Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

You can write to me at jblumen@interramp.com. Your name and email address will be included here unless otherwise requested.

Dear Mr. Blumen: First of all - thank you for your interesting and provoking web site. So much provoking, that it even made me sit and type and actually send email.

The last paragraph in Welfare and Block Grants is words to live by, and I would like to quote it in its entirety : "Personally I believe in cooperation".

In contradiction to the concept of cooperation, earlier in the article you expresses common views that advocate massive involvement of government in people's life, especially in welfare. You also suggest that such involvement is not only necessary, but morally justified.

You write: "The irreducible minimum of people who cannot work (or cannot find work) will be chased from state to state", suggesting that their only way of survival is state funded welfare.

And you suggest that tax money should support the irreducible minimum of people who cannot work (or cannot find work).

What tops them all is the following quote: "The federal government [...] enforces cooperation."

Several years ago a man was accused of rape . To his defense he said that the he had to, because the girl refused to cooperate.

Government advocates of all kinds believe in cooperation. Enforced cooperation, that is.

Muni Savyon muni@closity.close.net

Dear Mr. Blumen:

Greetings from Canada! May I suggest two sites for your consideration? They are:

LifeNET at:


and the Save Austin Bastable Home Page at:


Best wishes,

Ted Gerk egerk@awinc.com

Dear Sir:

I have just read your articles. I read a lot about Auschwitz to make me understand what my father went through when he was there, he never spoke of it, and I do know it must have been very hard on him. My Father passed away two years ago. I do know that a catholic priest saved my father from going to the gas chamber; in the end he gave up being a priest; he told my mother where was God when all of this was going on, and why did he let it happen.

Barbara Lencse bassia@ihug.co.nz

Dear Mr. Blumen:

About Interview with the Vampire:

First of all, I'd like to say that you have a point -- the movie did portray females as victims in most situations. But I strongly believe that the comments made about the movie (and the book) were both incorrect and ill-informed. Let me comment on a few of the statements in the essay: "I have not read Anne Rice's work, but assuming that the film is faithful, we appear to be sharing the extremely masochistic fantasies of a borderline personality who may somehow have cleansed herself by dumping her garbage on us." It's obvious that you haven't read her work; in the second and third books of the series, a female vampire is central to the plot, and the book in no way exploits females or promotes callous violence etc. Please do not jump to conclusions about a book you have not read.

Secondly, please refrain from the liberal and inaccurate use of terms like 'borderline' and 'schizophrenic' -- I'm sure the people who are suffering from these disorders would not appreciate your using them as insults.

"The actress, by performing the role, participates in and consents to the abuse; the subliminal message to the audience is that it is really all right, since the actress agreed to it, and even behaves as if she is enjoying it."

Either (a) you mean that there is literally a subliminal message being sent, in which case you are categorically wrong, or (b) you mean that a message of consent is implicit in the scene, in which case I would have to ask (1) whether this is the case; certainly the vampire characters consented to the abuse, and perhaps the victim character did too, but are you suggesting 'the movie itself', whatever this may mean, consented to abuse?, and (2) so what if a general message of consent is being sent by the movie? This doesn't mean that we have to accept it. Those who do think abuse really is 'okay' would accept such a message; those who think abuse is entirely unacceptable (i.e., most of the male population) would shrug the 'message' off as nothing more than a movie about something that shouldn't happen in the 'real world'.

"It is easy to believe that a borderline personality, blurring the distinction between the actress' acceptance of a pretended humiliation and a real one, would be galvanized into committing a crime, and in fact there has been one such attempted murder by a man who attacked his girlfriend after taking her to see Interview."

Easy for you to believe, maybe, but not for the more rational among us. Anyway, is the possible reaction of viewers with BPD any justification for condemning a movie?

"Movies like Interview convince me that, despite the lack of research evidence, there is a link between them and violence. Although instances of someone seeing a movie, then immediately committing a crime, are relatively rare (and also hard to prove) no doubt there is a feedback loop between popular culture and our values. Movies express values (typically while claiming not to do so) and we learn our values at the movies."

Yes, true, and then we express values, and they are eventually reflected in movies. Which is the chicken, which the egg?

