Reader Mail, 9/30

Reason welcomes all responses. If you do not want your message published, please put "Not for publication" in the subject line or body of your message.


Re: Blue Blockers (9/27)

Capital ideas


Tom Walters

Re: No Go Logo (9/27)

It's all been planned by the Illuminati

I would like to point out that it's quite possible that this is 100% intentional and has some sort of "mind warfare" type reasoning behind it. It is quite possible that the U.S. national security establishment is attempting to capitalize on the global conspiracy mythos to create an image of impenetrable and invincible global power.

If this is so, it's quite dangerous as all such spy-chiatrist spooky schemes have this odd tendency to backfire, an event that intelligence people call "blowback." This happens frequently. The wierder and spookier (CIA pun intended) the scheme, the more bizarre and unpredictable the results will be.

The (hypothetical) desired scenario:

The emblem of the Illuminati and it's mythos of unquestionable world power and mystical insight into all strikes fear into the hearts of America's enemies! You will be assimilated! Resistance is futile!

Potential blowback scenario:

If they're trying to unify the left, the right, the libertarians, and the religious conservatives into a single bloc opposing the U.S. national security establishment, then this strategy could very well accomplish that.

Adam Ierymenko

Re: Ban This Book (9/26)

Horton Heeds the Pope

Just wanted to say thanks for the validation on Cat in the Hat. I have read the book countless times to my son, and always end up with a vague sense of unease. My wife is convinced that there's a subtle pro-life subtext in Horton Hears a Who.


Rob Van Hoose

Re: Reason Express (9/24)

Loony Tuesdays with Morrie

"So Albom is not exactly a fringe kook…"


Pay a bit of attention to him long term and you'll see a talented sports writer mindlessly adrift when addressing anything but left-populist issues unless he is (as usual) assuming his personal experience trumps reason.

Albom also has a radio show where he sounds like a slightly unhinged version of Bill O'Reilly imitating Phil Donohue (or maybe it's the other way around). He should stick STRICTLY to sports.

That he manages to be rational in an occasional statement is simply testimony to both volume and lack of focus.

No matter what you may think about the stupidity of the Drug War, this is guy is a buffoon outside a very narrow schtick. He does not respect, and does not desire, either free minds or free markets.

His solution would be for the Feds to issue "drug stamps" based on guidelines developed by a new Federal Department with a higher budget than the DEA and ATF combined. If you bypass his system you would most certainly still have a gun at your head.

Duane Hershberger
Williamston MI

Re: Great expectations (9/19)

Beirut regrets

Hi Michael Young —

Superb piece in Reason!

As someone writing a book on its history—the story of the Deir Yassin massacre (expansion of a Historian journal piece), with a vicious denunciation of the collectivism of both sides—and a libertarian, it is a pleasure to see a good analysis of the current situation. If only the Arabs around you there would adopt a perceptive view of the USA, its factions, and separate out the liberal idea—rather rely on endless conspiracy theories and blaming the Zionist lobby (not that they don't cause big trouble) and Israel (not that it doesnt have lots of baggage especially in Lebanon).

It is nice that Reason ran it as well.

Wish I'd visited Beirut whe I had the chance…


Matthew Hogan

A non-imperialist plan to overthrow at least five governments

Hi Mike,

Read your article with great admiration and fascination with your account of the Byzantine maneuving by the foriegn policy geniuses. In this case, however, the thrust of this action is not Imperial.

It is self defense, plain and simple. Iraq happens to be the next link in the chain of terror that must be shattered. Followed by Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, either by force or by other, more subtle influence, these nests of terror must be wiped out and re-born in the mold of Japan and Germany after the second war. Nothing Imperial, just American self defense.

Thanks again for an excellent view of an interesting subject.

John Averyt

Re: The Drug Czar Must Abdicate (9/18)

Fear, disenfranchisement and humungodollars

Thank you Jacob Sullum for reminding us of an important national crisis that has unfortunately been going on for 40 or so years. Our nation's drug policy is both ineffective and harmful, and should be changed radically. As to the drug interception policy, the best estimate is that we prevent approximately 1% of all illicit drugs from entering our country. Any corporation that spent 20 billion dollars in one year for a 1% success rate would have seriously reevaluated the strategy. Yet we have year after year dumped humungodollars into this industry, presumably so that the DEA folks wouldn't have to rethink their careers. But all this wasted money pales in comparison to the human destruction caused by our policy on drug abuse. Availability of drugs is not the cause, and we have proven that interdiction is all but impossible. Caging drug users is inhumane and destructive. We are left with the responsibility to best determine the real cause of drug abuse. Our youth live in the dark cloud of alcohol hypocrisy, and they are unlikely to respect a law that makes criminals of them for behaviors modeled by their parents. If drug abuse is a problem, let's work on the cause. In most cases it is fear and disenfranchisement. Living with a jingoistic administration can't help.

