Re Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Keepin' It Unreal" [June 4-10]:
This gritty portrayal of hip-hop culture epitomizes the type of in-your-face writing that puts the Voice and its writers head and shoulders above all others. More importantly, it adroitly disputes the myths that mischaracterize the African American perspective in popular (read: American) culture.
Kingston, New York
NOT KEEPIN' IT GANGSTA
Re "Keepin' It Unreal":
It was refreshing to read this article. It is most important for us to look at rap for what it is, and what is has become. Very little rap music now does anything to boost the image and self-esteem of black meninstead it enables them to partake in deviant behavior that the music has now made permissible. The black man is in trouble.
Rap music has become part of the American fiber, but instead of using America's attention to bring important issues to light, "now we got white boys callin' themselves niggas," as KRS-One noted. I grew up in the '80s, like the author, and it seems like the youth today are more concerned with making things as hard and "thuggish" as possible, constructing a false "need" for violence and gang activity. Proof positive is the entry of Bloods and Crips into New York. Face it, guys, the weed game will never be as crazy as the crack game. Let those days gonobody wants to be scared to ride the subway after 8 p.m. anymore.
Re Metal Mike Saunders's "The Avrilette Awards" [June 4-10]:
After reading your horrible article on Hilary Duff, I could not believe what you were telling me. Are you trying to tell me that Hilary Duff is better than Avril Lavigne?
I don't think so!
First off, Avril writes her own songs, and her album was the third-bestselling album of 2002! Do you see Hilary's album on the list? No! Do you want to know why Hilary isn't on the list? It's because she can't sing or make good music! She is the worst singer I have heard in a long time! Her song lyrics are the lamest I have heard, "do a crazy dance" and "when you wanna dress in gold"?! I don't even know why you would even compare Hilary to Avril! Hilary would match up better with Britney Spears, another singer who can't sing! Avril has so much talent and personality that she has surpassed Hilary! Hilary needs to stay on the Disney Channel because there is no possible way she would ever have a top-selling record!
Re Chisun Lee's "A Lifetime in Limbo" [June 4-10]:
This article left me with one cynical impression: If the agencies holding detainee suspects don't trust our judicial system to find out the truth and mete out justice, why should we trust that system? It's clear they're not confident that those "accused" (but not charged) will be able to be kept incarcerated once they have legal counsel. Shouldn't their "crime" become evident if they are guilty? Or is it our mandate that once civil rights are breached, the case goes out the window regardless of any criminal evidence? Either way, it doesn't seem to work well.
Park Slope, Brooklyn
GRAND OLD PRIDE
Re Richard Goldstein's "What Gay-Friendly Republicans?" [June 4-10]:
While Goldstein makes some good points about the hostility of conservatives (especially appeals court nominees), it is unfair to be as dismissive as he is of an effort to engage gay Republicans in the greater policy debates.
As the Log Cabin Republicans gain strength and the Republican Unity Coalition continues to expand, social conservatives' efforts to marginalize gays and limit their access to certain civil rights will be more difficult. While gays were the Democrats' third most loyal constituency in the last presidential election, they were also one of the largest percentage of minority votes for the Republicans. In 2002, the Empire State Pride Agenda endorsed Governor Pataki for re-election. Further, Democrats have been quick to take gay votes for granted, as demonstrated by President Clinton's sellout in "don't ask, don't tell," and the willingness of prominent Democratic senators to lay low when colleagues make asinine and hurtful statements about homosexuality.
Goldstein should welcome gay incursion into the Republican ranks; these are the first of many necessary steps toward progress for the GOP.
Albany, New York
Richard Goldstein replies: While it's right to acknowledge gay-friendly Republicans, it's crucial to understand that the dominant voice in the GOP belongs to the homophobic right. Bush's judicial choices pose the greatest threat to gay rights in a generation. To quote an old Yiddish motto: "When someone pisses on you, don't call it rain."
GETTING OFF EASY
Re Tristan Taormino's "Spankee Doodle Dandy" [May 21-27]:
In her article Tristan Taormino quoted our company motto, "Making you feel good about being into spanking through our uniquely romantic approach to traditional discipline," and followed it with "In other words, spankers aren't like those leather-clad pervs (which they really are!)."
That's not what we're trying to say at all. Our emphasis is on romantic discipline, as opposed to punitive spanking for its own sake. It's one of the reasons why our videos are some of the only ones you'll see that combine spanking with real sex.
We have no desire to snub our many friends in the s&m and b&d scene; as a matter of fact, many of them appear in our videos! There are many approaches to the scene and we're friendly to anything safe and consensual.
Tristan, we hope you'll take this in the spirit that it's meant, as a mild correction. We see no need for the hairbrush . . . this time.
Studio City, California
Congratulations to Voice writers Toni Schlesinger and Chisun Lee. Schlesinger won first place in the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Award competition's Fashion & Design category for her weekly Shelter column. Lee is one of three recipients of Yale Law School's Knight Fellowship in Law for Journalists for the upcoming academic year. The fellowship brings mid-career journalists to Yale to take courses and participate in seminars in order to enhance their legal reporting.
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