"If a Hollywood producer would not teach his daughter that she exists for the pleasure of men, nor his son that women are chattels to be consumed by him, even to their destruction, why would he make a movie that communicates these same messages?"

Perhaps because the producer is making a *movie*, and not teaching his chldren. If you are trying to imply that movie producers have the same power over our adult minds as parents have over the values and beliefs of their children, then (a) you are speaking utter rubbish, and (b) you could at least explicitly state this, rather than drawing vague analogies. "Half the human race has the daily experience of unwelcome, hostile attention from people who would (most of them) never dream of harassing blacks or Jews, but, due to that moral ozone hole, regard gender as a license for intimidation. Who can seriously claim that movies such as Interview play no role in legitimating and extending this behavior?" Me for one; your 'argument' has provided not one shred of evidence or even convincing rhetoric to sway my opinion. I agree that some people do regard gender (almost always female gender) as a "license for intimidation", but your claim that Interview plays a part in "legitimizing and extending this behaviour" is unfounded and to the author of the book and the producer of the film, I expect quite offensive.

"Movies cannot be made portraying blacks as the justified victims of unredressed violence. Yet, if the victims are female, no equivalent prohibition exists. The solution is not to extend the pornography laws, but for people, male and female, to close the ozone hole by refusing to participate in, support or see movies like Interview With the Vampire." Here you blatently imply that Interview portrays females as the "justified victims of unredressed violence". I must therefore repeat, this claim is entirely unfounded, and offensive.

Please try to accept these comments in the constructive spirit in which they were intended. I am glad that constructive discussion is occurring on the Net, and I merely wish to contribute to it. I would welcome any feedback or comments on this letter.


Stuart Kinner s319458@student.uq.oz.au

Dear Mr. Blumen:

I don't know who wrote the above mentioned review, but this person is very, very sick. Sick to the point where he/she couldn't view the movie for what it was: a fantasy, and entertainment.

As fair as Anne Rice's book is concerned, we can't only read the Bible, now, can we?

Jean P. Nadeau flussier@courrier.usherb.ca

To which I responded:

I have had more angry responses to this one piece than anything else I have ever written. Did you get the URL from an Anne Rice newsgroup? I seem to be attracting Anne Rice fans like angry bees.

The theme that runs through all these responses is let the movie alone, let Anne Rice alone, its just an entertainment. Let me pose a question: if the movie was about superior beings who have a right to kill black or Jewish people, and who do so with gusto, would it still be just an "entertainment"?

And if not, what is the difference betwen a movie about killing blacks or Jews, and one that glorifies the abuse and murder of women?

Mr. Nadeau's answer:

Dear Mr. Blumen:

I got the review reference while doing an Infoseek search. I bet you had a lot of angry responses.

Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaase, cut the politically correct BS. The movie is not about "superior beings who have a right to kill black (read: African Americans) or Jewish people". The movie is about a fantasy, period. If we were to follow you in that way of thinking, all we would be allowed to watch is The sound of Music and Co.

The movie is not about glorifying the "abuse and murder of women" and you know it. I perceive you as being the kind of person who likes to see and denounce women's supposed martyrdom at every occasion. To me your way of thinking seems to constitute exactly that form of intolerance you purport to denounce.I suggest you get off your high horse. Crusaders were extinct a couple of centuries ago. :-)

By the way, I read the book, I watched the movie. I've been married for 18 years. I never beat my wife. I never, ever tortured any women.... as I'm sure I wouldn't even enjoy it. :-D

Please see Fantasy and Morality in this issue for my reply to Anne Rice fans.

Dear Mr. Blumen:

I was just browsing through some of your past postings and I read an essay called My Constitutional Right to Own a SAM. About 15 minutes before finding this, for no apparent reason, I started thinking about the second amendment to myself and thought "jeesh, even the NRA wouldn't support my right to my own nuclear weapons" thinking I had just hit upon an extremely original argument for gun control; I rushed over to the liberalism page on the web, and posted a note on their board explaining this position and concluding (this is paraphrased because i can't remember exactly what I said) : since we all agree that a line must be drawn, it is simply a question of where to draw the line.

