Letters

HAVE A HEART

Erik Baard and Rebecca Cooney's article "China's Kidney Transplant Trade" [May 8] missed a key issue. Condemned prisoners in China do indeed sell their own organs, with the money going to their families. It is well known here that if you need an organ, you have to go to a prison and make a deal with a prisoner. The Chinese cops may be real bastards at times, but they do not prevent condemned men from seeing their families so they can sell their organs and then steal the money. It would seem that Chinese prisoners have more rights than their U.S. counterparts with respect to their own bodies. Why should people not have the right to dispose of their own organs as they see fit?

Randy Guthrie
Shanghai, China

What are dead people going to do with their kidneys? Their hearts? Their livers? Baard and Cooney's article brings up many good points about human rights violations in China, but harvesting organs from corpses is not one of the more pressing ones. A sentimental attachment to one's postmortem corneas is nothing compared to the opportunity to give someone sight. The real issue here is China's gross disrespect for life and freedom, not the trivial matter of how the government squeezes a few dollars out of an execution.

Liz Topp
Manhattan

What a powerful article on the harvesting of organs in China. I picked it up on RealClear Politics this morning. This is the first time I've seen your paper. Even though I'm a conservative free trader, I can't understand how in God's name we can overlook so many human rights violations in China and continue doing business with them. I've put your site on my faves and will check on you. Good work.

Michael Mattei
Denver, Colorado

Nice work on the transplant story. No matter where I live, The Village Voice still provides the most interesting and informative muckraking to be found nationwide.

Franklin Moore
San Diego, California


NOVEL APPROACH

I have a friend who writes fiction. I asked him how he decides to write his novels; he replied that he figures out the start and the ending, and then fills in the chapters to make it happen.

I have just read Tom Robbins's May 1 story about the Fashion Institute of Technology ["Giving to the Neediest: FIT Prez Chooses Posh Pad Over Student Scholarships"]. Robbins, like my friend the novelist, obviously has the same method. Your readers and our student body should be made aware of the following facts:

My colleagues and I are on the boards of FIT and the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries because we feel we can make a difference in the students' lives. We are not frivolous or carefree with the money we raise or the money we give as individuals. Many of us sponsor scholarships and fund labs and special studies. Robbins's second article about FIT, while citing financial facts (again), is inflammatory and seriously misleading. Contrary to the implication in the article, the fact is that in more than six years, the foundation provided $2 million in scholarship funds only once, and that was prior to our decision to increase college support to an unprecedented $5.83 million over five years. Every one of these dollars directly benefits students. Why would responsible individuals, who give time and money, shortchange the very students we are so interested in helping? Robbins is citing correct financial facts to write an incorrect story.

I can testify that the president's apartment was fairly run-down, not [as former FIT president Allan Hershfield was quoted as describing it] "fairly lavish." Your readers should know that the renovation was a responsible decision, made by responsible and caring individuals, who understand that this is a valuable investment for the future.

Mr. Robbins also is attempting to attract attention to state comptroller Carl McCall's gubernatorial candidacy [McCall is the husband of FIT president Joyce Brown]. As was mentioned in the article, I did co-chair a fundraiser for McCall that many friends attended. I am not aware of any FIT officials who attended this fundraising meeting.

John J. Pomerantz
The Leslie Fay Company
Manhattan

Tom Robbins replies: John Pomerantz has confused me with a novelist of the same name. I don't write fiction. Pomerantz acknowledges that FIT doled out $2 million in scholarships in 1999 and suggests that was some sort of anomaly. In fact, the school's scholarships grew continually in the 1990s until a decision was made to spend some of that money elsewhere, including on renovations and new furnishings for the penthouse occupied by FIT president Brown and her husband. As for the apartment's condition, I can only assume that garment industry titan Pomerantz has a different definition of "lavish" than most people.


LOCAL ZERO

I would like to thank Tom Robbins for his article "The Clean-Up Man" [April 24]. As a 20-year member of Local 295, I must say that the years celebrity lawyer Tom Puccio has been running the local have been terrible. In all the meetings I have been to, I have yet to see him attend any. I saw him once on TV with his client, the preppie rapist. That is the only time I have seen him.

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