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Web Letter

Pollitt says: "And if you really want to be branded a square and a prude, try talking about the hatred and contempt for, and objectification of, women that permeates pop culture." And if you really, really want to be branded a square and a prude and a vicious censor, try pointing out that, along with religion, the major influence for promoting the hatred and contempt for and objectification of women that permeates pop culture is the violent and debasing media representation of women that is fiercely defended by Pollitt and legions of liberal male colleagues under the banner of a First Amendment that they ruthlessly use to gag feminist protest and exploit as a product-liability shield for their ruthless business.

Twiss Butler

Alexandria, VA

May 29 2009 - 6:16pm

Web Letter

Ms. Pollitt's oddly sexist column of May 13 is all the more disappointing because of what it gets right, despite all it gets wrong. Women are in fact no less violent than men, although their targets and methods are predictably different. For example, physical abuse of very young children is committed by women disproportionately.

In the context of dating, girls commit violence more than boys, but girls find the violence committed against them far more frightening. See, e.g,. 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey. Nor are women strangers to stalking and killing with guns, as demonstrated in the shocking story of Dr. Andrew Bagby and his infant son, Zachary Turner, both murdered by Dr. Shirley Turner, girlfriend and mother of the victims, respectively. Purely anecdotally, I've been stalked by two women; one liked guns.

But Ms. Pollitt is correct about the threat represented by the specific type of violence selected with particular frequency by young men involving guns, and the associated and scary potential for death and serious injury to many. This violence occurs ubiquitously, in the US and elsewhere in the developed and developing world. From this perspective, the case of Stephen Morgan has similarities with the Somali pirates, and with the armies of disenfranchised young men and boys in Africa and elsewhere so easily recruited into murderous militia. A similar phenomenon accounts for the shocking prevalence of rape in many parts of the world.

Given current world population levels and technology, we all need to take responsibility for educating young men and boys better, to understand that, for example, a sense of powerlessness is a common enough feature of modern life, like a headache, rather than an irrefutable sign of one's weakness and worthlessness. We need to emphasize that violent injury done to another, and particularly to a weaker person, is a mark of shame far more serious, and more permanent, than any amount of "disrespect," and that the appropriate outlet for violent frustration is ditch-digging or other vigorous exercise, preferably in service of a some creative objective. As important, we need to educate and reeducate boys and girls alike about the proper roles of the sexes. There is no "good" or "bad" gender, and no "strong," "weak," "smart," "dumb," "gentle" or "violent" one, either. Human successes and failures are shared, abundantly and ecumenically. Moreover, although each gender wants things, some complex, some simple, from the other, often in that special, needy sexual way, we need to emphasize that it's okay if you can't get what you want, and that some ways of seek admiration from the opposite sex (symphonies, sonnets, flowers, really good food) are acceptable, even admirable, while others are unacceptable or even repulsive.

And, finally, we need to get a handle on guns and weapons of all kinds. In the absence of threats from fierce beasts, weapons are a privilege, not an entitlement, and our culture should be relentless in attaching to them a vague opprobrium, so that their possession is seen as always regrettable, and generally disagreeable, like an embarrassing and disfiguring disease that may easily be remedied with simple hygiene.

Nick Gunther

Stamford, CT

May 23 2009 - 11:05am

Web Letter

Apparently no matter how many innocent people die, the gun lovers keep their guns. I seldom visit bars in Detroit since I know guns will be present along with the drinking. Certainly the entire business community suffers due to gun fear.

My suggested solution is quite simple: require gun owners to carry insurance. This insurance would be required at the time of purchase and until that gun is sold or turned in to the police. Many guns "fall" into the wrong hands, but the insurance requirement would continue even if the gun is lost or stolen. I was told by one new media that every shooting in Detroit costs $70,000. Since that's probably an average, $100,000 would be most appropriate.

Leave it to the "free market" of insurance companies to decide who should own a gun, and at what price.

Nancy Bliss

Troy, MI

May 21 2009 - 2:38pm

Web Letter

Isn't it interesting how people are encouraged to freak out over Gitmo detainees being housed on American soil, yet ignore the huge human toll collected by guns, drunk drivers and sexual abuse within families?

For all the paranoia about "stranger danger," you are far, far more likely to suffer harm and/or death at the hands of someone you know, perhaps even love. Just check out the crime statistics for proof.

Tamara Baker

St. Paul, MN

May 17 2009 - 2:34pm