Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

March went by in a flash. I was on vacation for a week of it, and on the road for about another week. Two of the lead essays on writing were written in a hotel room in Austin, when I should have been out looking at the bluebonnets.

A major focus this month was yet another hyperfiction, which I will begin publishing as a serial next month. Entitled Montauk, it consists of twelve stories about three people, two brothers and a sister in the software development business. The stories can be read in a number of different sequences; they fall into four rough groupings, three of them chronological, so you can follow one character through the entire timeline, or read all of the stories for 1982, then all of the stories for 1987, and so on.

I suspect many of my regular readers are here for essays and commentary and don't bother with the fiction. That has started me thinking about steps I can take to develop a second group of regular readers: metatags, link exchanges with other hyperfiction sites, and the like. Though I've only recently started publishing my fiction in the Spectacle, I've written stories all my life. The rewards of writing fiction are different and in some ways more fundamental than those of nonfiction. I tend to spend more time living with the characters than I do with the ideas of an essay.

Some of my writing for the Spectacle is showing up in the print world; an Australian library publication picked up the library brief, and a U.S. law journal concatenated several of the essays from the lawyers issue into a piece entitled "Why I Left the Law".

You can write to me, as always, at jw@bway.net.

Friends and Flames
Dear Jonathan,

Just a simple note to say thanks for another great year.

Roger D. Rines rdrines@pacbell.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am a student at Purdue University, and I simply wanted to let you know that I think your writing is outstanding. You have a powerful command of language and ideas - and I admire your work.

Jessica Webster

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Your attempt to justify vulgarity, crudity and outright lies such as the Democratic party practiced in the 1996 elections is a laughable farce at best. At worst, it is downright evil in intention.

If you would trouble yourself to consider carefully the historical foundation of the 1st Amendment, you would, if honest, have to admit that it comes from a different basis than the one you are proposing. In your paradigm, nothing is wrong to say, nothing is really inherently evil if the sayer of the words does not consider it evil. This is a far cry from those who founded our country, whose idea of free speech came from a desire for a certain amount of toleration of other Christian beliefs, not from a craving itch to propagate filth by word of mouth. Our forefathers were used to torture and death for the "crime" of speaking from the pulpit and the streets certain religious ideas that did not fit in with the authorized state religion. Such is a far cry from your desire to inundate our land with videos of people fornicating.

Your argument rests on a very flimsy premise: ie, that we are all agreed on some base of moral behavior. But since what is obscene to one person is not to another, then you really can't outlaw any behavior or speech with any consistency. This is where the courts have been going in the last several years as each "minority group"advances it's case for practicing it's favorite deviant behavior in public. Who is to say anymore that anything is deviant if we have no consistent standard of law and behavior.

The real issue is this: whose law shall we obey as a people? A study of religious history should convince the honest mind that those individuals and nations that have desired to live in covenant with the God of the Bible have prospered. Those societies that have cast aside the law of God for such things as idol worship, human sacrifice, cannabalism, greed, lying, etc. have either disappeared from the face of the earth like the Aztec culture, or have been cursed in their developement as nations and peoples. In reference to the last statement, I think of the countries of Africa. What caused them to fall so far behind the European Protestant nations in their developement and abilities. The God of the Bible has promised to give wisdom and blessing to those nations who love His law and curse those who do not. (Deuteronomy 28 & 29). A mere examination of history will show that this promise of God has been exhaustively fulfilled.

Your premise of "freedom of speech" doesn't even hold water with the God of the Bible. Where was this "right" for Annaias and Sapphira, who were struck dead for lying to God? Where was this premise for Shimei, who cursed King David and later was brought under punishment? Mankind is admonished by the Scriptures to control our tongue and our behavior, bring these items of our lives into line with the moral standards of the Scriptures. And while I know you do not like at all to hear this, nonetheless, your arguement is not with me. I am just the messenger. Argue with God on judgement day as to why you should have been allowed to write your own rules of behavior and do as you wanted to do while alive.


So----we have man's desire for autonomy and God's statement that you do it MY WAY or you go to hell. Period. This may be up for discussion this side of the grave, it is a moot point after death. We do not have unlimited and unchecked rights as human beings. What we do have is the Law of God and what happens in our lives as a result of either obeying or disobeying that Law. What you are suggesting is moral anarchy. What you will reap is the judgment that awaits all who think that the Law does not apply to them.

