Letters

From the week of January 28, 1999

Show Us the Money
Kudos to Amy Silverman for her column on John McCain (Wonk, January 14). The "Keating Coddler" has lined his pockets nicely after a 51U2-year stay at the "Hanoi Hilton" with a current net worth of $8 million. Do we really pay our senators that well? I would like to know how he made his money. McCain is enjoying his midlife menopause in believing the public wants a bribed senator with a substance-abusing wife as commander in chief.

Will he return all unspent funds to those foolish enough to contribute, or will they be used to further line his pockets?

Jim Wienen
Phoenix

Jailhouse Mock
In light of the recent settlement in the Scott Norberg trial ("The $8 Million Victim," Tony Ortega, January 14) and pending trials concerning the treatment of Richard Post and Timothy Griffin in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails, I'm wondering this: Why hasn't anyone called for this guy's head on a platter?

In a country where a strong, fair-minded president (who doesn't advocate putting visitors to county jails in Orwellian-type restraining chairs, mind you) is facing possible removal from office for ostensibly lying about an extramarital affair with a consenting adult, it seems ludicrous that an elected county official whose policies have irreversibly damaged--and destroyed--people's lives is allowed to retain his office.

There was enough evidence in the Norberg case to prove wrongdoing on the part of the sheriff's office--enough that the office thought a settlement was the only way out. Although Sheriff Joe insists paying off the Norbergs is not an admission of guilt, it also should not be an excusable way to weasel out of further litigation.

If future trials against the sheriff's office even suggest that Sheriff Joe and his cronies used methods of cruel and unusual punishment--and I think the obvious answer is that they will--then I think it's time Arpaio perform what would be the most noble act of his stint as sheriff: step down.

Name withheld by request

Vice Vs.
The three letters in response to your "Moral Sex" article (January 14) are all emphatically emotional blasts at those who would dictate anyone else's morality. Although unified in their vehemence, the authors display a common failure to substantiate their common definition of morality, depending on myriad forms of obfuscation. A careful reading of these letters reveals three flagrant hypocrites who in fact espouse a mindset that tolerates no freedom of choice.

The three writers offer the same definition: If something is liked, it is therefore moral. In other words, an emotional dedication to an idea is sufficient proof of its worthiness, and no objection is acceptable. The support offered includes an example-free claim of having observed government moral offenses (how dare it look at others' morals?); simplistic and confused analogy comparing apples to oranges; reliance on an unchecked source; general condescension including name-calling and sarcasm; a pretentious use of clearly misunderstood, misused terminology and quotation; and the suggestion that those who don't agree should leave town. All of this is enfolded in reversals of logic: Rather than offering a premise followed by support leading to a conclusion that reiterates the premise, the "moralists" state their definition of morality as fact and, in "support," proceed to use the various forms of distortion just mentioned. This approach does not seek informed understanding and earned respect, but rather, intimidated assent, or unthinking compliance from those who cannot see through the veil or who are made fearful by the confident intellectual posing. The dubiousness is multiplied by the anonymity of all three (two who do not allow their names and addresses to be printed, one who hides by refusing to identify herself as a swinger, patron of sex clubs, or just a "moral" supporter).

What these three are really defending is that an idea need not be substantiated by anything more than an emphatic expression of liking it. Opposition means that one's fitness of mind is suspect. Disagree, and the result is banishment until you are trained into displaying respect.

This last notion, banishment, is proposed by the one writer who reveals her name, but no details of exactly what it is she likes (being a patron of adult social clubs, an owner, a supporter, or all). Tired of continually having to put up with the close-minded media and politicians who want to impress upon us their moral superiority, she claims what she does is in the name of culture and diversity. Absent any explanation, she proposes banishment for those who oppose her, to a place where they can gain experience in whatever it is she likes and calls moral, but does not identify.

I suggest to this allegedly morally superior individual and her ilk that, rather than whine about what they have to put up with, they owe it to themselves to escape the oppression. Flee to somewhere they can indulge their moral superiority, somewhere they can experience diversity by becoming part of a culture that does not account for itself. Where the government shares and wholeheartedly supports their concept of morality. Try North Korea.

If they choose to stay here, no doubt they will continue to indulge their tastes in the quiet residential neighborhoods the city wants to protect. Enjoy! If they want public tolerance of their taste, then a legitimate discussion is in order, and commitment strong enough that does not allow for fear of being identified.

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