DANCE HALL DAZE
Re Tricia Romano's "The Safety Dance" [November 27-December 3]:
How stupid that in New York City, a bar owner needs a license to allow dancing.
That's government-sponsored extortion, and another fine example of how bloated bureaucrats are disrupting business transactions for no other reason than to raise revenuesonly to continue to waste more of other peoples' money (i.e., tax dollars) on other methods of government regulation (i.e., behavior modification).
Hey, Mr. Mayorget off the dancefloor!
Reading Sydney H. Schanberg's "A Journey Through the Tangled Case of the Central Park Jogger" and Rivka Gewirtz Little's "Ash-Blond Ambition: Prosecutor Linda Fairstein May Have Tried Too Hard" [both November 20-26] has reminded me that we live in a country where we are judged guilty until proven innocent.
In the passion and fervor that follow an arrest and move into trial, the supporters of the law and those who are said to "Protect and Serve" often lay aside their knowledge of right and wrong in the heat of passion.
These articles point directly to the unavoidable fact that someone needed to be responsible, and they were arrested, tried, and convicted. If the law were truly blind this would never have gotten to this point. Were these men guilty of anything?
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Fairstein just pushed the case to its logical conclusion, not for the sake of justice, but for the sake of her career. But then, did she do anything that has not been done before? I don't think so. She wants power, and this was her way of grabbing the brass ring.
THE OX-WOE INCIDENT
To Frank Kogan: Maybe you should stop.
Your review of the Oxes' record ["Count Five, Have a Psychotic Reaction," November 6-12] takes all the piss out of some of the most intense punk guitar riffs laid to tape. I'm glad I was familiar with the Oxes before I read your review, because I probably wouldn't have given them a chance had I read your babble beforehand.
If you really liked the Oxes' record, why do you make them sound like a bunch of math dorks? If you spent more time just listening to the music and not counting the beats, you would realize that these guys simply rock, period. The intensity level would be cut in half if these guys took the same approach to their music that you do.
Stick to reviewing jazz fusion, and leave the punk stuff to someone with heart.
A REVOLTING THINKER?
Re "Resistance Rising" [November 27-December 3]:
Nat Hentoff goes way too easy on Russ Feingold by making him out to be some kind of modern-day Sam Adams. Senator Feingold provided the Judiciary Committee's tie-breaking vote in favor of John Ashcroft's confirmation. Having served in the Senate with him for over half a decade, Feingold knew full well that Ashcroft was a lapdog of Christian fundamentalists and the Republican far right, and no friend of the Constitution.
Feingold is directly responsible for the assault on our civil rights we are now facing from Ashcroft's Justice Department. Perhaps it was his guilty conscience that led him to vote against the USA Patriot Act, but to paraphrase another politician, Russ Feingold is no Sam Adams.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOT
I wish to thank Mr. Hentoff for informing Americans to what John Ashcroft's "Patriot" Act actually amounts to. It's obvious that Hentoff, like many of us, loves our country and feels that the true patriot fights fiercely against the loss of any freedom provided by the drafters of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It's also obvious that Mr. Hentoff realizes the gravity of the lack of education so many of our countrymen suffer regarding this atrocity perpetuated by those whom they have elected.
I have downloaded all information provided by Hentoff, as well as the information provided by the town of Northampton, and hope to begin implementing this Bill of Rights Defense Committee here in my town of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, as early as possible.
Some might say it's meaningless, that the federal government takes precedence over any local government. I would ask that Mr. Hentoff address this. Perhaps he may be able to convince these people to the contrary.
Nat Hentoff replies: Sam Adams was not saintly either. But Feingold, despite his vote for Ashcroft, has been persistently alert and vocal in defending the Bill of Rights against Ashcroft and Bush. In answer to Sylvia Barksdale, my column this week, "Organizing Against General Ashcroft," begins to show that federal law enforcement does not always supersede local government. There will be more details later.
THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
Re Chisun Lee's "Cop Watchers Beware" [November 6-12]: I was glad to see the Voice cover the story of the Brooklyn high school counselors who were arrested when they tried to document police abuse.
Many of us work with young people and despise this type of police misconduct. Whether we have witnessed it, experienced it firsthand, or counseled those who have had run-ins with the bad apples of the police department, I think it is fair to say that we understand the implications of such misconduct.
In my professional capacity, I hear stories of stop-and-searches (the infamous Operation Condor), harassment, detentions, and trips to precincts during which young people are never told of their rights and are treated disgracefully. In my past exposure to such noble groups as the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, I have felt the pain of families who have lost loved ones due to police misconduct.
I am relieved to see the Voice shed light on such incidents. I only hope that true justice is done, not only for these two counselors in Brooklyn, but for the families of those young men and women previously brutalized by some in the NYPD.
Juan Antonio Ocasio
The photograph that appeared on pages 34 and 35 (accompanying "The Safety Dance," Tricia Romano's cover story on the city's ongoing cabaret-law restrictions) in the November 27-December 3 issue should have been credited to Staci Schwartz.
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