AD NAUSEAM

An ad for pleasevote.com on the back cover of our July 5 issue upset many readers, some of whom threatened to cancel their subscriptions if we repeat the ad. In it, sculptor Richard Serra has taken Goya’s Saturn Devouring One of His Sons and substituted George W. Bush’s face for Saturn’s. Some typical letters:


Newport, RI

Whatever you were paid to run the ad featuring George W. Bush eating a bloody human figure was not enough. Its ghoulishness is akin to the posters of aborted fetuses held aloft by the macabre champions of the “pro-life” cause. Both are dotty and morbid.

MINOT DAVIS


Ukiah, Calif.

I gasped when I saw the July 5 back cover! This is one of the most horrifying images I have ever seen at my ripe age. Never mind the “free speech” excuse! It clearly crosses the line! A subscriber for more than a decade, I am very disappointed in The Nation. What’s happened to your sense of decency?

INGEBORG KUHN


Oneida, NY

What ever possessed you to print that gross caricature of George W. Bush? Is it your intent to see him re-elected? Or was this thing paid for by the Republican National Committee? It will be used by the right wing to illustrate the values and desperation of liberals and liberal publications. Nice going.

J. L. HATCHER


Oil City, Pa.

What in the world were you thinking? No one dislikes the Bush Administration or its policies more than I, but this is over the top. Common decency dictates that this picture has no place in a respectable magazine. John Kerry would be horrified to see it, and it certainly does nothing to further the Democratic effort.

HELEN HALE


Virginia Beach, Va.

The pleasevote.com ad was tasteless and out of bounds. This inappropriate depiction should not have appeared in your magazine. Your other depictions of the President show a sense of humor. But this ad lacks intelligence, good sense and humanity. I hope you will provide an explanation for your failure to show a sense of decency while you are asking the same of our government.

EDWARD GIBBS


I have proudly recycled copies of The Nation to my local library for the past twenty years. The July 5 issue will not find its way there. I would be too embarrassed to have my neighbors know that I was responsible for placing that obscene ad in our library.

PAUL C. ROYCE


Cloverdale, Calif.

To paraphrase Robert Frost: I would rather see us perish as Athens than prevail as Sparta. I thought this rather pertinent to the image on your back cover. Both quite descriptive and sadly realistic.

JOHN W. WOHLFARTH


SERRA REPLIES

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

It’s a protest poster, and people ought to relax.

RICHARD SERRA


THE EDITORS REPLY

At The Nation we have a strong presumption against censoring any ad, particularly if we disagree with its content. In the case of pleasevote.com, we might add that we also have a strong presumption against censoring artwork, particularly if it is by the imaginative sculptor Richard Serra, recipient of NEA grants and, ironically, the praises of First Lady Laura Bush (in a White House press release about a Serra piece in a Texas museum). Interested readers will find our advertising policy at www.thenation.com and also art critic Arthur C. Danto’s thoughts on Serra’s work from the June 29 and September 28, 1985, and the April 19, 1986, issues.   –The Editors


…AND WHY THE SEA IS BOILING HOT…

Norwalk, Conn.

In his review of The Day After Tomorrow [“Films,” June 21], Stuart Klawans criticizes MoveOn.org for opportunistically seizing upon the film’s release to publicize global warming. As the editor of Feeling the Heat: Dispatches From the Frontlines of Climate Change, a book that shows ongoing greenhouse effects around the world, I’ve also used the film for promotional purposes. The sad fact is that without such connections, global warming books are often ignored by the media, including The Nation. By mentioning the film (while admitting that the science is sketchy), I’ve been able to place an op-ed written with Boiling Point author Ross Gelbspan in a dozen papers and websites around the world. And I was also able to get this letter into your esteemed publication. Every little bit helps.

JIM MOTAVALLI, editor
E/The Environmental Magazine


JUST SAY NO TO DRUG CARDS?

