Official reaction to our Official Guide
Roy Edroso's 'A Confederacy of Dunces' [April 16–23] was pretty funny—juvenile, but funny. I love reading critiques from people who have no idea what they're writing about. He really needs to get out more.
Thanks for the 'Official Village Voice Election-Season Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere.' For years, dinner-table conversation at our house has included speculation about right-wing pundits. We've always phrased it as "idiot or liar," but your "evil/stupid ratio" takes that thought a step further. For the record, the answer to "idiot or liar" has most often been: both. What are they using to spike their Kool-Aid?
Your attempt to portray James Lileks as a froth-speckled, paranoid wingnut is bizarre, to say the least. Lileks.com is not a political site (like the others mentioned in your article) but a humor site, and I suspect that most people arrive at Lileks.com not through The Bleat, but via the section called The Institute of Official Cheer, which is really the mainstay of the site. James Lileks is, first and foremost, a humorist in the tradition of other intelligent, rather self-mocking writers such as Robert Benchley and James Thurber. The fact that he calls the blog portion of his site The Bleat (and not, say, The Truth) should have given you a better idea of exactly how seriously he takes himself. To classify him as an extremist right-wing headcase by pulling a handful of quotes out of context is just mean-spirited (and sloppy reporting). One could easily pull a handful of choice Voice quotes out of context and make the paper appear to be, well, anything from neoconservative to Screw magazine. It's all about the angle, kids.
The Hubbard is bare
My sincerest thanks to Tony Ortega and The Village Voice for their courage in writing the Jason Beghe story, 'Scientology's First Celebrity Defector Reveals Church Secrets' [villagevoice.com, April 15]. There is a large group of ex-Scientologists who have been aware for a very long time of the many crimes and evils of the Church of Scientology. We do admit that we have been afraid to speak out for fear of the Church of Scientology's fierce retribution tactics. I can confirm Jason Beghe's claim that all auditing sessions that were described to parishioners as "confidential confessionals" were indeed recorded, either on film or, before that, in writing. I personally was an auditor and had to deliver my written records of everything the "pre-clear" said to the Guardian's Office, the predecessor to the Office of Special Affairs, which read them and copied any statements that could be used to embarrass, humiliate, or legally threaten the person. I could go on for days about the crimes that I saw committed, but will simply thank you again for your article. Could it be that Jason Beghe's disclosures will spell the beginning of the end for this absolutely evil organization? We all hope so.
A better slush fund
Re Tom Robbins's 'Living the Political Life Fantastic' [April 9–15]: Just read your piece on the abuse of campaign funds, featuring Carl Kruger. This reminded me of an event a couple of years ago: I was a supporter of Jonathan Tasini when he challenged Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary [during the 2006 U.S. Senate campaign]. Since Mrs. Clinton was able to prevent Mr. Tasini from debating her, the primary was a cakewalk for her—Tasini got about 17 percent of the vote. Yet she raised huge amounts of money during this period. (Her Republican opponent, predictably, did little better than Tasini.) Everyone knew she didn't need these huge piles of money for that campaign. And we knew it was to advance her position for the presidential race. There oughta be a law—one that says every candidate who has a surplus at the end of a campaign should be required to donate it to the government (to build or repair infrastructure). That way, your Senator Kruger and my Senator Clinton (not to mention thousands of others) would be prevented from amassing enormous amounts of money that they can use for anything.
Flawed but compelling
As a loyal reader for years, I have to say congrats to Mr. Ortega for stepping up the editorial content—compared to the sludge it used to be with your predecessor. However, can we please get some more relevant, ground-breaking journalism in Runnin' Scared? To have a scant two or three uninteresting stories in there is disheartening for a section with so much potential. Let's try to keep the editorial better than your increasingly unimaginative, lame, and New Times–esque bullshit covers, 'cause it's the only reason we keep picking it up.
Not just fighting deportation
Re Maria Luisa Tucker's 'The Long Goodbye' [April 9–15]: Your article on my friends, the Montrevil family, who are fighting the deportation of Jean, explored an issue (deportation) and a world (detention) that few know about. For touching on unfamiliar terrain in a short space, I applaud you, but key omissions and editorializing struck me as poor journalism.
The Montrevil parents were objectified. The reader had no sense that they are activists who have been working to help families in the same situation for years. In Families for Freedom (where the wife serves as a board member), they began helping organize field trips for youths devastated by the deportation of family members; lobbying congressional offices; doing know-your-rights presentations to educate targeted immigrants; and giving lectures to sensitize middle-class audiences. They have received vital support from many groups, not just the New Sanctuary Movement committee. The Montrevils have worked tirelessly to educate faith leaders, and they say this work is sometimes a full-time job. I think that the focus of the article on government policy and the question of criminal records led to scrutinizing Jean in an unbalanced way.
Finally, life exile is a punishment second only to death. Even if someone has been convicted of a crime, do you really think that being rubber-stamped out of America is not cruel and unusual? Thanks for covering these urgent issues. I look forward to future articles on deportation—America's cruelest civil proceeding.
Board member, Families for Freedom
Instructor, New York University
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