The end of these two schools of thought are radically different. Your utopia is at hand now, a world where everyone is free to be as nasty and vulgar as they wish without reprisal. The world of the Law of God is one of moral order---not total freedom. But it's citizens, on the day that this world comes, will know of a peace and safety that we do not see at this time due to the destruction of the moral fabric of our country by people like yourself.

Respectfully disagreeing,
Edward A. Hara leprechaunhill@mindspring.com

Bill Clinton Should Resign
Dear Jonathan:

I was just skimming this month's Spectacle, two quick comments on your Clinton essay:

Old-fashioned and narrow-minded as it sounds, I believe with Ross Perot that a man who will cheat on his wife will lie to anyone else about anything.

I've seen this repeated a lot in various forms. Empirically, however, the fact is that State and sexual virtue seem to be *INVERSELY* correlated. The exemplar of this is Richard Nixon, who was perhaps the greatest Presidential threat to US constitutional government in this century, perhaps in the history of the country, and also as far as we know one of the most faithful. Second on the list, Ronald Reagan and the "off the shelf" operations funded by illegal arms sales with profits used for illegal wars (a twofer!). Never a hint of affairs. George Bush comes in third, a lesser version of Ronald Reagan on both points.

Now to the other end of the scale - John F. Kennedy seems to hold the modern adultery record, with Clinton being second. While there's plenty to criticize about both these two, their impeachment-level Presidential actions simply don't register on a scale defined by Watergate or Iran-Contra.

Of course, it's possible to be both a virtuous President and and monogamous, as in the case of Jimmy Carter. Nonetheless, objectively the evidence seems to solidly refute on both ends and even turn topsy-turvey the idea of equivalencing sexual and political behavior.

though the prospect of a fifty-year-old man fondling a 21 year old intern is grossly inconsistent with his status as moral example and as Commander in Chief of the armed forces.)

I've seen this frequently in various ways too. I just can't take it seriously, I keep hearing the lines from Alice's Restaurant:

I went over to the the sargent said "Sargent, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean I'm just sittin here, sittin on the group W bench cause you want to know if I'm moral enough to join the army to burn women kids houses and villages after bein' a litterbug.". He looked at me said "Kid,we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send your fingerprints off to Washington.".

And I imagine Bill Clinton singing something like:

I went over to the the pundit said "Pundit, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I'm a fit Commander, I mean, I mean I'm just sittin here, sittin on the interview cause you want to know if I'm moral enough to order the army to burn women kids houses and villages after havin' an affair". He looked at me said "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send your escapades around Washington.".

The scandals already dying as I write this. All the verbiage of resignation and impeachment seems, ah, "premature".

Seth Finkelstein

You Sir, are short-sighted and potentially dangerous. You must feel uncomfortable so firmly allied with Gingrich, Helms and Falwell. As liberals and moderates face their fiercest challenge by the hard-core politically astute right wing, how can you advocate a change whose inevitable conclusion will be the decimatiion of our most basic liberties.

Your lofty principles have no place in the real world, and if the left deserts the center, the outcome is the kind of government that allows the limitations on freedom proposed by the Solid Oaks software filter. It was reading about the censorship of your site by Solid Oaks that led me here. If Clinton goes, the result could too well be a government who will advocate, and possibly legislate just such suppression.

Be careful of what you wish for, lest that wish be granted.

Sharon Lafferty bs3581@bellatlantic.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

You should stick to reporting on the net, and stay away from political news. To dignify Drudge by calling him a columnist is a joke. Drudge has been a tool of the right wing money that has funded the Paula Jones legal team. See Joe Conason's article in last week's New York Observer. Drudge is not the Internet at its best, he is a joke as a journalist, and to suggest that he is reputable (as your mailing suggests) does not bring credit on you.

The real problem, and it is was Hillary Clinton was talking about, is not how the Internet spreads information or truths, but how the mainstream media has become a bit of a trash heap resembling supermarket tabloids and how the mainstream media picks up trash on the Net. BTW, Hilary's comments were in the NYTimes, apparently you just missed it.

And if you think that the Net is not influenced by the maxim that "economic power has become relatively coterminous with influence," than you are really an innocent when it comes to viewing what constitutes power on the Net, or where the money and information is coming from to underwrite someone like Drudge.

