Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

November was an action-packed month. I was the keynote speaker at meetings of the New York Library Association and the Ohio ACLU, where I got to meet a number of people I knew only from email exchanges, including Bennett Haselton and Matt Gaylor. David Burt of Filtering Facts made the astonishing accusation that my series of linked hyperfictions, Kazoo Concerto, is unfit for children, and I responded by profiling him in The Mind of a Censor. Burt's reply is below.

I spent a lot of the month working on issues relating to censorware. Last month's article on X-Stop had the very gratifying result of causing Burt and several other organizations, including Family Friendly Libraries, to withdraw their endorsements of the product (which claims to block only obscenity, but which blocks the Quaker Web site, among others.) My latest censorware piece, in this month's issue, revisits CyberPatrol, describing how the product blocks twelve of the sites listed in the Spectacle's links page.

Much of what I write is on a fairly abstract level, such as the death penalty piece this month. By contrast, doing advocacy journalism is particularly enjoyable--gathering facts and shining a spotlight on the deceptions involved in the marketing of a product like X-Stop, or on the more honestly presented CyberPatrol's complete inappropriateness for libraries (the company admits the product was created only to protect children against inappropriate material, but in the Austin public library it is being used to determine what adults can see.)

I was on the radio three times this month, once in connection with the NYLA and ACLU appearances, and the third time to discuss An Auschwitz Alphabet with a Jewish host as part of a 20 week series on the Holocaust. The host turned out to be a member of the radical right, whose main interest was in using the Holocaust to combat gun control laws. I learned a significant lesson, and will check out future media invitations carefully before accepting them.

Your email makes the time I put into writing and editing The Spectacle wildly worthwhile. Please email me at jw@bway.net.

David Burt and Kazoo Concerto
Rebuttal to "Mind of a Censor"

David Burt, David_Burt@filtringfacts.org

This rebuttal is being posted to this newsgroup since Mr. Wallace has refused to link to this unconditional, unedited rebuttal from his site. [Actually, I had offered to link to his rebuttal, rather than publish it here, if he would link to my briefing paper on the unconstitutionality ofcensorware in public libraries.--JW] I would like to correct many of the misleading, distorted, and factually incorrect statements Mr. Wallace has made about me.

Wallace says "[Burt's] organization's FAQ reveals that he works closely with two fundamentalist organizations, Family Friendly Libraries and Donna Rice Hughes' group, Enough is Enough. In fact, a good deal of Burt's FAQ is cut and pasted from an Enough is Enough brochure".

There are three untrue statements in this single sentence alone. First, Enough is Enough and Family Friendly Libraries are officially secular organizations, they are not "fundamentalist". Second, my FAQ, located at www.filteringfacts.org/faq.htm contains not a single word from "Enough is Enough". Third, the document Wallace says "a good deal is cut and pasted from" is called "Responses to Anti-Filterers", and contains material from a variety of sources, is at www.filteringfacts.org/resp.htm. Approximately 10% of the content of "Responses" is from "Enough is Enough".

Wallace goes on to say that " when you debate Burt, he never seems to agree that there is an alternative--he just believes that librarians ought to want to install censorware". This is an untrue statement on Wallace's part: in a message I spelled out to him how a library might avoid the use of filters with a strong policy against viewing pornography.

Wallace later says that "Burt and one of his backers, Family Friendly Libraries, immediately issued statements withdrawing their endorsement of [X-Stop]." This is a very misleading statement. The word "backer" suggests "financial supporter". Filtering Facts has never accepted, nor been offered money from Family Friendly Libraries.

Wallace says that "In a debate that blew up on the list after the X-Stop article". Wallace seems to be implying there was some link between my postings of early November with the X-Stop of early October. This is untrue. The discussion from which he quotes me was a more general discussion about filtering, which occurred more than a month after the X-Stop incident.

Wallace says "I began to press Burt about the blocking of The Ethical Spectacle by six of the leading censorware products. Since my site contained nothing prurient, and was dedicated to the discussion of ideas on a fairly dry and intellectual level, didn't he see a systemic problem in the fact it was blocked by so many products?" Wallace site is not classified as "prurient" or "pornographic" by most of these filters. Cybersitter and Web Chaperone rely on word blocking which blocks pages that contain profanity, as do some of his articles. Bess blocks portions of his site which contain profanity, since Bess has a category called "profanity". Mr. Wallace seems to think there is something sinister about a product working as advertised, namely, blocking profanity. I have never endorsed "profanity" as a category suitable for public libraries.

