Jeffrey Perchuk

Death To Diplomacy

It's heartening to witness the steady euthanasia of the "politically correct" michegass that hung like a dark curtain over many aspects of academic life on campus. The entire p.c. movement, though its genesis in the impulse not to offend remains unassailable, was doomed to failure, and not because it led to things like a septuagenarian University of Wisconsin professor getting yanked from his classroom mid-lecture.

The pace with which (contestably) righteous indignation morphed into legislation— in the form of speech codes— was phenomenal. P.C. was also somewhat forced, stemming as it did from the pouting of a few and not from the will of the majority. Had the sensible majority spoken out sooner, the '90s might have been a lot more fun, inside the classroom and out. Unfortunately, out of apathy and apprehensiveness, if not fear, no one really questioned the zeal of the presumably offended, and from lecture halls to student newspapers the politically incorrect were effectively gagged.

If there is one lesson to be learned from this, it is to question know-it-alls and policy makers early and often. In the case of political correctness, we hoped the idiocy would dissipate. Fortunately, it's beginning to fade.

Anthony Lechtman

Weir(D) Review

I was simply astounded to read Michael Feingold's shallow and callow review of The Weir by Conor McPherson, currently playing at The Walter Kerr Theatre ["Talking Points," April 13].

Feingold dismisses the play for being without "action," claiming that it is nothing more than a series of shared stories. He has missed the point of the play entirely.

The action of the play centers on the communication of fear and grief between five people. The Weir demonstrates the workings of friendships old and new and explores the means by which people establish connections with each other— and with the world beyond— in a lonely place. Feingold foolishly searches for some genealogical connection between the persons detailed in the various stories, while ignoring the play itself.

The sad truth about all this is that The Weir— a brilliant, subtle, carefully wrought play, which, if it is allowed to do so, casts quite a spell— will likely fail in New York due to the asinine reviews of critics like Feingold.

The Weir does not strive to entertain. It does not seek to amuse. It does not overwhelm its audience with grandiose emotions or visual spectacle. Instead, it offers the audience the opportunity to release itself into another world. This play, about bridging divides between the living and the dead, asks only that the hearer be willing to enter the illusion. Feingold wasn't. Too bad. He missed a fantastic chance.

David Thompson
London, England

Michael Feingold replies: It's pleasant to communicate fear and grief, or give lecture-demonstrations on friendship, but the most effective way of doing so in the theater is to enact stories, rather than have the characters tell them to each other. Mr. Thompson's dramatic sense seems as sickly as his knowledge of New York— where there are, regrettably, no other critics like me, and the daily scribblers' vapid praise will probably give The Weir a good run— until the public finds out that it neither entertains nor amuses.

Deep South

Giles Foden's review of two new South African books ["Who's Sorry Now?" April 6] was extremely well done— even given a most unfortunate headline, which showed a lack of understanding about what has happened and is still happening in South Africa.

Our history is diverse and complex; assigning blame to one particular philosophy is tempting, but won't ultimately help solve our various social and economic problems.

Foden's suggestion that The Country of My Skull asks too much of foreign readers in terms of language and scope of reference is valid. However, Antjie Krog's book is extremely important for South Africans living abroad. I urge any South African who has not read it to do so.

Mark Dunley-Owen

Meaningful Memories

Bravo to Andrew Hsiao and Deirdre Hussey for their excellent article "Mothers of Invention" [April 6], about women who have lost children due to police brutality. As a parent, I can think of nothing more painful than losing a child. How wonderful that these families have turned the loss of their children into something meaningful for an entire community.

Nahdiyyah Parker-Jarnagin
Lumberton, North Carolina

Virtual Atari

Re Danny Hakim's "King Pong" [April 13], about the demise of Atari: As an aficionado (I've owned every version from the VSC 2600 to the Jaguar), I was pleased to read about Curt Vendel's fantastic work in creating the Atari Historical Society.

Sadly, most people look back at Atari and dismiss it as junk— forgetting that Atari started the computer game industry. Without Atari's early work, systems like Nintendo 64 and Playstation might not exist today.

Atari showed the world what could be done with video games.

Mark Santora
Northridge, California

Needling Dare

Re Jennifer Gonnerman's article "Truth or DARE" [April 13]: The DARE anti-drug program is destined to fail because it does not provide accurate information. Any kid knows there is a difference between getting tattooed and shooting heroin. Once kids realize they have been lied to, they will discard all of DARE's information.

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