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
Read 'em and Weep
In "Mumia's Last Stand" [November 16], Peter Noel writes that Mumia Abu-Jamal's life depends on "the precarious vagary of white man's justice," and chillingly describes the manner in which the state of Pennsylvania plans to carry out Abu-Jamal's execution.
What Noel conveniently omits from his article, however, is any mention of the compelling some would say overwhelmingevidence that Abu-Jamal murdered police officer Daniel Faulkner.
I'm willing to bet that neither Angela Davis nor most of Abu-Jamal's countless other supporters have ever taken the time to actually acquire and read the transcripts of the trial they claim was so unfair. Had they done so, perhaps they would conclude that Abu-Jamal has spent the last 18 years exactly where he belongs.
Regarding Peter Noel's article on Mumia: The only real issues in the Mumia Abu-Jamal case are these: Is he guilty? And did he get a fair trial? The evidence of his guilt is genuinely ambiguous. The evidence that he did not get a fair trial is strong. For these reasons, he certainly deserves a new trial.
However, simply assuming his innocence and writing a puff piece about Mumia as folk herowhich is what Peter Noel has doneserves no purpose other than to incite the demagogues on both sides. Mumia is not on death row because he's a militant; he's there because many believe, possibly incorrectly, that he killed a man. We should care about whether in fact he did this, and that he got a fair trial, not what his politics are.
The Sound and the Fury
Reading Peter Noel's article about Mumia brought home to me how sad it is that the death penalty still exists in America. Sadder still is that Mumia's case continues to garner more attention than any other. I believe Abu-Jamal deserves a new trial; however, what is disappointing is the fact that because Abu-Jamal is such an intelligent, charismatic figure he has been able to focus attention back on his case. What about the rest of those on death row who are not equally adept at shining the light on themselves? I guess it pays to be famous in the U.S.A. once again.
Thanks to Nat Hentoff for "Time Warner and Human Rights" [November 16]. Russia, China, and half the other nations of the world are run by thugs and sociopaths. It is high time we stopped pretending these "rulers" are anything but criminals. Any company, industry, or nation that coddles them doesn't deserve to consider itself civilized.
Alisa Solomon asks a good question: Is Suha Arafat Right ["Suha's Charges," November 23]? Unfortunately, Solomon doesn't have sufficient evidence for an answer. She mentions that cases of "ecological abuse" have been "documented" by a Palestinian organizationpillars of scien?tific integrity one and all.
Buried in the Palestinian propaganda is a brief statement that in the 1993 Oslo agreement it was decided that certain ecological measures must be taken by "both sides"but only Israel is honored with the accusation that it "poisoned" the West Bank! No one denies there are pollution problems in Israel and the Palestine Authority. But blame must be apportioned fairly.
Mark Schoofs's article "AIDS: The Agony of Africa" [November 9] just about sucked the spirit out of me. Western colonial forces have intentionally pillaged Africa and funded competing armies. Today, the West either turns its back on the wreckage it caused, or plans policies for the recolonization of Africasuch as the NAFTA-like African Growth and Opportunity Act before Congress.
The United States has threatened sanctions against countries that try to manufacture and distribute generic AIDS drugs at cost, leaving poor African and Asian countries little choice but to go without since they can't afford the grossly inflated prices imposed by Western drug patent holders. When the corporate pigs look to the future, they see a bank vault that needs filling. Our struggle now is to stop the globalist policies that treat us as either slaves, sacrificial units, or consumers for profiteers.
Mark Schoofs's article "A Tale of Two Brothers" [November 16] brought back a lot of memories for me. Fela's estate was only a few minutes from my family residence in Ikeja, Nigeria, and my generation grew up listening to his music. Even after his death he is still a hero to thousands of youths back home.
Ignorance and adhering to old traditions and customs is the main problem with AIDS in the African subcontinent. The only way to combat this crisis is to break that mode of thinking. Hopefully Schoofs's article will motivate more people, myself included, to collectively use our professional and financial resources to help stop this silent killer back home.
It is frightening that Dr. Tom Coburn is letting his conservative political agenda put women's health in such profound danger [Sharon Lerner, Body Politics, "Condomnation," November 9]. Warning labels on condoms will only serve to deter their use and to fuel the spread of the very STD that Coburn, an obstetrician himself, is supposedly taking a stand against.
