Reader Mail

No Longer Friends

Friends don’t let Friends ridicule Friends. France was once a friend. Hitting bottom in Iraq. Plus much more.

5.10.04

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SCHADENFREUDE
Re: Jed Babbin's Unacceptable and Un-American:

Sorry, well not really, we told you so before, you're just about to lose your war in Iraq, that's all, period.
-- N. Ziener
Grenoble, France

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THIS
Re: Enemy Central's Fiends:

It hardly seems reasonable to write a column about the conclusion of a popular sitcom that has been running for TEN years while admitting that it was the FIRST time you had watched. Friends wasn't rocket science -- in fact, it was often slutty and asinine -- but it provided some weekly comic relief to those of us who viewed it frequently. As a huge fan of The American Spectator and a political junkie, I almost feel silly deciding to write you for the first time about a weekly sitcom that I happened to enjoy!
-- Cathy Thorpe
Columbus, Georgia

As a longtime reader of the Enemies List, I have to express disappointment on the ineptly written attack on Friends. This is not only the worst piece I've ever seen come out of The American Spectator, this is the worst television review I've seen, without exception. I've never read a review of a television show, movie, book or comic book where that author was too lazy to learn the names of the characters he was discussing. Instead of investing thirty seconds on a Google search for "Friends -- cast," the author instead refers to Rachel as "the gal," Ross as "her male dolt lover boy" and various pronouns for the rest.

An entire paragraph was squandered claiming the show was as "moronic" as Sesame Street. Television series do not survive for three and a half decades (as Sesame Street has), by being moronic.

Not only was the article lazy, it was downright untrue.

The author stated that the "...Friends sextet spent its latter years swapping partners within the collective." No, as a matter of fact, the series held very much the opposite POV. Chandler and Monica thought long and hard before becoming involved. They kept asking for a sign to explain what they should do, and had to work hard to ignore clear messages that marriage is the only real choice. Joey had a crush on Rachel, but stepped aside because he felt that she belonged with Ross. Whatever shortcomings Friends had, it was not a series about wife-swapping.

The author claimed that when Ross and Rachel came back to New York, they didn't have an apartment. I have no idea where that came from. Rachel did, indeed, give up her apartment, Ross still had his.

"The other subplot centered on another of the show's couples who somehow managed to get married."

The characters' names are "Chandler" and "Monica."

"It's never explained who filled out their marriage license for them. But clearly they seemed clueless about what to do once married."

Let's see. They got married. They saved up to buy a house. They tried to have a child, found out they couldn't, and decided to adopt. What on Earth did they not do? What is the author referring to?

"More likely they reached the critical decision resolved last night the same way that modern marrieds do when they decide to build an add-on to their split level or maybe a sun-porch: they decided to have themselves a baby. Not theirs, really, but a young girl's."

No, the decision to have a child was anything but casual. The Bings spent an entire season trying to conceive, and when they found out they were not physically able, spent another year trying to adopt.
The young girl, rather than having an abortion, carefully screened several people, until she found a couple that she trusted to raise her child. I'm not quite sure why that's a bad thing.

"The actual mother? She's sent away with a parting gift and a promise by the larcenous parents that they'll call her. If they were going to do it that way, why not have a stork do the delivering? At least then we'd still be in the realm of the recognizably human."

I can't tell you how much I hate the above paragraph. It's smug. It's arrogant. It's profoundly funny. It doesn't even make any sense. Why did the author claim that Chandler and Monica were "larcenous parents"? Is Enemy Central under the impression that adoption is illegal? Would the author have preferred that the child be aborted? Or that the teenaged girl becomes a single mother?

You ended up by quote Thomas Friedman in the New York Times. "In his New York Times column yesterday he said it's no surprise so many Americans were obsessed with the Friends finale. 'They're the only friends we have, and even they're leaving.' You've got to admit that's a better line than any written for the show itself."

No, I don't have to admit that, and I won't. It's a better line than anything Enemy Central wrote, but it was nowhere near the level of Friends." The best line in the show, BTW, was when Joey looked at the Monica and Chandler's now empty apartment and said in amazement "has this room always been purple?"

It took ten years of knowing Joey to make that joke work. The Enemy Central review read like it has hacked out in ten minutes. To paraphrase The Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, "worst television review ever!"
-- B. Vallely

THREE'S COMPANY
Re: "Brock Trio" letter in Reader Mail's Wiser Heads and Wlady Pleszczynski's Brock's Content:

Though I generally agree with the angry letter writers complaining about your article on David Brock's new Web site (I could have done without the "butt boys" reference, though), my objection is much more serious. Yes, the piece was "biased," but I don't read The American Spectator for balance; I read it for one side of the story. If I ever read Brock's site, I'll similarly be looking for one side.

The larger problem in your article, not pointed out in the letters, is the lack of disclosure of Brock's former employment at the Spectator. If we are to take him at his word, what turned him into a liberal "media watchdog" was his taking part in the rancorous, unethical smear-Clinton machine while at your magazine.