Wallace goes on " Perhaps Burt regretted backing off of his endorsement of X-Stop; maybe he now thought that if he kept abandoning software which blocked my site and others, he would have nothing left to endorse." I do not regret my decision to no longer endorse X-Stop. The decision to do so was the culmination of a series of problems with the company and their product that caused Filtering Facts, Family Friendly Libraries, Enough Is Enough and other groups to lose faith with the company. Filtering Facts has not "kept abandoning software which blocked the Spectacle": on the contrary, FF continues to endorse Bess and CyberPatrol, both of which at one time or another blocked portions of the Spectacle.

Wallace quotes me as saying the following:

"[T]he filtering vendors I talk to think that you are playing games with them, putting lurid articles like this full of foul language and reference to sex and drugs, then claiming that 'your site is blocked when it is about the free discussion of ideas'."

In the middle of an on-line debate I did fire off this admittedly somewhat sarcastic remark. Those familiar with my on-line style, like Mr. Wallace, know I sometimes do this. The article I'm referring to is "full of foul language" and does, as Mr. Wallace admits, contain "references to sex and drugs". "Lurid" is, I admit, somewhat of a rhetorical exaggeration.

I do not back away from repeating the suggestion made to me that "Fallout" and other articles might have been deliberately placed on the Spectacle in order to cause blocking by filtering companies. In addition to "The Fallout", the Spectacle contains a number of other articles with numerous profanities, such as an article on "The 7 dirty words", (and uses all seven of them), and articles with titles that sound very much like porn links, like "Gallery of Indecency", (not a porn page).

At least one other anti-filtering website has admitted to trying to get filters to block it. Stanton McCandlish, of the Electronic Freedom Foundation in a February 18, 1997 message to the ALAOIF list:

"We know precisely why CyberPatrol, et al., block our censorship archive, it contains the full text of the Sup.Ct. ruling in FCC v. Pacifica, "seven dirty words" and all. Not to mention an anonymized version of the Jake Baker story. We did that on purpose. We WANT filters to block us"

Wallace's reaction to this comment was to become very upset. Among other things, he compared me Joe McCarthy. Then he threatened to sue me:

"I have a modest proposal to make. Why don't you make a statement that my work is actually indecent under applicable legal definitions, inappropriate for children, corrupting of youthful morals, and likely to induce brain damage? Use your own words, of course. I will then sue you where you live; be reassured, that since I think libel laws chill speech, I will not sue for damages, but only for a declaration as to whether or not your statements are false."

Considering Wallace is an attorney, I took the possibility of being sued somewhat seriously. Wallace later backed off the threat and said he was "only joking".

This sets up the heart of Wallace's essay, :" Burt's reaction to The Fall-Out is worth discussing because he behaved like a classic censor, and a close look at his behavior gives insight into the mind of a censor. He never read the work he was judging". I told Wallace repeatedly that yes, I did read his entire article, "Fallout". Wallace doesn't mention that in "Mind", which comes awfully close to calling me a liar.

Wallace works hard at implying that I am somehow morally outraged by "Fallout", he says we were "debating whether the story promoted good morals ", this is untrue, I never debated the morality of the article with Wallace. Further, I told Wallace I was being somewhat sarcastic in my appraisal of "Fallout", and that the article is rather mild by "luridness" standards. I have happily retrieved books like "American Psycho" and "Naked Lunch" for patrons that make "Fallout" look like a Sunday school primer.

Wallace completes his caricature of me with the biggest distortion of all:" And, most interesting of all, since David Burt doesn't want The Fall-Out visible on the library computer, why would he make an exception for it printed on paper and on the shelves of his library?" This is completely untrue. I never said I thought "Fallout" should be banned from a public library, in electronic or print format. I only said that a school which screens "profanity" would be justified in screening out the portions of the Spectacle that contain profanity. I made a great effort to stress that, a fact that Wallace ignores.

Wallace goes to great trouble to draw a caricature of me: someone who demands that "lurid" books I haven't even read that shock my moral sensibilities must be removed from the shelves. Librarians will instantly recognize this as a cartoonish stereotype of "the library censor", the one we all made jokes about in library school.

