Porn in the USA
I want you to know that I object strongly to the overall emphasis of your article on pornography ("Reagan's Smutstompers," April). Your criticism of the methods used by Regnery, Reisman, et al. to combat pornography may be justified to some extent. The same can be said about almost any government-appointed commission. However, your apparent approval of pornography as such is what I object to. I think the harm and crime associated with pornography is obvious. You can quote researchers to the contrary, but we know one can find researchers whose findings will back up almost any cause one promotes.
You say you do not defend rape and child abuse, yet these are definitely encouraged by free expression of pornographic material. So, to quote our President: "It's time to stop pretending that extreme pornography is a victimless crime." Let's put some control over the liberals' desires to print anything and everything.
Emerson L. Ogborn
Southern Pines, NC
Free Minds, Free Markets, But No Free Love!
I would like to cancel my subscription to REASON. I cherish the concepts of free markets and free minds, but I didn't know that "free minds" meant without responsibility.
Pandering to Perverts
I just received your April issue. Apparently your magazine prefers license to reasoned restraint. Your support of pornography counts me out. I will leave you to pander to others who, like yourselves, exercise poor judgment. One final note: your cover was at best in poor taste. I don't know to what country or organization your staff holds allegiance, but I resent you using my flag to illustrate your porno views. Cancel my subscription immediately.
Sadism, Masochism, and the First Amendment
I have not felt so at home with a magazine since I picked up my first copy of National Review nearly 20 years ago. Congratulations. You have another satisfied customer.
I greatly enjoyed the article on the war on porn. I am afraid that I share the views of Justice Douglas and Justice Black, among others. If one person can print it, another has a right to read it. That is the rock-bottom guarantee of the First Amendment. It seemed at times as though your article faltered a bit, however. While violent porn is abhorrent to me, it too must enjoy full protection. Market and education are the only delimiters that can or should be employed. If someone wants to buy it, it will be available. If education could fill the gap that porn does now, it would fall of its own weight. There seemed to be times in your article that could be construed as the opening of the way for the advocates of censorship. Unfortunately, violent porn must enjoy full protection, just as nonviolent porn must.
Thanks. We Needed That
Believe it or not, as Ripley would say, I refuse to cancel my subscription despite the name-calling, contradictions, and innuendo employed by Martin Morse Wooster in his April article, "Reagan's Smutstompers." The title itself would be worthy of authorship by the late Senator Joe McCarthy, but Mr. Wooster's copy makes poor old Joe look like an emaciated, bumbling piker, which he certainly was not.
I am a recent subscriber to REASON, and with each successive issue I'm thankful I stumbled across the publication in, of all places, a laundromat. My rationale is quite simple. REASON represents an approach which is almost impossible to duplicate in this age of thoroughly ideologized media.
Your editors seem to realize that most of us, despite being intellectually less well-endowed than most media people, are quite capable of arriving at reasonably sound conclusions if we are presented with varying opinions and factual information on subjects which are critical to a healthy Republic.
Congratulations from a conservative who understands and appreciates Mr. Wooster's point of view but finds his methodology distasteful.
Ivy Dissidents Alive and Kicking
I was most interested in Lucy Braun's "God and Woman at Yale" (April). Her characterization of the situation at Yale is generally accurate. During my five years of teaching there, many students told me of incidents in which they or their classmates were ridiculed for their ideas. As Ms. Braun correctly notes, the most infuriating thing about Yale is not so much the content of the dominant opinion but the fact that so many people have such a low regard for the value of open discussion of ideas.
Having said all this, however, I must add that I was disappointed that Ms. Braun painted the situation with such a broad brush. For instance, I was privileged to be associated with a number of students and faculty who cared very deeply about ideas and who were willing to be engaged in discussion. These students certainly seemed to feel free to express their views, judging from the freewheeling conversations which often took place in my classes. And these students were always respectful of each other's ideas.
Besides giving a more balanced account of life at Yale, inclusion of these exceptions would have strengthened Ms. Braun's argument. There were people who valued ideas and discussion at Yale. The fact that they were exceptions rather than the rule is as serious an indictment as any that could be made.
