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Alternate Reading

To the Editor:

They say you can’t argue taste and I wholeheartedly agree. However, when I read Laura Leon’s review of The Reader [“Bedtime Stories,” Jan. 8], I was having a hard time reconciling it with what I had seen on the screen the night before. Far be it for me to speculate about who’s right or wrong for liking something purely on aesthetics, but there are some fundamental insights that it seems Mrs. Leon missed out on in this film.

The most important aspect of The Reader is not whether literacy is a virtue, or the characters’ sexuality, but the universal theme of loving an individual, who reveals a critical flaw within themselves. Michael Berg’s inaction and distance toward [Hanna] are manifestations of the terrible conflict he finds himself in, especially upon realizing that Hanna is reluctant to address (to herself, much less to him) what he finds deeply disturbing about her past. This is not a coming-of-age story, so much as it raises questions about authority of judgment, revelations about those close to us, whether love can be deserved and, ultimately, what it takes to know yourself.

May I recommend an excellent Charlie Rose interview with the author of the original novel, David Schlink, in which he discusses his own motivation and thinking behind The Reader, the book. Perhaps your readers, who have not yet seen the film, might find the author’s take helpful.

Alexey Zinger


Regulation Shmegulation

To the Editor:

Kathryn Geurin’s article about the “toy safety” legislation [“Toybox Outlaws,” Jan 29], does a good job exposing the devastating economic impact of this insane overregulation. In the name of protecting our children we will be putting retailers out of business, destroying jobs, limiting consumer choices, making products more costly, and wastefully filling landfills with useable goods. And this at the very time when our economy is already in deep trouble. We need this right now like a hole in the head.

What is missing, however, is a discussion of the justification for this legislation—or rather, its lack. The putative purpose is protection from products that might impair kids’ health. But is there any evidence that this is a big problem, that large numbers of children are actually being harmed by unsafe products? No, there is not. As Ms. Geurin points out, it isn’t very likely that teenagers would suck on leaded microscope bulbs, which are included, with everything else under the sun, in this disastrously over-broad regulatory nightmare.

But the lack of a genuine problem does not deter the enthusiasts for government regulation (like Sen. Amy Klobuchar, whose idiotic words Ms. Geurin quotes) from attacking that non-problem with a gigantic and economically destructive regulatory regime.

Lately we have been hearing a great deal from such enthusiasts; they trumpet that their regulatory lust has been vindicated by recent financial perturbations, blamed on deregulation, and we are promised that regulation now will be back with a vengeance. Here we have a foretaste; this monstrosity was actually enacted under the Bush administration!

Obviously, just as individual people are properly subject to laws that bar them from harming others, businesses must be subject to similar strictures. No defender of capitalism believes otherwise. However, the problem with government regulation in the real world is exemplified by Ms. Geurin’s story concerning the child safety legislation. Regulation so often does the wrong things, at huge cost. (I should know. I spent my entire 26 year professional career as a government regulator.)

Frank S. Robinson


To the Editor:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this article.

The CPSIA has gotten negligable press and I was so relieved to finally see someone in the region doing a story about it. As a crafter and etsy seller myself I can see how this law effects me directly, unfortunately even the non-crafters among us will be effected . . . they just don’t know it yet.

I have been spending massive amounts of time contacting my congressman and senators about this law. Hopefully now because of your article many more New Yorkers will too.

Jen O’Connor



The photo caption with the story “Shared Wisdom” in Art Murmur (Jan. 29) was incorrect. It should have read, “Class act: Mary Louise Wilson at Russell Sage College.”

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters addressed to the editor. Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length or clarity; 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 anonymous, illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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