But a fair appraisal of my work and writings shows that I am hardly Wallace's silly cartoon censor. Readers of my writings in professional literature and the articles on my website will not find support for this view. Those who remain unconvinced are welcome to visit my library's on-line catalog, available at telnet://linas.lincc.lib.or.us. There the reader will find all manner of "lurid" and "morally offensive" books, such as "Turner Diaries", "The New Joy of Gay Sex", "Heather Has Two Mommies", "Alfies Home", "Mapplethorpe", "Naked Lunch", "52 Ways to Have Fun, Fantastic Sex", "The Good Sex Guide", etc. I regularly fetch books like this for our patrons, and will absolutely defend their rightful place on my library's shelves. What I will not do is to confuse these works of literary, artistic, or educational value with pure pornography. That's an insult to both these books and our esteemed profession as a whole.

David Burt, Filtering Facts, HTTP://WWW.FILTERINGFACTS.ORG

The following was a reply to Burt posted by Miskatonic Gryn on the fight-censorship list.

On Mon, 3 Nov 1997, Filtering Facts wrote:

This is why the filtering vendors I talk to think that you are playing games with them, putting lurid articles like this full of foul language and reference to sex and drugs, then claiming that "your site is blocked when it is about the free discussion of ideas".

Perhaps your definition of lurid is different than my own. I followed the URL you thoughtfully provided and encountered a story about an essentially empty man's increasingly depressing search for happiness. It is a strange story, with a little touch of "magical realism", which I doubt you understand, or are even really aware of as a genre. And as far as references to sex, and drugs and strong language go, none of them are gratuitous. They belong in the story-- It could be argued that the story would be something less without them.

My suspicion is that this story is in the Ethical Spectacle precisely because it illustrates how "foul" language can be an integral part of a work, and perhaps because the story itself is (to no small degree) about truth, lies and happiness.

Poor baby-- You shake your rattle at a world that displeases you. You hide your face when people say things you don't want to hear. Harsh words upset your stomach.

Too bad-- For you, and for us. Because people like you, all over America, are, like ants, busily gnawing away at the storehouse of knowledge. A book is banned here, words snipped out there. And in the beginning it's always so, so easy. Few cry out when trash (yes, I said trash) like porn is regulated, if not banned outright. It's easy to pick on something with little if any redeeming social value.

But it never ends there. Your profound misreading of the Copeland story illustrates just how far you're willing to go: In your library, this story would be banned, if not burned in your parking lot, along with Cixous' "The Book of Promethea", Ovid's "Erotic Poems", Whitman's "Leaves of Grass", Ginsberg's "Howl". Familiar works-- Indeed, Ovid's poetry is older than Jesus. It doesn't matter though! They're foul! Throw them into the fire along with Sylvia Plath (because her poems mention death, and the naked body), and Gary Snyder (for his audacious description of naked children, and because he's a Liberal, and we all know they'r scum).

Hey, this is fun! And when we're all done with them, we can tear every withered leaf from the Bible and toss it into the fire, for if any book revels in rape, brutaility, meaningless death and authoritarianism, it's the Word of God. And we'd be better off without it, and any other book that blatantly mentions horse-sized erections.

And while you're at it, throw me in the fire as well. Because I certainly wouldn't want to live in the world that you would create.

- M. Gryn

PS: And if I wanted to be foul, I could have just called David a dumbass. But that wouldn't have been quite as much fun. :)

Dear Jonathan:

I liked the story as a warning against the shallowness of most people's sexuality, though I doubt David reads it on that level. I doubt those who need to read it on that intellectual level would do so, actually.

You said: "David (who I actually thought was honest if misguided until now) must have searched my site for keywords...."

Yes, I guess so. I hope that your site will get more traffic because of all this. I had skipped the story, until David gave it his negative recommendation. Reminiscent of how I (and probably many others) started watching the deliciously politically-incorrect-if-mindless TV series "Married With Children," after howls by the political right.

I wonder if these folks understand the power of unintended consequences like this. I am thinking of the rap group "2 Live Crew" here.

Jim Ray jmr@shopmiami.com

Dear Jonathan:


Fine fine piece. Well done. I have the RASCI filter installed on any of my pages that contain strong language. I feel that if parents (or whoever) want to block it from their children (or whomever) they may do so. It is entirely thier business. They have to do so explicitly however which is, I think, significantly different from what you are talking about. Or is it?

Gösta H. Lovgren gosta@exit109.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I've not followed the censorship issue closely, but your posting of "The Mind of a Censor" makes the case against censorship as well as it can be made. In the press accounts of porn screening software I've seen no mention of the kind of blocking that you describe. Having just recently perused "The Ethical Spectacle" I found your description of the censorship even more disquieting.

