Fighting Feminists

Norah Vincent's latest Higher Ed column ["Spread 'Em," May 2] was the last straw. After the heroic struggles of young women to have access to abortions in college—something they likely do not have access to in their hometowns—for Vincent to define the hard work and consciousness-raising of pro-choice activists as ideological brainwashing is nauseating.

Many of my SUNY Purchase students who have children are the most vocal in their support of accessible, affordable abortion not because they've been influenced by the evil feminist thought police, but because they do not want other women to have to struggle to raise a child, work at least one job, and go to school.

I don't doubt that on some—but hardly all—campuses, an anti-abortion stance is pretty unpopular. If women feel silenced, that's a serious problem. But Vincent has some nerve to blame pregnant women's being a "particularly vulnerable minority" on feminists. Campus feminists agitate for abortion services and child care facilities, accessible contraception and woman-centered obstetrics. Vincent's mean-spiritedness was, up to now, a laughable irritant. Now it's closer to a destructive lie.

Sarah E. Chinn

Shame on Norah Vincent for using incomplete statistics. In her May 2 column, she states: "According to statistics provided to FFL [Feminists for Life] by a health care center and a nearby pregnancy care center at one university in the Northeast, in just one year, from a total pool of 3000 women students, 600 had pregnancy tests. Three hundred came back positive. Only six women had babies."

Is this supposed to imply that the other 294 (98 percent) had abortions? Did the health center and pregnancy care center have that information? What about the women who continued their pregnancies and received health care from other facilities?

While I support the right of those women to choose abortion, the statistics are unclear, and not in line with previous studies done on abortion rates by the Alan Guttmacher Institute.

Shannon M. Criniti

As co-editor of the book Prolife Feminism, Yesterday and Today, I would like to compliment you for publishing Norah Vincent's article on pregnancy discrimination on campus. I am one of those relatively rare pro-life academics in women's studies, and from my experience at the University of Colorado, I can attest to the types of prejudice and discrimination she describes. I would like to emphasize that while all teachers and counselors have an ideological agenda that they push with more or less respect for the other's subjectivity, there are some counselors who strongly suggest abortion, or assume that it is the only option, only because they see no viable alternatives.

If a pregnancy will seriously impair a woman's education or career, the counselor no doubt feels that she is acting in the young woman's best interests, even though this lack of vision reinforces the gender discrimination that has limited women's options in the first place. Pro-choicers and pro-lifers who want to help women and children need to help change the sociological factors that lead to unplanned pregnancies and make childbearing a liability instead of a creative power to be celebrated.

Linda Naranjo-Huebl
Aurora, Colorado

A hearty thanks to Norah Vincent for calling out universities on their policies (or lack thereof) toward pregnant students. Being a liberal yet unwaveringly pro-life student at NYU (yes—such people exist!), I can hardly imagine the treatment that a pregnant student would receive here, and I can't bear to imagine the number of tiny lives that have been squelched as a result.

Why are students so unprepared to deal with the consequences of their actions? Perhaps it's because so many are affluent, self-centered, and, as Miss Vincent suggests, influenced by a conveniently hardened and cost-efficient staff.

Lauren Alzos

The Edge

In "If a Cop Kills My Son, I Will Kill the Cop" [April 11], Peter Noel writes: "Maybe I had gone over the edge." Judging by his comments in your paper, I'd say he's right. Mr. Noel's "eye for an eye" justification for vigilante justice in New York is worse than reckless. White police officers are not hunting to kill black people in this city. Saying it will not make it so.

Ed Jacobs

Like it is

Peter Noel's article "If a Cop Kills My Son, I Will Kill the Cop" was brilliant, moving, and most of all, bold. In cutting through the bullshit that's been posing as debate in papers like The New York Times, it offered the rare opportunity to reflect on the issue of police brutality from a viewpoint that has so far remained inexcusably unexplored in the press: that of the nonwhite New Yorker who fears that his son will be the next target.  

Christopher Zimmerman
Farmington, Pennsylvania

Public Enemy

I am an African American female who is ferociously upset over the recent rash of killings and executions of African American males by police. However, I am incensed at Peter Noel's rhetoric in the article "If a Cop Kills My Son, I Will Kill the Cop." Although I believe we should exercise "whatever means necessary" to deal with the situation, I find the attitude in Mr. Noel's article self-serving and sensational.

My question to Mr. Noel, and to others who are in agreement with him, is where is the same passion, finality, and self-righteous indignation when it comes to the thugs, pimps, and drug dealers who are ripping the very souls out of our black children? There are whole neighborhoods being held hostage by thugs.

