Readers respond to "Casualties of Victory," by Stephanie Booth. Plus: Thoughts on nanny cams and comic books.

By Salon Staff
Published July 24, 2003 9:38PM (EDT)

[Read "Casualties of Victory," by Stephanie Booth.]

Hats off to Salon for putting faces on the soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and their families. It's refreshing to read about the human tragedy that affects so many people when a soldier dies. As a veteran of the Vietnam era, I've long watched the "kill ratios" spouted off by politicians and generals, who reduce human lives to cold, political statistics.

These are average American young people, just like our sons/daughters, brothers/sisters, husbands/wives and neighbors, who were once smiling bouncing babies, played innocently as children, went to school and developed many friends, participated in sports and other fun activities, got their first cars; maybe met the loves of their lives, and dreamt of families of their own and the pursuit of the American dream.

The death of our young people, especially those who are brave enough to enlist in life-threatening jobs to defend our freedoms, is tragic -- not just to those who loved them, but to our whole democracy. These were our citizens of tomorrow, who are now lost forever.

To die fighting to save your country and your family is nothing less than noble. To die on foreign soil for questionable political causes, like payback to corporations and PACs, and reelection bids, should be on the conscience forever of every politician who sent them there. I personally don't know how these people sleep at night.

Thank you for giving life back to those who've died in Iraq. Regardless of political motives by those who sent these young Americans to die, they are all our heroes, and we grieve for them.

-- Tom Marlin

In addition to being deeply saddened by this story, I also began to wonder where the Bush daughters Jenna and Barb are these days. Given all that their father has done for the Dooleys and countless others whose lives have been snuffed out by this war, it only seems fair that they be pulled from the bar, put in fatigues, and sent to serve their country in Iraq -- what a wonderful photo op! Perhaps our vainglorious president might then curb the macho rhetoric and learn to appreciate the tragic cost of war.

-- Janusz Nagiecki

Thank you for your eloquent story about Micheal Dooley, a young soldier killed in Iraq. In the midst of arguments over the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of this war and who is going to pay for mistakes that were made, too many Americans are already losing the sight of the fact that many young men and women -- and their friends and families -- have already paid. Stories like yours help to remind us that this war is not just about money and oil and politics; somewhere in this mess there are still young, brave human beings involved. I look forward to more stories of this kind, and will keep Micheal's and all military families in my prayers.

--Abigail E. Myers

I was disappointed to see an article like "Casualties of Victory" published and even more disappointed to see that this is to be the first of a series. Is Salon really stooping to cheap human interest stories to oppose the Iraq debacle? Will we also see touching stories of abused Iraqis saved by heroic American soldiers, or will the emotionally manipulative schlock be confined to the antiwar argument? Please don't venture into yellow journalism -- stick to the actual arguments that have made me a Premium subscriber for the last two years.

-- Russ Ross

I was very saddened to read of the pointless death of U.S. soldier Micheal Dooley in Baghdad. While my heart goes out to his loved ones coping with this colossal loss, I have to question his mother's fury directed outward toward "other countries" who should "fight amongst themselves." America was the one who invaded Iraq, not the other way around, so the blame should be turned inward toward the U.S. government. It's tragic that young men such as her son are used as pawns in this greedy game, and their voices do need to be heard. If American people truly want to "support the troops," I say we get them the hell out of this quagmire at once. I'm sure there are just as many grieving mothers and widows in Iraq who feel the same way.

-- E.B. Petrou

[Read "Putting Mary Poppins Under Surveillance," by Amy Reiter.]

One thing that the article forgets to mention is the fact that many nannies are inadequately paid and treated horribly. Parents who refuse to allot a decent wage to the person raising their children should not be surprised that they get what they pay for (although this is a universal truth that can be applied to any industry).

Many people work as nannies not because their life's ambition is to wipe noses and change diapers (notably not the parent's life ambition either) but because they don't have a lot of high-paying job skills and this is the work that is left to them.

The other thing that the article doesn't mention is the possibility that some nannies are being fired, not necessarily for outright neglect, but for milder crimes, things that have nothing to do with taking care of their children's basic needs. Modern parents have a very particular ideas about how their children should be raised: no sugar, no television, no playing outside, etc. It is very easy to fall afoul of most parents' child-rearing commandments. I commend most nannies for putting up with it at all.