Thanks for keep us informed.

Jim Elkins jelkins@cyberplanet.net

Dear Jonathan:

I've been busier than usual this month. I almost glossed over your "notes" and other insights, especially those contained in the piece by "Samantha Lazare." I'm sure you have your reasons for doing what you did and being so circumspect (is that the word?) about it, but whatever you did and why, I'm glad I got back to it (and I'm glad you shared your notes).

If that was really you on the airplane, by Samantha, I can "picture you" better, now, I think. Or can I?

So thanks again for another insightful issue... "Circumspect" or otherwise you are still the best and most important page on the Internet. The monthly sequence of it is about right. It takes that long soak it all up.


Dear Jonathan:

Regarding your comment :

Solid Oak has the temerity to block entire domains and even ISP's when they object to a few individual pages. Judging by the threats against Bennett Haselton's ISP, this is an intentional and unconscionable tactic. Solid Oak is seeking not only to block speech critical of its product and philosophy--it is seeking, by putting pressure on ISP's, to get such speech deleted from the Internet.

They are probably being influenced by: http://www.nccip.org/

Don't know if you heard of them --- but I think they are behind the 'intimidate your local ISP' movement, under the guise of eliminating child-porn.

James P. Gallegos, Jr. jgos01@nova.org

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Is there something out on the web that you know of that discusses the idea that a public or school library that installs blocking software is guaranteeing the safety of its screens and is therefore liable for any offense taken by the user? Does it hold up legally?

Richard K. Moore, Librarian

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I read your briefing paper on blocking software in libraries. I found it interesting, I did not know a lot of the things you mentioned about Cybersitter and some other blocking software censoring a lot of sites (not just porn ones).

But you made great leaps of logic in stating that the Pico case which was about a book was analogous to a web page at a library. Pico was about a book named Black Boy which was not pornographic for one thing. A book which was slightly bawdry like Lady chatterly's lover is still in libraries, probably due to Pico and such decisions. But, I can't go to my public library and pick up a copy of Penthouse, they don't have Penthouse. They don't have it out in the library because it is porn. You saying that a book is analogous to the web, means that a library should allow you to look at bob's site of Penthouse pics.. which foillows that if you should be able to look at that the library should have Penthouse there for you to look at. They don't mainly because its a public place and children could be there. Nothing in the first amendment guaranties the right for you to see such materials at all, let alone in a public place. If it did decisions like Pico would never be necessary. The constitution and its amendments are a body of law that is designed to change... by the definition of amendment if nothing else. It changes based upon subsequent decisions also- like Pico.

You would be right about blocking software being unconstitutional only at such time as a court says "this also applies to electronic distribution of web pages." Until one does, it does not apply at all. The court would also likely say "except pornographic ones.. or those that contain materials that the library would not normally carry." That is logical. If a library allows web access, it would have to police it in the same way that it would not stock Penthouse. It is illegal for Bobby who is 10 to look at a picture from Penthouse, be it on the web or in in a magazine. I could see a court deciding that the use of the blocking software you mentioned was unconstitutional since they don't JUST block material unsuitable for the library like porn.. but anything they don't like (including bad reviews) But, I could also see the court agreeing that the library could use and at some point would HAVE TO use another kind of blocking software that blocked porn.

If what you said was true, I'd be at the library right now looking through their stacks of Hustler, Oui, Cherry, Penthouse, Hooters, and D cup.

Dave dstephen@home.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I haven't read your whole article, but I had an idea that I wanted to share before I forget.

I think the analogy of banning websites is like banning books has a hole in it.

Take pornographic material as an example. what about the fact that libraries don't carry subscriptions of: Playboy, Hustler, Penthouse and Club. They limit/choose the material/books that is available within the library, shouldn't they be allowed to do that with a computer terminal they own? if you want to view pornographic material, then the person should go into the privacy of their own home and view it, not in a public library where it is not as suitable.


jason jkwong@pathcom.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just read your argument, which I received via Phil Agre's Red Rock Eater mailing list. I'm not a lawyer, but I really do appreciate your taking the time to research and write this, and to disseminate it.

Whenever I read something like this, I'm impressed by how effective the writers of the Constitution were at what they wanted to achieve. Thanks for helping with achieving that goal.

