Thought police: Within a medium that tends to suck our intellects dry is a show that promotes informed free speech and a true respect for individual thought ("Crushing a Contrarian," Jill Stewart, September 27). Yet even this freedom is shot down by the ignorant, emotionally driven American masses. Should we change the name of the show to "Politically Correct" and gossip about our personal lives and celebrities like other talk shows do? It's our freedom to voice our opinions openly and gather information that allows us to maintain that same freedom. Blocking the flow of information from any source brings us closer to the possibility of being led by the same kind of tyrants we oppose. In my opinion, the only mistake Bill Maher made in stating his opinion about our government's cowardice was that he chose to make it in front of a mostly uneducated audience.
Blinded by the light: Well done, Jill Stewart, for a well-written, well-informed article. Not enough of the recent publications, national or otherwise, since September 11 have been dedicated to educating the public on America's political position in world affairs. The public needs Bill Mahers and Jill Stewarts, or it'll just be a case of blindly following the leader!
Patriot in action: You have a problem, Jill Stewart. You're stupid and just don't know it. Your article defending Bill Maher is a good example of liberalism and "Blame America First" at its worst. Let's face it, Bill Maher is a stupid prick who thinks he has something important to say, typical of the leftist crowd in America. Since I don't suffer liberals and the BAF crowd, my suggestion to you is to get onboard with the rest of us patriots and offer some suggestions on how to get rid of the terrorists. Oh, you're a pacifist and hope they will just go away if we don't make them mad. Well, guess what, these terrorists don't watch Oprah and don't believe in just getting along with everyone.
Now, Maher had no valid reason to criticize President George W. Bush last spring, nor does he now. If Maher wants to show the leftist crowd how clever he is, he ought to do it on a street corner in Hollywood so he doesn't have to worry about offending sponsors who expect a bit more patriotism from talk-show hosts.
Every day when I look at "ground zero" in New York, I am convinced we don't need enlightened cultural figures like Maher to express controversial views. Contrary to what you think, Maher doesn't know jack shit about foreign policy. That's why I said you're stupid. (See first paragraph in case you need to be reminded.) Dim bulb.
Little liberal snobs like you and Barbra Streisand would do well to find yourselves a zip code outside the United States. If you would like one-way fare to Baghdad, I'll be glad to contribute. Be sure to arrive at the airport early. For some reason, security is extra tight these days. Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.
Steven L. Toth
Much Ado About Howie
Pointless humor: When Kristi Dempsey was made editor of New Times, was she given a signing bonus of big brass balls ("Shtick Happens," October 4)? While I found exposing Howard Seftel's lazy writing to be humorous, I wonder what was to be gained by this. With Dempsey's first editorial ("Nine One One," September 20), she took pot shots at the way her former employer, the East Valley Tribune, covered the tragedy, which was entirely unnecessary. But, okay, now we know the Republic is also not exempt from her cut-downs.
I've always enjoyed New Times' intelligent investigative reports and informed music and dining reviews, but is it worth it to devote space simply to pick fights with dailies that aren't really even in competition with New Times? NT readers already know this, which is why they read your weekly anyway. As a former Get Out staffer, I learned quite quickly from the output of many of my co-workers that journalism school does not necessarily mean you know about the world, or culture, or, hell, even how to spell. The dailies here are generally not populated by worldly folks, just people who have one skill or another who are willing to show up and be paid badly, or kiss butt and be paid well, for doing exactly as the not-necessarily-smart editors say.
Man, Dempsey, I know folks who'd kill for your job, to actually get to cover real Valley culture and politics, print curse words and even be a little saucy. Put your gloves back on, and show us what you've got, because you just haven't earned the right to pick on the other kids yet.
Howie's world: "He's busted"? No, sadly, Howard Seftel is not busted. He's outed. But what does that serve to do?
Once again, New Times has shown an unprofessional lack of journalistic judgment that unfortunately has become its trademark. With one poorly written, non-newsworthy story, based in vengeance and jealousy rather than intellect, you have managed to not only smear an individual but tarnish the Phoenix restaurant industry. It is not Howard Seftel, but the Phoenix dining community that suffers.
For years, Howard has provided an honest, well-rounded and well-traveled view of the food scene. It is through much of his writing with both New Times and the Arizona Republic that many local restaurants in the Phoenix dining scene have achieved national recognition, bringing Phoenix out of the Age of the Hohokam and toward becoming a major metropolitan city with the culinary talent to prove it. It is with the support of writers like Howard Seftel that independent restaurant owners have gotten the jump-start they need to stay afloat for the first few months and have survived long, hot Phoenix summers with the help of his words and attention.
With no thanks to New Times, Valley restaurateurs will not necessarily have the edge, but be on edge knowing their audience and recognizing that diner who may make or break their future. Phoenix diners, too, will think twice about the credibility of the words behind the culinary scene's most recognized face. Truly a disservice has been done to the industry and Valley readers.
We, like many local restaurateurs, were fortunate to be recognized by Howard for our hard work and talents long before we could pick him out of a crowd. Now, we can thank him directly for his many years of service to an industry that needed a champion.
As for New Times, you can be proud of yourselves in knowing that the very last thing we saw was that photo of Howard Seftel, right there in black and white . . . as we closed the pages of New Times for the very last time.
Gregory and Kim Casale, owners
Gregory's World Bistro
Face in the crowd: I am sitting here so completely disturbed and appalled by what I have just read in Kristi Dempsey's column. In specific, I am referring to your hit piece on Howard Seftel and the unforgivable act of publishing his photograph.
I have been a loyal reader of New Times for as long as I have lived in the Valley (20 years). I use it as a guide for many things and mostly have enjoyed your in-depth articles.
This decision to publicize Howard's photograph and comment that restaurants should "clip and save" this is beyond shameless. Howard was a loyal and excellent writer for your paper for many, many years. He decided on a career change. So what? He's entitled to that. What was your need to betray him in this way? Not to mention betray those who read his column then and still read it now. Your attempts to sabotage his career in the Valley are so appalling to me and so low in character that it just makes me want to cry.
I am so mad I could spit. At you, New Times.
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I am so incredibly disappointed that I can't even finish reading the issue this week. It's going straight in the trash.
I'm not saying that I will never read you again, because I know I will. But I have such a bitter taste in my mouth now about your publication that it will affect me for a very long time. What I can tell you for sure is that this new columnist Kristi H. Dempsey just lost a reader . . . for good. I will never read her column, and that is the only personal protest I can make.