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Going Postal

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In the trash
John Sugg's column, "The Spies Who Came in From the Art Sale" (Fishwrapper, March 13), would be amusing, if it were not so disturbing. This story about alleged spying by Israeli art students in America has been circulating for a while. If it hasn't had legs, it is because of the lack of evidence -- much of the story is based on hearsay or unnamed officials -- and denials by U.S. officials of any validity to the story.

Sugg's underlying premise that American Jewish organizations pressure the media not to cover critical stories is a familiar and unwarranted accusation. In truth, there is no shortage of criticism of Israel in the media, some justified, a lot not. The charge by Sugg suggests the old line that Jews control the media. And we know where that fantasy belongs. -- Deborah Lauter, regional director, Anti-Defamation League

Bad taste
(In response to Scene & Herd, "I didn't Earnhardt," March 13): I am among those who defend the right to free speech. However, the right to speak or write should not be confused with the responsibility of citizens in a civilized society to use good taste.

CL writer Andisheh Nouraee fails to make the distinction in his column when he writes, "Because we were kindly asked not to wreck the cars, and my girlfriend asked me not to 'Earnhardt,' I was hesitant to push too hard." Dale Earnhardt was a great stock car driver who was dedicated to his craft. His death should not be trivialized, nor should anybody's. That is only decency and respect.

Let me illustrate my point. If we're talking about not taking a fall, let's just say, "Don't do a 'Twin Towers.'" Or this would be an editor warning a writer to avoid thoughtless, cutesy writing: "Don't gimme a 'Nouraee,' all right?" If American culture continues to tolerate indiscriminate bad taste, shallowness, insensitivity, rudeness and barbaric in-your-face belligerence, we set the final stage of every empire, decadence. If life is a dance, perhaps Mr. Nouraee eventually will learn not to smash toes -- or as some of my more insensitive (but perceptive) former dance partners would put it, don't do a "Marbaugh."

-- Wade Marbaugh, Atlanta

Glam life
(In response to "Power of the Wig," March 13): I thought it was great to see this article on the cover. Besides Charlie Brown, no one gets much attention in the press. As for Nicole aka Brian, you could have picked a better drag queen to follow. At least Bubba has a good cause, charity, and E.J. is a freak show entertainer of the year (isn't she great?). Now for the follow-up expose: the dark side of drag -- thieves, drugs and stabbings in the back! You made it sound so glam, but the community knows where the real story is.

-- Thomas Taylor, Atlanta

Foaming at the mouth
(In response to Mood Swing, "Left behind," March 6): Every group has their bizarre fringe element (even journalists). The temptation to exaggerate their scope and influence for the sake of good copy can be irresistible. The unfortunate result, however, can be that readers are left with the wrong impression of the group as whole.

This seems to be the case with your diatribe against "religious freaks" in your latest CL column. You site a few weird, anecdotal examples and then tie it to churchgoers in general, making it seem as if we are all "shaking and twitching and foaming at the mouth" -- negative stereotyping, I believe it's called.

But let's just suppose for a moment that all Christians were exactly what you described. In the past, CL has championed the fair treatment of gays, African-Americans, women and just about every other minority in existence. The pages of CL celebrate just about every alternative lifestyle the human mind can imagine. I thought tolerance and diversity were the watchwords of your paper. Your column smacked of hatred and will, I fear, foster less understanding between people who believe differently.

But, as it would be unfair for me to write you only to complain and never to encourage, let me say that I enjoy your column and its irreverent, insightful observations. There is a place for a healthy dose of cynicism, even for a "religious freak" like myself. Please keep up the good work.

-- Jerry Davison, Woodstock

Branding
John Sugg: I am a member of the Kennesaw State University community and I was appalled by your article inferring that we who work at KSU are a group of people who are hell-bent on discriminating against minorities ("The College of Law(suits)," Feb. 20).

I don't know Mr. Lapides personally, nor do I have any idea if his personal allegations are true, but it angers me that you would print an article stereotyping and branding the people who work for this university as a group of people who can't tolerate anyone who isn't a white Protestant. That is totally untrue.

As a member of the Diversity Council and of the KSU community, I can tell you that we work very hard to make certain there is a penalty for discrimination of any kind. I also don't appreciate you labeling those of us who live in the "white suburban areas" in a bad light. To me that is blatant racial stereotyping against the white people of this community. Isn't that what your article is supposed to be fighting against? Unfortunately, when you write an article with this message, some people will believe it and the unity that we have been fighting so hard for is disturbed. What a shame!

In closing, Mr. Sugg, let me say that before you base all your assumptions about all the people who work at KSU on Mr. Lapides' experiences, that you actually meet some of us and see for yourself.

-- Sheryl Akridge, Kennesaw

Rose-colored glasses
(In response to Rant, "America grows a spine," Feb. 20): Ahhh, Luke, you are soooooo self-satisfied. That weak, spineless Clinton is dead, stomped on his grave just to be sure. Your man Dubya is now calling the evil axis what it is and bombing what was already rubble into rubble in Afghanistan. The mythical Reagan is the hero. I wish I was able to look back in the past with rose-colored glasses, able to leave out facts that do not fit my picture of reality.

I, on the other hand, recall a different past. In what you call a "weak response" in 1996 and 1998, Clinton was widely criticized for his measured response by the right. They wanted us to pull out of the Middle East. Your hero Reagan was in office when 225 Marines died in Lebanon. I recall not much was done but run away at that time. I do not recall Dubya going after bin Laden before 3,000 people died, even though he was aware of the problems. Why are all these actions so weak?

The real failure you fail to mention is Bush Sr. not taking out Saddam Hussein when he was truly at war in 1992. Not taking proper action in 1992 set the stage for later failure. Clinton came into office with hands tied and could only respond in measured retaliation. Clinton had no war to fight, nor did Dubya, until 9-11. Reagan did nothing to cause the "evil empire" to fall other than make his rich arms-manufacturing friends richer while the bills piled up.

Dubya lives by the same polls. He has 3,000 dead Americans backing him up. That is where his spine was made.

-- Matt Williams, Doraville

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