976 at Candlestick Park when I was 10 years old.

I could find nothing good from the team losing the World Series. For the past few days I have been lost, depressed. The Giants were my only baseball team. I rooted for no other.

I want to thank Joan Walsh for her article "Daddy's Home." It, at last, gave me solace, and hope again.

-- Michael Hansen

[Read "Reel World Domination," by Damien Cave.]

Cave's discussion of what is perceived as a generation gap between older and younger viewers is an excellent treatment of what is a complicated subject. For someone my age, I've seen a good share of older movies, mostly out of dissatisfaction with current offerings. Many, of course, I like very much -- your usual litany of Chaplin, Keaton, Welles, Kurosawa, Renoir, Ford, the sorts of things considered mainstream classics by film buffs. I like what I've seen of Buñuel. I like "The Conversation" and "The Matrix" both too much to choose between them. Most older movies, I've found, are considered great for a good reason: because they are.

But many of the movies that are particularly deified by the generation seem really self-indulgent to me. I have tried very hard to like, say, Bertolucci, but in the end, I just wish his characters would grow up and get over whatever trauma it is they're dealing with. I thought "Kasper Hauser" one of the more pretentious failures I've ever seen, and even "Aguirre, Wrath of God," which terrified me by the end, almost collapsed under the combined weight of Herzog's and Kinski's egos. This negative impression has made me extremely wary of Fellini, Antonioni and their ilk because, to me, movies about making movies, or movies that explore what the nature of film is, or what it means to make a movie, seems like a lot of reheated postmodern crap. Not that I have strong feelings one way or the other.

I bring this up because I think I have a typical young man's reaction to the aesthetic tastes of the 1960s. David Foster Wallace did a great (and scathing) book review of a John Updike novel that illustrated this point better than I can, but the upshot is that for a while, it seemed like solipsism was a viable artistic stance to take: It was cool to be into yourself. Many people my age, though, find that sort of thing, well, kind of boring, a little bit like going to a party where all anyone does is talk about their job or how they feel about their friends. The movies that age well, I think, are those that don't talk about themselves too much, and instead try to address something that might matter to people other than the man behind the camera. But who knows? When I finally sit down and watch some more movies, I may eat every one of these words.

-- Brian Slattery

I'm sure I won't be the first to point this out, but it should be interesting to see how many corrections you get. In the beginning of this article, the author connects "Star Wars" to "The Seven Samurai." In fact, the Kurosawa film that prefigures "Star Wars" is "The Hidden Fortress." But of course, Lucas stole everything he knows from Kurosawa, so maybe it's a nonissue. For the record, I am a Gen X-er and a fan of both Kurosawa and "Star Wars."

One new avenue of interest for me and my peers that is not mentioned in the article is animated films. "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away" by Hayao Miyazaki are the most magical and fascinating pictures to come out in years. I wonder what baby boomers think of the brilliant sci-fi anime "Ghost in the Shell"?

-- Mary Gaughan

I stopped reading and started skimming this article because it was so inane. Four pages of blather from a guy who seems to lack a good grasp of film history. And his "experts"! Where did you dig up this Carney guy? What about the tool Basinger with the bizarre claim that German and Japanese cinema are easily digested because they follow Hollywood tropes? Jeez-Louise, I had no idea Ozu followed such rigid studio conventions. I had no idea Fassbinder and Werner Herzog were easily digested. For Pete's sake, man, get a clue! You act as if 1) tastes never change, 2) Godard is somehow a "spiritual" filmmaker, 3) you have any sense of Godard at all, 4) Antonioni or Resnais is worth anything at all when their existential mewlings come off as pretentious and precious, 5) people knowing that Cassavetes was in "Rosemary's Baby" is a bad thing, 6) a 20-year-old truly has lived long enough to grasp the mature ambivalences of Bergman.

For the record, I do like some Antonioni (the ending of 'L'Eclise' is, how you say, sublime?), though I prefer the previous generation of neo-realists much more. I think Weimar cinema is not only a valid class for a film enthusiast to take, it's an utterly vital one. I think Hitchcock is a valid topic, too, and somehow I find time to like some Fellini. Think of that. "The Third Man" is my favorite film, bar none, and I think it is utterly brilliant. My second favorite is "Sweet Smell of Success." After that, it's a huge moil of films from many eras, genres and countries. I like "The Matrix" fine. And I am 26.

This gets my blood boiling. It's percolating through my skin and steaming to the ceiling. I'll have to send this off before I pass out from blood loss. It angers me not so much because of Cave's cluelessness and shoddy job, but because he is somehow a senior writer at Salon while I'm having to move across the country because I can't find a freaking job.

-- Eric Wojcik

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