Letters

Yes, we still can write fuck in the Voice. We can only hope someone will defend this newspaper if it's decided one day that shouldn't be allowed anymore.

Eric Deutsch
Astoria


Hooked on phonics

Re "Lam Excuses" by Yael Goldenberg [Letters, April 21-27]:

What are "Phonics Fascists"? People who won't brook opposing opinion, such as those who would dismiss someone as a phonics fascist instead of engaging in debate? Why does the left hate phonics? Thirty years of research have shown that some students can learn to read in the absence of phonics and some cannot. Of those who cannot, children from middle- and upper-class families learn to read by getting supplementary reading education at home (phonics); children from lower-income families do not. Once again, the left is hurting most the people it claims to represent and simply indulging its own ideological fantasies.

Gary S. Popkin
Former member, Community School Board 15
Park Slope


The love down under

Thanks for Cristina Verán's article "Rap, Rage, REDvolution" [April 21-27].

I work for a bilingual (Maori and English) youth music show on mainstream television. I was of two minds about OutKast's "Hey Ya!" Grammy performance until I read other indigenous people's responses in Verán's article. When I brought them to my producer's attention, he thought that I was overreacting, and said the kids love Out- Kast. But I see our responsibility to the public as extending beyond keeping booty-shaking videos and performances that offend indigenous peoples off our program. In short, I applaud Verán's story. It was informative and well balanced.

Teremoana Rapley
Piha, New Zealand


Wild wild west

Re "Rap, Rage, REDvolution":

What about the long history of Native American/African American affiliations and musical borrowings? P-Funk? Wild West circus acts in the 1800s?

OutKast are not operating in a vacuum here, and the musicians are likely Native American in some of their ancestry, as many African Americans are. Could your author have looked at performance precedents for African/Native American slippage and convergence, rather than only focusing on the outrage that Native American rappers have over the OutKast performance?

Thomas Defrantz
Upper West Side


Calling John Ford

Re "Rap, Rage, REDvolution":

Though some points in this article were enlightening, the overall argument is disappointing. First off, no matter how distasteful OutKast's performance was, they owe absolutely no apology to anyone. They are artists expressing themselves as they see fit. They are not activists, spokesmen, or elected officials. I also found Litefoot's argument that more people reacted in disgust to Sinéad O'Connor than to OutKast very narrow. No one should have censored O'Connor—nor should they censor OutKast.

OutKast are acting the way I did when I watched cowboy and Indian movies as a kid. Are they naive and ignorant of Native American culture? Yes. Are they mindless bigots? Absolutely not!

Sidney Burnley
San Antonio, Texas

Cristina Verán replies: Nothing in my article advocates censorship. Far from advocating limitations on the free-speech rights of others, I hope readers will consider that free speech, as a concept, means little if this country's indigenous peoples remain categorically excluded from access to the means by which Americans routinely exercise that right. For young people in the U.S. and abroad, hip-hop is one preferred means. The idea that it's somehow all right for others to dress up like Indians, to represent and speak about Indians in a manner Indians find patently offensive—while Indian artists are routinely denied opportunities to speak for themselves—shows me that it is in fact Native voices that are most "censored" in mainstream media and entertainment.

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