Long Ago and Far Away, We Trusted It
I applaud the April 9 special issue, rallying progressives to defend New Deal liberalism and modern civil rights laws. However, the headline asked: “Can We Trust Government Again?” The obvious reply is: “What do you mean, Again?”
ANDREW JOHN FEENEY
Katha Pollitt’s April 9 “Subject to Debate” column, imploring affluent women to help poor women pay for abortions, brings up a little-known aspect of the anti-abortion strategy: not only will women be forced to have unwanted and unprescribed internal examinations; they will be forced to pay for them. This recalls Europe’s satanic witch-hunting craze (1400–1700), in which women were forced to pay to be tortured and burned at the stake for male-defined crimes, including flying, eating babies and kissing Satan’s tushy.
MARGARET JANE KEPHART
An all-woman panel has announced that all males must be circumcised. The panel also decrees that anesthesia is too costly. Also, any male with 2.5 or more children will undergo a vasectomy. Again, anesthesia will not be provided. —The Women
I have solutions to the contraception/abortion problem: (1) castrate every 16-year-old male; (2) send any older male caught with Viagra to prison; and (3) probe him in his privates—it just sounds like a good idea.
The ACLU & Political $peech
New York City
We always like getting mail from our esteemed friend and former colleague Burt Neuborne, but in his criticism of our stance on the Citizens United decision [“Open Letter to the ACLU,” April 9], we think his stance is on a dangerously slippery slope.
Trying to make the case for reconciling the tenets of the First Amendment with expenditure limits on campaign finance, Neuborne points to a “compelling interest in equality” he claims would justify preventing rich people from buying speech in various contexts. But this approach invites the government to be in the business of determining which political speech is legitimate and which should be squelched. Forget the slippery slope. If we sign on to that notion, we’ll have already fallen off the mountain.
Neuborne contends that speech bankrolled by a wealthy donor should be regarded as not being “pure” speech because it might have an undesirable impact on people’s views. But speech doesn’t stop being speech depending on who is speaking or how much. Of course, the ACLU is not immune to the anxiety many people, including Neuborne, have about the integrity of our electoral process and the influence of money on politics. However, there are better ways to address those concerns than a scheme that empowers the government to determine who gets to speak and for how long.