Matt Nesper
Sonora, CA

Re: Louisiana Radio War (9/16)

Slick and sleazy

What Jesse brings out is that the NYT floodlights the competition between "a slick, centralized alternative to low-budget independent Christian stations"—acting to set up full-power stations which use the FCC's rules to bump "a slick, centralized alternative to noncommercial community radio" set of translators which NPR uses to spread its centralized ( and commercially supported) message.

But in addition, the NYT was pointing to a source of financing that could help the NPR stations buy their own full-power outlets in lieu of making do with the bargain basement cast-offs available at the FCC's charity stores.

Mention is made of Public Radio Capital (PRC), which "helps extend public radio's reach throughout America"—and that sounds very nice until you look at PRC's (limited) web page, and start looking at what style of directors and staff persons are described there.

In case you don't remember, PRC was founded last year by Station Resource Group "to help public radio stations initiate and finance expensive ventures, including buying new stations and expanding existing facilities. The tax-exempt company incorporated …. in Colorado, in part to take advantage of the Colorado Educational Facilities Authority, which issues bonds for capital use anywhere in the country."

But Station Resource Group (SRG) looks so interesting [www.srg.org]—I suppose it's possible there will be support for grass-roots/community broadcasting but that's NOT the impression I get from their hype.

"SRG works with stations to help them improve their programming efforts, reach more listeners and provide greater value to their audiences."

"CHARTING THE TERRITORY is a new planning initiative through which SRG will explore content and service strategies to take today's public radio stations to the public service media companies of the future."

and so forth. And look at the history of the persons involved.

Jesse's right—slick is "in"—so is "sleazy". I don't have enough time today to dig into SRG, PRC, and even the NYT -there's a war to stop—but let's share some more grass-root energy—, CHristopher Maxwell Radio Free Richmond, is so right.


Easy listening in Abilene

Dear Mr. Walker:

Interestingly, for a writer for a magazine called "Reason," you forgot to do just that in your article. NPR stations, regardless of where they are in the country, are not centrally controlled. They are affiliates of the network, although NPR strictures on their affiliates are fairly loose in comparison with other network outlets, especially those of Mr. Wildmon's organization. Each public station is controlled at the station level, and usually by a board of community members.

As to uniformity of format, in public radio there is none. Stations play any and every mix of classical, jazz, new age, punk, techno, bluegrass, world music, etc., etc. that can be imagined, with as much network programming mixed in as they want (or can afford). An NPR station in Abilene, Texas played (I kid you not) The Carpenters, Burt Bacarach and the like ALL DAY. Why? The station manager and board felt as though the easy listening population was underserved. Did Washington (where NPR is headquartered) care? I don't know, but they stayed affiliates AND played elevator music.

Also, If there are areas with translators served by that station, it is because there are insufficient numbers of listeners to open independent broadcast studios. The organizations that run public radio stations extend their signals through the translators as a service to these small populations. So, far from being a centrally-controlled behemoth, eager to drain local content out of each of each station in pursuit of profit (and I have companies like Clear Channel and Infinity in mind here, although Mr. Wildmon's organization would fit this description as well), public stations of my acquaintance (and I have lived in 11 different states) make a special effort to invite programming from areas that have translators.

So, your assertions that this is a battle between two competitors of equal size is factually and substantively incorrect. The article you mention pointed out that stations band together for common cause (something that must appeal to you on some level as a libertarian). That is different than a well-funded single organization (like AFA—able to raise millions with a single mailing) targeting public radio station, as their lawyer admitted.

It seems that additional research—or thought—on your part might have improved your article.

Robert Johnson

Re: My Sweet Bore (August)

Damn your eyes!

Dear Nick Gillespie:

So you're a fan of George Harrison? We may have to go back to the dictionary and redefine that word. Talk about a belated slur. I guess writing something that hideous regarding Mr. Harrison wouldn't have gone over very well at the time of his death—so you waited nearly a year before you could tell the public what you really think of him. Anyone can take a bunch of quotes out-of-context and make his subject look like an insensitive old fool. That's exactly what you did to Harrison. Dismissing the last twenty years of his life as an afterthought was also a disgrace. Harrison's musical legacy will live long after the public has forgotten over-blown egocentric editors like yourself. For someone who makes his living as a pontificator, your criticisms of Harrison's preachy tendencies were ludicrous and hypocritical. Next time you take out your poison pen to back-stab someone who can't respond, think about how it would feel if someone was poking your own eye out with it.

Charles Reilly

Would that be "Patti" Boyd Harrison, by any chance?

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Normally, i would ignore a story like this, but I have subscribed to the magazine at times, bought this magazine, gave it to others, so I felt obligated to write you.

My credential as a Bealtle's fan are the same as yours and most other people. I attended their last concert, and have enjoyed all their solo albums and the work of Zak and Julian.

I cannot comment on the book-review because I have not read it, but the rest of the story, wow! …You know… I don't force" snipe you made of the many. He is not a "put some ice on it kind of guy". Every snipe I had a reaction to.

