Email To The Editors

Mr. Pot, Meet Mr. Kettle

Hyperlinked Hypocrisy

I write this with regard to Ron Rosenbaum’s dispatch (” The Last Luddite Gets Wired“). Frankly, I would have responded directly to him if he were a little more open to the cyberworld and had provided an address of any kind to respond to. He says cyberculture brings out the worst in people. (Well, there’s no convincing him otherwise if he’s not accepting debate on the issue.) Then he launches into a tirade about the arrogance and ignorance of the “Chatroom Poseur” based on a single e-mail he received questioning his honesty as a journalist-columnist.

If Rosenbaum wants to be an objective observer, fine, but he enters with too many preconceptions. Two e-mail messages and one trip to a chat room (by his own admission) may give him room to give his initial reactions, but not to cast judgment on an entire culture. Rosenbaum writes, “I’m not unwilling to listen to criticism, but a critique clothed in such an invincible armor of arrogance and ignorance is, well, typical of cyberchat rhetoric.”

You don’t think your respondent had any real logic or an equitable argument, but your posting has even less. You take potshots at him in public as he did to you in private (you called him a dimwit). That’s hypocritical.

Dan O’Brien

Meriden, Conn.

Ron Rosenbaum replies:This letter, while unusually lucid for e-mail, is based on a misconception: While I’ve only visited a chat room once, I’ve read numerous transcripts, excerpts, printouts, etc. Enough to characterize the typical snide tone. I should point out that I omitted the name of the respondent I critiqued.

Down on Dowd

What on earth makes Chatterbox (” Inside Spitball“) think that the “cognoscenti” of New York like the recent work of Maureen Dowd any better then their counterparts in Washington do? The last line I heard from a cognoscente was “Isn’t it too bad about Maureen?” and that was some time ago. What seems to have happened is that Dowd has been playing to a small gallery of Clinton-phobes at the New York Times who laugh and applaud wildly as her reputation sinks at about equal speed in all major cities at once.

And what makes Chatterbox think he knows all about the Clintons’ “chilly business deal” either? Surely a kinder and sadder story can be whittled from the same evidence, to wit: that Hillary, a blue-stocking in love with a glamorpuss, had too eagerly bought Bill’s Gladstone-like tales of helping troubled young women to find peace: enough so anyway to make a potential laughingstock of herself by repeating them on television, and enough also to give Bill some terrible legal advice in the specific matter of Monica. Surely a chilly business partner would at least have known about a case that was about to go on legal record and would never have urged her husband to brazen it out with the grand jury and start the whole miserable ball rolling.

At any rate, when Bill was finally cornered by the school bully and forced to blurt the truth, Hillary was revealed to be not just a wronged woman but a lousy lawyer–and she was most gratifyingly furious. Hillary’s rage that night was surely one of the most authentic sights ever shown on television, prompting the thought that, unlike the absurd Linda Tripp, both Clintons really are us, in our various phases–and incidentally that Hillary may be the only first lady in my lifetime (which goes back a bit) that one can even imagine being friends with. And since then, she has played her part just fine, establishing herself as a separate unit and not just “standing by her man,” like Dowd’s “failed feminist,” but standing by her family, like a grown-up–a condition that Dowd herself curiously never seems to get any closer to as the years go by. In a column airily damning the whole younger generation of Kennedys, she makes it clear that she has probably never raised a child herself and worried herself sick about how it would turn out; and in another, gleefully jumping on James Fallows the day after he was fired from U. S. News & World Report, she indicates that job tenure has not been a problem either. Good job tenure, that is–because in yet another column, she sneers at Sara Davidson for working on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Why can’t the silly creature get a perfect job like hers? So long as the pet’s patriarchs at the Times continue to give her unlimited freedom to write exactly what they like to hear, she is sitting pretty–though not, perhaps, in an ideal position to judge anyone else anywhere.

Wilfrid Sheed

Sag Harbor, N.Y.

P.S.: I have it on the word of a neutral party in a position to know, that in her famous bake-off with Barbara Bush, Hillary undoubtedly made her own cookies from her own recipe, and they were excellent. No big deal, of course–these things happen all the time in real life. But both Dowd and Chatterbox might like to stick it in their stereotypes anyway and smoke it for a while, preferably in silence.

SUVs Don’t Kill People–People Kill People

Gregg Easterbrook really needs to educate himself about SUV owners (“The Godzilla SUV“). Many people I know that own a SUV live and work in rural areas, where they need the off-road and carrying capability of a SUV. Now, those who live in the suburbs who don’t use an SUV except for pure street driving may be the ones to whom you’re referring. I own a Jeep Cherokee. Yes, it does consume more fuel than an econo-car. But it is a justification I have accepted in order to get the performance that I need to earn a living. Much of my time is spent working in the field as a biologist. I do a lot of off-road work where four-wheel drive is an absolute. There really is no option for me but to own a SUV. I am proud to say that I am one of the few who use these vehicles for how they were really intended to be used.

You, on the other hand, are part of a growing number of people that like to target people on the basis of association. Your petty antics of coal-raking put those of us who are sincere and considerate SUV owners at risk. You are generating waves that are being heard in Washington where laws may be drafted that make it harder for someone to own a SUV.

I and the many of us that are the responsible SUV users would appreciate it if you would take your brow-bashing energy and channel it not to the SUV but to those who abuse the privilege of driving one. Like guns and gun control, it’s not the gun that needs to be removed from society, it’s the ass behind the trigger.

Tim Mallow

Cocoa, Fla.