Letters

LETTER OF THE WEEK

Addicted to 'Law'

I read with delight Mollie Wilson's Law & Order essay ["The Passion of the Hargitay," April 13-20]. It was funny to the point I laughed out loud because I saw myself in the article. My mother got me hooked onthe show. Whenever I used to call her, she would always say she was watching Law & Order. I couldn't believe it came on at least three times a day. Little did I know I would soon become a big fan.

I am not an avid reader of the Voice but a co-worker who knows that I'm an L&O (the "original flavor") diehard gave me the article. I'm glad he did.

By the way, was it B.D. Wong you saw on the bus? If I lived in New York, I'd probably spend all my free time trying to catch glimpses of the cast members.

Wanda Putney
Washington, D.C.


Counter-fit

I am surprised and dismayed that you would publish "Louis, Louis: An Informed Guide to the Fakes of Canal Street" [Elements of Style, April 7-13]by Lynn Yaeger. This article is essentially a road map for aiding and abetting criminal activity.

Surely you wouldn't direct your readers to vendors selling stolen property or illegally selling fake medicines, software applications, or auto parts at a fraction of the cost of the genuine product. Why make an exception for handbags and other fashion items?

Despite what some might like to believe, counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. Counterfeiters deprive local governments of billions of dollars in tax revenues annually and exploit child labor under horrific conditions. Proceeds from the sale of counterfeits—be they in the pharma-ceutical, computer, automotive, fashion, or other industries—finance a wide range of illegal activities, including organized crime and drug trafficking.

At Louis Vuitton, we are working closely with the appropriate authorities—including the NYPD and the Department of Homeland Security—to fight counterfeiting. In fact, Louis Vuitton has taken legal action against counterfeiters at every Canal Street address mentioned in the article as well as other facilitators of this crime, including landlords.

Instead of shamelessly promoting counterfeiting, a blatantly illegal activity, you should inform your readers about the harmful effects of this crime and what's being done to stamp it out.

Jean-Marc Gallot
CEO, Louis Vuitton
North America
Midtown


Slap-unhappy

As a retired chief warrant officer five from the United States Army with 35 years' active duty, I took great offense to Kareem Fahim's "No More Neutral in Iraq" [April 14-20]. To suggest or even hint that American forces would intentionally kill a civilian journalist is absurd. That type of conduct is not policy, nor is it condoned. Any soldier who intentionally killed a civilian would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Military justice is swift, but it is justice in its truest form. I have never seen a soldier protected from justice. To hint that soldiers killed a civilian on purpose is a slap in the face to all soldiers past and present.

Leslie Rayburn
Az Zubayr, Iraq

Kareem Fahim replies: Many in the human rights community have pointed out that U.S. forces took extraordinary care not to target civilians during the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, an observation that should have been included in my article. But as we know, civilians have been harmed, some of them by American soldiers. And absent public investigations into these incidents, it remains difficult to characterize them. The point is not that Tarek Ayoub's killers have gone unpunished, but rather that his death, allegedly caused by the U.S. bombing of Al Jazeera's offices over a year ago, has not been investigated; or if it has, the findings have not been made public. More information on Ayoub's case can be found on the website of the Committee to Protect Journalists (cpj.org).


Bucket brigade

I've just read Toni Schlesinger's Shelter article "Sleepy Hollow" [April 21-27], about my apartment in Williamsburg. I liked the picture, but I would like to correct one thing. I appreciate that you mentioned me and I was so happy because of it, but we have a regular flushing system in Slovakia, and we use it all the time. We use buckets of water only in emergencies like the exact situation that Anthony was talking about. If we need to use the toilet and the water doesn't run, we can help it!

I am sending warm hallo to New York, Village Voice, Lauren, Anthony, Shannon—I miss you guys.

Angela Moznerova
Kosice, Slovakia


Choose or snooze

Re Joy Press's "Rage Inside the Machine" [April 14-20]:

Gideon Yago, savvy political insider? Give me a break.

