Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Every ten years I seem to change careers. I was a lawyer in the 1980's, a business executive in the '90's, and now I think I'm ready to write for a living, which I would have done in the first place if I had the courage.

If you work in a writing profession and have leads or recommendations for me, let me know. I have published books in the past (most recently Sex, Laws and Cyberspace (Henry Holt 1996)) and would love to hear your ideas about book opportunities, preferably related to the topics covered by the Spectacle..

Or even if you don't have leads or recommendations, drop me a line. Your email is the only compensation I get for doing The Spectacle-- in its seventh year now. I can be reached as always at jw@bway.net.

--Jonathan Wallace

Dear Jonathan:

Regarding The Warming Commons:

I think the CO2 issue is a straw-man (won't get into whether the rest of the science is good, but it's still not, and there's still no consensus when you look at the INCOME SOURCES of the "scientists" who want to keep getting paid, and know what to say). Why? For a simple reason, same as when governments pay for "science" about cannabis. We all want to keep our jobs, and we all know what the boss wants us to say. It's hard to believe that politicians -- here or elsewhere -- want the truth.

I wish I could find the article, but it's about the quantity of CO2 emitted by Mount Pinatubo erupting, versus the quantity emitted by the ENTIRE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. I'd hope you agree that CO2 from Mount Pinatubo is the same thing as CO2 from an evil, profit-making business- man. If so, and if my memory's correct, it's about time for the lefties to back down on this one, but instinctively they can't, it's not ideologically feasible to accept the science when it goes against control or makes Al Gore look stupid.

http://www.heartland.org/ is probably one of the "right wing" think tanks you talk about (funny how no think tanks ever seem to be described as LEFT-wing, BTW...). Interested readers can see the arguments on the science firsthand by searching the site for "Global Warming." If they're wrong, you'd think they'd have taken some of it down by now. When I see both sides claiming what they claim and shooting accusations back and forth, I sense the need for a debate. Perhaps, instead of sniping at them, you'd consider taking Heartland on? Whether or not it's "ethical," that would certainly be a spectacle...

Regards, James M. Ray liberty@gate.net

Der Mr. Wallace:

I just tripped over the Ethical Spectacle, quite by accident. I was trying to find a local news station on a search engine, and came across this quote:

Authoritarian Grammar and Fundamentalist Arithmetic

by Ben G. Price BenGPrice@aol.com

"We paid $3 Billion for these television stations. We will decide what the news is. The news is what we tell you it is." -- David Boylan, Station Manager, WTVT Channel 13, Fox News, Tampa, Florida, June 1996'

Suddenly there is coffee everywhere; on the keyboard, little dots running down the monitor, the phone, my lap...and i have a huge smile.

I spent the next hour surfing the site, taking occasional moments to close my mouth when I noticed it hanging open again.

Thank you so much!!! The Ethical Spectacle is amazing. Your willingness to present opposing views and dedication to free speech is refreshing. I read your bio, and unlike so many, there is a genuine human being there.

I will eventually get to the point and inquire about past issues, if they are available in print, or if I (a person who hasn't paid for a subscription even to the newspaper she writes for) might be able to purchase a subscription?

I can't thank you enough. Maggie Council DiPietra mdipietra@earthlink.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am a college senior and I am writing to ask a question of you. I am currently writing my undergraduate thesis on the subject of William Golding's Lord of the Flies. As an introduction to my paper, I quote the same reference of the scorpion and the frog used within your September 1995 issue of the Ethical Spectacle. Unaware that it also stems from The Crying Game, I was under the impression that it was a fable of Aesop. I am unable to pinpoint where within the fables it is. If at all possible, I would like to attain the correct copyright information for the book version of The Crying Game or of the script itself or of the edition of Aesop so that I can correctly cite and paraphrase the story of the Scorpion and the Frog throughout my thesis.

