Reader Mail

At Seventeen

Rescuing Bush from the moshpit. Plus: Self-Marriage. Up for Ghraibs. More sex and violence. Torture logic. And so on.

5.17.04

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POST-PUNKS AND BUSH
Re: Shawn Macomber's Pretend Grown-Up Music:

I recently read your article on the "Rock Against Bush Tour," entitled "Pretend Grown-Up Music." As a 17-year-old, pierced, ex-fan of NOFX, let me say THANK YOU for writing this article. I first heard about the tour shortly after George W. Bush had been elected. All of my friends were head over heals to go -- not so much because of the political agenda, but because it was so unique to round up that many of our favorite bands on a tour. I was the only person I know to turn down the offer.

My friends thought I was out of my mind, as I was one of the first kids they knew to step into the "punk phase." I had been the one who had first turned them on to bands like NOFX, Greenday, and RX Bandits, and here I was turning down an opportunity to see those bands and more, at what was supposed to be one of the greatest punk tours in modern punk history.

You see, I've always been in denial about the political stupidity of some of my favorite bands, because I didn't want to find it hard to enjoy their music. That all changed with the Rock Against Bush Tour. Since, I've written several articles and letters to members of almost every one of the bands on the tour, but either received no response or was told to "get lost." Because in addition to their misinformation, their political agenda alone makes NO sense. While the punk/anarchy movement was fanatical and unrealistic, it focused on one main idea -- lack of government control. And yet somewhere along the lines of modernity, so-called "punk bands" like NOFX have made a complete 180 in their unwarranted hatred for the Republican Party -- a party that believes that the federal government is not perfect, and thus should be less involved. They insist that they have a hatred for all politicians, but I don't remember any "Rock Against Clinton" tours.

To make a long story short, I wanted to convey to you that not all "punks" follow their favorite bands' political ideology. Although, sadly, many do. Over the past couple of years I have grown up and grown out of most of my punk phase. But even when I was the most "hardcore chick" in the moshpit, I was telling the bands I loved (as Laura Ingraham would say) to "shut up and sing."
-- Brittany Craigo

I have been watching the news on this CD. I also know they have a tour coming up with all of the Rock Against Bush Bands. To be honest, I am a bit afraid of this album and tour. I am a youth pastor. Teens and college students are driven by emotion and not logic. This is why they listen to their liberal school teachers and follow them. It appeals to what feels good and not what makes sense. Given the majority of buyers of this album will be youth and college, I am afraid of kids of voting age voting out of emotion and not logic. I think this album will have some (not a major) effect. The libs at MTV are going for this age bracket with their Choose (Kerry) or Lose campaign. I guess the funny thing of the album is the fact it is punkers. I love punk rock, and I know that punk was founded as an anti-authority music. They wrote the lyrics "God Save The Queen." The irony of this? New punkers are condemning an authority figure why condoning another -- Kerry. It is amazing to see how the left is after our kids. If they can corrupt them, we have a dim future.
-- Dan Alban

Up until a few years ago, the VH-1 rock-music TV channel aired a series called "Behind the Music," which chronicled the lives of rock bands. I occasionally watched it out of curiosity, as an observer trying to better evaluate the current state of our culture.

Despite these bands' commercial successes, virtually every episode was a litany of alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, philistinism, depression, torment, conflict, death, and, towering above all, unadulterated self-hatred.

By dint of the fact that these people despise President Bush, it is the best advertisement we have for re-electing him.
-- Steve Nikitas
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

MARRY ME
Re: W. James Antle III's Wedding Bell Blunders:

Regarding Mr. Antle's comment about "concerns that same-sex marriage in Massachusetts will lead to the redefinition of matrimony nationwide," I submit two illustrations -- one obvious and one not so obvious.

First, motivated by avoiding or reducing the cost of health care, two same-sex, but not homosexual, roommates could marry to allow the roommate without health insurance to obtain coverage through the other's employer health-care plan. This may depend on whether the judicial decree or ultimate legislature's law requires the same-sex couples to be gay (which would create a whole other set of issues as I know of no requirement that a man and woman prove their heterosexuality to obtain a marriage license).

Second, a single person could marry himself or herself to obtain the benefit of "Married filing joint return" status on his or her IRS Return, providing lower tax rates. This is called a fiction, but use of fiction is not uncommon in law; for example, married couples (i.e., husband and wife married couples) may file joint returns where the IRC treats them as one person. OK, single-person marriage is a stretch. But if the definition of marriage, the legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife, allows for "same-sex" marriage, why wouldn't it provide for "single-person" marriage?
-- Ted Lang
Plymouth, Michigan

UP FOR GHRAIBS
Re: P. David Hornik's Abu Ghraib and the Useful Idiots:

P. David Hornik's article caused two disparate facts to fuse in my head.

1. During the Clinton administration, Liberal critics of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) decried as archaic and outmoded the notion that members of the military could be Court Martialed for adultery.

2. The (apparent) driving force behind the Abu Ghraib videos was the participant's escalating levels of adulterous behavior. Apparently regular adultery had lost its thrill. Now they wanted spectators and other kinkiness to be captured on video to later relive those moments.