Questions to John Kerry like "Are you cool?" are hardly the stuff that enlightens America's youth to the important history-making events of our day. I sat there wondering if he would try to get Kerry to chime in on the 50 Cent versus Puff Daddy debate. "So what kind of music are you into?" was another important question from Yago. Is crap like this all that MTV is using to inform America's youth of the political landscape this election year?

Doug Smith
Kansas City, Missouri


Rethinking Lincoln

I rarely disagree with Nat Hentoff's columns. However, in "The Hidden Supreme Court" [Liberty Beat, April 21-27], he asserts: "It was George W. Bush, without going to the courts or to Congress, who, by himself, decided that Hamdi and Padilla, though American citizens, were entitled to none of the fundamental due process rights in the Constitution. No previous president has done this."

This is patently false—President Lincoln, without going through Congress, suspended habeas corpus in 1861 by proclamation, and arrested many (scores of?) Americans, imprisoning them for years in some cases. In 1863, Congress actually got around to passing legislation that gave Lincoln the authority to do such (for legally, only Congress, not the executive, can suspend habeas corpus). Effectively, what Mr. Bush has done is to suspend habeas corpus—he just hasn't stated it in such a manner.

I don't know the details of the history, but surely the imprisonment of numerous citizens of Japanese descent by FDR in World War II is another example. However, perhaps Congress gave him authority to do so. But there's no question that Lincoln was just as "bad" (actually, many times worse, on this particular issue) as King George II, and it is perhaps not coincidental that both were Republicans.

Allen Cogbill
Los Alamos, New Mexico

Nat Hentoff replies: As I've written before, in 1866 the Supreme Court ruled that what Lincoln had done was unconstitutional—not only his suspension of habeas corpus but putting hundreds of dissenters into military tribunals while the civilian courts were still open. But Bush did worse. He deliberately violated the 1971 Non-Detention Act, which states that "no citizen shall be detained by the United States except pursuant to an act of Congress." As for Franklin Delano Roosevelt putting Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II, the Supreme Court—to its later shame—approved what FDR had done. Roosevelt was a Democrat.


Pass the Dutch

Re John Giuffo's "I'll Take (Dutch) Manhattan" [Education Supplement, April 14-20]:

I've been amazed at the free pass being given to Russell Shorto's assertion in The Island at the Center of the World that New Netherland was a paradise of tolerance and diversity. How could Giuffo fail to acknowledge that the slavery of Africans, the ethnic cleansing of Indians, the persecution of Jews, and the execution of homosexuals were not only legal but popular? And New Amsterdam's mandatory laws for observance of the Sabbath, crimi- nalization of maypoles and the bawdy singing that went along with them, and the obsessive regulation of public and private sale and consumption of alcohol make Giuliani look like the Pope of Dope.

The key here is the word tolerance, which shouldn't be taken as a synonym for freedom. The former is something offered by authorities, the latter claimed as a self-evident, universal right. The Dutch knew the difference, then and now.

I cover much of this in my book The Wishing Tree: A History of Harlem, forthcoming from Grove/Atlantic.

Jonathan Gill
Department of English and Comparative Literature Columbia University
Morningside Heights


B/d wrong

Re R.C. Baker's review of the Loser's Lounge tribute to Jesus on April 11, 2004 ["W.W.J. Redo?" The Sound of the City, April 14-20]:

The name is Jedediah. With a d, not a b. "Jedediah" is an Americanization of "Jedidiah," which appears in Samuel 12:25 meaning "beloved of Jehovah." "Jebediah" comes from The Simpsons. No-where else. It is certainly not in any Bible.

Jeb Bush's name is John Ellis Bush. Solomon was called Jedidiah. With a d.

Having said all that, thanks for the nice review. And thank you for spelling my last name correctly, which is often misspelled "Parrish" like "Maxfield."

Jedediah Parish
Boston, Massachusetts


Corrections

n Jason McBride's "The Kindest Cut" (April 21-27), Clear Cut Press's phone number was given incorrectly. It is 503-338-4421.

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