Letters

DESPISE AND CONSENT

Nat Hentoff's article "Fierce Watchdog of the Constitution" [August 6-12] is very astute, as his writing usually is. His comments on Judge Napolitano bring to mind some writings by a German engineer, Albert Speer, who was convicted of using slave labor and imprisoned for 20 years. He said that Germany had not become the horror the Allies found all at once. It happened incrementally, over years. And it occurred with the consent of its citizens.

That is what is happening to the U.S.A. We are living in an Orwellian nightmare.

Jerry Greenberg
El Dorado, Arkansas


RIGHT ON

Nat Hentoff's excellent articles make clear how the Bush administration is attacking the Bill of Rights. It is far past time for civil libertarians of the left and right to unite while we still have a republic to protect. Left and right must both be prepared to defend liberties that the other thinks is important.

The constitutional issue of the anti-Bush right that the left must accept is the right to bear arms. Let us not argue what the founding fathers meant. They're dead. They got some things wrong. Bunches of them were slaveholders. In 2003, what is needed is for the left to agree that weapon ownership, like freedom of the press, is an individual right. The right must return the favor by ending their anti-gay and anti-abortion legislation.

George Phillies
Pioneer Valley Libertarian Association
Worcester, Massachusetts


OLD SCHOOL

Re Nat Hentoff's "Testing to Create Dropouts?" [September 17-23]:

I have the highest regard for Nat Hentoff. However, the pushout issue is likely more complicated than he's reporting. When I was in high school—a competitive suburban public school that sent scores of students to Ivy League colleges—there was a population of students who just didn't care about getting an education. They were inevitably the bullies, bigots, and layabouts who made high school tough for the rest of us.

The school system should be commended for instituting rigor on its students and forcing out the ones who don't care enough to study. I remember being disgusted that there were people who wouldn't even study hard enough just to pass classes in which I routinely made 90-plus grades. The school system is better off without those students, who will have no one but themselves to blame for the dismal lives they encounter as payment for their youthful attitudes.

Leave school to those who care enough to do the work.

Sean Dougherty
Clifton, New Jersey

Nat Hentoff replies: Far too many of the pushouts are students whose teachers and counselors didn't have the time or interest to focus on why these students were falling behind. To deny them an education is the worst form of educational malpractice. And who is held accountable?


PROPOSAL ACCEPTED

Richard Goldstein's "The Radical Case for Gay Marriage" [September 3-9] impressed me in the fullest sense. He has not only convinced me of my obligation to personal freedom by his intelligent and well-researched arguments, but he has enlightened me to the variety that already exists within the gay community today. I am completely in awe. Bravo!

Anna Tenkku
St. Louis, Missouri


LUMOS!

Re Tom Carson's "Hillary Potter and the Senate Chamber of Secrets" [September 10-16]:

Loved Tom Carson's Hillary Potter piece. Hooted for a whole minute over that "Defense Against the Dark Arts job" bit—however ineptly or sincerely it's taken on, that's certainly a Democratic president's job.

But I think I noticed a typo. Isn't He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Re-Elected's name actually Stoldevote?

David Schweitzer
Inwood


Great spoof on Potter! Better than the "original." (Why would anyone eat "Fox drivelbane," anyway? Just look what it did to Gretawitch and Sidearm RiverIdiot!)

D. Kelley
Green Bay, Wisconsin


Tom Carson's "Hillary Potter and the Senate Chamber of Secrets" was absolutely priceless. So hilarious and creative. Kudos to the author and The Village Voice.

Marsha Griffith
Greeneville, Tennessee


SENTIMENTAL HYGIENE

Thanks to Joshua Clover for his smart, amusing, moving Warren Zevon obit [September 10-16]. He got it right, and he got it better than anyone else I've read thus far. I'm sure Zevon will approve of the phrase "a professional with an amateur face devising his own rock of the westies." Ah well, can't make a pearl without a little grit, yeah?

Too bad, of course, that Zevon won't be around to pen the ultimate song-story about the adventures of the Austrian bodybuilder who becomes governor of California.

Joshua Mooney
Greenwich Village


I enjoyed Joshua Clover's article on Warren Zevon very much. There is, however, a significant factual error. Toward the end of the article, you suggest Zevon recorded his last three albums after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. This is incorrect. He was actually diagnosed just about this time last year, before work on The Wind began, and well after Life'll Kill Ya and My Ride's Here had been released.

Tyler Ragle
Los Angeles, California

Joshua Clover replies: I apologize for that imprecision regarding who knew what when. I meant to suggest that the last three records were joined by an incredibly moving, darkly witty focus on mortality, though they were not all responses to a singular fact.

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