Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

For some time I have enjoyed publishing Wayne Grytting's American Newspeak, with its gleeful spotlight on the bureaucratic and hypocritical use of language. This week we saw an example Wayne hasn't had the time to publish yet: a nuclear plant in Japan had an "inadvertent criticality" when workers dumped thirty pounds too much of a radioactive chemical into a mix, causing a blue flash. Meanwhile we are all waiting to see what kinds of inadvertent criticalities may occur as the century rolls over this coming December 31.

As I write I am also enjoying the spectacle of Mayor Giuliani's continuing nervous breakdown as he threatens to evict the venerable Brooklyn Museum (where I took watercolor classes as a child) over its sponsorship of a rather boring exhibition of British "shock" art.

I've enjoyed being a spectator and occasional participant in the events of the latter half of the twentieth century. I relish your email too; please keep those letters coming to jw@bway.net.

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your stimulating and well-considered article, The Fractal Revolution in The Ethical Spectacle. I had not thought with so much diligence as you have demonstrated about the applicability of fractal mathematics in the social realm. Though I've looked for ways to apply it the the geometro-dynamic model of physics (including bio-physics and, ultimately, conscious experience), it was refreshing to read your thoughts concerning organizational structures and how fractal math will improve them.

It was also refreshing to read how the "as above-so below" wisdom may still be applied to American constitutional politics, and I have been writing and arguing for some time now that the 200 year old social contract remains revolutionary, if we can regularly dust it free of latter-day glosses and varnishings, not to say white-washings. In my essays I've also referred to the Enlightenment in approving terms, as the revolution in thought that preceded the revolution in politics. But I have regularly argued that Newtonian math, with its hierarchical sytemizing propensities, has falsely given aid and support to the enemies of the Enlightenment's spirit of liberty and open inquiry, which can survive only in a communicational-interchange environment wherein all levels may and are encouraged to contribute to the conversation. The devolution of Darwin's theory into Social Darwinism similarly betrays the Enlightenment agenda. For Newton, I fault his charatcer flaw which compelled him toward a competitive race with contemporaries for primacy in the exciting pursuit of scientific formulae that would yield predictable results. It is, perhaps, his desire for primacy that contaminates his theories as well, spinning off hierarchies like fern branchings, from his personal agenda.

Darwin, shy about challenging authority, may have allowed his theory to be co-opted by authority, perhaps as a way of appeasing those forces that might otherwise have brought him to a fate like that of Galileo.

These are only speculations made visible, not arguments with the merit of evidence. But I did want to let you know your article has been read and appreciated. Thanks!

Ben Price NebecirP@aol.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I found your site fascinating, elegant and powerful in its own understated way. I am Filipino-American, and the murder of another Filipino-Amercian postal worker in LA recently by a white supremacist (who also shot up the Jewish Community Center) shows me that there is still much work to be done against the forces of hate. As a Catholic, I have also met antagonism from "Christians" who think I'm going to hell anyway. I don't think we're very different.

God bless you, sir, and God help us all.

Pancho Oppus soppus@ix.netcom.com


Having just gotten around to reading your essays on free speech (August Ethical Spectacle), I must commend you on some really fine work. All three pieces were excellently written and very thought provoking.

One thing however. I hope you realize that not all "gun nuts" (like me) would dream of making violent threats based on your speaking out in irrational and obsessive opposition to the Second Amendment. As with liberals who go off the deep end (and bomb things) when they encounter opposition, a few who consider their rights to gun ownership in jeopardy may indeed threaten harm. I would gladly help you prosecute them if able. Since Clinton has caused a 44% drop in gun law enforcement during his terms, it seems that threats of gun violence should be taken more seriously. Maybe these people (who threaten you) will be identified by Senator Schumer, and their weapons confiscated. I hope that your fear of their potential to do you harm (making you consider buying a gun for self protection) is not justified.

Bob Wilson.

P.S. Your high school principal was obviously outclassed by one "smart- assed" 16-year old.

Dear Jonathan,

Bob Wilson's seemingly heart-felt lament over the defiling of SAC monuments to the Cold War by new era kids out to have a good time at Woodstock '99 rang true. It rang all the bells hung in the belfries of my Cold War era upbringing. But since I have spent a few decades dismantling the belfry and melting down the jingoistic bells strung up in my self-owned cranium by colonizing nationalists, I've had less ringing in my ears and less tonitis when it comes to social issues.

Bob's lament came not so much as a complaint, but as a whinny attack against people he didn't like. We can't all insist our lives were well spent when they were admittedly directed by deceit. Not everything done with heroic intent would have had a heroic outcome if permitted to descend to logical outcomes, such as the National Security State's policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). If Bob spent a lot of time preparing for this outcome, I for one am glad his mission remains unfulfilled. I don't wish him harm or ill, just glad the agenda he was trained to enact was a failure.