Los Angeles

On Trudy Lieberman’s “Dealing the Drug Cards” [June 21]: I recently went to my pharmacy to refill a prescription and presented my new drug card for a discount. The pharmacist told me that if I used the card, I would pay more (but refused to say how much more). Without an elaborate bureaucracy that not only informs Medicare patients how much they should be paying for each drug but also polices pharmacies to see that they honor the supposedly discounted prices, the system won’t work.

DANNY KLEINMAN


A CLEAN MACHINE…

New Paltz, NY

Thanks for endorsing Clean Elections and calling attention to the Arizona Keep It Clean campaign [“The Big Money Election,” June 14]. You are correct in noting that the campaign finance solution lies not in half-measures like the presidential matching funds or McCain-Feingold’s “heavy-handed regulation.” As an activist involved in the Clean Elections movement in New York, I urge everyone to get involved in their own state and to throw the Arizona activists a few bucks to help them defend their achievement from the greedheads (www.publicampaign.org, www.nycce.org, www.pcactionfund.org/five).

MATT CORSARO
New York Citizens for Clean Elections


LEFT IN THE LURCH BY THE CHURCH

Chapel Hill, NC

Re John Nichols’s “Kerry and Communion” [June 14]. What America feared most when JFK ran for President in 1960 has come to pass: The Pope and his minions are interfering with social and political issues. As a recovering Catholic, I say that today more than ever, separation of church and state needs vigorous renewal. I wonder, now that these self-interested bishops have refused Communion to Governor James McGreevey, Senator John Kerry and others, if women taking birth-control pills will also be forced off the Communion rail? Men using condoms? Say, how about those in favor of the war and the death penalty?

JAMES HUFF


Palm Desert, Calif.

I would love to ask Bishop Michael Sheridan and Bishop Raymond Burke if they denied Communion to the child-molesting priests. Isn’t there something in the Bible about the beam in thine own eye?

BARRY ROSS PARNELL


UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU (MAYBE)

Silver Spring, Md.

Katha Pollitt’s “Do You Feel a Draft?” provides welcome criticism of Representative Charles Rangel’s conscription bill [“Subject to Debate,” June 7]. The bill includes a step backward for conscientious objectors. Under current law, COs are diverted to civilian service without being inducted into the military. Under Rangel’s bill, COs would be inducted and perform civilian service “at the discretion of the President” (see www.nisbco.org).

JOHN HOWLEY


Amherst, Mass.

All this talk about bringing back the draft is empty rhetoric unless openly gay men and women are admitted into the military. During the Vietnam draft thousands of young men took dangerous drugs, lived in exile, injured or starved themselves, went to prison or used any other ploy imaginable to avoid military service. All we needed to do was say we were gay, but the stigma was so powerful few would do it–even those who really were gay! Now, with the stigma greatly diminished, if the reactionary “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy isn’t abolished, we will discover that 90 percent of our young folks are gay on induction day.

JONATHAN S. KLATE


Los Angeles

Katha Pollitt, possibly because of her own limited experience with the military, leaves out how the draft affects the military itself–in this respect, the draft is more good than bad. When civilians are interjected into the services there is less chance of criminal behavior going unreported. Regular troops and officers are sometimes too protective of their service records and retirement points to risk whistle-blowing. I, a Navy fighter pilot, have come to agree with my father, who was a rear admiral, on this. The framers of the Constitution wisely insisted that the military be put firmly under civilian control. Over the centuries this setup has helped avoid many atrocities.

J.G. BREWER


Reston, Va.

Skills-based conscription has been talked up as the first wave of the new draft–for instance, drafting people with computer or language skills rather than green kids. This draft would not discriminate by age, so a 55-year-old COBOL programmer–there are no 19-year-old COBOL programmers–or a bilingual Arabic speaker will become fair game. What impact will that have on our support for the war effort, when these people are pulled from their daily lives and forced into military servitude at reduced wages, while their mortgages are tied to the wages they’d been earning back home?

JIM PETERS


Chicago

Katha Pollitt says, “We have ROTC on campus, Junior ROTC in the high schools….” Here in Chicago, at least at my cousin’s public school, one can join ROTC as early as the sixth grade.

MATTHEW DOBROVOLSKIS