Web of Hate
After three months of recovering from gunshot wounds inflicted by Benjamin Smith as I was walking home from synagogue, I think I have gained some perspective that I respectfully insist the ACLU and its colleague organizations lack ["The Great Hate Debate," Donna Ladd, October 19]. Namely, I came within an inch of losing my life because an unstable, impressionable youth came under the influence of World Church of the Creator leader Matthew Hale's "theology."
This young man would have never gone on his deadly shooting rampage had he not been indoctrinated by this group, which has a frequently updated Web/hate site. I suggest you visit it yourselves, all you advocates of free speech über alles. In his eulogy of Smith, Hale continues to call him "Brother," and says that, although fellow "Creators" will never know why Smith did what he did (sure . . . ), chances are that he had had enough of seeing "mongrels" walking down the street. When humans are dehumanized in such a way, look out, a gunman might be waiting.
May I ask you then, given what is at stake, whose rights are more important, the victims' or the perpetrator's? It is a lot easier to advocate a free-for-all Internet when one does not know the pain and the rage associated with multiple bullet wounds courtesy of a neo-Nazi, as I do.
Senate Judiciary chair Orrin Hatch might be onto something. Perhaps one should withhold one's knee-jerk response to the opinion of a conservative until the facts are carefully considered. Lives are at stake.
"Where's R. Crumb?" laments Jerry Saltz in his review of "The American Century: Art & Culture, 19502000" at the Whitney Museum of American Art ["Tasting Menu," October 19]. How carefully was Saltz looking? Crumb's work was prominently displayed in one of the six "Cultural Sites" I curated for the show a substantial part of the exhibition totally ignored in his review. And, by the way, it was Tom Armstrong (not Richard, as Saltz states) who served as director of the Whitney Museum before David Ross.
Friends of Finley
C. Carr, in "Running Scared: The Bad Apple Defense and Other Symptoms of Spinelessness in the Art World" [October 12], reports incorrect information and portrays an imaginary division within the arts community.
First, many arts organizations, including the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, American Association of Museums, and Americans for the Arts have publicly and enthusiastically supported the free-expression rights of the artists in the Finley v. NEA case by signing onto an amicus curiae brief prepared by People for the American Way, which was written by one of Americans for the Arts' board members.
Second, more than 50 national arts and humanities organizations of all sizes and all points of view, including the National Association of Artists' Organizations and the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, have been actively and successfully working together for over five years to develop united advocacy positions for the Cultural Advocacy Group coalition and national Arts Advocacy Day.
Perhaps the writer should direct her frustrations toward those who are trying to suppress free expression, rather than to those who are trying to nurture creativity and uphold the constitutional rights of free artistic expression in a democratic society.
American Arts Association
Robert L. Lynch
Americans for the Arts
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
C. Carr replies: Joy Silverman, co-founder of the National Committee for Freedom of Expression, and Charlotte Murphy, former executive director of the National Association of Artists Organizations (co-plaintiff in Finley v. NEA) were astonished to learn that Able, Lynch, and Katz are now claiming to have been their allies from the get-go. "They did not want the lawsuit to happen," says Murphy. "They never supported us until they thought they would look like idiots if they didn't." In fact, these groups submitted their amicus brief seven years after Finley v. NEA was filed.
Overall, congrats on the Rudy vs. Art debacle in your October 12 issue ["Rudy's Brooklyn Rampage"]. Every time I need a new reason to hate Giuliani, he comes up with a zinger.
However, I do take issue with Guy Trebay's article "A Controversy Evolves." While Trebay's point about the dangers of mixing church and state issues is well taken, his reference to evangelical Christians practicing "religious crackpotism" is unfair.
As an American living in London, I am writing in reaction to James Ridgeway's item "Fighting Frankenstein" [Mondo Washington, September 28]. I am horrified that my fellow Americans naively accept and swallow genetically modified food.
GM crops have not been tested adequately, despite what the spin doctors are telling you. You are being lied to! The companies developing this technology have put profit before safety. They make the tobacco industry look good. Please take a moment to find out for yourself. Make it your choice what you eat and what you feed your children.
This summer, 4000 people came to the Great Organic Picnic in Greenwich. It was a peaceful protest to tell the government that the British public does not want genetically modified food. I suggest you do the same in New York City.
