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Judgment Call

To the Editor:

I just finished reading Shawn Stone’s article about you and The Abortion Diaries film in this week’s edition of the Metroland [“Speak Out,” Jan. 19] and was not at all surprised by the slant on the story. After all it is the Metroland.

And, as far as the “nasty” e-mails from men who are calling women “whores” if you did get such e-mails, I am appalled. These are not men, they are slime or are very lonely, more than likely, both.

I am also appalled that you stereotype all male pro-lifers in that same category. First you talk about how wrong it is that all these women are stereotyped into the one category as whores and then you stereotype all pro-life men in the same category as these jerks and their alleged e-mails.

Also, in today’s society, very few people (men included) look down their noses at single moms or women courageous enough to take responsibility for a life they have started by not taking the proper precautions prior to having sex. People in Hollywood do it all the time. If there was such a mass dislike for unmarried women having babies or premarital sex for that matter, Hollywood would be out of business.

I find it amazing how you can applaud the 94 percent of abortions that are elective. It is a very sad commentary that someone would kill a life inside them because it would be “inconvenient” to bear a child to full term and then think that they did a wonderful thing by doing so. Abortion under these conditions is a very selfish act. And don’t tell me you are doing for the sake of the baby. Would you have preferred your mother abort you?

No, the women who have these unexpected babies and either put them up for adoption to give them a chance at a better life, or try to raise them on their own are not whores, and neither are the women that conveniently kill the life within their womb with no [conscience] and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. However, when the time comes for both to stand in front of God and explain to him why they did what they did, which one do you think his biggest mercy will fall upon, the one who killed his creation for convenience sake, or the one who preserved his creation for God’s sake?

Dave Littlecook


Terror Alert

To the Editor:

Thanks to Paul Rapp for his excellent column [Rapp on This, Jan. 19]. I have only one correction to make to his mention of the ongoing Orwellian nightmare of Steve Kurtz, the artist and suspected “terrorist” who is being unjustly prosecuted by the Department of Justice at great public expense.

Rapp is absolutely correct that these are “absurdly trumped-up and transparently political charges.” However, the federal government is actually not saying, as Rapp wrote, that, “Kurtz had acquired some of his materials using his academic credentials, but used the materials for artistic, rather than academic, purposes.”

Actually, the argument is even more absurd. The interpretation of wire and mail fraud being used by the federal government in this case is so broad that it would make incorrectly filling in a manufacturer’s warranty for your TV set a federal crime.

The government is alleging that Robert Ferrell, Steve’s codefendent, and Steve intentionally “defrauded” the University and American Type Culture Collection (the suppliers of the harmless bacterial cultures used in Critical Art Ensemble’s internationally acclaimed art projects). They’re alleging that Bob used his contract through the University of Pittsburgh with ATCC to get the bacteria which he then gave to Steve, in violation of a Material Transfer Agreement.

In other words, if what the government is alleging is true, then we’d be talking about a petty contract dispute—but only if anyone had bothered to lodge a complaint.

In this case none of the involved parties—ATCC, the University of Pittsburgh, or the NY or PA state authorities—have lodged any complaint whatsoever concerning the $256 worth of harmless bacteria.

Worse, in prosecuting this as wire and mail fraud, the DoJ is going far outside its own Prosecution Policy Relating to Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud, which clearly states:

“Prosecutions of fraud ordinarily should not be undertaken if the scheme employed consists of some isolated transactions between individuals, involving minor loss to the victims, in which case the parties should be left to settle their differences by civil or criminal litigation in the state courts. Serious consideration, however, should be given to the prosecution of any scheme which in its nature is directed to defrauding a class of persons, or the general public, with a substantial pattern of conduct.”

Nothing Steve or Bob did could possibly be stretched to fit that description. Yet this absurd case continues, at a cost to taxpayers in the millions of dollars.

Lucia Sommer

CAE Defense Fund


Heavy Meddle

To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading about the problems surrounding the Hudson Duster and violence in the modern hardcore scene [“Hardcore Issues,” Jan. 12]. The hardcore and punk scenes of the late ’80s and early ’90s tell a much different story than what is being told today.

Before the genres were completely fucking out-of-control mainstream, the scenes were only accessible to those who very diligently sought them out. Those who sought them out did so because they felt alienated from their social surroundings, and hardcore and punk provided solace. Memories of a particular Bad Brains show in New Jersey in 1989 bring to my mind the skinheads, longhairs, punks, and straight-edgers all getting along like old friends because all were outcasts under the same roof. Violence was sometimes a result of these subcultures interacting, but the tired cliché of unity did, in fact, reign.

Somewhere in the mid-’90s, people who were violent by nature or bred with jock-like mentalities took quite strongly to the chugga-chugga metallic riffage that began to dominate hardcore at the time. Now, instead of people joining the scene as an—dare I say—alternative, and sometimes experiencing violence as a result, the scene became infiltrated by people who were looking for violence as a motive, to dance harder, or throw punches for no other reason than to show off.

It is a shame that what the Duster stands for is lost to people, both in and outside the scene, who associate hardcore with gang violence. Because of its popularity, gone are the days of joining hardcore to escape the football team; now being hardcore can sometimes means nothing more than joining the team yourself.

Benj Gleeksman Saratoga Springs

Rock God

To the Editor:

In a perfect world, Erik Hage wouldn’t have to worry about “stealth” Christian-rock acts trying to infect our youth with their faith-based messages. He could worry about poverty or the war in Iraq or bird flu instead. In my perfect world, Mr. Hage’s article [“Oozing My Religion,” Listen Here, Jan. 12] would be satire. He’s scaring the bejeesus out of me though. In the same issue in which the cover story defends the sometime violent Troycore scene at the Hudson Duster, Erik Hage is concerned about Christian rock acts. (Such juxtaposition is one of the main reasons I love Metroland. It has a sense of humor.) Is he afraid that young listeners of this genre will be seduced into performing random acts of kindness like helping little old ladies cross the street? Will enrollment in the Girl Scouts reach unprecedented levels?

Maybe not everyone likes the misogyny of rap or the hate of hardcore. Personally, I prefer misogynistic rap to Christian rock any day, but hey, I want to get rid of Christmas as a national holiday too. Still, in a country where Nazis have a constitutional right to march, shouldn’t groups like Switchfoot be able to sell their music to unsuspecting minors? Shouldn’t high school kids in the Bible Belt have choice?

Mr. Hage’s position sounds eerily similar to the arguments used against rock and roll when it first burst on the scene—how the devil’s music would induce our young people into smoking pot and fornicating. OK, bad example, but still, we didn’t censor or ban rock because of that. I didn’t become an acidhead because I listened to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” or a Buddhist because George Harrison sang “My Sweet Lord.” And I didn’t start liking big butts just because Sir Mix-A-Lot thought I should. Alright, maybe he did convince me, but give our kids some credit, Mr. Hage. I realize that Mr. Hage is concerned that the whole country will shift to the right and he won’t be able find recordings of 2 Live Crew, but we have been listening to all kinds of music over the years without it corrupting who we are politically or socially. Is every suburban kid a gangsta rapper now? How many kids really listen to song lyrics anyway? Matisyahu, who wants Moshiach now (Hebrew for messiah), is hugely popular, but how many college kids are growing long beards, wearing black hats and not eating pork anymore?

If Mr. Hage is so concerned about this Christian rock phenomenon, I have a few suggestions for him. If he doesn’t want to listen to P.O.D., he should get an iPod and listen to his own music. Or, he can do what I do when I accidentally tune in to Polka Hour on Sunday morning after a long night out—change the station!

Michael Kohn


Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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