Kendra Moyer

Literary Rubout

Re Nat Hentoff's "The Scorned Law Professor" [February 1]: I have no doubt that both Professor Rod Smolla and Hentoff are wholehearted supporters of the First Amendment, but their support of holding Paladin Press, publisher of the book Hit Man, liable for aiding and abetting murder is troubling. Granted that a how-to manual for murder is objectionable, but what if the same instructions were part of a novel, which an assassin admitted to using in his trade? For that matter, what if a novel included detailed instructions that Hentoff's hypothetical homicidal pedophile followed in the commission of an unspeakable act? Judge Michael Luttig's decision seemed to hinge on intent, but although the motives attributed to Paladin were despicable, it may well set a dangerous precedent. In litigation (and even in a criminal trial), a jury would have to weigh what an author's intent was. Dangerous grounds.

Edwin Farrell

Nat Hentoff replies: Hit Man is not a work of fiction. The owner and publisher of Paladin Press admitted during his deposition in the lawsuit that he deliberately wanted his book to be read by criminals—including murderers and potential murderers. The intent of the publisher was clear. The author was not sued. Hit Man was published as a technical manual to kill people—and that was the motivation of the publisher who was sued. The First Amendment does not come into play.

Dirty South

As a native Virginian living in New York City, I feel that I must respond to Tom Tomorrow's depiction of the South in This Modern World [February 1]. I agree that state governments should not fly the Confederate flag, as it is offensive to many people. But can we not go beyond the stereotypes of white-trash, Civil War-obsessed Southerners depicted in Tomorrow's cartoon?

I think it's time we recognize the South as one of the most culturally vibrant and racially mixed areas in the country. It's funny how the irony seems to be lost on those who still choose to view most Southerners as bigots.

How has this form of prejudice remained politically correct?

Jenny Barton
A Proud Southern Lesbian

Bow, Wow

Richard Goldstein's "We Got Game" [February 1] was excellent in terms of its exploration of the psychological and gender issues behind the latest cultural fetish over sports. However, I wonder if there isn't a need to also address what to me seems to be the most damning cultural effect of the sports craze: namely, the inordinate and asinine difference in economic valuation between the whole sports apparatus and, say, the public education system.

Why is it that professional athletes get paid 100 times the average salary of a teacher? Who performs the greater service to the future of a democratic society? Will there ever be a movement to give adequate compensation to the real heroes, or does everybody just bow down to the power of entertainment capitalism?

James H. Pobst
Boise, Idaho

Big Up

Congratulations on Judith Coburn's high-minded review of Valerie Solanas's play Up Your Ass, premiering here 35 years after it was written in Berkeley and New York [ Solanas Lost and Found," January 18]. No critic in this town had the chops or the labia to contextualize the play; most of them dismissed Solanas as a footnote. The relative critical savvy of Big Apple critics gives your town an edge over San Francisco. Even when we witness a theatrical event of this magnitude, they can't bring it into focus for us.

Eric Bladswell
San Francisco, California

The Shadow Knows

Re Jason Vest's "Shadow in Doubt: Bradley, Gore Court D.C.'s Non-Voting 'Senator' ": Thank God for The Village Voice. As a resident of Washington, D.C., it's clear to me that we don't have any representation. But rarely does anyone write about it. Senator Paul Strauss makes a good point when he says that New Yorkers would never stand for this treatment.

John Capozzi
Washington, D.C.

I must say I was shocked to find that I agreed with almost all of the points made by D.C. "shadow senator" Paul Strauss. I am a Virginia resident, and I commute into the District every day. Are not all Americans equal before the law? Apparently not. As a superdelegate to the Democratic Convention, Strauss is right to withhold his support from either Bradley or Gore until he has a firm commitment in regard to statehood for the District—hopefully from both of them!

Andrew R. Gelfman
Arlington, Virginia

Rant Control

Apparently, mayoral hopeful Peter Vallone is funded by landlords, some of whom are probably very sleazy and heartless [ Towers & Tenements, J.A. Lobbia, February 1]. Guess who else takes a lot of money from landlords? The Village Voice.

Looking at your ad rates for real estate and extrapolating an estimated eight pages of real estate ads in last week's issue, the Voice also takes in a lot of money from landlords. How does the Voice, a publication that constantly whines about the housing crisis in New York City, justify the paradoxical fact that it is also profiting from it? Can you state your policy and thoughts on this matter?

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