January 2007


Ova for Sale

Kerry Howley is to be congratulated for her beautifully written firsthand examination of the egg donor experience ("Ova for Sale," October), but her criticisms of the IVF industry struck me as a little ungenerous. She would prefer "unblinking honesty" about the exchange of money for human ova and finds it "degrading" to be both paid handsomely and considered altruistic. But her own article explains the precarious U.S. legal regime under which the sale of ova takes place, though she failed to note that politicians in Arizona and California just this year have proposed outlawing compensation to egg donors. Doctors and patients shouldn't be chastised for obfuscating to protect their freedoms.

Howley's actions belie her superficially hard-line position. She felt guilty after the initial egg harvest was a disappointment, but why? She had fulfilled her portion of the contract. When asked to ratchet up the drug dosage in violation of clinic policy, she obeyed. Why? Apparently she sympathized with the plight of the couple trying to get pregnant. Was that reaction altruistic? Humanitarian? Coldly capitalistic? Howley ought to check herself before lambasting an industry continually threatened by the long arms of the law and the shortsightedness of its critics.

Kevin B. O'Reilly
Chicago, IL

The State of War and Domestic Terrorism

John Mueller says his views on the risks posed by terrorists have provoked less disagreement than he expected ("The State of War and Domestic Terrorism," October). Allow me to add my small voice to that disagreement.

Mueller argues that we should save our money and just treat terrorists as common criminals, in effect daring them to do their worst and then prosecuting those we can catch according to the laws of whatever country has jurisdiction. He fails to mention that's exactly what we did throughout the 1980s and '90s, and it didn't work. There's a straight line connecting all the dots between the Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon in the '80s and the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. If we hadn't responded to that one, what would they have tried next?

The trouble with Mueller's approach is that there's nowhere to draw the line. If it's OK to kill 3,000 of us—only 0.001 percent of our population, after all—how about 30,000?

Once upon a time, our flag showed a rattlesnake with the motto "Don't tread on me!" Maybe it's time to haul it out and remind our detractors that it's not safe to fool around with us just because we prefer peace and harmony to war.

Richard B. Crawford
Roy, WA

They Don't Know Jack

There is no question that the incident involving Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) helped the GOP tremendously, as David Weigel points out in "They Don't Know Jack" (October). The graphic image of cash in the freezer was just perfect for Joe Six-Pack's typically nonretentive memory, and a perfect antidote for the complicated Abramoff matter.

I do think House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made the right move in joining House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to "defend the legislative branch" over Jefferson's office search, however. They forced Bush and his attorney general to back down, as they should have. In the larger scheme of things, it is not very important whether Jefferson goes to the slammer. The guy who gave him the freezer cash got sentenced to seven years, after all.

Larry Hughes
Calhoun County, MI

America Gives a Shit

I agree with everything Jeff Jarvis says in "America Gives a Shit" (October). Therefore I was quite surprised to read the circumlocution "f-words." Surely a magazine committed to free minds and free markets can print the word fuck.

A taboo, in a certain sense, is a form of respect. A word can be so feared that it can't even be mentioned. But why should we be afraid of a term that, unlike "damnation," does not refer to a great evil or to something we are warned to fear?

This is your moment, Reason. Print this letter and end a silly taboo.

George Jochnowitz
Professor Emeritus of Linguistics
College of Staten Island, CUNY
New York, NY

The Real Mommy Wars

Shannon Chamberlain's commentary on the "mommy wars" fascinated me ("The Real Mommy Wars," October). The mommy wars are fought solely by women who feel guilty about the choices they've made. Caitlin Flanagan and Carrie Lukas must overlook people like myself, the underachievers of our generations. I graduated in the middle of my class from high school in 1994, though I was (if I do say so myself) one of the brighter kids in school. I never had much ambition but to get married and raise a family and then hang out with my husband while we grow old.

I'm not lazy by any means; I work hard maintaining our household, while my husband works hard providing the means for me to do so. Our house isn't perfectly clean and orderly, and there are plenty of wrinkles in our lives. But we are a functioning, affectionate family with the choice of having a parent home full-time. My self-worth isn't dependent on a to-do list, a contact sheet, or a paycheck. Someday I might have a "career," but for now I am truly pleased to be a "stay-at-home mom" driving a minivan back and forth to ballet and Cub Scouts. I'll be thrilled if my son and daughters make the same choices.

Dusti Worley Chuang
Birmingham, AL

CleanFlicks v. Kate Winslet's Breasts

Maybe Hollywood is stupid, as Nick Gillespie says in "CleanFlicks v. Kate Winslet's Breasts" (October), to underserve the religious market for wholesome family entertainment. But a company that creates a secondary revenue stream on modified source material is still stealing.

It's true that each consumer "edits" artistic content through a personal filter that includes life experience, beliefs, preferences, etc. It's also true that copying cassettes, burning CDs, and skipping over commercials and dumb sitcom jokes constitute personalization of the consumer experience. But there's no money exchanged, and the "filterer" does not occupy the same plane as the "visionary creator," without whom there would be nothing to filter.

I'm sure the producers and creators would be fine with the old-fashioned method: With ears plugged and eyes closed, viewers can shout "la la la" until the scary parts are over. But if CleanFlicks wants to make commercial edits to a Hollywood blockbuster, it should create and finance one of its own.

Julie Welke
Ferndale, MI

The Longneck Tail

While I enjoyed Jay Brooks's article on craft beers ("The Longneck Tail," October), you should have used a more up-to-date photo as an illustration. Manhattan Brewing has been out of business since 1993, and Cold Spring Brewing became Gluek Brewing about seven years ago. Running a photo with such moldy old bottles signals to beer lovers that you guys really don't know much about brewing.

Martin Morse Wooster
Silver Spring, MD