By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
LETTER OF THE WEEK
Blessed are the stoned
Re Jamie Pietras's "It's Just a Book" [February 28, villagevoice.com]: With all the protests against Ricardo Cortes's book It's Just a Plant, it is important for cannabis users to know where they stand on the issue in biblical terms. It is biblically correct to re-legalize cannabis, or kaneh bosm (the Hebrew origin of the word, used in Bibles before the King James version). It is no accident that the Bible indicates God created all the seed-bearing plants and said they were all good on literally the very first page of Genesis (1:11-12 and 29-30). The only biblical restriction placed on cannabis is that we use it with thanksgiving: See 1 Timothy 4:1-5, where it even describes who will promote its prohibitionthose who have fallen away from the faith. Many people would also like clergy to speak up on this issue since Jesus Christ risked going to jail in order to heal the sick.
In response to Jarrett Murphy's "Thug Radio" [March 9-15], I wanted to say that you can't blame corporationsit's the youth that listen to this music who don't have enough sense to not be excited and instigated by these interviews. And the only way that the youth can be "fixed" is to be educated through our schools, which is a government-related issue. Of course corporations are out to make money; that is how a free society operates. However, we need to put more pressure on the government to improve schooling, so students have more sense and are not obsessed with rappers and trying to be like "thugs."
Finance Manager, BMG Direct
Amazed and confused
Re "Thug Radio":
Gangsta rap is part of an unfortunate culture of violence, nihilism, and greeda synergy between angry young thugs and music businesses that generates very little good in this world. I'm often amazed at how so many reasonable people give artists like 50 Cent a free pass. Are people surprised that artists live the thug lifestyle they glorify in their music? Is the staff at Hot 97 surprised that the garbage they promote on their airwaves has led to a shooting near their front door?
Is anyone listening?
Beefs: It's what's for dinner
When I saw the headline of Jarrett Murphy's article, I thought it would be about right-wing radio hosts like Limbaugh and O'Reilly. The parallel is relevant, and overlooked, between "beefs" among young black men and the constant hate-mongering elsewhere on the airwaves. Murphy is right: Violence sells. But, hey, the real thugs are in the government. Right-wing radio is the mouthpiece, just like it was in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. Our leaders send men like 50 Cent to die in their bogus war in Iraq. (At least 50 can afford a bulletproof vest.) The corporate media rake in more bucks and perpetuate the image of young black men that whites love to hate, distracting us from the corporatocrats' own thuggishness and the violence of Limbaugh, Bush, et al. It's all about how to exploit the hip-hop moneymakers, how to turn the genuinely radical messages they have to offer into a bestselling product, while at the same time wringing out any effectiveness it has to challenge white power. It's a complex game, all right, and the white corporate dominators have been playing it for ages. It's called Block Every Avenue That Might Take African Americans Out of Their Place.
Carolyn Steinhoff Smith
I just wanted to say, in response to Jamie Pietras's question, "But can a six-year-old differentiate how something could be against the law yet morally justifiable?" ["It's Just a Book," February 28, villagevoice.com], that absolutely one can. I grew up in a dry county in Alabama; my father worked outside the county and would sometimes bring home a little beer, or bourbon, or gin (all of which I was allowed to have in small amounts when I was even younger than six). I don't remember what my parents said to me about it, but I understood from the time I was a small child that just because something is against the law doesn't mean it's bad or immoral, that the relevant question is, does it hurt anyone else? and if not then it is no one's business and it's a stupid law. As a result, I had no qualms about trying pot (and a number of other things) when I was older, and if I had had children I would have taught them to ignore stupid laws, that the government doesn't have the right to control our private lives.
Linda W. Hegenbarth
San Francisco, California
Weeding out the poor kids
Furor over a children's book advocating weed, but not over the recent U.N. report that stated America has one of the highest rates of relative child poverty in the world?
Congress should be happy, I suppose. If you're poor, you can't afford drugs.
Re Rachel Kramer Bussel's "Casual-Sex Myths" [Lusty Lady, March 16-22]: As an 18-year-old female, I've been lucky enough to already discover the obvious pleasures that go along with sex (thanks to a serious relationship), and my openness on the topic has on occasion made people uneasy. I passed the article along to many friends, and they all enjoyed it. Rachel's words are true. Too many people are ashamed of what they do and with whom they do it. This article proves that it's OK to enjoy sexas simple as that. I love reading the Pucker Up and Lusty Lady columns. I find them not only interesting but empowering.
The Axe effect
David Axe's article on Tennessee's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment ["The Dread Zone," February 23-March 1] attempts to make the case that we inhabit a section of Iraq ready to erupt into civil war or border conflict with Iran. Instead, it is a diatribe aimed at the military and, surprisingly, Iraqis themselves, with gratuitous insults thrown at white Southerners because, well, that's acceptable to the otherwise politically correct types who read The Village Voice.
Axe's description of Iraqis in Diyala aims at fairness by insulting everyone: "Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds, plus a dash of Turkomans . . . eke out their living making bricks, farming mud, and bootlegging gasoline." I'm not sure how you farm mud but I do know that the Voice wouldn't refer to domestic minorities as a bunch of thieves. The author flashes his lefty snark card with "They're a grab bag of old-school National Guard typeswhite, male, middle-aged, and Southern," ignoring the women, blacks, Hispanics, and Wisconsin National Guardsmen who also make up the 278th. The piece concludes with this bit of melodrama: "In the heady days following Iraq's first multi-party elections in nearly 50 years . . . the American press's attention turned to Iran and its nuclear ambitionsas if to say, 'We're done with Iraq. Who's next?' " Lebanon, David. Don't forget Libya either. A little bit of freedom, liberty, and human rights goes a long, long way.
Lieutenant Lance Frizzell
Diyala Province, Iraq
I think this article is uncalled for. Maybe David Axe likes to belittle people. I have a brother-in-law and his son in the 278th. They joined the guards for homeland security. Bush is the one that sent them over there. How dare you throw off on them. At least they left their families and went. Why don't you join and start fighting instead of throwing off on the ones over there?
The wrong notes
It would be refreshing if someoneanyonecould relate to me what this woman has accomplished in the Bush administration? Most of us know she's a close bud of the prez and can play the piano really good. Other than that she has delivered a zero performance in all of her roles. If Jeb doesn't work out, having her run for president sounds like something the Bush clique would back.
Jarrett Murphy's article "Thug Radio" (March 9-15, 2005) said Hot 97's owner, Emmis Communications, pegged the station's market revenue at $808.2 million. That figure refers to the overall New York City radio market, not just Hot 97. The company says that its three New York stationsHot 97, CD 101.9, and 98.7 KISS FMcontrol 14 percent of that market, totaling about $113 million.
The photograph on the cover of last week's issue should have been credited to Nicholas Burham.