T. Gary Mitchell, Esq. mitchell@ifu.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Nothing has been proven about all these affairs, its just hearsay anyway. I think he's done a fairly good job. Yeah, he's got his flaws, but let he without sin cast the first stone.

And, by the way, Inauguration Day is in 2001.

Chuck Chapman chuck@olg.com

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:

I'm doing a report for school about the Holocaust, and I was hoping you would help me. My topic is "music and arts in the concentration camps." I looked quickly through your site but didn't see anything that has to do with music or art, I might have missed it. I would be forever grateful if you could send me some information on that topic.

Thank You For Your Time,
Adrien Guenther, 8th grade

Dear Mr. Wallace:

We are a middle school doing research, compare and contrast, WWII and Vietnam, our students are interested in your information. I would like permission to link your page to our school home page,when was the last time you updated/added information to your page, and do you have any resource of primary sources that the students can communicate with through a closed list serve. thanks for your help!

cathy nelson cnelson@ties.k12.mn.us

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Congratulations on a moving, revealing and vivid perspective on the Holocaust. I found I was too riveted to stop reading even though it is late, and I'm exhausted.


Ed Cohen TEE4MESA@aol.com

Dear Jonathan-

You wanted to know what I think, so I'll tell you. I think what you are doing is a very good thing. I can hardly believe that people actually think that the Holocaust was exaggerated, or didn't even happen. It's like, Reality Check Please!

You are giving them that reality Check.

People say that I love to make myself sad. But the truth is that I want to know what REALLY happened.

Heather Moore

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I've just read the contents of your Auschwitz Alphabet. Currently I am studying the Holocaust at the University of Connecticut. We have been reading Levi and Borowski, Spiegelman, as well as discussing other mass murders.

The Alphabet was a surprise to find and, in reading the information contained within it in the format selected, contained much that we have been discussing and studying.

I don't know where you are (United States or abroad), however please consider visiting the University within the next month or so. If you have suggestions of further readings, please let me know. On a personal note, I have been reading about the Holocaust for many years on my own, and welcome any prospect of further knowledge.

Again, terrific presentation on the web-site.

Lynell Bonekamp l.s.bonekamp@snet.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you. Your 'Alphabet of Auschwitz' is a very helpful resource in the building of my project: Holocaust Education Week at McGill University in Montreal later this month.

I've met Ken McVeigh at a lecture in Toronto last year: very interesting and amazing guy. Your other links were also very helpful. Once again, thank you for you hard work and dedication.

Jason Lax laxmtl@generation.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

May it never happen again........

Franciszka T Pomaranska ciszka@ozemail.com.au

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I have just finished reading the Auschwitz Alphabet. It is very well done and I discovered many things that I have not found before.I do research in our high school for teachers on the internet. We have only had internet for a year in our school and most of the teachers come to me to help with research on their various subjects. I find that I can never read enough about the holocaust. I was never taught it in school and am so happy that the teachers that my children have care enough to have them learn about one of the worst tragedies in history.

Even though you feel that Schindler's List was a "Hollywood" story of the holocaust, I am glad that it was made. We needed to have a film in this decade to remind us again of what happened. I purchased the movie so that my children could see part of what happened and that opened the door for me to give them more information on the holocaust.

I am going to see if I can find the movie, The Boat is Full.

Thanks again for providing more info.

Sharon Finstrom

Dear Mr. Wallace:

There is a GOD. As for your (3) different possibilities of the existence of GOD, I would like to add some of my own:

(1) - GOD has described to us in the Bible, that the doors to hell would open and the anti-christ would be allowed to reign over the earth for a specified time. It talks as if this is still yet to come, but I believe it already happened in Auschwitz. Why the Jews? Because they are GOD's chosen people, therefore more satisfying for the anti-christ to destroy them.

(2) - I believe things that happen to people happen for a reason, most of the time uncomprehensible to humans. Most of which I believe are tests of faith. In other words "Will you believe in GOD no matter what happens to you, NO MATTER WHAT?" Will you allow yourself to forsake GOD because of another HUMAN's crimes committed against you, all because GOD didn't intervene. Of course Auschwitz was "Hell on earth" but, it's still no reason to turn your back on GOD. If you're looking for blame, the only one you can justifiably point the finger at is the anti-christ, and his final judgement is yet to come.