I had never heard of or been to your web site before posting this. I had never read anyone or heard anyone say anything remotely similar to this idea of the argument not being over the fundamental right to bear arms but being over where to draw the line. so it was extremely bizarre that about 15 minutes after this idea popped into my head, in a completely random web-surf, I would find someone making the exact same point (only a lot more eloquently and before me anyway).

First, I think it's a pretty significant point. Second, I am really not sure what my point is, except, wow, what a bizarre coincidence! It was so mind-numbing that I had to email to you. And nice site! :)

Macaroni Cheese rigatoni@m-net.arbornet.org

Dear Mr. Blumen:

Interesting stuff about tit for tat. I haven't read the lengthy list of sources, but I do have a few practicle insights. First, assuming Jesus did exist, he was on the top of the totem pole with regard to being "self-actualized" -- that is, he knew how he fit into his surroundings, better than they knew how he fit in. Put another way, perhaps Jesus (human, alien or the son of god) sat in the purity of objectiveness, in a Buberian sense -- he essentially sat outside the dilemma game and groked you in the moment. Defending Buddha and Luther-King and Ghandi -- did it really matter if they won tit for tat?

Could it be that if the cerebral cortex allows humans to transcend the spatial-temporal fabric (ie. sleep, deja vu, psychotic episodes -- see R.D. Laing "Politics of Experience and his comments about the merchant marine) that prisoners dilemma is the ultimate tool( essentially an equation expressing the phenomena of social interaction) to gaining higher consciousness. Other may find the Twelve Steps effective.

To bring it all back to your comments about old and new testament -- the age-old christian ethic we all struggle with -- those who can percieve their existence through the spiritual lens play the game differently. As you have said, familiarity breeds cooperation -- perhaps higher god-consciousness reveals a far-reaching social purpose (like freedom for millions, the end of war etc...) that transcends the defection /cooperation trials in a stats experiment. We play tit for tat -- but we change, that is we are conditioned for new responses as we go -- thus eventually playing the game differently in what may appear to be the exact same scenario -- but it isn't. Not quite. Does any of this make sense?

Irvin Kozar irvk@ulltratech.net

We are publishers of titles on International Environmental Law, Finance & Policy based in the UK. We would be extremely grateful if you could include a link to our pages from yours (we would of course reciprocate) Our URL is www.airtime.co.uk/C-May.

Many Thanks,

Nick May 100615.1547@compuserve.com

Your site answered one of my patrons question on the derivation and meaning of muselmanner. Couldn't find it anywhere else. Glad you created this site.

Jonathan Miller hearef@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu

In the course of doing the usual surfing I do everyday for work, I came across your Auschwitz Alphabet. Tho my job is to design web sites, I don't see much on the web that I think is very worthwhile, from a design or content point of view. But your site was so well done, so intelligently, calmly and creatively done, that I felt I must say somthing. The Holocaust is such a horrifying topic that it is difficult for me to spend long periods of focus on it. Your alphabet format, and the judicious and inspired use of quotes lets me learn something and be reminded of things I knew, without becoming overwhelmed. Thank you very much for putting this site together in the thought-ful (sic) manner in which you did.

Catherine Warner

Great job... Patrick for the Jewish Deportation Museum of Belgium


Dear Jonathan:

Your distinction between Newt's "morality" and your own speaks of your obsession to polarize in the extreme. I realize that arguing with you is pointless, but it is therapeutic for me to point out the absurdity of your compulsive attempts to paint conservative ideas as Nazi like. Without specific reference to any particular position, you say that Gingrich, in effect, kills people with a lack of compassion. (Remember, I pointed out to you that liberals such as yourself think that you corner the market on that quality--an arrogant and witless contention.) That is a typical example of the liberal hysteria that inflames passion over nothing. Your attempts to demonize, by such inflammatory rhetoric comparing people like me to Hitler, while colorful, and passionate, still lacks specific reference to facts.

It's the FACTS that trip you up Jonathan, the facts. You are a compelling writer, but as with so many liberals, you only use one side of your brain.

Newt really gets to you because he uses both sides, a fact that you reference, though you contend that they are not connected. Keep struggling with your feelings Jonathan. If you think hard enough, you to may come to understand that the brain has two sides.

Your friend, Bob Wilson