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Letters 3/3/05

Various - March 3rd, 2005
So long, Hunter
Everyone in America, especially those in my generation, will always remember where we were when the World Trade Center fell, or how we felt when we saw the first eerie green, nightvision blips as yet another war in Iraq was getting underway. But only a select few will have long-lasting recollections burned into our memories of just where we were and what was happening when we first heard news of the death of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
Though the suicide of one man is utterly incomparable to the horrible and inexplicable tragedies of terrorism and war, the event was still jarring in its own way to everyone who loved and admired Dr. Thompson and his body of work. I felt his loss almost as deeply as if I had known him personally, and so did many others. A truly unique, fearless and brutally honest voice is gone forever, and in today’s mess of amalgamated news and mass monoculture, it will be sorely missed.
Yet, I fear no lack of new, fresh, and independent writers, journalists, and artists of any and all kinds in this generation, for many of us learned well from those iconoclasts who came before us, and that can never be obscured by the cheap whitewash of spiritless pop culture, anti-intellectualism or novelty political concepts like “compassionate conservatism.”
There’s not much else I can say in dedication to the good doctor that hasn’t already been said, except a Southern-gentlemanly “Good-bye, and thank you very much.”

E. J. Lepke • TC

Quadriplegic view
Reading your essay on spinal injuries, you end with the admonition that only those who have experienced this tragedy know the answers to your questions (Random Thoughts, 2/17). I would encourage you and your readers to research the life of Joni Eareckson Tada. She has lived the “quad” life for three plus decades. She also speaks clearly against the very technologies you refer to. With your commitment to an open minded approach to all issues, I am sure you will want to hear what she has to say.

Bill Green • Lowell

(Joni Eareckson Tada has been a quadriplegic since a diving accident in 1967. Unable to use her hands, she learned to paint using a brush between her teeth, producing fine art paintings. She is also the founder of Joni and Friends, a Christian ministry in the disabled community. For more on Joni, check out www.joniandfriends.org. -- ed.)

Flaws in Bush‘s S.S. plan
Until I read the recent editorial written by George Foster concerning Social Security, I was a big proponent of taking the responsibility of retirement funding out of the government’s hands (who trusts the Uncle Sam with our money anyway?) and giving it to each individual to manage on their own (re: Random Thougts, 2/10). That was until several flaws in George Bush’s plan became evident.
The first is, I don’t like the way our government uses fear tactics to present a problem to the people. As an example, it’s now painfully obvious the war with Iraq was not well thought out, was based on faulty data and incorrect assumptions, was way beyond financial predictions, and wasn’t needed in the first place.
Secondly, if Social Security (S.S.) wasn’t systematically plundered by special government interest groups for purposes other than which the fund was intended, it would still be solvent.
Thirdly, we as Americans CAN’T SAVE MONEY! If the average worker can’t deduct and save a small portion from his check every week on their own, what makes you think he or she would save the funds earmarked for S.S.? And who’s going to police this new retirement saving plan? The government? I thought we were trying to get them out of the savings business in the first place. And what’s going to keep a person from withdrawing his or her retirement funds for an emergency or another need? Penalty for early withdrawal? Our government again?
The solution is to make our government more fiscally responsible (an oxymoron) in the management of the S.S. fund and fix the problems that are wrong with it currently. And better yet, take the foreign loans we forgive every year to debtor nations and fund S.S. with that. Privatizing S.S. is like buying a new car because it needs a tune up.
This approach simply won’t work.

Henry Ramsby • TC

Chilling thoughts
This morning I experienced mike fright for the first time in my life, and the closest microphone is on the other side of the room. I’m reading that the House of Representatives overwhelming approved a bill that would put every broadcaster on the line personally for as much as $500,000 for stepping over the line of indecency; a line in the sand that seems lately to move with each new high tide. Next, the Senate will chime in on the matter and someone will read the new law to George Bush. No doubt he’d sign it.
I’ve never done a radio show that would warrant anything much beyond a “PG” rating, and in 30 years luckily I’ve never had one of those lapses of consciousness that results with a curse making it out of the studio. But with the thought of a half million dollars as the jackpot for having my brain synapses temporarily short circuit or for surrendering to the comedy gods during some extemporaneous live bit, I’m sure I’d be stilted if not downright fearful every time my left hand goes towards the mike switch.
And for all of my brethren in talk radio who have the job of stirring the pot for controversy, I can’t help but think this will have a chilling effect that will detract from the entertainment value of their show. And what about the whole idea of a “free press” that should allow for unbridled, outspoken conversation from both ends of the spectrum?
While pros can express themselves well within the confines of decency, I can only think that this half million dollar sword hanging over their heads will have a chilling effect. The only good I can think that might come out of this high-stakes personal liability is that some of those dozens of talking heads on MSNBC, Fox and the rest of cable TV’s so-called “news channels” may tone down some of their shout-fests.
All and all, I think it’s a dark day. And I fear it will get darker before it gets lighter.

Randy West • Los Angeles

(Randy West is a major voice-over broadcaster working in national radio markets. -- ed.)



 
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