A miniscule of the population are the existential -types, to create something out of nothing. To change the landscape of culture, forever. An argument can be made comparing the Beatles and Salk and Neil Armstrong. You and I are not of the same species, and that is a fact, like it or not. Bangladesh concert was a seed that planted a million trees, and you give credit to all his visions.

I have a question for you? What does anyone owe any reporter anywhere? Let me take you back to Bob Costas at Mickey Mantles' funeral. WHAT, does Mickey have to apologize to the nothing-Bob Costas about? For hitting 500+ plus home-runs and stuffing the Yankees owners with gold. Every time the Yankees were on the road with Mickey in the line-up, attendance went up 10-20 thousand, each game they were in town. Is he supposed to apololgize to those owners too? Should he apologize for playing in great pain every day of his life? Bob, a reporter wants Mickey to apologize for drinking? A reporter. Mickey at least paid for his drinks, did Bob? Mickeys' drinks did not come out of Bob's pocket, Bob's drinks don't even come out of Bob's pocket, they go on an expence account.

What does greatness have to apoligize to us normal-gened people about? NOTHING. They are not our slaves. Also, if I want the proper manners; reporters, never. They simply to not set the protocol that they and you in this case get so all flustered about. Why? Because I am buying the CD of the musician, watching the no-hitter of the athlete, and do not care about the reporter trying to appropriate the attention of the celeb onto him/her self. The musician/athlete/etc has the talent I am paying for, the product I am buying,; THEY have come up with the "better mousetrap"

Eric Clapton hates Oasis too. You would deny him this? Your work is copyrighted, but a musician must accept rip-offs? There is no slavery or indentured servants in this country or England either. Many bands honor the history of what came before, and have have thier life's work molded by past music, but Oasis annoys the originals; they should check with you first?

The other day I went to the allthingsmustpass.com web site. I had not been there since George's death. It takes about 4-5 minutes to run it's course, but it is the best memorial I have ever seen, for anyone. Splendid.

Anyway, I felt you were being UNREASONABLE, I'm sure that is an old-line around there.



Reason's pro-meat agenda revealed

Dear Editors:

When reading Tim Cavanaugh's reference, in "The Right To Kill Your Kids," to "some dummy plac[ing] an infant on a strict vegan diet", I thought of the slanted reporting of the Swinton case in April 2002, and, sure enough, that's where your link led. It's worth noting that one can maintain proper nutrition on a vegan diet, including plenty of all the essential amino acids and whatever else Mr. Cavanaugh apparently joins hosts of poorly informed Americans in believing vegans must lack. (If you want to learn how, Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina's 'Becoming Vegan' is also an excellent guide to nutrition in general.) It's also surprising that those reporting this case didn't bother seeking the thoughts of a vegan with more sense, who would have pointed out that, as breast-feeding does not force any sentient creature to suffer, it's absurd to think that the best form of nutrition for a human infant somehow violates vegan principles, and the parents denying this nutrition to their baby did it not because of being vegan but because of being nutcases. (Taking a second to look further, I find that you could have read similar points in follow-ups from the very page you linked. Laziness or a personal vendetta against vegans?)

Ronald Bailey's piece, "I Don't Care Where My Food Comes From," online at the same time, dismisses a serious moral issue along with an entirely different argument that he may be right to claim is misguided. I am not arguing here with his case against either the non-GMO movement or organic farming. The use of animals for food, however, is a moral problem, and I cannot think of how Reason or Mr. Bailey in particular, given his other writings, would consistently dismiss it.

The general mood of righteous ignorance to which he appeals (no one cares about where clothing, medicine, books, cars, etc. come from, right?) shouldn't garner much sympathy as a matter of principle. As a matter of fact, people *do* care about the state of industries and specific organizations producing many of these things, and it is not only people criticized in the pages of Reason who do so. When you write about the externalities involved in an industry or the problems created in it by government intrusion, such as the way the government of this country pokes into agriculture, you show concern for where products such as your food come from.

And you ought to do so. It's true that people can't make every minute decision every day by thinking through all of their ramifications. That doesn't mean it's right never to think those thoughts. Especially when presented with a clear, reasoned case such as Peter Singer's 'Animal Liberation' against the use of sentient beings as tools for food production, why not conclude that you ought not to buy such products? After that you could happily return to not thinking about where your tofu or seitan comes from.

Perhaps it is one of Reason's fundamental pieces of dogma that proper libertarians care about humans and not beings of other species, but this seems too crude a basic moral position for somebody like Mr. Bailey, who has written so well on issues like stem-cell use, against those who identify a set of DNA as the defining moral feature of a thing. His writings on those medical topics, in the pages of Reason or as a guest for National Review, go beyond blanket assertions of hands-off policy to confront the substantive claims of those who find reasons, for example, for valuing blastocysts as persons with rights. He engages in such debates as ethical issues, and he is generally well-spoken and correct about them. I wish he would consider food in the same terms.


Matthew Bluestone
New York, NY