(3) - What makes you so sure GOD did not intervene? I'm not for one second saying that Auschwitz wasn't bad, but even you have to admit, it could've been worse. For instance, what if the nazis defeated the allies? Do you think Israel would exist today? I believe Hitler would have destroyed it. So, it could've been worse.

I am shameful of the way the people of the world are, that in this day and age, after all the experiences of mankind, all the knowledge, that we still are so primitive in our ways towards our fellow man. I just hope that you find GOD again in your life so you can enter your next life that's waiting for you in heaven. Don't give up on GOD, he's all we have, and even though he doesn't do exactly what we want all the time, he's still there, everything happens for some unknown reason that will be revealed to you eventually, I promise you that, friend.

Ron Glaister rglaister@valcompgh.com

Hello Jonathan,

I've just finished the Auschwitz Alphabet and want to thank you for presenting the most readable history of events of the holocaust.

A leveller needed when we become too obsessed with the small irritants in life.


Sandra Shaw

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am 26 years old and now live in USA. I visited Auschwitz when I was twelve. I think that your 'Auschwitz Alphabet' is a good reminder of what has happened and that it should be read by everyone and especially younger people so that history will not repeat itself. Sincerely,
Szczepan Baran baran@dolphin.upenn.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you for taking the time to create this informative and touching sight. As a child of holocaust survivors myself I appreciate the need to teach and advocate for peace today. I think it would be overly disturbing if you created the role play for this sight although it is a powerful idea. yesher coach, good luck!

Shoshana Kraus kraussho@pilot.msu.edu

Dear Jonathan:

This web site is the reason the Internet was created. It is so easy to find what one is looking for and it is very interesting to read. This is one of the three best web sites of all time! I don't have any conection to the Holocaust (other than my grandfather who faught against it), but I was truly touched (and horrified) by some of the articles. Thank you, and keep up the good work!

Jessica Richardson

Censorware and Freedom of Speech
Dear Mr. Wallace,

Thank you so much for responding about my questions. I was going to call you and thank you but I accidentaly deleted my mail. You were just a couple days late, but it was okay because you're papers gave me a really clear view on the issue.

If you want I can send you the paper, I got a 100 A. My teacher was extremely impressed and very interested in your work. You were a great help. You truly made up my mind that library internet filtering is a bad thing.

Gavin Dunaway

Dear Mr. Wallace:

The letter by Catherine Lord strikes to the core of many problems with government and law ( as practiced today).The library isn't the problem. the Internet isn't the problem. Smut and sedition are not the problem.

The problem is that alot of parents do not want to accept the responsibility for raising their children. They want the library to be a place where their children cannot find those books, films, magazines, et cetera that do not agree with any or all of the parents views. Under this plan soon the library would be empty.

The right to freedom of speech was the first amendment , not by accident, because it is the most important. Censorware is a crutch for lazy parents. Teach your children to deal with unacceptable material with the eyes of a scholar , a critic, a sceptic. To read De Sade and Descartes with the same view point as yours, and there is no need for censorware. A child that knows the real from the surreal can tell the difference.

We cannot keep our children from making mistakes. We can and must give them the background skills and knowledge to make informed mistakes. A child ,or a man ,that knows how to treat others with respect cannot but see the perversion for what it is. We must teach our children the difference between what Daffy and Bugs , Freddy Kruger et al. do to each other and how real humans need to treat one another.

Doug DeMeyer geckoindia@bigfoot.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

A major problem with the Internet has always been the obscene material that can be access by anyone. To meet this concern several programs were written to filter know sites from the end user. These programs cost money and have to be continuously updated to add additional discovered sites.

The White House has recently suggested the addition of internet domain names so that people and companies and other interests can be spotted by their domains.

I suggest an additional step of an exclusive set of domain names based on the type of adult ralated material contained on the site. An example would be pornographic material could have a Domain Name of ".XXX" and other sites in line with motion picture ratings.

A simple change would enable browsers to filter out these sites by their domain names and thus save user's money, be generally available and not be constantly out of date. This would not be considered censorship but another step in the refinement of Internet usage.

Joe Rothengast jjr@ntwrks.com

Dear Jonathan,


I can not tell you excited I was to find the articles on Pornography. I have an ENGL 360 paper due soon and it is on Porn. I have been using search engines all weekend and all I could come up with was ""XXX pictures and videos," which was not exactly the type of research I was looking for.