Although I understand that headlines like "If a Cop Kills My Son, I Will Kill the Cop" get more attention, the enemy is whoever is taking the lives of our young people.

Debra Wilson-Brown
Paterson, New Jersey

Global Warning

Thank you for publishing Cynthia Cotts's Press Clips column titled "The Boston T-1 Party" [May 2]. It is heartening to see a paper print the truth about the rights-grabbing attempts by the Boston Globe. Sadly, the Globe is not alone in its efforts to strong-arm freelancers.

I am a monthly columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune, which for years has been posting freelancers' articles on its Web sites—without paying writers who own copyrights.

Since the decision in Tasini v. The New York Times, supporting freelancers' rights, the Union-Tribune demands that freelancers sign contracts giving the newspaper rights to republish our works without payment. Writers have been told that if they do not sign, they will no longer be able to write for the newspaper. Many magazines now also demand outrageous rights.

Freelancers depend on resales to make a living. Without the ability to resell, many talented people will be forced to leave this business. Greedy publishers will wind up with material written by inexperienced contributers—the only ones who are likely to sign such onerous contracts. Readers who deplore this exploitation should urge publishers to fairly compensate freelance writers and photographers for each and every usage of their work.

Miriam Raftery
La Mesa, California

Bleak Houses

Hurrah for Cynthia Cotts's column about the Boston Globe. Those of us trying to make our livings as freelancers know that the Globe contract is not unusual; it's part of a nationwide squeeze being put on freelance writers. I have turned down similar contracts with The Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and many other newspapers requiring freelancers to work under similar egregious terms. This is a bleak time for freelance writers.

Sophia Dembling
Dallas, Texas

Law of the Land

In Jeff Howe's May 9 article, "Down By Law," he ignores the fact that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is the law of the land and not just some pesky annoyance for hackers. Attorney Martin Garbus defends the open-source community, his (in Howe's words) "corps of overworked, denigrated protectors of civil liberties," but evidently cares nothing for the creators and copyright holders of the works in question.

At least Hollywood and the major record labels have deep pockets and can fight threats to copyright protection. Independent artists, on the other hand, are usually both creator and copyright holder, and have few resources. My group, the Society of Independent Musical Artists (www.simanet.org), is endeavoring to protect the rights of independent musical artists. As bandwidth increases, independent filmmakers will find themselves facing similar circumstances.

Whether DeCSS is technically an inappropriate target for Hollywood's legal attacks is not relevant to the issue of intellectual property. The utter absence of consideration for artists' rights in Howe's article is a deep shame.

Jon Sobel

Alpha Beta

Near the end of Jeff Howe's article, he mentions the 1984 case involving Betamax. Sony was the defendant in this case, and as Howe notes, its video format survived. Now Sony is part of the Motion Picture Association of America, fighting to destroy the fair use that allowed it to sell VCRs so many years ago.

Ironic or what?

Iain Colledge
London, England

Maxed Out

I am writing to clarify several points in Sharon Lerner's April 25 Body Politics column entitled "Managing Maximus." Maximus has a contract with the State of New York to provide outreach, education, and enrollment counseling services to New York City's Medicaid population in order to help move this population into managed care programs. We implement the policies determined by the state and city.  

Although by contract Maximus must provide educational material in two languages, we offer material in five languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Haitian Creole.

Maximus has call center counselors who speak nine languages, with 140 additional languages available through a language-line service. By contract, we are evaluated on seven quantitative measures. Enrollment is not a measure; choice is, i.e., the extent to which an informed Medicaid recipient voluntarily chooses a managed care plan in which to participate. Maximus has achieved a voluntary choice rate of 81 percent compared to a contract requirement of 60 percent.

Maximus is not responsible for granting language exemptions to Medicaid recipients wishing to opt out of managed care; the city is, and such requests are forwarded to the city for disposition. By contract, Maximus utilizes the provider lists developed by the city to identify physicians with special language skills.

Maximus has exceeded every measure of success in our efforts in New York City. We are proud of what we are doing in New York, as well as in California, Texas, New Jersey, Michigan, and Massachusetts, to improve understanding and access to health care.

Rachael A. Rowland
Director of Public Relations
Maximus Inc.
McLean, Virginia


Re Robert Christgau's column on rappers Del and Common ["Rising to the Top," April 18]: Producer Domino of the Hieroglyphics crew and the Domino who recorded "Sweet Potato Pie" for Def Jam are distinct and separate Dominos.

Sasha Frere-Jones

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