Any reasonable reader, armed with this backstory, can judge for himself whether your magazine is acting out of spite in lashing out at Brock. To simply ignore this obvious source of at least an appearance of conflict of interest is a serious breach of journalistic ethics.
-- Tim Lawson
Arlington, Virginia

RUBBER SOUL
Re: Reid Collins' And Ye Shall Know Them:

Reid Collins' column made even the '80s seem almost wistful. Twenty years ago, just as AIDS was evolving into the topic du jour, no one could say the word condom in an audible voice, at least not without snickering uncontrollably. In fact, they weren't known as condoms; they were known as, y'know, rubbers, a word which produced even greater choking fits of hilarity than condom. It was back when condoms were kept behind the drug store counter forcing the customers to ask for them. Yet even with the possibility of death-by-AIDS, people still found saying the "c" word almost impossible. So in 1987 the Carter-Wallace Company, maker of Trojan Brand Condoms, came out with a novel approach to help their customers overcome their embarrassment. Free of charge, they offered gold credit card-sized cards with black lettering. On the front was printed the question, "May I please have a box of Trojan Brand Condoms?" On the back Carter-Wallace had thoughtfully enumerated the varieties. Just hand the clerk your card, point to your choice, and you never need say the dreaded word.

Carter-Wallace didn't quite catch the curve because 1) by 1987 people were quickly losing their inhibitions to say condom and, more importantly, 2) condoms were finally moved from behind the counter and displayed openly in the general merchandise area.

The times, they were a'changing, yet I still had no idea how much until my mother, a refined septuagenarian at the time, casually rolled the word condom right off her tongue into our conversation, striking me with all the force of Dirty Harry's .357 Magnum. My mother, the woman who was rendered mute trying to discuss the birds and the bees with me, talking "dirty."

When I look at my condom card these days, virginal as it is, I hear Mary Hopkins singing, "Those were the days my friends …"
-- Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York

DIGITAL DISGRACE
Re: George Neumayr's 2004: A Sexual Space Odyssey and Thelma and Louise in Iraq:

In your Friday article on the sexual abuse in the U.S. prison in Iraq, you keep claiming that the Democrats are responsible for the integration of women in the military. This is a partisan escape from responsibility. Bush has been president for three and a half years (and Bush reportedly turned down Dan Coats for Secretary of Defense because Coats wanted to turn back the feminization policy). Republicans run Congress. No effort has been made to turn back the feminization of the military. This is a bi-partisan policy. There is no protest against it, except for some scattered conservatives. Most conservatives say "no women in combat," but they accept the current situation of sexual integration of military units and the placing of women in dangerous areas where they are killed and wounded. This is an utter disgrace on our country, and it is not honest to blame this on Democrats, when Republicans are just as much on board.
-- Lawrence Auster
New York, New York

Of the sexual abuse of prisoners in Iraq, George Neumayr asks, "And why is the behavior depicted in the photos so appalling to liberals? If the behavior had been voluntary, liberals would call it free speech." That is precisely the point. Something that can be enjoyable if engaged in voluntarily can be torture if forced upon one. That, in a nutshell, is the difference between sex and rape.

But I am more concerned with why Mr. Neumayr focuses purely on the sexual abuses, when there are so many other horrors that have been documented by the Red Cross and these photographs: agents of the U.S. government shooting at unarmed and imprisoned people (sometimes fatally); beating prisoners (again, sometimes fatally); threatening them with electrocution; depriving them of sleep, clothing, and light… How would we respond if American prisoners of war were treated this way?

The outrage in Washington that Mr. Neumayr finds so hard to comprehend is inspired by torture, not by a fraternity house prank. If anyone has trouble perceiving the difference, perhaps a rereading of the Geneva Convention will help clarify things.
-- Rev. Amy Zucker
Mountain View, California

George Neumayr's essay is brilliant!
-- Sissy Willis
Chelsea, Massachusetts

Great article George. I don't agree however that parents would call the college president a jackass because that very foolishness has been going on for years now and nobody calls the president a jackass. Can you picture that revolutionary college administration meeting when a Ph.D. first argued, "I know how we can motivate our students toward virtue and hard work -- let's put these horny little boys and shapely little girls in adjacent bedrooms!"
-- Scott Carter

As much as I can understand your political assessment of the Iraqi prisoner situation it is all, at best, secondary to what most Americans are thinking. What's going thru most folks minds around the water cooler is the minds of the perpetrators. For surely the acts committed reflect more on the one committing them and their own value of self than the Iraqi prisoners themselves.

Of interest is the fact that this investigation has been going on since November. In that period indictments should have been handed down. Yet conspicuously absent are the names of the accused. Is the fact that Military Intelligence was part of the problem a cause of the delay? And not a peep on the role that MI may have had in the overall situation there.

Lastly, it is a clear command breakdown that the DoD would not have briefed the President till the last hour as to the nature of this event. The DoD has learned nothing from their experiences in both Gulf Wars. Information has a life of its own. Bad news has faster legs than good news. Regardless, it is better that one release the information on one's own accord than permit someone else to spin it as they will.

