Winging It

Re Donna Ladd's article on John Stossel ["Cyberfugitive," September 26]: I don't believe I have seen such slanted reporting since I perused the Daily Oklahoman this morning. Ladd focuses on one error, for which Stossel apologized, and his connections to so-called "right-wing" organizations. As for the mistake he made, Stossel's forthright apology is far more admirable than the stonewalling and dissembling that many in the public eye would engage in. And Ladd's focus on his politics shows this is what truly offends her.

Libertarians don't use the old one-dimensional, left-right scale Ladd is still using. We consider Stossel neither left nor right. We consider Stossel, and ourselves, to embody the best of what is often considered the right and the left. Ms. Ladd may disagree, and we would defend her right to express her opinion and to continue to write slanted articles based on an outdated political spectrum. However, she should be aware that her political viewpoint shows exactly what she claims troubles her about Mr. Stossel.

Christopher Powell
Libertarian Candidate for the
Oklahoma House of Representatives
Bethany, Oklahoma

Organic Panic

In response to the dismissive statements in the article about John Stossel about the possibility that organically grown vegetables contain carcinogens: We live in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains; we raise much of our own food. We use some pesticides and fertilizers—if we did not, we would not have much of a crop.

However, if you look at history, until very recently all farming was organic, and if you think the average person's life, or life span, was superior to today, you must be reading the history for a parallel universe.

My question is, how is it that you can rant on and on about this issue when you live in a city that has more rats than people, most of you could not feed yourselves without an ATM card, it's hard to tell which is worse, the police or the criminals, and you can't even produce a decent homegrown candidate for senator? Why don't you do something about your own dung heap before worrying about the rest of us?

We're doing just fine, thank you.

Patrick Dowd
Arlington, Washington

Green on the Scene

Many thanks for James Ridgeway's "Crazy Like a Fox" [villagevoice.com, September 20]. I find it downright ludicrous that the "solution" to let Ralph Nader participate in the Bush-Gore debates, as proposed by Fox News, is all those who wish to hear Nader's voice of dissent can hope for. I can only imagine the scenario if Jello Biafra or Noam Chomsky were the Green Party nominee instead. They wouldn't even be allowed audio; they'd have to fax responses on loose-leaf paper!

Are the chips really that stacked against Nader's supporters, and are we really that outrageously manipulated by the powers that be? It would appear so.

Michael J. Piskai
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania


As a longtime Libertarian, I am always amused at the liberal/left take on Libertarians as "right wing" ["Atlas Rising," James Ridgeway, villagevoice.com, September 26]. I suspect that liberals suffer cognitive dissonance when they hear Libertarians call for drug legalization, gay marriage, an end to U.S. neoimperialism, corporate welfare, etc. Of course, this is the same reaction that right-wingers suffer when they hear us call for no gun control, no affirmative action, and an end to the income tax. With critics like this, we must be doing something right. By the way, it is silly to claim that Harry Browne will take votes from Bush. Most Libertarians would never vote for Bush or Gore. Why the hell do you think we are running Browne?

Frederick L. Woeckener
Hyde Park, Vermont

Effacing Race

In response to Carly Berwick's credulous article "The Human Race Machine" [September 26]: Nancy Burson's contribution to "Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution," currently at Exit Art, has been getting a lot of favorable publicity, including the positive assessment in the Times and the invasively pedantic billboard at Canal and Church streets mentioned by Berwick.

This is distressing. The Human Race Machine is an interactive computer-graphics installation that invites the user to morph her or his face into one of five "races": Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, or Indian. Although the artist is at pains to tell us there is "no gene for race," her machine—a sleek Soho version of photo-morphing boxes already found in amusement zones in Las Vegas and Coney Island—reinstalls racial typologies that, in the U.S., have been animated by appeals to biological difference. Despite her own naive rhetoric, Burson fixes physiognomic stereotypes as "race"; her model leaves no room to represent the historical and cultural factors that contribute to the pervasiveness of racism and to the political salience of race as a social category.

The intended message of the installation seems to be that all humans, regardless of race, are the same and if we just learn the appropriate science, the category of race will wither away. It is obvious that this is not so; it gets resurrected in this very work.

Stefan Helmreich
Assistant Professor of Science in Society
New York University

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