Please understand that I admire and congratulate Bob's commitment to principles. We must all come to some judgement about what we would and would not "die for." His jaded view of the Woodstock '99 participants may actually deserve some support, though I think we would differ on the reasons for criticism. The original Woodstock generation was not unanimously in favor of political revolution, but there is every indication that a majority of the participants would have challenged the governnment's edict that young men over the age of 18 should submit to a form of slavery then called conscription or "the draft." That there has followed, from that era, some tradition of unconsidered suspicion and prejudice against military absolutism concerning the correct outcomes of global intersocial affairs can not entirely be faulted against the simple folk, the peasants, the uninformed, including the badly dressed participants at Woodstock '99. A government that chooses to propagandize rather than inform its people can not be said to be democratic. For such a government to insist on or expect mild or considerate responses from its sovereign citizens seems unreasonable in a responsible context. For such a government to expect the children of the disenfranchised to support its edicts seems ridiculous. For those who once supported the disenfranchisement of their own generation to call for the respect of the progeny of those they would thoughtlessly betray to their private "principles", well, there is no polite thing to say. It is best we understand each other on this point: liberty and freedom are non-negotiable.

Ben G. Price NebecirP@aol.com

Re The Guns at Columbine:

I am thankful the guard was armed and could defend himself. Had he been more courageous and a better shot, fewer children would have died.


Dear Jonathan Wallace:

Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed your "personal history of God." A thought piece, and a well-written one.

David Watt dwatt@nimbus.ocis.temple.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I had to write after finding your website by chance while researching school shootings. I am a former assistant county prosecutor and spent a number of years prosecuting child/abuse neglect cases. I was doing the research for a forensic publication of which I am a contributing editor.

I have always been especially interested in children's issues and am appalled by how society has racheted up its attack on children using the shootings as an excuse. (If you want to see something really horrific, Sally Jesse Raphael has actually arranged for an adult jail and a boot camp to be available in order to receive misbehaving teenagers encouraged to act out on the show so they can, with the consent of the parents, be removed by uniformed officials and filmed while they are transported to their just punishment and filmed for the national audience doing their time).

At the same time with a few exceptions, the media and the political establishment have been steering a wide path around the central issues (and the prevalence of guns, while certainly an important factor is not the only one.) I noticed that you dealt with the impact of school culture which I believe was critical in several of these incidents and about which the press has been silent for the most part.

In any event I find this a fascinating project and to have been on the web since the pre-historic mid-90s is quite an accomplishment.

I look forward to seeing more of your publication.

Jonathan E. Schiff jschiff139@aol.com

I would just like to say that you run one of the best internet sites I have stumbled upon. The Spectacle is a diamond in the rough.

Keep up the good work,

M. Montazzoli CaseBClosed@aol.com

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:

My name is Judith Bows, and I am an elementary school teacher currently living and teaching in Krakow, Poland. I am also a master's degree student at Pacific Oaks College Northwest in Seattle, Washington and am working on my thesis on how and when it is developmentally appropriate to introduce Holocaust curriculum into the elementary classroom.

I am very interested in finding educators who have done some work with Holocaust education at an elementary aged level who would be interested and willing to participate in my thesis research. Participation involves answering some questions on a survey and should take no more than an hour of time. If you are interested or have knowledge of others who would be, I would greatly appreciate your help and participation.

Judith Bows puchabows@polished.net

Dear Jonathan,

I have always been interested in what happen at German prisoner of war camps and after reading a short story by Stephen King called "Apt Pupil", my interest was hightened. My heart aches for all those who lost their lives for no reason, other than their religion. I am horrified by the terror that other human beings have suffered at the hands of other human beings. I wish this was a perfect world where we could all get along no matter what race or religion or colour we are. We are all the same inside.

Your sight was very informative and well done. The pictures you have added tell the tale that mere words cannot express. I think God wasn't there because it was "His children" doing this to each other not Him. Perhaps He feels He failed to protect His children too. The germans weren't listening to Him so there was little he could do.

I do believe there is a God, even though I am a non church going catholic, I think if He could have helped that He would have. I think for some people though it is easier to think that God was not there. If He wasn't there, then perhaps the germans would never have been defeated.

It is easy for me to suggest such things as I was not there, nor do I have any family that was, but I don't think God totally abandoned them. I think He was crying at the way we were treating each other.

I know at the moment I am still rather uninformed as to the horrors that went on, so perhaps you may feel what I have said is just an uneducated opinion, but maybe on the other hand it is true. Unfortunately we will never really know why it happened and why it wasn't stopped long before it was. Let us just hope that we do learn from our mistakes.

Yours sincerely

Laney Allan

From: neal keogh Dear mr. wallace:

i have just finished reading your alphabet and just wanted to say thank you, that was one of the best pieces i have read about auschwitz, and you are to be commended.

the reason why i came across your page is because i am flying to germany in the morning and hope to go to see auschwitz next week, i cannot say that it is something that i am looking forward to, but it is something i have always felt that i MUST do, i'm sure you know what i mean.

i don't know if my experience would be any different if i were jewish (i'm an atheist and i'm curious to see if my time there will make me a more devout atheist!), also, being irish (i am from Dublin) there is very little memory of wwII here in ireland as we were a neutral country. however, as a member of the human race i'm sure it will be the most profound experience of my life.

thank you again,

neal keogh nkeogh@yahoo.com