Peter Capek capek@watson.ibm.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I read with interest your piece on the use of blocking software by libraries in CU Digest. I have long sensed that our public libraries were among the staunchest defenders of our First Amendment rights. I am therefore appalled that public libraries are even considering such actions.

I was particularly impressed by your discussion of the criteria used by blocking software. The one criterion, however, that I found to be the most telling and, I would think, of profound legal significance, was not mentioned. This is the last criterion stated in their list: "The above criteria is subject to change without notice." As vague as the previous criteria are, this last makes them absolutely opaque. It also gives the software publisher carte blanche to use any criteria, or none, to block information.

I find it amusing that this criterion, as written, is grammatically incorrect. Are we to let people who cannot write tell us what we can read?

Steve Manion ab263@virgin.usvi.net

Dear Jonathan:

Activism is a "youth oriented" pursuit generally speaking. The older I get, the more I realize that whatever remaining time I have might not be best spent arguing with someone wet behind the ears who thinks he knows everything. Being older might give me some experience and insight which I draw upon to counter some of your muses, but certainly does not necessarily give me exclusive rights to "the truth," what ever that means. While I might personally disagree with much of what you have to say, I do support enthusiastically, your right to say it, and publish it, and anybody's right to hear/read it. If we "older" citizens are too lazy or tired of countering activism (with our sage and wisdom woefully dismissed by you young "whippersnappers") within the rules of the Constitution, then too bad for us. To hell with the self appointed censors.

CyberPatrol is just product from a company that sells (censorship) to customers with a specific agenda. The library committees, schools, parents, want something to restrict access to certain material on the internet from kids, and if they were really candid, they would admit that they don't want anyone to see it. Your interests are in conflict with that agenda. (Hell, so are mine.) Simply put however, your battle would seem to be with those who buy the product, not with the makers of the product. Your justification to condemn with those who make the product has as much merit as those who would tell you what to write in your books. If the end users are happy with a lack of consistency, or muddy purpose in what is censored, (and sales are brisk) then CyberPatrol is not going to be terribly motivated to change their system when people like you are affected by their "mistake."

In a way, I can see why parents would want the CyberPatrol product. It lessens their requirement to supervise (or take interest in) their own kids, thus freeing up more time for them to watch stimulating television programs like "Ellen" while little Johnny is in his room with the door closed trying desperately to access porn on the internet.

Bob Wilson

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I agree with the majority of your conclusion, that the installation of blocking software IS unconstitutional, but I wonder if you can explain how the fact that libraries already DO practice blocking, as far as books and magazines are concerned. Each library in the US has a basically different "flavor", not only on the architecture of the building, and the persons working there, but on which books are on the shelves. Each and every library in the US isn't required to carry each and every book every published. That's a preposterous idea. Most libraries in the US do not carry "Playboy" magazine. This is, in sense, "blocking" sexual content. How does this fall into unconstitutionality? Aren't librarians allowed, even EXPECTED, to decide what material goes "on the shelves" in their libraries (otherwise known as "collection development")?

Thanks for the informative article.

Michael L. McEvoy mmcevoy@tln.lib.mi.us

Net Freedoms
Dear Mr. Wallace,

Hi! I am a sophomore attending school at the University of Southern California. I was a given an assignment to write a term paper on a Supreme Court Case. I chose the case Reno v. ACLU. As I was doing research over the internet, I came across your web site and saw your e-mail address at the bottom. The reason I am e-mailing is you to ask you if you know of any other books that have been written dealing with this specific case or with the issue. My professor has required that we use ten scholarly resources, and unfortunately, she does not consider information off of the Internet as "scholarly." I have had a hard time finding many books published about the case since it is so recent. If you do know of any books or journals, I would appreciate it if you e-mailed me back at sein@scf.usc.edu. However, if you are too busy to e-mail me back, then that is all right too because I don't know if I would take time out to help a college student. Thank you.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

My name is Justin Dumais. I am a freshman at USC, and am currently taking a political science class. The class' present assignment consists of a 15-page research paper about the impact of a recent Supreme Court decision. I chose to research the Court's decision in Reno v. ACLU. As I was browsing the Web in pursuit of relevant material (the paper is due on 11/20/97), I came across your analysis of the case. You mentioned that on the same day the Court issued its decision, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wa.) introduced legislation that would make a Net-rating system mandatory. I was wondering if you could tell me the name of this proposed bill. I'd like to use it in my impact analysis. Also, any sites or information that you might know of that could help me would be extremely appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Justin Dumais dumais@usc.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Hi, I'm a student at Carleton College, and I'm writing a paper on the CDA, Reno v. ACLU, and other Internet censorship issues for a political science class. My primary focus has been on some of the precedents such as Miller v. California and Sable v. FCC and how they apply to a new medium like the Internet. I also used your book as a source.