I was wondering if you wrote all the articles for the November 1995 edition of The Ethical Spectacle, Humans and their Pornography? I want to be able to give credit where credit is due.

Thank you so much for your help. I enjoyed the website.

Kristy Freeman

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Thank you very much for your interesting web site on the prisoner's dilemma. I found your comments quite interesting, especially on litigation. I would like to know what you think about a no-fault system (automobile accidents) like the one we have in Florida. According to the law, you are precluding from suing, unless you have a serious injury. However, just about everyone sues on "soft tissue" problems. Why a no-fault system, that is unethical , and continues to encourage unethical practices.

maria r. abella mrivero@cstudies.msmail.miami.edu

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Hi! How are you doing? I have read the philosophy part of your homepage. It is amazing! Those questions and answers interest me very much. After reading it, I have one question. Do you think actions should be judged as honorable or dishornorable based on their inherent value? Could you explain it? Are there any examples in your mind? I am looking forward to your answer. Thank You!!!

Vincent Fong cwfong@hotmail.com

Dear Mr. Wallace,

I haven't visited your web site of late; perhaps you've worked some on the Iraq thing. There are SO many angles to the matter, and I admit I am not thoroughly schooled in the matter, but there are two interesting developments of late that strike me very relevant. The first is the publication (via Freedom of Information request] of Pentagon report advising the White House to use nuclear terrorism as a tactic against so-called "rogue" nations like Iraq, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea by (1) using "irrational and vindictive" rhetorical diplomacy and (2) by ridding (or appearing to) the U.S. of all "weapons of mass destruction" OTHER than nuclear ones, thereby making it clear that any attack on rogue states would be a nuclear one. It is not hard to see in this context how the otherwise apparent irrationality of Clinton anti-Iraqi blandishments was in fact perfectly "rational," although profoundly flawed and unsettling in a number of respects. Associated Press reports that this terror policy has made great inroads at the White House.

The second major development was the letter signed by some 35-odd former secretaries of state, diplomats, and other foreign policy honchos urging Clinton to forgo a pointless bombing campaign in favor of a many-faceted program of subversion against the Iraqi government (similar to the famous anti-Cuban Operation Mongoose) in order to install a regime that more accurately reflected, as one of the signers put it, "our values." It is the first time I have ever seen a U.S. government or officials PUBLICLY acknowledge, indeed advocate, what has always been U.S. policy Cold War or not -- to do what it can to subvert any government that absolutely refuses to negotiate free access by U.S. capital to its labor and other resources. ("Brutal dictators" like those in Pakistan, Indonesia, etc., are OK; nationalistic anti-American ones are not.]

Another aspect I am digging into concerns differing views of the "oil-for-food" agreements between Iraq and the UN. Voices in the Wilderness, a peace group with a heavy Roman Catholic element just back from Iraq interviewed directors and workers of agencies charged with the task of distributing food and medicines under the first agreement. They found an extraordinary degree of efficiency in terms of how much food was actually getting to the Iraqis in need. On the other hand, NBC news last evening ran a report claiming that the program was controlled by Saddam's chief military advisor and his wife, the latter in charge of the biological weapons program. NBC did not actually follow the money, food, and medicine, so its "report" was more an exercise in innuendo than a legitimate news story. It recalls how supinely accomodating the U.S. press was during the months leading up to the 1991 war, essentially cheerleading for the crusade against the demon Saddam instead of questioning, reporting, illuminating, basic U.S. policy, which has little to do with ridding the world of evil.

I pass all this along just FYI. Precisely how this fits in with your Spectacle format I don't know, but I don't have enough time to write for nothing. Maybe you yourself can do something with it.

Here are some relevant web sites:


http://www.bullatomsci.org/issues/1997/so97/so97kristensen.html [ Bulletin of Atomic Scientists]

Dennis McNamee mcnameed@nh.ultranet.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Caught your excellent article on Deir Yassin -- and related founding crimes of nations.

I assist the group Deir Yassin Remembered. www.deiryassin.org -- the website is crude and being corrected. I authored the FAQ that will appear on the site.

Deir Yassin Remembered is international -- half its board members are Jewish (I am not a board member and I am not Jewish)and a celebration of the 50th anniversary is underway.

I am seeking you permission to rerun the Deir Yassin article on teh Website as it is revamped and if approved by the organization.

Matthew Hogan mathogan@classic.msn.com