Re Peter Noel's article "Watershed Fallout: Could the Probe of a Top Eco Cop Affect New York's Senate Race?" [October 12]: Having known and worked with Captain Ronald Gatto, a commanding officer in the city's Environmental Enforcement Division, when I was an attorney in Westchester, I can state unequivocally that there is no one I would feel safer entrusting the protection of the watershed to.
Captain Gatto is passionate about his job, and without him the Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Enforcement Division would be much less effective. It is understandable that Gatto would feel slighted by the city's decision not to grant him the position of deputy chief. It is also understandable that the Giuliani administration, which so underappreciates the vastness and importance of the New York City watershed they would have sold it off to the highest bidder for short-term gain, would also not realize Captain Gatto's true value.
It would be a great loss to the people of New York if a misunderstanding over a parking placard and an EZ Pass were to be the cause of this man losing his job and the recognition and respect that he has earned in over 17 years of fulfilling his responsibilities. Prolonging and publicizing this incident reflects poorly on the integrity of the entire Environmental Enforcement Division. Deputy Chief Lee Siegal and Captain Gatto would be wise to put aside their grievances and work together to battle the ever-present threats to the quality of New York City's water supply.
Regarding James Ridgeway's item on Dr. Seuss and the Libertarians ["Liberal Tarryin'," Mondo Washington, September 21]: There's no contradiction in finding a Libertarian bent in Dr. Seuss's work; I was also, as Ridgeway describes Dr. Seuss, a "left-leaning liberal." To quote the peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "I got better." Many Libertarians, including this one, honor the intent of liberals: a society free of racism, equality between the sexes, ending poverty, hunger, child abuse all are worthy goals.
Where we disagree is that Libertarians have observed that government has failed to provide these things. Politicians will inevitably redistribute wealth to those who have helped get them elected. At the top of their list will always be wealthy and powerful contributors. Perhaps if the author of Yertle the Turtle were still with us, he would see the ripsaw effect of electing liberal politicians, then conservative politicians, then liberal ones again. First, power over our economic lives diminishes, then power over our social lives. Then we lose our pocketbooks, as management of our lives is increasingly taken over by the Giulianis, Clintons, DeLays, and Gephardts of the world.
Libertarians seek to empower the individual to improve the community. One-size-fits-all dictation from Washington, Albany, Hartford, Trenton, and Gracie Mansion hasn't worked, and it won't.
Easy Being Green
Re Guy Trebay's "In Search of the Fashion Don't" [September 28]: Yes sir, Mr. Trebay. Life's just too short to dress like everyone else. And it's way too short to fret over what magazine editors say you should wear. Wear what makes you feel alive. Dare to be a Fashion Don't. You know, I've got a closet full of black. Black shoes, pants, blouses, sweaters, suits, dresses. Fab for travel, but all so very safe. I'll be exhibiting photographs in a show in November. I know what's going on the walls and on my bod. It's not black. See, I found this long green lace dress at a thrift store yesterday. It matches my acid green vinyl jacket with the portrait collar that makes my friend Kim wince. So, I'm standing in front of the mirror trying to decide whether to spend 10 bucks on the dress. A guy in the store grabs me by the waist, dips me, and says, "You must buy it." I leave, smiling, with the dress and his phone number. At the show in November, I'll be the Glamour Don't in the green.
Jill L. Corson
I found Scott Seward's "I Want My B-E-T" [October 5] funny, enlightening, and on point. The only thing that might have added to the humor would have been for the writer to have actually known the prices involved in making those videos he discussed like the million-dollar price tag for the Noreaga video (not to worry, he'll only have to sell about 200,000 units just to pay for it). Thanks for the chuckle!
Include Us Out
Ethan Alter's "They Have Many Straight Friends" [October 5] includes more examples of Hollywood turning gay men into a joke. They think they are being sensitive and politically correct by including the gay community, but all they're really doing is reinforcing stereotypes, making the straight majority appear even more ignorant.
Due to a transcription error, a statement in Peter Noel's article "Brothers in Arms" in last week's issue was wrongly attributed to former New York mayor Ed Koch. The statement, "You listen to that man [Jesse Jackson]. He is giving you good advice," was made to Koch by Reverend Al Sharpton.
TNC Halloween Ball
Theater for the New City's 23rd annual "Village Halloween Costume Ball" will be held on Sunday, October 31, at the theater, 155 First Avenue, Manhattan. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. The event will include nonstop theater, costume competition, and ballroom dancing. Admission is $15, costume or formal wear required. For further information, call (212) 254-1109.
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