Letters

Testost-Her-Own In Francine Russo's review of two works by women about women ["West With the Might," December 28], she writes that both have "ballsy attitudes about women." Does Russo not recognize the insult of equating courage with owning testicles, or is she so terrified of being labeled "politically correct" (or such an unresourceful writer) that she can't come up with an appropriate adjective? Nancy McClernan Weehawken, New Jersey Francine Russo replies: I intended the reference as an ironic comment on society's equation of courage and maleness. Perhaps I should have used quotation marks. Facts and Friction Nat Hentoff's cogent assessment of the accuracy dilemma in nonfiction books and articles ought to be taped to the forehead of whoever decides the hourly wages for fact checkers ["Blurring Nonfiction and Fiction," December 21]. Fact checkers make between $16 and, at most, $22 per hour. They work long hours on mounds of copy that writers and reporters haven't completely checked themselves, let alone supplied numbers and contacts for. Until there are more funds and support for research and copy departments, there will continue to be egregious errors in articles and books. Kevin Giordano Manhattan Nat Hentoff's column on fact checking helped me decide to subscribe to the Voice. My check will be in the mail today. Henry West Chesapeake Beach, Maryland Gay Rights I enjoyed Donna Ladd's article on the talented, creative cyber-activist, John Aravosis ["The Wired Strategist: Lone Crusader Fights Online Gay Battles," December 21]. Unfortunately, Ms. Ladd left unchallenged Mr. Aravosis's apparent belief that coming out as gay necessitates a conversion to the Democratic Party. She also failed to question Mr. Aravosis's suggestion that Republicans are not, as he implied, "tuned into the suffering of others." We can be proud gays and lesbians and members of the GOP. We do not need to choose. By coming out as gay and Republican, we are making a statement that there is no place where gays and lesbians do not belong, and that we will not allow our political affiliations to be dictated by people who do not know us or understand us. While it takes courage to decide to fight rather than switch, it is no greater than the courage required to come out and be true to yourself. In New York, the Log Cabin Republicans—proudly gay and Republican—are working to pass a state hate-crimes law, to outlaw sexual-orientation discrimination statewide, and to increase public funding for services to lesbians and gays. Our members are caring people who volunteer in their communities. Through this work, we ensure that gays and lesbians will be respected in both of the major political parties. James A. Wagstaff, President Log Cabin Republicans New York City Deep Green As the former chair of the New York City Group of the Sierra Club I feel obliged to correct a few statements in Karen Cook's article ["Green vs. Green," December 21]. Discussing a hearing before Judge Elliot Wilk, Ms. Cook described supporters of the city group as a "ragtag army." While I was not in court to meet our supporters, the executive committee of the group that was replaced is not hippie in flavor. We are a diverse assemblage of middle-class Americans who are knowledgeable enough about the environment to realize that a principled stance is the only sane route on a perilously degraded planet. According to Ms. Cook, Dennis Orr, the Club's attorney, said the city group broke the rules. However, two fact finders previously appointed by the Sierra Club found that the rules were unclear and absolved the group. Most of the group's executive committee was willing to forgive and move forward in accordance with a national club board of directors' resolution to develop a "mutually productive and sustainable relationship" between the group and the Atlantic Chapter. However, a McCarthyite smear campaign was conducted to discredit the group and ensure the election of those who might be called "Friends of [Sierra Club executive director Carl] Pope." The real argument is about compromise. Many Sierra Club activists agree with the former leaders of the New York City Group that compromise is not a successful strategy. Environmental decisions should be based on science, not politics and corporate interests. In the end we either work in tandem with the laws of nature or pay tragically. The group's dynamic allegiance to this ethic motivated the coup. Moisha K. Blechman Manhattan As noted in Karen Cook's article "Green vs. Green," the New York City Group of the Sierra Club held a special election in which 1200 members—"10 times more than usual"—voted in a new slate of executive committee members "by a landslide." To me, this confirms that the election was necessary and overwhelmingly supported by our voting members, 90 percent of whom didn't vote in the last election. I think it means that most Sierra Club members felt alienated and left out of the old city group. This election says that our members wanted to come back to the Club, and they are back. I look forward to bringing my experience as a marine biologist to the board of the New York City Group. All of us on the new board are lifelong, dedicated environmentalists with commitment and experience in urban environment issues. We have hit the ground running. Every New Yorker is aware of myriad environmental insults to our beloved city, and we hope your readers will join us in making progress on improving the quality of city life. Through our members we expect to again invigorate city policy discussions and use the power of the Sierra Club to accelerate protection of the drinking water supply, promote alternatives to urban sprawl, compel General Electric to remove PCBs from the Hudson River, protect both our wild lands and wildlife in the city, and give voice to issues of environmental justice. The new executive committee has a mandate to change things in the New York City Group, and we intend to do that. We welcome our members home, and invite them, and all caring New Yorkers, to join us. Cathy Drew, Executive Committee New York City Group Sierra Club Manhattan

 
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