LETTER OF THE WEEK
I must take issue with Richard Goldstein's article about Courtney Love ["Grinning and Baring It," March 31-April 6]. You fail to mention that drugs can be bad and that Courtney seemed whacked out of her mind on them when she appeared on Letterman. Her "performance" was embarrassing, inarticulate, and desperate. (For the record, I have loved her music and provocative personality.)
I hope we legalize drugs and educate the public about abuse so people like me won't have to stay up past our bedtimes watching people like Courtney make asses of themselves. She's no Janis, but a rock 'n' roll Norma Desmond, hell-bent on ruining her close-up. Let's not glamorize Courtney's drug-addled behavior so much or she'll be joining Janis too soon.
Lynn M. O'Neill
San Diego, California
Both sides now
George Smith's article [I, Vermin From Under Rock," March 31-April 6] is probably the most depressing story I have read since the presidential inauguration. The vituperative response from so many critics of the Bush administration was a chastening reminder that fools, cowards, and villains span the entire political spectrum from left to right.
San Francisco, California
Welcome to the machine
Re Rick Perlstein's "The Jobs of the Future Are a Thing of the Past" [March 31-April 6]: While I agree that America needs to find a way to create new jobs, the article leaves out the key point in the argument.
Most of the jobs lost have been due to increased produc-tivity among workers. Individual workers are now required to produce more output at the same wages. During the '90s, corpora-tions invested heavily in new technologies that allow them to hire fewer workers.
As long as corporations see labor costs as just another line item in the budget to be trimmed whenever possible, people will continue to lose jobs while technology turns the American worker into an endangered species.
Rick Perlstein replies: Too true. A better way to measure both an economy's productivity and its decency is output per worker-hour, by which criterion many European countries do much better than us. See Will Hutton's marvelous A Declaration of Interdependence: Why America Must Join the World, one of the best books of 2003.
Careful what you wish for
Re Nat Hentoff's "The Puppet Chancellor" [March 31-April 6]: Hentoff complains that Bloomberg brings with him a "top-down corporate structure," but that is what the public wanted when they voted for him: to replace the political-consensus method of management. Members of that committee are appointed by the mayor, and he can remove them at will; that's how it works.
So what's the beef?
Hard to believe Hentoff supports a policy of social promotion. It is common sense to leave the dummies back and give them a second chance to learn what they need to know. Getting left back helped, not hindered, the members of my generation who fell behind in their studies; they wound up better prepared for life as a result.
Hentoff is an excellent columnist when he deals with civil rights and constitutional law; those are his areas of strength. He should not dilute his talent by meandering into city politics and educational policy.
Nat Hentoff replies: The mayor was not elected to be a dictator. I do not support social promotion as it has been practiced. For alternative ways, see my columns this week and next week. Kids who are failed by the system are not the "dummies."
Re Richard Goldstein's "Petaphilia" [March 24-30]: I read with interest Richard Goldstein's recent article on what he jokingly referred to as "petaphilia," the idea that homosexual marriage could be the start of a slippery slope toward legalized man-animal unions. Goldstein should have researched the clinical term for human-animal fetishismzoophiliaand the term for those afflicted by it, zoophiles. In uncovering these terms, he might have come to the realization that this is no laughing matter.
The greatest advocate for zoophile rights was Mark Matthews, who wrote an autobiography titled The Horseman: Confessions of a Zoophile. I met Matthews in 1995, some years before his untimely death. I also met his wife, a dappled pony named Pixel. Mark did everything possible to legally wed this animal, including stamping her hoofprint on an official wedding certificate and having an ordained priest perform their ceremony. Goldstein says that the law prevents men from straying toward beasts, but that's disingenuous. Bestiality is illegal in only 31 of the 50 United States. This is a situation analogous to homosexual relations, which were illegal in 14 states until the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision in 2003 that struck down all such laws as unconstitutional. Surely zoophiles like Matthews would be interested in creating a Lawrence decision for themselves.
I believe that gay marriage is the right thing to do, regardless of the slippery-slope arguments against it. I do not believe in legalizing human-animal civil unions, as the benefits given to such partnershipstax breaks, powers of attorney, etc.simply make no sense when applied to non-sentient animals.
But there are those on the fringes who disagree. The slippery slope exists, not only toward bestiality but also toward polygamy and pedophilia, and these should be recognized as valid objections against the legalization of homosexual unions.
Des Moines, Iowa
Goldstein's article had me in stitches. What these politicians and conservatives fail to see is that by allowing gay marriage, we are upholding the Constitution, allowing human adults to make decisions for themselves. If churches want to ban gay marriage, they have the right to do so. I believe that the government must uphold the equality of all people in this country. We should not be against the creation of family in any form.
The real fear here is that sexuality will run rampant if allowed to express itself further in a public venue. The point is, GLBT people are people, with thoughts, feelings, and morals.
Let's allow adults to be adults and give them the freedom to make adult decisions for themselves. I certainly don't need to be policed or monitored by anyone, and I am free to marry any man I wish. But if I'm gay, I can't marry my lover, no matter how committed and loving we are.
Thank you for being a voice of reason and freedom.
Middleburgh, New York
In "Midnight Records, 1984-2004" [The Sound of the City, March 17-23], Hillary Chute erroneously reported that Midnight Records will now "solely" exist on the Web. Actually, the store is still taking phone, fax, and mail orders.
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