By Anna Merlan
By Roy Edroso
By Carolyn Hughes
By Chuck Strouse
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Weinstein
By Tessa Stuart
Letter of the Week
Black to reality
Re Anya Kamenetz's "Black Out" [December 1, 2005, villagevoice.com]: I am a white person now living in Baton Rouge. I go back to New Orleans every week. I can't understand the mentality that a black city, run by black leaders, black police, black housing officials, black churches, and black everything else, would want to lock out black people. Come on. Let's get to the real point. The kooks on CNN speak for no one but their own delusional selves. Nothing was "blown up" and no one is being "locked out." The city's housing projects are abandoned not because no one wants black people in them. It's because they are more unlivable now than they were before the hurricane. The middle- and upper-class blacks in the city are, like their white counterparts, still displaced. They may come back, but like everyone else, they must determine if they can and will rebuild.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Re Corina Zappia's "WWRTD: Or, What Would Roger Toussaint Do?" [December 21, 2005, villagevoice .com] : To pillory Roger Toussaint is what most people would expect. Granted, his character and his nature make him hard to identify with. The simple notion that he hurt us New Yorkers is exactly what makes this story more complicated than a simpleton like Zappia is capable of comprehending. Toussaint did the right thing; he shut down the city, illustrating that even an 800-pound gorilla has weaknesses. Why shouldn't the government honor its pension obligations? Why should future workers expect anything less than those who preceded them?
I'm in agreement with Nat Hentoff on the question of eliminating torture ["McCain's Retreat," Liberty Beat, December 28, 2005January 3, 2006], but I think that in the McCain matter he is making the error of opposing the better and the best. McCain has made progress by forcing the matter out into the open and getting the administration to define torture (what is not in the manual) and ban it. Restricting our dealing with terrorists to the remedies afforded by the federal judiciary is wrong. A jihadi with identifiable terrorist connections can't be afforded the protection of the great writ of habeas corpus for two reasons: (1) because the needed action is about prevention rather than punishment and (2) because you can't afford to compromise intelligence sources. Balancing all this is tough, but in this battle McCain is one of the good guys.
New Orleans, Louisiana
I wonder why Hentoff is attacking McCain's non-torture amendment. I really think Hentoff should consider McCain's experience of being a tortured prisoner as qualification enough for his stand and not question his motives. On some things people have qualifications that make Hentoff's political second-guessing seem ridiculous.
I am an avid reader of The Village Voice and consider myself fairly easygoing. However, while reading Jessica Winter's "Sex and the Single Squaw" [Jump Cuts, December 2127, 2005] I was surprised and disturbed that the Voice would use such a title. By now, most Americans should be familiar with the idea that the word squaw is an insulting term. It's about time that the word stopped being used to refer to native women, regardless of how the Voice meant it. I realize the Voice needed a catchy title for its little article but it could have chosen something that required perhaps two minutes more of thought.
Why on earth did you use squaw in your film review headline? I'm real sick of the flip way journalists throw language around to be provocative. Native Americans don't refer to native women by that term, and in fact we're fighting to get squaw removed from place names throughout the country. Please offer a public apology/retraction and help us educate readers at the same time.
Re James Ridgeway's "Bush Impeachment Not Out of the Question" [Mondo Washington, December 21, 2005, villagevoice .com]:What is wrong with you people? There are people in this country, both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, who would like nothing more than to see this country taken over and our infrastructure broken. Get your heads out of the sand and quit talking about impeaching Bush and hamstringing our country. They can wiretap my phone anytimeI have nothing to be ashamed of. If you are trying to undermine our government or promote a terrorist attack, then you deserve to be caught and prosecuted. I don't care about the rights of terrorists; if they break the law, arrest them, give them a fair trial, and lock them up.
In Jessica Bennett's "Hunger Strike at the Gates of Guantánamo" [December 12, 2005, villagevoice.com], she writes: "Because Guantánamo detainees are classified as enemy combatants and not prisoners of war, they are exempt from rights provided under the Geneva Conventions." Why the use of the passive voice? It sounds as if their fate isn't connected to the dictates of Rumsfeld and company. Bennett should have said it is the U.S. that has classified them as "enemy combatants."
Why is Regina Loughran still employed by the Schools Investigation Unit ["Law and Disorder: Special Victims Unit," December 1420, 2005]if her boss thinks she has made critical decisions that resulted in students getting sexually assaulted by sick teachers and administrators? As a former employee of the Board of Education I am appalled. I worked at the Board of Education discipline unit for four years and I prosecuted a lot of these sexual predators. Even one student who becomes a victim to one of these sick people is one too many. Regina Loughran should be fired; clearly she does not care about the safety of our students.
Why choose a flack for the pornography industry like Rachel Kramer Bussel to write "What's Behind Rape Fantasies?" [Lusty Lady, December 713, 2005]? Bussel, who writes for that paragon of clarity on gender relations, Penthouse, and whose idea of an "expert" on rape is former Playboy centerfold and patriarchal tool Barbara Keesling ("Ph.D."), ignores 40 years of feminist scholarship on sex inequality to portray rape fantasies as wholesome and good. What do women want? To be raped. Why? 'Cause they want to! In the endless night of her banality, Bussel stumbles across this noxious tautological weed and feeds it Miracle-Gro. When libertarians reduce private fantasy to a question of "choice," they obscure the fraught relationship between the unconscious and structures of society. But who knows what we would fantasize about in a world where women were not at perpetual risk, i.e., the reality of being raped, beaten, cut up, ridiculed, discriminated against, and murdered by men?
For the most part, Greg Tate's tribute to Richard Pryor ["Richard Pryor, 19402005," December 1420, 2005] was warm and fitting. The trick to enjoying it was getting through the first paragraph. Perhaps Tate can explain how he assumes, simply because Pryor couldn't "jump around" anymore, that he "really was ready to die." Obviously Tate could have asked him at the time, or he can still ask his family. Up until his death Pryor still had many plans for his life, including a second autobiography.
While I can clearly see that J. Hoberman is an accomplished critic, he is stuck on his own obsession with jargon. His review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ["Trapped in the Closet," December 713, 2005] came across as though he were attempting to be very cynical. No one cares if he feels The Passion of the Christ was a "Jew-baiting sadomasochist extravaganza." Likewise, I don't think there is any Bush conspiracy behind the message of the movie. I think it would be wise to instruct Hoberman to either tone down his rhetoric or consider a new position, perhaps as a political pundit at CNN. But for those of us who enjoy coming to The Village Voice for good movie reviews, I believe he has missed the point. Review the movie, not the political landscape surrounding the movie.