Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

You might be interested by the end of the story I related in Losing a Wheel: The garage took complete responsibility, apologized and reimbursed my expenses without a murmur, when I expected a fight. Sometimes the big city can feel like a small town.

I have an article in the October issue of Reason Magazine on the pervasiveness doctrine in cyberspace. I may not have mentioned that in July, I delivered a piece for Gauntlet on ISP liability. I'm not working on any other commercial writing at present.

I love to receive email about the contents of The Spectacle. You can reach me at jw@bway.net.

President Fuck-up
Dear Jonathan:

Thanks for the prominent billing. I guess you're as sick of Clinton as I am. I've made several (unmonied) wagers that the pressures will force him to resign within about a month. I was raised in NYC myself and so shared very little time with angels. Even so, I reached a point several months ago where his face and voice made me sick. Even for this piece, it was hard illustrating it given my attitude. In fact, the graphic was done so hurriedly that I thought it too crude for the written content. My friends suggested otherwise, so off it went.

Thanks again-- Martin Siegel msiegel@apk.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

A local radio station here in San Antonio, Texas, has (I'm told) established a "Clinton-free Zone." Word is that each time the man's name is mentioned, the station makes a $10 donation to a local charity. This strikes me as a good idea, especially for a web site devoted to ethics. Mr. Clinton's name, it seems, has no proper place on your site.

P.R.S. pstone@texas.net

Dear Jonathan:

While I totally agree with you about what a fuck-up Clinton is---- ( I'm furious with him for possibly destroying the last chance of progressives and social liberals to get any constructive legislation in the near future), I still feel that we have to protest the Starr Chamber proceedings and try to prevent an erosion of the Democratic vote in November. If the Religious Right gets a veto-proof Senate, I shudder to think of the bills that will be passed.

It's also a major attack on the constitution---- Starr's eleven counts come nowhere close to describing TREASON, BRIBERY AND OTHER HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. What is your thinking on this?

With all best wishes,

Jan Rainwater jrain@ix.netcom.com

PS I'm very happy that you were not hurt when the wheel came off your car.

Dear Mr. Wallace:

You DO have a way with words, sir!

David Block drblock@airmail.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

The video needs to be released intact or not at all. What we are witnessing is an attempted Coup d'Etat.

Richard Pauli rpauli@halcyon.com

Dear Jonathan:

The contempt our president has for the intellect of the American people is evident in his ludicrous video taped grand jury testimony. His contortions and evasions of simple questions posed throughout the four tortuous hours are disgusting. Examples of ridiculous obsfucation concerning whether he actually had sex with Ms. Lewinsky while simultaneously he admits that she had sex with him, speak volumes and exceeds the boundary of the absurd. Video tape graphically and undeniably depicts this man lying, under oath, with impunity. Anyone defending his actions and contending he deserves to be our leader richly deserves to have his/her intellect questioned. If, as his political supporters contend in their programmed reactions, "this is a witch hunt," then we have certainly found a metaphorical "witch."

Bob Wilson

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Per your lead article, I would suggest to you that the President has as much right to privacy as any other citizen, viz., the Bill of Rights: thank you for your outrageous publicity.


An Auschwitz Alphabet
Hi, my name is Amanda and I am 16 years old. This past summer I went to Poland for one week and to Israel for five. While in Poland, we visited Auschwitz, and in my search for more info I found your web site. It is a great site!

I did notice one thing that you either did not mention or were not aware of. The Arbeit Macht Frei sign was built by Jews and other prisoners of the camp. As a sign of silent resistence, the workers placed the "B" in Arbeit upside down. They did this to act against the Nazis in anyway they could and to "warn" new inmates not to beleive anything they were told.

I just thought this was really interesting and should maybe be added to the page!


Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thankyou for providing this memorial - no words really - I lost a few relatives at Auschwitz before I was born


David Knopfler david@knopfler.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Re Saving Steven Spielberg:

Makes movies that millions pay to see. Makes millions from those millions. Your opinion is OK but if we go on a majority rule, then we let Clinton off 'for his crimes because he is popular so Spielburg is also OK because the majority of the population feels he is doing a good job.

So get away from the economic. Are Spielburg's stories based on an ethical basis? Are we entitled to treat an alien as a subject of our experiments? No.

