HEAVENS TO BETSY

It ain't porn: Betsy Schneider is a distinguished faculty member of the Herberger College of the Arts at Arizona State University. She has been acclaimed around the world for the beauty and power of her images. As is true of all art, Betsy's work evokes powerful responses in her viewers ("The Daily Show," Amy Silverman, August 14).

From the day they were born, Betsy Schneider has been documenting the growth of her children through a series of photographs. Through a mother's eyes, images of her children, naked and happy, are beautiful.

Not surprisingly, Betsy has encountered opposition to the public display of these photographs. This can be uncomfortable and sensitive territory, and Betsy has accepted her responsibility to be a thoughtful participant in the ongoing conversation about the depiction of children in the media.

We recognize the right of viewers to dislike Betsy's work and to find it distasteful. At the same time, we completely disagree with the characterization of her work as pornographic and defend her right to have this work displayed and seen by the public.
Kwang-Wu Kim, dean, ASU Herberger College of Arts

A time to honor boundaries: Your article on Betsy Schneider was comprehensive, and you got a few telling answers about her project from its participants.

I'm grateful that when I was working on my "nursing mom" photo project at ASU, my instructor didn't recommend talking with Mrs. Schneider. Her work oversteps all boundaries of parenting. Her misuse of family trust will inevitably be bitter in the end, as her children grow.

Parents of ASU photography students could have serious contentions of her influence on their young adults' work.

The reasons Mrs. Schneider questions herself [resemble], "Should I enforce the helmet rule when biking?" Or when parents of special children ask themselves if they are being a great advocate for their children.

She should start listening to the truthful answers in her heart, the doubt that is creeping in. Maternal and paternal instinct. Both parents seem to be lacking it, and more than four people will end up hurt.

There is a time to push the boundaries, and a time to honor them. It's what keeps us civilized, rational, and responsible.
Eden Kenyon, Surprise

The loudmouths just don't matter: Of course, Betsy Schneider's work isn't morally offensive. Her pictures are beautiful. The small number of loudmouth people who are complaining may not consider what she does art, but that doesn't matter.

The general public found Pablo Picasso's paintings morally offensive. How many times has society tried to ban art it finds offensive — whether it be photographs, paintings, literature, or movies. The fact that some pervert might look at something has no bearing on whether it's art. Some degenerate could go down to the County Museum of Art and get off on many of the paintings showing cherubic full-frontal nudity by one of the great masters.

Also, no legal action against Schneider would ever work. Can you say waste of taxpayer money?! The law says the images have to be done or reproduced for the express purpose of sexual gratification. This is hardly the case on any front.

As the New Times story notes, artists have been displaying naked pictures of their own children for decades — which is my only criticism of Betsy Schneider. What she's doing is nothing new. You can buy art books showing far more graphic photos of nude children at local bookstores.
Peggy Spencer, Phoenix

Sun has a point: While I agree with the writer that the Sun newspaper [in Great Britain] is a nasty little tabloid, it still made a very good point.
Ed Millar, Phoenix

Artists aren't responsible for others' reactions: As a creative person, I believe that my motive is all-important. This artist's motive is to create art. A pornographer's motive is to create prurient interest. We as artists are not responsible for other people's reactions.
Mary K. Croft, via the Internet

Huh?: These are photographs of a wonderful family. We can see this in the eyes of the children. They are a trace of the miracle of God's own sculpture of us.
Raymond Dempsey, via the Internet

Nude kids? That's so 1988: This has to be one of the most offensive shows I've seen. While the [issue of] child porn is offensive in and of itself, the lack of creativity from a tenured professor is even more so.

This is 2008, not 1988. Shock art is so passé. Meaning cannot be removed from the context in which it is presented. That includes the perspective of the viewer. What were you thinking?
Name withheld

Shame on you, New Times: You should've never published these photos. This woman is sick. Children are beautiful and innocent. She is taking that innocence and taking advantage of it. It is disgusting.

These kids had no say in their images being published for all the world to see. Sick. New Times, I have been a longtime reader and supporter, but this was horrible judgment on your part.
Name withheld

A memo to the stupid people: Dear stupid people: Nudity is not pornography. Her pictures are not pornographic. Just because you find a sexual element in them doesn't mean they're sexual. You're the perverted ones for finding sex where there is none.

Child pornography is illegal. Nudity is not.

I'm sure every pervert in the country knows where to go to find naked pics of kids on the Internet, 24/7, without having to go to an art gallery. And they can view them in the privacy of their own home.
Name withheld

No rational way to call them obscene: How sad that some people still see nudity equated with sex. It's likely that many of these people would be still burning books and banning some of our greatest artists if they had their way.

