Letters to the Ethical Spectacle

I live for mail. Keep those cards and letters coming. Email me at jblumen@spectacle.org.

The Movies of Our Misfortune

Last month, a reader named Leanne indignantly criticized Shannon Spencer's review of the movie Seven. Here is Shannon's reply:

I'm not sure how to take the "get your head out of the bible" comment as my views are purely areligious -- i.e., you don't have to believe in or be blinded by the teachings of the bible to ascribe to my views on movies. In any case, there are more substantive and interesting things to write and read about...

Somehow I think that Leanne missed the point of the article. I'll have to make sure I express myself more clearly -- I don't want to put a damper on free expression or certainly on good story-writing --rather, I want to question the ethical responsibility of actors and directors to their public. By creating more and more increasingly violent films are we simply desensitizing the public so that we will not mind, or even crave, more violent films? I'm not advocating regulating what goes into films, simply suggesting that the professionals in the film industry have such powerful roles in our society that they should think about what they are providing to the gentle and not-so gentle people of this nation.

Also, I would note that, of course Leanne is right that most people go to movies to see a good story and not for ethical/moral guidance; however, the moral of the story is thrown in for free. You may not be asking for it, but it's in there, be it good bad or indifferent, just as it is there in every aspect of life.

cheers! (or is that too blatantly optimistic?)

Shannon Spencer

An Auschwitz Alphabet

Mr. Blumen,

I think you internet page really helps to put the horrors of the Holocaust into perspective. It was a time that not many people wish to remember, but at the same time it is not something that should be forgotten. I am doing a report on the attempts to cover up what was happening during that period. If you have any information on that I would greatly appreciate you sending it to me.

Thank you,
Caitlin Miller Boulder, CO

Thanks for writing. The two best sources on the administrative history of the Holocaust, including the deliberate concealment of what was happening from the German people and the world, are books by Raul Hilberg and Lucy Davidowicz with similar titles. Hilberg I think is The Destruction of European Jewry and Davidowicz is The War Against the Jews. You may want to look into a camp called Theresienstadt, which was a showplace camp, the only one the Red Cross was permitted to visit, which was used to convince the West that Jews were being interned, not murdered.

Dear Mr. Blumen:

Hello. My name is Marshall A. Sidman, a Jew living in Flushing, Queens. I'm 34 years old now.

I'm not religious at all. But I always strongly identified with my own culture. However, I regret that as generation upon generation grow up, we grow farther away from our roots. Your Auschwitz forum really blew me away, and reminded me of the terrible things that happened to us.

It's hard for me to believe in God. But I do feel "Jewish" nontheless, and sometimes wish that I could believe more in God. WWII really strikes doubt in the hearts of millions. Philosophically, it's a hard one to reconcile with, the fact that "The Chosen" were brutally slaughtered by the millions. Your websight really blew me away. Thank you for being here.

Marshall bodykode@nyc.pipeline.com

Dear Mr. Blumen:

I read your "Auschwitz Alphabet" and I am impressed with your writing. It made me cry, but then that stuff always does, so I study in small amounts. I was a sunday school teacher (conservative Jewish temple) for many years and I have always felt that people in general have to know what happened, that the people who died are not forgotten. One part of my family history was totally erased at that time.

I'm going to add a link to your page from my own at http://www.cebaf.gov/~jenni

Jenni jenni@cebaf.gov


Thank You For the Auschwitz Alphabet. I visited there when I was younger, and you could still feel an air of doom about the place.

Eric edwhite@microweb.com


Dear Mr. Blumen:

I think this is great. I am a 14 year old boy that lives in indiana. (USA) I really think what you are doing is important. If kids my age aren't told of this tragidy, than it will be forgotten about and the likelier the possibility of it happining again in some shape or form. Thank you.

Michael J. Edwards

This is why I write The Ethical Spectacle.

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Dear Mr. Blumen:

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!


Perhaps he is. But there is no way to know for sure from the trial he received, where an important police witness who denied he made a confession was out of town and exculpatory ballistics evidence was not presented.

Moreover, the defnendant's unpopular politics got dragged into it, including statements he had made at age 16.

Everyone is entitled to a fair trial, even an accused cop killer.

Campaign Finance

Dear Mr. Blumen:

I am interested in finding info on the above mentioned subject. Would you provide any suggestions for me? Thanks for your help.


I don't but would like to know about one myself. In my Personally, I believe the campaign finance system is legalized bribery and a great threat to democracy.

Gun Control

Dear Mr. Blumen:

A new Web site is the best (of a bad lot) I've found, of sites with an anti-gun emphasis: "Cease Fire" -- http://norden1.com/~jfrisk/ (Yep, that's all the address you need.) Little on gun law/banning/legislation, much on "gun violence," children, safety rules if you MUST have a gun, etc. Many links, esp. to anti-violence groups.