If you have some extra time, and would be willing, I would be interested in knowing breifly what you think of developments since your book came out. What do you think is the biggest issue facing free speech on the Internet today?

Matt Thueson thuesonm@carleton.edu

My response, of course, was that the two most significant issues we are facing today are the installation of blocking software in public libraries and the government's war on crypto.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I just want to tell you what an excellent book Sex, Laws and Cyberspace is, and that I think it should be required reading for high school students. It's a wonderful insight into the complex problems regarding censorship and free speech online. Thanks again!

Keith Gautreaux

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I found your free speech page. I think its really cool. My teacher is making me write some paper for this contest. Well I had no idea what I should write about. Cause I wanted to do something controversial but I wasnt sure what topic cause there are so many "freedom of... " topics that I'm interested in. So I think im gonna do freedom of speech in general. and I just wanted to make sure it was ok to use some of the info and ideas on your page for my paper. Just checking. Thanks.

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am doing research for an art project dealing with death and how people handle it in today's society. In particular, I am looking at situations such as the teenage girls one sees in the news occasionally who kill their infant children, or the young boys killing eachother to gain possession of a designer jacket or shoes, or the Hutu-Tutsi war. In general, I'm interested in trying to discover the reasons for what appears to me to be a somewhat new, and increasingly widespread lack of respect for human life on a personal, daily level.

At this point, I have only read your introduction, but I am very interested in reading the rest. I am hoping to find some insights as to a person's motivations and reasons for being able to look another human being in the face and yet be unable to recognize them as human.

I think your project here is very worthwhile, and your idea of the third pathway - that from a perspective of a prisoner - while I'm sure it would be very powerful, and would definately make an impression, is in some danger of being seen as a game. You would have to make it very serious, somber, fact-filled, and perhaps have stock photos of actual past events. I also suggest you try to set-up a link to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

Good luck to you.

Marcy Rye MLRstudio@aol.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Hello, My name is Patricia Convoy I have been interested in the atrocities that occurred during World War II since I was 8 years old. My parent both served during the war before getting married. My father was in the Navy and my mother served in Nova Scotia, as office staff helper in the Army. I have heard stories, which are not really stories they were fact; and it has always rivited my soul amagining what some men will do to others. I am Canadian born and not Jewish origin to my best recollection of my family tree; yet my pain and the tears that I have cried as I have read and watched docuementaries of the War Years. As November 11 approaches, I feel so much for all of our War Vets, but I do not often hear about the great loss of Jews to this Genocide. I have neigbours that are from full Jewish origin and have had many conversations with them. We are only one hour from Toronto as well and they have a War Holocaust Place one can visit around Bathurst Street. I'm hoping to visit this site soon. Well I hope this letter makes sense to you and you are able to make head sense of this. Many thanks and respect for you loving endevours to keep these memories alive and may they never be forgotten.

Yours Truly,
Patricia Convoy convoy@gophone.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

i made it to "C".... what can i say?

Harvey Ginsburg harveyg@efn.org

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am doing a reasearch paper on Mengele and his experiments during the Holocaust. I have found your page (Alphabet, doctors) very helpful to my cause.

I was interested in some of the other things you wrote, esspecially your essay "What I learned from Auschwitz." However, in reading your essay, I was very disappointed at your statement "There is no God." I believe differently. I know there is a God because I have seen his wonderful works in my life. And I decided to ask myself the question, "Why did God let Auschwitz happen?" Well, why wouldn't he? Oh, I see your thinking, the Jews who died just should've lived forever, right? And nobody else should ever have to die or be murdered, right? That is the way you make it sound. Maybe you don't know about or believe in the Bible, but there was this guy called Adam, and he sinned. He wasn't going to die, but since he found out about sin, God punished him and the world with death. God gives life, thus he can take life away. However, there is a champion over death. It is God's son Jesus. He arose form the dead, thus defeating death. Now, because of his human sacrifice, all people who believe in his name shall have everlasting life. (defeat death)

I know that my spiel may sound like I'm some evangilistic freak, but I'm not. I'm just some high schooler that thinks J. Wallace has got some thinking to do before he checks out of this world. Yes God does allow death to come. For six million Jews, for everyone throughout history, and even YOU!