George Mason University
Yale Locks Out Dissent
My compliments to Lucy Braun. I see that since Paul Samuelson's textbook afflicted my libertarian sensibilities in the early 1960s, Yale's approach to economics has hardly changed. How boring for Yale.
Point for point my experience at Yale was similar to Braun's, except only that she seems to have handled the "insult for argument" routine better than I did.
What Would Churchill Know About Unsordid Acts?
In Tyler Cowen's otherwise good piece on the truth about the Marshall Plan ("The Great Twentieth-Century Foreign-Aid Hoax," April), an error has crept in. Churchill was not referring to the Marshall Plan when he made his comment about "the most unsordid act in the history of any nation," but rather the Lend-Lease Act, enacted in 1941.
Under the Hammer, Under the Sickle, Under the Stars and Stripes
"The Sun Never Sets on the Russian Empire" (Trends, April), but the American Empire is in the same ballpark. You pointed out that with military and economic aid, trade subsidies, export credits, etc., the Soviets are spending seven percent of their GNP on empire building.
The USSR has their satellite states and their Third-World client states. So does the United States. We have Japan and West Germany as military welfare clients, who should now be allowed (demanded?) to defend themselves. World War II was over 40 years ago. We have Israel and Egypt, both of whom are given multibillion-dollar incentives by the United States to be amiable.
There is not a continent on this earth, Antarctica included, where the United States doesn't have a military presence and provide economic aid.
The smaller nations are smart to be distrustful of the major superpowers. They don't really care whether they're absorbed by a Russian bear or an American eagle.
The Battle for Men's Minds
Your recent criticism of the National Endowment for Democracy ("The Neocons' Newest Con," March) doesn't address several important points. For those of us who have lived overseas many years, we have looked in vain for some US effort to counter the billions spent on propaganda and subversion by Marxists. Most of us have seen case after case where even a few thousand dollars could have prevented a major victory for the Soviets. I often have seen local anticommunist groups and publications literally starved for funds and moral support while leftists get almost unlimited resources from the worldwide left (including US leftists). The local wealthy are often unwilling, unable, or with justifiable fear of assassination or kidnapping if they openly support anticommunist movements.
Your writer argued of the risk that some future leftist administration in Washington might use the NED to promote foreign leftists. This would be very unlikely. The AFL-CIO's foreign department, which disburses 25 percent of the funds, has been solidly anticommunist since the 1940s. Indeed, we have far more examples of businessmen selling out to the Soviets than of American labor (except for the far-left National Education Association). The US Chamber of Commerce foreign department controls other parts of the funds and is also doing a fine job in many cases of which I am aware.
As far as spending funds in Western Europe, I would point out that the Voice of America has also now started aiming broadcasts there. Western Europeans have been major underwriters of the Sandinistas and other Third World Marxists. For example, Norway's largest recipient for foreign aid is now the Sandinistas. And European youth are inundated with leftist ideology.
The world out there is a rough place. The Soviets spend billions trying to subvert often unstable, insecure nations. America just can't close its eyes and pretend we live in a different kind of world. The National Endowment for Democracy is an attempt to fight back and defend free-world interests.
Jon Basil Utley
The Times of the Americas
Our Kind of Guy!
I want to express how much I've enjoyed my first two issues of REASON. From time to time I sign up for new publications, but rarely do the feature articles sustain keen interest, as yours have. In February's issue I particularly enjoyed the presentations on Eldridge Cleaver and industrial policy in Japan; the latter had some clearly defective analogies, which surprised me, but overall value was still there. In March the evenhanded, nonsensationalizing essay about Managua was excellent; the pointed review of specious reasoning where safe driving is concerned in "All Revved Up and No Place to Go" was superior; the interview with Mr. Buthelezi was informative and left me admiring the man's integrity and solid values.
Finally, who would ever imagine that an essay on the subject of American country music ("Getting Back to the Country"), where the themes of jilted lovers, marital cheats, and drunken cowboys prevail, would successfully link such music with fully American personality traits that have shaped our land? Three cheers to Bill Kauffman, who so correctly emphasizes that what is wonderful and good in America springs from the hearts of individual citizens, not from our government.
You're doing a commendable job; the ideas in your publication are invigorating. REASON is welcome in my home!
Mark H. Lowe
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".