I would greatly appreciate any assistance at all. Thank you,

Amy Eyebrow778@aol.com

Dear Jonathan:

Re Colin Stokes' piece on Napster:

Lives at http://www.fairtunes.com -- and everywhere else INDIVIDUAL artists can meet up online and interact with INDIVIDUAL fans. I agree with you that people are greedy, and I know that online situations are different from eatieries, but it's likely that -- like me -- you both leave a tip when service is halfway decent.


proposes the same thing (but has yet to get a clue about HOW to do it absent a big corporate hand in her wallet). I hate to sound commercial and crass on Jonathan's site (if he chooses to even print this) but I've had the solution to this controversy for YEARS!

I recall an event at CFP99, where everyone had such fun shouting at each other that not one artist ever looked into how to directly connect economically with one fan. I find it sad that people -- especially in the media -- tend to cover only scandal (in many cases, covering it poorly) to the exclusion of solutions. Ok, enough ranting. Love the Spectacle even if I don't always agree, so thanks!

-- Regards, James M. Ray jray@omnipay.net

Dear Jonathan:

You wrote:

Since 1995, there has been a lot of rhetoric touting the Internet as the ultimate democratizing medium, a global Hyde Park corner where anyone can, with *equal access and equal volume*, express any viewpoint, no matter how unpopular.

I can't resist:

As I've written a few times in various contexts, I think this idea ranges from at best very naive to at worst outright cruel (n.b, I am just commenting on the sentiment, please don't take that personally). It's not so. You point out one reason it's not so, legal threat. But fundamentally, it's the problem of journalism, period.

Seth Finkelstein sethf@mit.edu http://sethf.com

Dear Jonathan,

In your essay That Traitor, Language you begin with the assertion that "Language is highly over-rated as a means of communication". Your intelligent and provocative essay, I regret to say, is built on a flawed foundation. Language is exactly the opposite, it is highly under-rated.

It is not lies and misunderstandings that give language a bad name, it is its practitioners. If a clumsy doctor kills a patient we do not say that medicine is bad. If an innocent man is convicted because of feckless representation, we do not say that law is bad. Why should we condemn language because some have used it to confuse, deceive, or worse?

In all things perceptions are the shadows cast upon truth. In mathematics, one theorem may be proved in a number of different ways. Assuming that they are properly done, each proof is equally true. (At last count the Gaussian Quadratic Reciprocity Theorem had over 150 distinct proofs.)

My feeling is that you are equating expression with the act of expressing. All acts of expressing are equal, all expressions are not. We must not only continue to express, we must also value expression more highly. We should demand that all expressions be of the highest quality attainable; intellectually honest and complete.

As for evil or malicious use of language, we can only hope that we recognize it for what it is at the time. The probability of recognition is raised when one is practiced in the use language; not as a blunt instrument, but as an artist might use a paint brush or a crow's quill.

In any case, the burden in not on language to be more that what it is. It is for us to exceed ourselves in our understanding, use, and admiration of our most intricate form of communication.

Best Regards,

Mark Herkommer mherk@flash.net

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:


And the face of a murderer bit has me thinking very hard indeed. I will indeed look into the mirror.

I am of Jewish descent, although am not a practising Jew (although I think I would be defined by the Nazis as Jewish becasue my grandfather was Jewish - not to sure about that)

My only criticism is that your two possible alternatives for the existence of a God are not the only alternatives. What if God is not omipotent, for example? There are other possibilites but I will leave it at that for now as I think it is a relatively minor point.

David Gould David.Gould@aph.gov.au

Dear Mr. Wallace:

is very moving - your understanding of Primo Levi seems narrow - have you read the voice of memory - interviews with levi - he was not an optimist - a tragic sad man trying to remain alive after the experience of the lager

have you written other works?

i am an Italian Jew who was lucky enough to escape before the nazi'x began their extermination of Italian Jews - am writing about the minor but still impacting loss of language youth and country - those of us who did not suffer the lager but continue to suffer the shame of our self imposed silence - which i hope by writing i can personally break

do answer would like to hear your ideas

isabella bick ibick@mindspring.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I only read Introduction, Resistance, and What I Learned From Auschwitz from your Auschwitz Alphabet. My selection was motivated by trying to figure out whether it makes sense for me to write to you about some material I have recently "discovered" on the Web. Based on what you wrote, I think that you will be interested in reading it, and perhaps you will decide to modify your entry on resistance, and add another book to your list. The book entitled "Escaping Hell" is avilable on-line at http://members.home.net/escapinghell/index.htm. Another link that might be of interest to you is http://holocaustforgotten.com/.