Feel free to respond.

David Smith I receive a lot of mail from people upset by my statement in What I Learned from Auschwitz that there is no God. I responded to David that his was the letter with the most violent view of God.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I always wanted to get something like that.Its hard to believe that that there are some mouvements still follow Hitlers ideals which a lot of canadians lost their lives to defeat it. Keep up the good work.

alban soucy trades.ac@auroranet.nt.ca

Dear Mr. Wallace:

My name is Gabriel Prengler. I am a Venezuelan Jew. I lived in Israel for five years.i think you have an extraordinary web-page here, very intructive, that helps to never forget the horror of the holocaust. I cry and feel more and more jew. Thanks.

Gabi fatesin@telcel.net.ve

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I have briefly skim-read the Alphabet. I am 17 and live in Australia. I study drama and I have chosen, as a compulsory assesment to do a piece on life in concentration camps. I am basing my piece on the book "Eva's Story" but want to include statistics that would shock the audience. I can hardly think about statistics now when my biggest problem seems to be the piece can be no longer than ten minutes. How can I possibly say all that needs to be said, and mention all that needs to be mentioned in that time? I have already written a monologue but I feel it is inadequte now I have read so much more. Thank you for doing what you have done. I felt sick when I read it and now feel exhausted and "numbed". I feel scared to read more pieces that people have compiled but at the same time I want to know everything. Can I ask why did you write the alphabet?

Louise Teale

Dear Mr. Wallace:

My name is Joe Sanders, and I work for the Southern Institute for Education and Research. We are based in New Orleans, in affiliation with Tulane University, and we deal primarily with race relations. I just wanted to inform you that we have a link to the Spectacle page on our page for research on Judaism and the Holocaust. It would be appreciated if you could post a link to www.tulane.edu/~so-inst. Thanks, and keep up the great page.


Joe Sanders
Southern Institute for Education and Research

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Re Human Creative Work, you wrote:

"All human creative work is similar, whether we are doing science, writing a story, drawing a cartoon, designing a government, inventing God, or developing software."

Do you agree with Douglas Hofstader's claim that "creativity" is uniquely characterised by "jumping out of the system" ? It's certainly an interesting idea, whether "true" or not.

Udhay Shankar N udhay@pobox.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

After reading Lisa G.'s comments on Mike Tyson, one can safely assume her knowledge of Mike Tyson and his relationship with Desiree Washington (the alleged rape victim) is less than satisfactory to form a legitimate opinion.

Perhaps for those who believe Tyson is in fact guilty (even though he was convicted for rape, though released early on bail, the American legal system has an unsavoury reputation for being unjust and corrupt), should peruse an analysis of Barbara Walters' t.v. interview with Desiree Washington, who accused Mike Tyson of raping her. The interview appeared on the ABC News program "20/20" on February 21, 1992, and transcripts can be obtained from ABC News.

At any rate, if one feels Mike Tyson has anger towards women, who can blame the man after his ex wife and ex mother-in-law conspired to extort millions from him. Your web site The Ethical Spectacle perhaps should include a new category: Sham Marriges ... women who marry for money ... should this be considered extortion? I think yes.

Alex White AlexWhite@cis.com.au

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Your essay about the Kent State killings might engender more sympathy if one didn't begin to doubt your use of other 'facts'. How could you state (with a straight face?) "I write this just a week after the Kansas city bombing that appears to have taken 200 lives..." when everyone and their mother knew that Oklahoma City was the locale?

How many other 'facts' did you get wrong in your essay?

Steve Sundberg deejay@mm.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I agree with much of what Bob Wilson said about the WNBA. Watching several of their games on the Tube last summer, I was really disappointed in the quality of play, the slow tempo of games, etc. Coming from CT, which has created a reputation for thrilling women's basketball (UCONN), I expect a more energized and physical game.

Compare the WNBA, however, with the ABL...without the NBA's deep pockets, they are putting out top quality bball...the emphasis is on great players and not on the NBA brand name...and they play in the right season. Our New England Blizzard (featuring 3 UCONN stars) outdraws ever other sporting event at the Hartford Civic Center.

bill tchakirides billt@ntplx.net

Dear Jonathan:

I like the new format for the ES. I hope I'm not being too forward, but may I raise two constructive criticisms?

