A true patriot: Thank you for Jill Stewart's excellent article on the Politically Incorrect statements made by Bill Maher ("Crushing a Contrarian," Stewart, Sept. 26). As someone who was really ticked off by Maher's remarks -- not because they offended my sense of patriotism, but because it seemed to me that even in implying that the terrorists were good in any way, Maher was pissing on the graves of the innocent dead -- I was reminded by your article what "patriotism" really means. And blowing up innocent people is cowardly, no matter who's doing it.
Apologize for that apology: Bravo! Great article. Maher should never have apologized for telling it like it is. When people start cowering for having told what they feel is the truth, then the country is doomed. He should now withdraw his apology and get on with it. We need him desperately.
The danger of self-censorship: Kudos to Jill Stewart for having the courage to say what so many don't want to believe: Bill Maher has every right to blast George W. Bush and America, even in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
One of the most frustrating and ironic consequences of the attacks is the sudden tendency of many media outlets to embrace their one-time enemy, censorship. America's new war on terrorism is meant to protect our freedoms, but in a little over two weeks it has caused some to reject one of our foremost liberties, freedom of speech, to preserve the image of a country united behind its leader.
Maher, Susan Sontag in The New Yorker, Dan Guthrie in the Grant Pass, Ore., Daily Courier, the former city editor of the Texas City Sun, and even Peter Jennings have all been criticized or fired for making remarks that were seen as anti-Bush or anti-American. Even White House spokesman Ari Fleischer warned that Americans "need to watch what they say."
Life has changed as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks. The world will change. But some things should not, such as the right of every American to say what he wants, even -- no, especially -- if it is a criticism of our country and its leader. It is more important now than ever that we be able to criticize America and the president, to thoroughly analyze Bush's every decision, and to make sure he leads responsibly in the wake of the attacks and in the shadow of a frightening future.
Voluntarily censoring our fellow Americans is a move away from what we are fighting to keep -- our free world. By doing so, we are letting the terrorists win.
Law and borders: At the end of John Mecklin's most recent article he advocates a sort of vigilantism against the perpetrators of [the] terrorist attack, in which he quotes others who say that justice isn't needed, only the death of the terrorists ("The Tangled Path to a Response," Mecklin, Sept. 19). I want to remind him and others who share his views that laws are meaningless if they are applied selectively. America has long failed to enforce its laws equally for all of its citizens and has chosen to obey international law only when it suits its interests (or at least those of the powerful). This has undermined our legitimacy in the world and is one reason why there are many who perceive us to be hypocrites. The test of a truly great nation is whether it adheres to laws even in the most difficult of times, and if we follow John Mecklin's advice we will only continue to weaken our legitimacy for generations to come.
We may be homicidal media hacks, but that doesn't mean we don't have feelings: It's an act of terrorism, not a war, no matter how much you media hacks try to make it one. You people (the media) collectively have acted like the worst sort of follow-the-leader goose-steppers. I think many of you have an urge to kill much of the time but the normal climate doesn't permit expression of [it]. Let me tell you something, if this madness goes where I think it might go, mass murder of people in several countries, maybe a nuclear strike, a lot of us are not going to forget or forgive.
Please, tell us you meant "a" reason: I am writing to say how disappointed I was not to find Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology column in your paper (Sept. 19). It is the reason I read SF Weekly. Many of us, especially here in the Bay Area, look to visionary thinkers for guidance in times like these. Rob is one of those people. By omission, it seems evident that your paper leans more toward the sentiments of Dan Savage, whose column [that] week felt like getting slapped in the face.
In last week's Eat section, a review of Splendido was printed after the restaurant had unexpectedly gone out of business. We apologize for the error.