Letters To the Ethical Spectacle

This week, I received about 200 identical emails a day calling on the government to increase cancer research funding. I contacted some of the individuals who sent them and discovered that they were generated by a program on the American Cancer Society site. You enter your name and email address, click a "send" button, and a canned email message is sent to hundreds of publications which you have never read.

I refuse to publish canned emails--I have received them on other topics, many of them generated by the same software ACS uses--for a number of reasons. The people represented in this letters column are readers of the Spectacle--people who bothered to spend some time here. By responding to something they read, they are acting as members of a community of Spectacle readers. People who click the "send" button on someone else's site have either never been here, or even if they have, are unaware which publications they are contacting when they press the convenient button. No relationship, no community, equals no publication here of their letters.

Secondly, I will not publish these emails because they are not original work. The people sending them are parroting the words of someone unknown to me with a hidden agenda. Though I was able to identify the puppet-master in this case as the American Cancer Society, whose goals I share (I lost my father, my aunt, and two close friends to cancer and expect to go that way myself), I still refuse to publish letters which were secretly written by someone other than the person who sent them to me.

Finally, this is spam. It is very irritating to delete two hundred mails a day. My spam filter will not catch it, because the mail appears to come from each individual and does not meet the criteria for commercial spam. It would be sad indeed if I had to tweak the filter to look for phrases like "cancer research".

I formerly had tremendous respect for ACS. I think the organization made a very bad choice, perhaps driven by ignorance, when it chose to run this spam software on its site.

Jonathan Wallace jw@bway.net

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. If you write to me about something you read in the Spectacle, I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will do so. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. This is in response to many of you who have expressed concern that spammers are finding your email address here. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry. The following is this month's example.
Your are a person with a special gift. You take words and twist and turn to establish what you think is right. You're like a ship without an anchor or rudder. You drift from relative reasoning to relative reasoning and end up with a bunch of words that mean nothing. In common terms, you are a good "bullshitter". May you believe your own "bullshit" and waste away into nothingness.

Sandra Larson jlarson50@cox.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I liked your article on Homosexuality being a choice - it was very interesting. I'm a sort-of "out" bisexual, but I'm not quite sure whether that's my choice or not. I certainly can chose whether or not to act on it; and for a while, I chose to deny it. I agree that it doesn't really matter whether or not it IS a choice - the big question is, why do so many people have such a problem with something so harmless?


Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just read both your articles in the Spectacle about Anne Rice, of whom I am a lukewarm fan. Isn't the pathos of the whole situation of being a vampire enough of a counter-weight to what they do? I mean their trapped in this situation of having to do these awful things to survive, doomed to never move among normal society.

The scene near the end where Brad Pitt as Louis is watching this montage of scenes from all these movies with spectacular sunrises, from Superman to Gone with the Wind as a tear rolls down his cheek since he will never be able to see a real sunrise again was extraordinarily poignant and heart-breaking. The presence of this scene in the movie alone, I think, absolves it from your charge of pornography. Interesting paper.

Best,Jonathan Harvey