The Group Health Cooperative reports that HPV diagnosis is confusing and never entirely accurate. The report goes further to state "a number of women (and men) have probably been told they had HPV when in fact they did not." The link between cervical cancer and HPV is as sketchy as the STD's diagnosis; basing the possibility of cancer on an HPV diagnosis could either sound a false alarm or cast a false shadow over the more urgent of the two diseases.
No warning label will ever be scary enough to stop people from having sex, and information about making sex safer should not be hidden from young people. Dr. Tom Coburn should keep his politics separate from his own health practice and not endanger women who do not agree with him.
I read Robin Rothman's article on Woodstock '99 ["Politics of the Pit," November 9] and was completely appalled. As a human being, I can't believe that my gender was really that fucking sad. Not all of the bands that played at Woodstock are liable, but if you promote music calling women whores, sluts, and chickenheads, then you do bear some responsibility. I wonder if the perpetrators at Woodstock would think what happened there was cool if it had been their sister or mother getting groped. Rot in Hell, bastards.
Free For All
In "Politics of the Pit," an article depicting the rough treatment of women at Woodstock '99, Robin Rothman wrote that "a majority had a fine timea weekend of reckless abandon and open sexuality, no holds barred."
Doesn't Rothman see the contradiction in that sentence? We cannot preach open sexuality, no responsibility sex, and not expect events like those at Woodstock to happen.
I am glad that someone has finally decided to take action against greedy landlords in Lower Park Slope [J.A. Lobbia, Towers and Tenements, "Sign Language," November 23]. I wish there was some way a neighborhood's integrity and flavor could survive the rampant and extreme gentrification that has overtaken so many other formerly diverse New York neigborhoods.
In Brooklyn, where I live, mom-and-pop stores are closing, icky people with the lemming disease are flooding Seventh Avenue (above and below), gay people are being harassed, chichi stores open and close and open and close. Bye-bye diversity, hello homogeneity. For all the gentrification victims out there, I feel your pain. I really do.
ConfiMed.com enjoyed Guy Trebay's "Harder Faster Longer" [November 2]. There are, however, certain statements made in the article, mostly concerning the medical establishment, that we wish to address.
Trebay writes that some hopeful Viagra users are "skipping the office visit and copping their Viagra the easy way, by clicking a mouse." At ConfiMed.com, our patients are required to fill out an extensive medical questionnaire and state that they have had a general physical exam within the last year.
In Trebay's article FDA commissioner Jane Henney says she is concerned patients using cyberconsultation risk greater side effects and that diseases will go undiagnosed. Potential side effects remain the same regardless of the origin of the medication. The physicians at ConfiMed.com routinely reject applications, advising the patient to consult their own doctor when potential health concerns are presented. Good medicine is more about paying attention to what a patient has to say than about where it is said. Meeting face-to-face does not guarantee a patient will be heard.
Brava to Tristan Taormino [Pucker Up, "The Art of Anal Fisting," November 2]! It was so nice to see an article on fisting in print. Since my early twenties, one of the joys and guiding lights of my life as a gay man has been fisting. Even through the dark ages of the '80s, when all the old pros were cashing in their Crisco chips, fisting provided me with an avenue for personal explorationof my own butthole and the buttholes of some of my best soulmates.
Even in the Age of Safer Sex with gloves and personal lubes, fisting, whether between two or in a group setting, is a wonderful way to "explore and test the farthest reaches of the mind's and body's inner limits." Thank you, Buttgirl.
San Francisco, California
Regarding "Online With the Divine" [November 16] by Barry Walters: Mr. Walters's salient exploration of two "post-Lilith clit-pop" icons is eminently compelling and cogent. I couldn't agree more. I find both Tori Amos and Fiona Apple ideologically elitist and musically vacant. Excellent review.
On December 7 at 6 p.m. the Washington Square Association will hold its annual tree-lighting ceremony in Washington Square Park. Santa Claus, accompanied by the NYU Brass Ensemble, will lead the crowd in holiday songs. At 6:45 p.m. there will be a short parade through the park and into NYU's Frederick Loewe Theater at 35 West 4th Street. Seating is first come, first served, and refreshments will be provided. This event is open to the public and free of charge.
Letters should be brief, and phone numbers must be included. All letters are subject to editing for clarity, legal, and space considerations. firstname.lastname@example.org.