First, the background you use is nice. However the combination of the inherent contrast and the granularity of the pattern, which is of a par with the fonts used, makes text a little hard to read. I would suggest a lower contrast background image. As a demonstration, I took your background image and lowered the contrast. It is at


Since you incorporate the background in your horizontal bar image, there is a new version of that, too:


If you want to run a test, you could substitute these for the files of the same names on your page and see if you like the effect.

Second, because you now have a frames document as the main page for each issue, you have a minor problem (depending on your point of view) on your Past Issues page. If you go there and click on the 10/97 issue, you will see that you get the frames document for October within the text frame of the current month's issue. You end up with two sets of navigation buttons on the right of the screen. On the one hand, you have control over where you want to go in each issue. On the other hand, you risk confusion on the user's part, and you are left with very little real estate for the text in the previous issue.

I would suggest that the link to the past issues be changed from

October 1997


October 1997

What this will do is to force the issue into a full-window browser page, not into one frame of the current page. When the user clicks the Back button, he or she will return to the current frames document. As for the previous, non-frame issues, they will appear full-frame, as they were originally laid out. The set of navigation buttons for the current issue won't be available while viewing a past issue, but the navigation method from a past page to the current one will remain consistent - the Back button.

Bruce Clark baclark@med.pitt.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I attached myself to your mailings recently. I am interested in the things you write.

I have to say that the thing that particularly raised my interest initially was your account of your experiences and response to the Kent State shootings in May 1970.

That event had a particular impact on my life as well. I was 18 years old and doing examinations for access to university. British TV news was (and still is) heavily influenced by American TV news and so the pictures were beamed into my home. I am not sure if it is apparent to people in the USA just how enormous an influence american news and culture has on the rest of us in the world (particularly the english speaking world).

You may be interested to know that four buildings in the University here in Kingston upon Thames, England are named after the 4 students gunned down in Kent State.

Because of my involvement in politics (I am an elected representative, a Liberal Democrat) I was invited to become a governor of the University 3 or 4 years ago. Only last week at a Board meeting the subject of the Kent State shootings was raised in relation to the different approaches between the USA tradition of student organisation and the UK tradition.

John Tilley johntilley@cix.compulink.co.uk

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I enjoyed visiting your website.

I would suggest a couple of things.

First, that you go to the library and learn the difference between a democracy and a republic, you seem to use the two words interchangeably. Then you need to do a little research and find out which term applies to the United States.

Second, you need to do a little more research on the conservative right. You seem to think that all Christian conservatives want to tell eveyone what speech is acceptable. Most Christian conservatives are really not concerned with what one does in the privacy of ones own home.

Homosexuality, abortion, pornography, etc., in the public place, is not freedom of speech in the eyes of the Christian, it is an encroachment their liberties. It is an attack on their happiness and on the security and welfare of their families.

I don't mean to be ugly, I have been where your stand. Clutching to the pride of academic training, secure in one's own itellect and power of reasoning.

But there is something else, something much more powerful in the mind of the Christian Conservative, Scripture.

If you would like to successfully represent your case to Christian consevatives. It must be done through Scripture. If you can't turn your intellect to Scripture and prove your beliefs from that source, you might as well close your Website. You're only addressing people that already believe the way you believe. If that is your goal, you are doing very well. If you would like to convert any Christian conservative to your way of thinking, it can be done with only one reference.

I will however give you one good tip, should you decide to enter the Conservative Christians' arena of battle (instead of bad-mouthing an opponent that you don't understand and therefore can not defeat). Scripture cannot be read as a normal book is read. It must be read prayerfully, asking for understanding instead of relying on the power of your intellect. To read it any other way, would be a waste of your time.

This is the arena you must enter if you are to be a victorious warrior for your cause.

Good luck and God bless,
Ron Lee ronl@sockets.net

Although I do sometimes quote the Bible in my work, I cannot quote it "prayerfully". Any attempt I made to do so to win arguments with the religious right would be hypocritical and futile. Scripture can, in fact, be quoted to support any imaginable position; I give an example in this month's essay on the death penalty: Wayne House's argument that the parable of the adulteress whom Jesus saved from stoning represents clever lawyering by Jesus, not any opposition on his part to the death penalty. In general, to persuade someone to one's own way of thinking, one must begin with some common ground. The more I understand about the views of the religious right, the less I believe there is any common ground whatever.