By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Web of Hate
After three months of recovering from gunshot wounds inflicted by Benjamin Smith as I was walking home from synagogue, I think I have gained some perspective that I respectfully insist the ACLU and its colleague organizations lack ["The Great Hate Debate," Donna Ladd, October 19]. Namely, I came within an inch of losing my life because an unstable, impressionable youth came under the influence of World Church of the Creator leader Matthew Hale's "theology."
This young man would have never gone on his deadly shooting rampage had he not been indoctrinated by this group, which has a frequently updated Web/hate site. I suggest you visit it yourselves, all you advocates of free speech über alles. In his eulogy of Smith, Hale continues to call him "Brother," and says that, although fellow "Creators" will never know why Smith did what he did (sure . . . ), chances are that he had had enough of seeing "mongrels" walking down the street. When humans are dehumanized in such a way, look out, a gunman might be waiting.
May I ask you then, given what is at stake, whose rights are more important, the victims' or the perpetrator's? It is a lot easier to advocate a free-for-all Internet when one does not know the pain and the rage associated with multiple bullet wounds courtesy of a neo-Nazi, as I do.
Senate Judiciary chair Orrin Hatch might be onto something. Perhaps one should withhold one's knee-jerk response to the opinion of a conservative until the facts are carefully considered. Lives are at stake.
"Where's R. Crumb?" laments Jerry Saltz in his review of "The American Century: Art & Culture, 19502000" at the Whitney Museum of American Art ["Tasting Menu," October 19]. How carefully was Saltz looking? Crumb's work was prominently displayed in one of the six "Cultural Sites" I curated for the show a substantial part of the exhibition totally ignored in his review. And, by the way, it was Tom Armstrong (not Richard, as Saltz states) who served as director of the Whitney Museum before David Ross.
Friends of Finley
C. Carr, in "Running Scared: The Bad Apple Defense and Other Symptoms of Spinelessness in the Art World" [October 12], reports incorrect information and portrays an imaginary division within the arts community.
First, many arts organizations, including the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, American Association of Museums, and Americans for the Arts have publicly and enthusiastically supported the free-expression rights of the artists in the Finley v. NEA case by signing onto an amicus curiae brief prepared by People for the American Way, which was written by one of Americans for the Arts' board members.
Second, more than 50 national arts and humanities organizations of all sizes and all points of view, including the National Association of Artists' Organizations and the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, have been actively and successfully working together for over five years to develop united advocacy positions for the Cultural Advocacy Group coalition and national Arts Advocacy Day.
Perhaps the writer should direct her frustrations toward those who are trying to suppress free expression, rather than to those who are trying to nurture creativity and uphold the constitutional rights of free artistic expression in a democratic society.
American Arts Association
Robert L. Lynch
Americans for the Arts
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
C. Carr replies: Joy Silverman, co-founder of the National Committee for Freedom of Expression, and Charlotte Murphy, former executive director of the National Association of Artists Organizations (co-plaintiff in Finley v. NEA) were astonished to learn that Able, Lynch, and Katz are now claiming to have been their allies from the get-go. "They did not want the lawsuit to happen," says Murphy. "They never supported us until they thought they would look like idiots if they didn't." In fact, these groups submitted their amicus brief seven years after Finley v. NEA was filed.
However, I do take issue with Guy Trebay's article "A Controversy Evolves." While Trebay's point about the dangers of mixing church and state issues is well taken, his reference to evangelical Christians practicing "religious crackpotism" is unfair.
I am no Christian or follower of any faith, but I bear religious folk no ill will. Trebay's crack reduced his argument to a level that the religious right often sinks to, and cheapened his point.
As an American living in London, I am writing in reaction to James Ridgeway's item "Fighting Frankenstein" [Mondo Washington, September 28]. I am horrified that my fellow Americans naively accept and swallow genetically modified food.
GM crops have not been tested adequately, despite what the spin doctors are telling you. You are being lied to! The companies developing this technology have put profit before safety. They make the tobacco industry look good. Please take a moment to find out for yourself. Make it your choice what you eat and what you feed your children.