Are the facts of the Holocaust true? Yes. Does it matter that there are "similiarities" as you claim? No

Is it "good" to strive for an ideal even if we repeatedly fail? Yes. So what if the good guys let the bad guys off and the bad guys get us once more, if we shoot them out of hand, we are no better than they.

My conclusions about you from what your wrote:

1. You NEVER served in combat. Your greatest claim is that you were a "Vietnam era veteran" meaning you were in the service during the Vietnam era but managed to avoid going to Vietnam.

2. If you were in the military, you were drafted.

3. If you were not in the miltary, you managed to get a draft dodge of some type.

' 4. You are too young to remember.

I, on the other hand, have 17 years of active duty, served in the Gulf protecting your $1 per gallon gas prices and got shot at. My boss served in the Gulf and in Vietnam, has a purple heart (you probably do not know what that is) and a "V" ribbon.

Knock Steven S. all you want, but he is trying to make the horrors of war known to you poor civilians.

David Johnston davidpaulj@earthlink.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am a philosophy student in Brisbane, Australia and am currently involved in research concerning merit and democracy.

I read your WWW site and found it very interesting and relevant to what I am studying. I was wondering if you could suggest some other WWW sites that could help me or give some of your own opinions.

I am trying to discuss the whether merit is compatible with democracy, workable in a democracy or undemocratic.

Best regards,

SUGATH WIJEDORU s279242@student.uq.edu.au

Dear Mr. Wallace:

To bring up something from a back issue: I just read your essay "Philip K. Dick and Human Kindness," and feel compelled to respond. First, I should say that I think your general point is absolutely accurate, particularly the relevance of the "tomb world" image to Dick's vision of the possibility of human contact. This image also pops up explicitly in Martian Time-Slip, and is in the background of several other novels.

But here are my problems with what you've written:

1. Dick's use of hallucinogens, according to his friends from the 60s and 70s, was minimal. He himself said different things at different times on this issue, but to portray his writing as an acid-fueled series of fugues is really to cheapen the philosophical complexity of his better novels. His major drug problem was with speed, which of course can trigger hallucinations but doesn't always -- and even when it does, the results are nothing compared to LSD's.

2. Far from being a savant who had no idea or concern for the value of what he was writing, Dick thought constantly about the literary qualities of his work and hated the fact that he had to write so fast and therefore sloppily. He was extremely well-read in English and European literature (at least partially as a result of social pressures from his acquaintance with the San Francisco Renaissance poets in the late 1940s), and wrote around a dozen mainstream novels in an effort to escape what he saw in the 50s and early 60s as the limitations of SF. Later, as he began to tinker with the genre's boundaries, his opinion of it rose several notches, but from the very beginning of his career Dick was extremely self-conscious about his place in literary history -- and, if you hate reflexive literature, I'm surprised you can even read VALIS or its pencil study, Radio Free Albemuth.

Just my two cents. I'm always thrilled to see people writing about PKD, but it bothers me when they turn him into a sort of combination Burroughs/Kerouac. A more appropriate characterization might be as an American William Blake, with a bit of Borges thrown in.

By the way, I wrote my MA thesis on PKD, and am beginning a book-length study of his work, so I'm one of those academics ...

More generally, I'd like to say that The Ethical Spectacle is a thoughtful oasis in the virtual near-desert of political ranting on the Web.

Alex Irvine airvine@du.edu

PS -- if you're interested, the thesis is in the process of being Web-ified. http://www.du.edu/~airvine/writing/writing.html

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I just read the "Kazoo Concerto" on-line, and found it very amusing. Some of the stories were quite lovely. I especially liked the images inspired by "he practiced law from his studio apartment" and "for most people, getting married is easier." These could be the premises for entire novels or movies!

A side note: The "Kazoo Concerto" is really just a collection of short stories, not a novella. Even the stories in Niven's "A Hole In Space", Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold the Moon", or Asimov's "Foundation" are much more closely intertwined. This is because each book's shared themes, mapped timeframes, and visible sense of progress overcome the book's discrete separation of the stories and noncontinuous (or even overlapping) timeframes. Whereas, some of the stories (especially the sidebars) in the "Kazoo Concerto" feel _very_ disconnected from each other, despite sharing characters with the same names. (But I would still like to read more about these stories!)

Thank you again for posting such entertaining and illuminating stories.

Sincerely yours,

Jasper jasper@cytex.com