Hypothesis: Pro-gun-rights enthusiasts have such a strong presence on the WWW ... especially in comparison with the anti-gun crowd ... because they feel that this side has been denied a voice on any of the major mass media (except the marginal "talk radio").

Best, Ken Dowst kdowst@uhavax.hartford.edu


Dear Mr. Blumen:

to j I am dog-sitting at a house that is on the net.

I havn't slept in 2 days from the surfing.

Seriously, thank you so much. You've helped me find so many things I want to see...e.g. Chomsky, Rainbow Coal., etc. etc. I am getting my Paralegal Certificate in Northern California.

Keep on keepin' on.

Ellen S. Kaufman

Dear Mr. Blumen:

In discussing the movie Natural Born Killers (which I just saw last night) with a friend, we got into an ethical discussion regarding the usefulness of violence to trash violence. My friend mentioned something about executions in Poland during WWII and how some soldiers refused to kill any longer.

I just came across your article discussing this very thing and as a result have become aware of The Ethical Spectacle. I am impressed, to say the least, and hope to visit your site on a regular basis. As I have just found you, it will take me some time to catch up. However, I've been roundly entertained by what little I have read already.

I wish I could offer myself as that conservative who might take on Clinton you are seeking. However, I am conservative only in the sense that my politics are generally so far left they tend at times to converge with certain of those expressed by libertarians.

I am not against the death penalty (only insofar as it is unjustly applied), not in favor of any kind of gun control, believe in the socialization of large-scale industry, generally in favor of helping the less fortunate in our society, for the decriminilization of all drugs, against any kind of "flat" (HA HA) tax; I shall desist at this point before I wear out my welcome.

I hope to have the time and inclination to read a lot of your work. I am new to the net but love every moment I spend here. Finding the Spectacle has increased my enjoyment and brightened my day.

Thanks, Rick Ladd rickladd@rain.org

Dear Mr. Blumen,

Basically I am extremely fond of your website and found your article on pornography well-balanced and informative. One thing kind of bothered me: your false spelling of Catharine MacKinnons name who you call Mackinnon.

I find your idea that the internet is dangerous because it is free from the web of social control especially interesting and very helpful in thinking about censoring the net.

Let me mention just one more objection. In your article "Congress censors the Net" you point out that your son is "straight as an arrow", which makes your education a good job. Well, I guess, not being straight as an arrow won't allow the implication that someone's parents' education was a bad job - though many parents of homosexual children wonder what they have done wrong - which, I think, is definitely the wrong question.

Anyway, I think you are doing an excellent job with the spectacle, objections notwithstanding. Good luck in your suing Janet Reno; I will continue following your pages.

Elisabeth Holzleithner elisabeth_holzleithner@univie.ac.at

Several misunderstandings. The title "Why the Internet is Dangerous" was, of course, sarcastic--not clear from your letter that you realized that. I should have left my stepson out of the (now outdated) "Congress Censors the Net" alert; I was fumbling for a way to express the thought that there is more than one way to raise a moral child. But, in any event, I used the term "straight arrow" in its old fashioned context--nothing to do with sexual orientation.

The Communications Decency Act

Dear Mr. Blumen:

How can I find out how my representatives in Washington voted on this bill?


Pat Estes pestes@uff.ufl.edu

Check out Voters' Telecommunications Watch.

Mr. Jonathan Blumen:

I am a Christian, and by worldview and political disposition, Republican. I enjoy reading "The Ethical Spectacle" as much (and possibly more than) "See I Told You So". For better or for worse, each man is entitled to his opinion and I enjoy and gain knowledge from discovery of all angles and perspectives on all issues.

I am enraged at the Congressional dereliction of our Constitution. Is this not treason? As you pointed out in your Lafayette Park speech, "no law means no law." I stand behind you 100% in defending our Constitution; have the Communications Decency Act declared unconstitutional! I enjoy your e-zine just like it is, without Federal interdiction!

M. Allan Hall brit@cns.net

Dear Mr. Blumen:

I noticed that the Spectacle is one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU vs Reno case. You did a great job on this project, have you thought about doing one on free speech and asking the Net to mirror it everywhere. This may not be possible, but I thought it might give a bit more permanncy to peoples pages who want to keep something there, rather than them just doing something for 48 hours. If you do not have the time, you might drop a note to the other defendents and see what they think or if they have any ideas maybe even a virtual quilt of freedom of speech problems.

Just a suggestion, Have a good week.

Eric edwhite@microweb.com


Check out my freedom of speech issue, and also the materials on my CDA pages, which include a free speech glossary and a gallery of indecency. I will be reorganizing these materials soon as a "permanent exhibit" called The Free Speech Museum.