Sincerely yours,

Marek Rudnicki eaglebearer@home.com

Dear Jonathan,

I do not agree with what you say in your introduction that God does not exist. If not for the belief in a supreme being, I'm sure that many Holocaust survivors would not be here today.

Also, I do not like how you degraded Schindler's List. Even if it was not one hundred percent accurate in its portrayal of the Holocaust, it was well written and deserves credit. If Steven Speilberg had written the movie exactly how things were in reality, people would not go see it. Today's society does not want to face the realization that we have the capabilities to slaughter millions of poeple, and not think twice about it. Had Mr. Speilberg made the movie as precise as the actual event, it would have been too grotesque, and too complex emotionally for anyone to watch and understand.

Lastly, you said in your essay that: "we see the sole touch of color in the whole movie..." Which is in fact a false statement. There was color in the beginning in the religious ceremonies, towards the end where Schindler allowed a Sabbath celebration, (the flames of the candles were colored,) and at the end where the jews were marching away from the drudgery and death of the camps. Having the flames and religious ceremonies in color presents the idea that there is in fact a god. Which contradicts your statement that there is not a god.

That is all I have to say. Feel free to respond to my email, and feel free to change anything on your site.


Jackie Domin jk2713@aol.com

My dear Jonathan;

I viewed your web site with much interest. I am 65 years old and have lived through the era you have so wonderfully depicted.

I was saddened to read of your conclusion there was no God. Please allow me to add my two cents worth on this subject as I have asked this question of myself many times throughout my early years.

Why, if there is a God, does he allow bad things to happen to good people? Why did events as the holocaust and the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo occur?

I was raised in an Episcopalian family and was schooled in that religion as you were most probably schooled in Judaic tenets. I can say that at present I am not a member of any structured religion but I do believe in God more firmly than at any other time in my life.

While reading books on the subject of near death experiences I began a journey into analytical thinking that caused some revelations which I would like you to think about. I am not trying to convert you to my way of thinking but hope to help you make peace with God..

I would ask you to read at least one of the following books.

-Embraced By The Light
-Nearer to The Light
-Transformed By The Light
-Any of Dr Kenneth Ring's books

The subjects of these stories all report seeing a brilliant light and of having a complete life review which occurred as having "flashed before my eyes all at once" or as being viewed as a holographic image. This seems to indicate no passage of time in heaven which makes sense. If there is a heaven it would have to be eternal with no beginning and no end.

If residents of this heaven are eternal with no beginning and no end then our souls which ultimately go there must be eternal and therefor pre-exist our mortal life. We then are not humans which can have a spiritual experience but are spiritual beings now having a human experience.

If this is so then why do our souls come to earth and reside in our human bodies? Why are we here? I feel it is to learn those things which do not exist in heaven. What could be had to learn in this life that does not exist in heaven? It could only be the inequities that exist here and not there. We must come here to learn those inequities. Pain, sorrow, suffering, greed, materialism, discrimination, etc., etc.

God not only allows our human suffering, he condones it. Our human body is expendable in order for us to learn those important lessons. It is not important that our body be saved for earthly reasons or pleasures as this is not important in the grand scheme of things.

Why should bad things happen to a particular group of people? If there is a god I'm sure he does not think along ethnic lines. God did not make the various religions, men did. You are Jewish because your parents were. I was Christian because my parents were.

In reality there are as many religions as there are people on this earth. We all have a differing view of what is the truth and each person feels they are the keepers of the only truth with everyone else having a view which must be false.

Since the odds of any one of us having the only correct faith we should then not try to convert others to our ways of thinking but instead listen as others explain their views. We might learn something and be all the wiser for it.

I hope I do not appear to be a religious nut to you. I do hope I have given you something to think about. Please let me know if any of this makes sense to you.

David E. Nellis dnellis@superior.net