The DoD has it right. The UCMJ is not wrong. Certain character traits go together. A person who can participate in adultery and hide those acts of betrayal could easily hide other lifestyle choices and actions from being seen, e.g., espionage. A person who can hold themselves above societal norms and choose to behave in whatever behaviors they want, may choose to do so at any time. Those sorts of people may live freely in U.S. society, but they may not live freely in the U.S. military, nor can they hold positions requiring security clearances.
-- Newton Love
Annapolis, Maryland

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN'T GET IT
Re: Christopher Gaul's letter ("Odyssey of the Mind") in Reader Mail's Pictures at an Exhibition and George Neumayr's The Abu Ghraib Collection:

Too bad for Christopher Gaul that he does not understand the excellent analogy that George Neumayr presents in his article. Four times in his letter Mr. Gaul mentions "work of art," "his artwork," Mapplethorpe's work," and "Mapplethorpe's pictures" as if he produces great works of artistic value. Maybe that is his problem.

For thousands of years, everyone knew what art was whether it was looked at or listened to. For the last forty years the Left has warped and distorted the definition of art to the point that any degenerate, irreverent, dehumanizing action, word, or picture can be considered art. On the contrary Mr. Gaul, we conservatives have been trying to make the distinction between art and "intentionally disturbing" acts for a long time, only to be ridiculed and shouted down by the Left.

Conservatives know history well, even the use of sex and military violence. The point of Mr. Neumayr's article is that in our "deconstructed" culture, these immoral, degrading acts can now be considered art. The only "willfully obtuse" people are those on the Left who refuse to take responsibility for or even fail to recognize the consequences of their actions, as they deconstruct our culture and our social institutions.
-- Regis Dansdill

In his "The Abu Ghraib Collection," the usually astute Neumayr may have missed an important dimension to the soldier-sex-pic flap. The left, I believe, is sincerely outraged by the behavior of the MPs, not because they contain sexual content, but because the POW participants have been forced to engage in behavior about which the only legitimate purpose is to have pleasure. Therein lies the evil for the left -- sex without pleasure is criminal. But there is another less noticeable (but no less important) emotion too in their display, and it is pity. The left secretly pities the Moslem victims who, in their upbringing, have been denied the joys of gay sex.
-- Richard Cross

TAMING ISLAM
Re: Angelo M. Codevilla's Heresy and History:

Interesting article. No doubt we Westerners still remain pathetically ignorant about Islam. However, I find it hard to believe that "orthodox" Muslims are naturally tamer than the Wahabis. By your account the Ottomans weren't nearly as radical as the Saudis are today, but how do you explain the massacre of the Armenian Christians in 1915 or the extermination of the last Christian community in Turkey at Smyrna in 1923? You also make the Iranians seem reasonable by comparison, but don't they live under a radical Shia theocracy that has as much hatred of the West as the Wahabis have? How did that theocracy come about? As far as I remember, it wasn't the Wahabis that had anything to do with the rise of radical Islam in Iran.

No doubt if we could stamp out Wahabism tomorrow, the world would be better off, but everything I've learned about Islam convinces me that ALL of it is a poisonous tree that will bear bitter fruit until the day it dies.
-- Paul Doolittle

RUSH TO JUDGE
Re: Pete Chagnon's letter (under "How Useful?") in Reader Mail's Pictures at an Exhibition:

Mr. Chagnon and other correspondents who think that the Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib got off lightly evidently don't know the truth about the facility. It's not just Saddam diehards and insurrectionists in there. The place has also functioned as, effectively, the town jail. So some of the folks who have been sodomized, beaten etc. were jailed for offenses such as stealing a container of gasoline. I hope that if Mr. Chagnon ever gets run in by the cops in a small southern town (or in New York) that this thought gives him pause….
-- J.H. Purdy

GLASS SKITTLES
Re: John McGinnis's letter ("Previously Engaged") in Reader Mail's Pictures at an Exhibition:

John McGinnis is usually dead on with his Reader Mail contributions but I have to point out something about diamonds.

Man has been making diamonds for decades to use for industrial purpose. The new technology he speaks of is the making of gem quality diamonds.

The real reason diamond prices are so high for gems in jewelry is that DeBeers has had a near monopoly world wide and carefully controls the supply for sale à la OPEC and oil. If they opened their vaults to suppliers, flawless one carat diamonds would be in vending machines next to the Skittles and M&M's.

Also, there is a huge diamond lode in Arkansas that, if mined and sold, would do the same to the market. But it's a state park and off limits to such enterprise. Theoretically, you can keep anything you "find" while visiting the park but they aren't just lying around on the ground and digging is not permitted.
-- Greg Barnard
Franklin, Tennessee

COME ON ON SAFARI WITH ME
Re: The "Hillary Pops Up" letters in Reader Mail's Pictures at an Exhibition:

Since I switched to Mac and started browsing with their native browser, Safari, I had forgotten there were such a thing as pop-ups. Wish up and dump windows. Learn to enjoy life again.
-- Charles Elliott
Former MCSE
Houston, Texas

TORTURE LOGIC
While I don't wish to minimize the abuse, one could recall "Animal House" and make allowances for the passage of a decade or two and the "advances" in technique?

And, more seriously perhaps -- if you knew a bomb was going off in 3 hours and 27 minutes, and you caught a guy named Mohammed who admitted planting it, would you not torture him to find out where?

Or, as pointed out by Bill Buckley sometime ago, if a child had been buried by some abductor/creep, and only had two hours of air, you're not going to torture to find out where?
-- slg

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