Our men and women are doing a magnificent job in Iraq. Now they have to take it on the chin because of the acts of stupid people. It may not be Rumsfeld, but some heads in the chain of command have to roll over at DoD.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

George Neumayr is dead on target with his analysis of the animal house antics by American GI prison guards. Those who espoused the policy of gender integration at any price are reaping the bitter fruit of their flawed sexology. Monkey business should only be tried by monkeys, not by professional soldiers in a war zone in an antagonistic foreign culture. That the success of our Iraqi expedition may crumble, depending on the reaction of Iraqis and other Muslims to the sordid events that took place, is the sad thing.
-- David Shoup
Dublin, Georgia

The feminist fantasy of women's career rights trumping human dignity started decades ago. Remember the female sportscaster who demanded access to the men's locker room to further her career? Or the female prison guards that demanded the right to guard male prisoners, watching them shower and use the toilet, because to deny them hurt their careers? Or the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg proclaiming that "Men must learn to be commanded by women." American jurisprudence had decided long ago that whenever the privacy or dignity of men came up against a women's career, men must lose. We acquiesced to this, and we are all to blame for allowing it.
-- James Oswald

To George Neumayr: Right! Don't forget -- we need to get to the root causes.
-- Gwen Itskowitz

Wonderful commentary. Too bad it's not syndicated throughout major newspapers.
-- unsigned

I just read the article "Thelma and Louise in Iraq" by George Neumayr with stunned disbelief. The entire article is an attempt to blame women for the atrocities in Iraq. Will men stop at nothing to keep from taking responsibility for their cruelty towards one another? I was very shocked at the statement:

"The image of that female guard, smoking away as she joins gleefully in the disgraceful melee like one of the guys,"

What was she supposed to do? Beat the men up? Mow them down with her automatic rifle and face a court martial? Why was it the female guard's responsibility to stop these men when they were obviously obeying orders from the commander in chief, or his representative Mr. Rumsfeld? Why is the "female guard" more responsible for the atrocities that the Secretary of Defense?

Perhaps women are to blame for all the problems caused by men and their grand-standing egotism because we gave birth to every single one of them. Perhaps women should take responsibility for this problem by refusing to give birth to or nurture male children? Would Mr. Neumayr think this is the best solution to all of the problems in the world?

I don't think I will be checking out the Spectator again. Obviously you are a group of women bashing elitists who don't have three brain cells in your collective heads.
-- Kadira Belynne

IT'S ALL THERE
Re: Brett's letter ("Doubt Talks Back") in Reader Mail's Wiser Heads:

Brett's assaults on the historicity and veracity of the Gospels is nothing new, and resemble the hermeneutical gymnastics employed by constitutional re-constructionists ("living document" and "emanations from the penumbra" anyone?) But to the point, and this is the point, "Who do men say that I am?" He did answer His own question, and Brett needs merely to blow the dust off his King James, look in the table of contents to find the Gospel of John, and go to ch.8, vs 58: "Before Abraham was born, I AM." Unlike Brett, the Jews knew exactly what He was claiming (to be the I AM of Exodus 3, anyone?), and took up stones to stone Him. Brett will eventually acknowledge this too, but perhaps not in this life.
-- Mike McDaniel
Flower Mound, Texas
Dallas Seminary class of '91

A very important point to remember, regardless of your faith, "Myths don't make martyrs." How many would give up their life clinging to a lie they knew was a lie? What was there to be gained by the apostles to go to their graves, poor and despised by the better part of society of that day, for no other reason than their faith in the One who gave himself not only for them but the entire world? (John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.")

As far as Biblical references go, there are many scriptures to choose from concerning the declaration of Jesus Christ as Son of God:

God the Father testified of His son:
Matthew 3:16-17

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

The disciples also:
Matthew 16:13-20

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

And even the demons:
Luke 4: 40-41

40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
41 And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.

Call me what you want: fanatic, ignorant, Bible-thumper, etc., but I will take the statements of the Bible, which has survived many generations of attacks before, as the authority on truth over the opinions of today's self-appointed enlighteners.
-- James Warren
Coats, North Carolina

IT'S OBVIOUS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Right in the Krischer:

The reason that Rush Limbaugh if being picked on so strongly is very simple. He has two things "wrong" with him.

First, of course, he is a conservative. Were he to be a liberal, we would be discussing what the meaning of the word "is" is.

Second, and just as bad, he is effective. Therefore someone like this must be destroyed!

Nothing more needs be said.

Cheers,
-- Gus Morfis

TASTE BUD
Re: Brooke Oberwetter's Golden Archenemies:

Went by for an Egg McMuffin this morning (450 calories) and asked the guy how many of those new Veggie burgers they've been kinda coerced into selling. His candid/noncommittal answer -- "maybe one-a-day." Next, I think I'll try Kentucky Fried Tofu...
-- Jack Frost

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