We just continue to allow white America to define us as anti-intellectual, gangsta-playas, niggas, bitches and 'hos. And any black who dares to protest this assessment of us, and our internalization of this definition, is considered a sellout.

David Boone
Jamaica, Queens

Agent Provocateur

Re Paul Collins's "This Genteel Racket" [The Essay, July 7-13]:

Collins's words are damaging. There is a clear distinction in the publishing world between legitimate agents and those who practice illegally, but he purposely blurs the line for the sake of sneakiness. The historical bits were interesting; too bad the article fell apart in matters of clarity.

Douglas Topper
Los Angeles, California

Paul Collins replies: My point is that intellectual-property laws made agents vital mediators between author and publisher, while the sheer volume of unsolicited submissions has also made them the prime movers in the shaping and selection of our literature. This role has been largely relinquished to them by publishers. This is not a criticism, but a fact.

Publishing is a subjective industry pursuing objective profits, generating an inevitable mass of what-if rejections. This is neither particularly blameworthy nor avoidable. But it makes Deering and other fee-based cons all the more appalling, as they use this ambiguity to prey upon the rejected. If you think I conflated her with legitimate agents, then I can only conclude that—like Deering herself—you didn't bother to read what was in front of you.

Principle Spinner

Chisun Lee's "Bashing Back at Bush's Anti-Gay Crusade" [villagevoice.com, July 13] refers to people who oppose gay marriage as being unprincipled. Why is one unprincipled for having that opinion? Is one unprincipled for having an opinion that differs from Lee's beliefs? Am I unprincipled because I oppose the position of NAMBLA regarding adult males having sex with children? Whatever happened to discourse that allows discussion and differences of opinion? Maybe political correctness now censors all opinions and even facts that are not in accord with the liberal agenda.

Personally I don't object to gays getting married. But I understand why others differ from me, and do not denigrate them for not having the same beliefs that I have.

Edward Parker
Spokane, Washington

More to Fear

Re James Ridgeway's " 'Terror' on Election Day!" [villagevoice.com, July 16]:

Ridgeway's preemptive-conspiracy theory ignores a much more likely scenario: an actual terrorist attack this November. Considering Al Qaeda has already succeeded with this tactic in Spain, it is reasonable to believe that they might try the same thing in the United States. It is unfortunate that Ridgeway can only wring his hands about potential dirty tricks while there is a legitimate threat to this nation. This attitude mimics the 1990s belief that terrorism is insignificant and only its manipulation matters, an outlook which led us to ignore bin Laden for far too long. We have more to fear than fear itself; instead we should worry about another Al Qaeda offensive, and the possibility that it might bring us four more years of Bush's misrule.

Jon Grinspan
Ardmore, Pennsylvania


Solana Pyne's "One Sick Fall" [July 14-20] misspelled the name of a trade journal website. The correct spelling is benefitnews.com.

In his On column [July 21-27], John Powers wrote that Texas senator John Cornyn compared same-sex marriage to a person marrying a box turtle. The text was included in a speech his staff prepared, but the senator skipped that part in his live comments.

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