We should not judge our writers or artists on what some degenerate reader or viewer may make of a work of literature or art. Do we really wish to live in a society that allows things to be produced that are acceptable only to every taste, culture, religion, and personal value system?

I have three children of my own, and based on the photos shown, I have trouble understanding how anyone — other than someone predisposed to seeing all photos of children as sexual — could find these pictures obscene by any rational definition.
Name withheld

ANGRY MAN BLUES

McCain is nothing special: John McCain, probable Republican nominee and presidential aspirant, wears the label of maverick with pride, more myth than magic. He has been applauded, exalted and placed upon a pedestal from which he flies on the wings of self-aggrandizement and cleverly plays the sympathy card with great success ("Postmodern McCain," Amy Silverman, August 7).

But what kind of person continually exploits for political gain their valor and sacrifice? Such shameless self-promotion seems somewhat insincere, even contemptible. There are thousands of unsung war heroes around the world, and many more who're dead. McCain's military service may be commendable, but his congressional service . . . not so much.

George W. Bush and McCain have much in common. Both have lunch-bucket appeal, both are lacking in oratorical and vocabulary skills, both like budget deficits, both employ fear-mongering, exaggeration, and dishonesty in political campaigns. And, of course, they both like a good war. Bush likes to watch from the safety of the White House, and McCain lives vicariously through the military men and women who're sacrificed as referees in Islamic blood sports.

If you look under the halo and pull aside the shroud of perceived respectability, McCain the man is just another run-of-the mill politician, nothing special and not superior in any way. But his embrace, support, and pandering to the worst administration in recent memory calls into question his wisdom, judgment, and integrity.

A McCain presidency would most definitely be a continuation and an extension of the Bush administration. His perverse and unhealthy obsession with war is such that he will willingly inherit and wear the mantle of war monger-in-chief.
T. Byron Sinclaire, Pinetop

Tales of dirty tricks are getting stale: A few thoughts on your semi-hit job on McCain from a guy who's not a huge fan but won't be voting for the laughable Barack Obama — who, you heard it first here, will be beaten George McGovern-style in November:

McCain's about to learn, big-time, that being nice to reporters and giving them access is like petting a coiled rattlesnake; it may work for a while, but sooner or later you get bit.

The fact that this state is at the bottom of the earmarks raffle makes me want to send him a contribution. We all will be better off when the producers in this country finally tire of the non-producers' cleaning them out.

I was agnostic about Ev Mecham at the time (didn't vote for him), but I will tell you that his only impeachable offense was being the proverbial turd in the punchbowl of Arizona politics. His political demise was a raw display of power, a coup d'état, if you will, by the power brokers in this state, both Republican and Democrat, public and private (the Arizona Republic).

Spare me the sanctimonious politicians who bemoan his "crimes." There are more bodies buried in the desert from crossing these guys than sold cars at Mecham's dealerships.

I'm sure the stories about McCain you related are true. Hell, one look at him will tell you he's a poster boy for Napoleon disease. But the drivel about the mean-spirited attacking, the Republican dirty tricks is getting a little stale.

The Democrats wrote the book on hardball politics. They give as good as they get. The continued party line of the Dem/libs fighting the good fight for truth, justice, and the American way makes me nauseous. (See LBJ's first run for Congress).

That being said, I don't often agree with much in New Times, but do enjoy reading it at lunch. When you put the blinders on and go after all the scumbags from every political persuasion, you are at your best. I bid you a Don Quixote adieu.
Tom Stitt, Scottsdale

Facts are too ugly to ignore: Wow! I was riveted reading this article. After all the years you have invested in following, interviewing, and investigating John McCain, you deserve a huge thank you!

I knew little bits of some of this information, some I knew nothing about, but I now see what I feared about this candidate is valid. Too bad some continue to believe the public persona McCain has created — and choose to ignore the facts because they're ugly.
R. Hallowell, Phoenix

The guy's as dumb as a rock: I get it: You don't like McCain, and judging from your article, you never did. It's cool. I don't like Obama. As a matter of fact, I loathe him.

Now, about the article, I do think that you did do research. However, you did whatever you could to make McCain look bad: "Cindy looked miserable next to John."

So now you know what someone is thinking? Must be a great trait for journalists. I'm sure Amy Silverman is a good person. However, I could make her look just as bad as she made John McCain look in this article.

As Amy was writing this article, she sat alone in her one bedroom, saddened that she had no one in her life; she would eat her frozen TV dinner alone once again. As she sat there wondering why no one invited her out on a Friday night, when all her colleagues went out for drinks, she decided to write about presidential hopeful John McCain.

But, as Amy wrote, her bitterness shone through her writing and made her look even more desperate for approval, even if it was only from the Obamabots. See, I too can do the same thing you did! My point has been made.
Name withheld

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