By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Peter Noel's article "Raising Patrick Bailey" [March 9] contains factual inaccuracies, such as his reporting that the police involved in the fatal shooting of Mr. Bailey were "plainclothes anti-crime officers," when in fact the officers were in full uniform.
But worse than that, Mr. Noel advances, without any skepticism, an "activist's" theory that the individuals who were with Mr. Bailey (and by implication Mr. Bailey himself) fled because they feared the police were part of a drug gang.
Mr. Noel's one-sided reporting in this article is yet another example of his long history of abandoning objectivity in order to publish an "exclusive."
Years ago, he rushed to print his interview of Cedric Sandiford, one of the victims of a racial attack in Howard Beach, even though, at the time of the interview, Mr. Sandiford was still suffering from the trauma of the attack. As a result Mr. Sandiford was forced to endure days of hostile cross-examination by defense attorneys for his four attackers about the inaccuracies found in Mr. Noel's interview.
Last year, Mr. Noel expressed his guilt about publishing this interview ("Totalitarian of My Spirit," January 6, 1998). Too late; the damage had been done.
Then, as now, Mr. Noel's rush to print has the potential to seriously undermine the truth.
Charles J. Hynes
Peter Noel replies: In response to Hynes's first claim: None of the eyewitnesses' statements report that the cops who chased Patrick into his home were "in full uniform." I stand by my account. In the uproar over the police slaying of Amadou Diallo by a rogue "Street Crimes Unit," Hynes's troubled investigation into the equally questionable killing of Patrick Bailey, who witnesses contend was unarmed, came under rigorous scrutiny. It became a PR nightmare for a prosecutor with a sorry record of holding brutal cops accountable, as my article pointed out. Hynes sat on the case for 16 months! As to the "guilt" I carried over the Howard Beach case, that had nothing to do with self-blame. In fact, my story was about how I, a black reporter, was almost physically attacked by a hysterically angry special prosecutor on the night a jury rejected his theory of the case. Eleven years after Hynes's shameful behavior, I broke a promise to the mother of Michael Griffith, one of the Howard Beach victims, not to report the confrontation. The only guilt I feel is for having betrayed that promise.
Great pieces in last week's issue by Nat Hentoff on Clinton's refusal to recognize the genocide in Rwanda ["The Holocaust Without Guilt"] and Jason Vest on Clinton's current bombing fever ["The Nose Knows"]. Hats off to both of them for bringing this information out in the open.
My only question is why the cover was devoted to a vain and callous man ["Citizen Gatien"] and not one of these excellent, socially relevant articles.
Many things that made this city unique are being wiped out. Can it be that New Yorkers now put more emphasis on having video cameras on every corner than on having places where adults can enjoy themselves?
The New York City of the next millennium: BORING!
Body Of Evidence
The photo of the dead guy in Nat Hentoff's column last week made me want to puke. That was the grossest thing you've published since Mapplethorpe stuck that bullwhip up his butt back in the late '80s.
Please, a little restraint?
Columns like "A Holocaust We Could Have Stopped: I Saw My Father Cut to Pieces" [March 2] make Nat Hentoff a national treasure.
David Kushner's assessment of new pet technology was so unsettling I didn't know whether to laugh or bay at the moon ["Shock Value: Technology Goes to the Dogs," March 9]. While the microchip surgery to track down a missing Rover makes some sense, a $199.96 self-cleaning litter box sounds like technological self-indulgence.
Besides, my cat would be scared shitless the minute the motorized poop raker started cranking up!
Litter Basket Case
Reading David Kushner's article brought back memories of a self-cleaning litter box I bought six months ago. After spending the night at a friend's house, I came home to find my three-month-old kitten, Speedo, yowling in the litter box, his back leg caught in the rake mechanism. I still suffer guilt over leaving him alone. Every time he looks up at me, I can imagine him saying, "Why couldn't you just pick it up yourself?"
Los Angeles, California
Flattered as i am that Elaine Showalter stooped to conquer my new book, The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: One Nation Under Duress ["Secrets of Our Excess," VLS, February 23], I can't help wishing she had been a more attentive reader. There's no appealing critical verdicts, but the least one can ask of a reviewer is that she judge the author by his intentions.
Showalter consistently stretches me on the procrustean bed of the very dualisms my book attempts to wriggle free from. For instance, she cites as an example of muzzy-minded critical thinking my simultaneous reading of the current vogue for potty humor as a reminder of our repression of what Bakhtin called "the material bodily lower stratum" and a (Norman O.) Brownian motion away from that repression and a market-driven capitulation to the lowest common denominator.