To give you an example, I briefly held a nanny position where I was fired because the children didn't like me. They didn't like me because I refused to let the children beat up on each other. They were allowed to do everything they wanted, including skip school, and I was expected to campaign in a popularity contest with kids who had no limits whatsoever. All this for $7 an hour.

Which is why my sympathy for most of these parents is rather limited. If you want some Mary Poppins clone, start paying your nanny what she's worth and treat her with the respect she deserves.

-- Kim Hill

For all the money and time these "loving" parents devote to policing the nanny, maybe they should consider a low-tech alternative: having one of them stay home with the kid.

Oh, I know: "We can't afford to have one of us quit our jobs."

Well, at the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy (which I'm not), my mom stayed at home with me and my sister and we grew up to be fine, well-adjusted citizens.

Sure, we didn't have all the luxuries we could have had if our mom worked, but we at least had someone with a vested interest taking care of us.

Cost: priceless.

-- Donna Pazdera

Taking people at their word these days on "faith" (loath as I am to even utter that word) has proven to be a losing proposition. I'm as liberal as the next guy , and far angrier than most about our loss of civil liberties lately, but in my view nannies do NOT have a right to privacy in MY home with MY child. Period. That's not rocket science. It's common sense. You have a right to privacy in your own home, but not in mine.

-- Howard Hirsch

As a plaintiff's civil rights attorney, I see no problem with "nanny cams" so long as they are not placed in locations where the nanny has a reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e., a bathroom).

Moreover, it would be incumbent upon any employer to press criminal charges where the actions of the nanny rise to that level (battery of their charges).

Finally, I'd advise my nanny that there were cameras there for the protection of the nanny and the children.

-- George R. O'Connor

[Read "Last Man Standing," by Sheerly Avni.]

There was one comment Sheerly Avni made in her article on "Y: The Last Man" that gave me pause: "If the characters are a bit two-dimensional -- it is, after all, proudly a comic book." Speaking on behalf of comic fans everywhere, Ms. Avni, I truly apologize. I don't know why we aficionados bother trying to convince the general public that comics are a legitimate art form. Comics will never, ever produce anything better than bathroom reading material. "Maus"? Pfah! "The Sandman"? Rubbish! I only hope the nation's multiplexes -- or the nation, in this case being that giant nebulous region between San Francisco and New York -- are no longer forced to show movies based on comics or their creators. Goodbye, "Ghost World." Vaya con dios, "Road to Perdition." Piss off, "American Splendor"! Beat it, "Crumb"! What arrogance on your part, Ms. Avni. Is it really necessary to constantly place caveats on comics just because they're, well, comics?

-- Alex Tucker

Seven words into Sheerly Avni's review of the comic book "Y: The Last Man" (and I can't tell you how grateful I am that she didn't pretentiously call it a "graphic novel"), I knew the plot and the details. I also realized that sealed in a box (hopefully not archival quality) I already own the 20 comic books from which the elements were recombined to create this new one.

Once I zoomed into the cover and saw the Vertigo imprint, I was certain. I was a comic fan back at the inception of Vertigo, navigating the pre-boom-and-bust crowd of the comic shop and pushing away the Sandman goths to get at my coveted Doom Patrol. This "suggested for mature readers" line was supposed to rescue comic books for us older (i.e., gotten laid) fans.

But it should have been labeled "suggested for fans who are willing to give up good stories for the sake of exploring gender issues." Soon even my beloved Doom Patrol was waxing philosophical about the mystic power of menstruation.

I'll take Ms. Avni's word for the quality of this comic book, but I'm sorry to hear that eight years after my last purchase of a Vertigo comic, things don't seem to have changed.

-- Kyle Smith

I was really surprised to read an article about one of my favorite comics in Salon. Happily surprised. I started reading "Y" when it was first released last year. I knew when the first issue mentioned the Women's Battalion of Death ( the first all-women battalion that fought in Russia during WW1 -- it was the subject of my college thesis) that this was a comic for me.

The story is interesting and gets you thinking of what would really happen and how would we really react.

I am happy for the writers that you included this article, and happy for the new readers it might bring -- but now getting a new issue is going to be a bigger pain in the ass (it is ALWAYS sold out). Oh well, that's life.

Thank you for the article.

-- Jenn

Salon Staff

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