Letter of the Week
The right to remain silent
I am baffled by your decision to publish the names of every single person arrested during the protests ["The Honor Roll," September 814]. The disembodied names carry very little news interest to the vast majority of readers, and if the arrestees want to prove to anyone that they enjoyed the "honor" of being arrested, it shouldn't be too hard: Arrests generate plenty of paperwork. On the other hand, if arrestees had any reason to keep their arrest secret (for instance, they called in sick from work in order to protest or are applying to a job where it might hurt their chances), you just made their task a good deal more difficult. Whether people choose to publicize their arrest should be their decision, not the Voice's.
Sarah Ferguson's story on the detentions on Pier 57 ["Guantánamo on the Hudson," villagevoice.com, September 2] reported that 40 people were held in the 10-by-20-foot chain-link-fenced pens, a situation that would have been atrocious enough were it not for the fact that the pens actually held an average of 80 people or more through most of Tuesday night.
After being transferred to my third pen, and seeing no place to sit and no space to walk for some blood circulation, I did a head count. There were 85 crammed in there. Prisoners from the other cells reported the same. The double-locked cages containing the portable toilets had been opened to create another five-by-15-foot space, but at the expense of blocking access to the toilets. People in a state of collapse were curled around the bases of the tanks.
There was no running water on the pier, no soap, and no paper towels for washing hands. The toxic filth from the floor just entered our bodies wrapped around what little rations came our way.
As the last of us were being removed to Central Booking by mid Wednesday, carpeting was being rolled out over the vile floors, in advance, we were told, of an inspection.
A thorough independent investigation needs to be conducted, not only of the conditions at Pier 57 but of Ray Kelly and Michael Bloomberg for their role in the planning and their callous remarks during later questioning. The police have thousands of photos and miles of videotape of the detention process.
Maybe Amnesty International or the United Nations should take charge.
New Paltz, New York
Why did Sarah Goodyear, in "The Women Who Stand for Dubya: It's So Nice to Have a Man Around the White House" [September 814], insist on referring to the Republican Party stance against women's reproductive choice as simply "anti-abortion"?
Let's be fully accurate. The Republican Party is more than just anti-abortion, it is anti-choice. It wants to outlaw a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions. It wants to make the decision for her.
I was intrigued by "The Women Who Stand for Dubya." Sarah Goodyear illuminated several important issues about the Republican convention: that those who claim to "stand" for women do so on rather hollow ground. However, her attempt to discredit the views of Bush supporters by bringing out details of those women's dress/appearance/social-group membership/career choice was no less lamentable than the very tactic she criticized Bush supporters for using at the convention. Can we really challenge these positions of those who say such things as "economic girlie-men" credibly if we are caught up in irrelevant details about lifestyle opinions rather than political ones?
Thank you for Charles McNulty's impressive article on Peter Dinklage ["The Little King: Size Doesn't Matter at a New Production of Richard III at the Public Theater," September 814]. Words are too few to describe his allure. Most publications do not include any reference to his talents, let alone photographs of him.
There are those of us who are unable to live without him now. You may have just exposed a new natural wonder, one with manners and integrity. Bravo!
Grady Hendrix, in his review of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell ["Do You Believe in Magic?" September 17], writes:
"Life in England must be hell on earth. How else to explain the huge number of fantasy authors who hail from its shores? While America has produced sci-fi authors focused on the application of technology for the betterment (or detriment) of humanity, many British authors seem to value nothing more than a headlong flight from this world into another. J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Neil Gaiman have all made themselves rich and famous by running away. Joining this exodus from reality is Susanna Clarke and her first novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is being billed as a Harry Potter for adults."
I'm sorry, you seem to have accidentally employed an Anglophobe. I know America is the best place in the world, because Americans do go to great pains to tell everyone so at any given moment, but even sowhaaaaaat?
I'm not sure when Arthur C. Clarke, one of the greatest bastions of the sci-fi genre, stopped being a British author, similarly so Iain M. Banks, Brian Aldiss, Douglas Adams, Grant/Naylor, Tanith Lee, and Aldous Huxley.
Or, indeed, when some of the most prominent and respected of fantasy authors (Anne McCaffrey, Diana Wynne Joans, Joan Vinge, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Robert Jordan, Mercedes Lackey, C.J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold) gave up their American citizenship, but I've not been watching the news lately and so may have just missed the relevant announcement.
My compliments to Wayne Barrett on "Twin Twisters" [September 814]. I nearly retched as I listened to our former mayor's words "Thank God George Bush is our president!" as if by some miracle that day could have possibly been any worse if Al Gore were sitting in the Oval Office.
I don't live in the city, but have lived just north in the Hudson Valley all of my life. I went to the East Village on September 15, but didn't go to the Trade Center until I decided to take a drive down late one night early that November. I'll never forget what I saw as I drove along Vesey Streetit was like a nightmare. One person I knew from high school died in the north tower. Another managed to leave his office on the 90th floor of the south tower, thanks to an uneasy boss, even though they weren't exactly sure what had happened next door, and was in a stairwell about 10 floors below where the second plane hithe was able to escape with his life, while some he worked with did not.
It bothers me that both parties would attempt to politicize what happened that day during their conventions, but Bush's chest-beating seems more odious given that it is the only thing he has to talk about. He has no record to speak ofonly a war that appears to have no clear resolution.
What happened on that day is beyond the politics of both parties. It remains in the hearts of everyone in this nation, and should not be trivialized.
Marc T. Jaeger
Newburgh, New York
Remembering Ray Charles
Greg Tate's review of Ray Charles's Genius Loves Company was music in itself ["The Resurrection and the Light: Ray Charles Compels 12 Disciples to Tell Us Just Exactly Who They Are," September 814]. He captured the flavor and essence of Charles with insightful language.
I was fortunate to have met Charles in the mid 1990s, with my good friend Don MacLemore.
Charles was a hardworking man. He was the consummate artist, and he was always precise about his music. My daughter traveled with him for a while as one of his youngest Raelettes. Her journey taught her many wonderful things that enabled her to reach some of her personal goals.
Charles employed many people and his music crossed over and influenced countless humans regardless of age, race, religion, culture, or sex. His music lends itself to interpretation in all musical genres.
When I met Charles, we pitched a festival to him that would include just that idea: the meeting of musicians of all music genres to sing with him on one stage and be presented to the world via satellite. The idea never came to fruition, but he did later celebrate his birthday in a television special with the flavor of that pitch.
Charles festivals will happen for a long time, alas without him in the flesh, as all will sing his songs to celebrate and honor him. It is wonderful that he never stopped creating with his music and his work ethic. How honored the 12 must feel to be immortalized with him on that fabulous new CD. Ray Charles, we can't stop loving you . . . you made up our minds. R.I.P.
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