So what about Texaco and the Metropolitan Opera? And what about that rogue Andrew Carnegie? Quick! Kill that goose before she lays any more eggs.
Manhattan Public Library
Take This Condom and Shove It...
I don't see the big conflict in Michael Petrelis' demanding that the "female" condom be distributed to all who ask for it, and then asking the city's Health Department to study its safety when used by gay men ("Petrelis the Pest," Bay View, April 10).
If this condom works for male-to-male sex and is more comfortable than the standard condom, I, for one, want it. Everything to do with sexual relations is a bit risky right now. How many of us really know for sure about oral sex? As for anal sex, now that we have the female condom ...
And, by the way, shouldn't we start calling it something like "the insertive condom"? It certainly does sound like an opportune time to spend a little money on studying it. If it truly eliminates some of the discomforts that cause people to avoid condoms, this should be packaged and sold like the pet rock. Immediately.
Left, Right, Left Right
It's always entertaining to watch Jack Shafer suck up to the right by bashing the left. I'm referring to his screed against Project Censored ("Beat the Press," Shafer, April 10). If I understand him, the project's criticisms of the corporate-owned press are just an outgrowth of it's own left-ghetto mentality. Shafer also faults Project Censored for not "hyping" any suppressed right-wing stories, though he offers only his own imaginary instances of such censorship.
Shafer is at his best when resorting to his well-practiced redbaiting: "left-wing hothouse," "pygmy pages of the lefty press," "socialist outriders." Naturally, I was delighted when he described me (a Project Censored judge) as one "who outwings Lenin." But Jack, how would you know? The truth is, if Lenin himself tore the corporate sugar-tit out of your mouth, you still wouldn't be able to put together five intelligent sentences -- critical or otherwise -- about his historico-materialism, his critique of imperialism, or his theories about mass movements and popular revolution. So don't get in over your head, sweetheart.
Some mean-spirited folks think Shafer is a news-chain carpetbagger who should go back to Washington, D.C. I hope Jack stays in the Bay Area so he can continue to amuse us.
Apparently Jack Shafer is one of the designated attack dogs in the SF Weekly's lamentable effort to pull out from the Bay Guardian's shadow by committing itself to Clintonian centrism. I refer to his unimpressive attempt to outflank Project Censored ("Beat the Press"). Since Shafer professes not to know where Carl Jensen got his definition of "censored," I'll help him out: It has been developed over the last generation or two by left activists such as those Shafer sneers at, in response to the reality of corporate control and distortion of the content (and form) of our mass media. Noam Chomsky (an anarchist, not a socialist, by the way -- does Shafer know the difference?) has written many books and essays on the subject, showing how censorship works in our "free" society.
The most telling flaw in Shafer's attack is his substitution of ad hominem slurs for detailed evidence. He asks, "Is it unthinkable to expect Project Censored to hype an overlooked story that illustrates the perils of big government?" If such a story attacks a portion of government that protects people against the ravages of capitalism, we can be sure that our big-time politicians and their media mouthpieces will trumpet it back and forth across the land, probably without protest from Shafer. If it embarrasses the other kind of big government, which sucks money from our pockets to give it to the rich, corporate media can be relied upon to play it down, mentioning it briefly and then burying it under mountains of trivia.
"Is it inconceivable that the right-wing press might have stumbled onto a good story in '95?" Perhaps not inconceivable, but it would certainly be remarkable, and I wait with bated breath for Shafer to give us an example. He knows that Project Censored is a project of the left, yet thinks it biased for shunning the right. Has Shafer even heard of the old concept "political opposition"?
Shafer's irritable middle-of-the-roadism is a good example of the sort of media distortion that Project Censored was created to fight. I don't believe that the right is capable of making any constructive initiatives in our disintegrating society, since it is the source of most of our problems, and its answer to them is more of the same poison, oppression, and lies that have been killing us for generations.
There is no doubt that the left needs honest, courageous critics. However, by standing up for an undefined, insupportable center, Shafer reveals himself to be a moral imbecile, incapable of such criticism.
The Wealth of Poverty
In response to "Randy Shaw's Power Plays" (March 27), your writer missed one extremely important fact: Poverty is political!
We as a society will never be able to truly address the ramifications of poverty without addressing the causes. And the causes nine times out of 10 are political in nature.
It is my belief that one of the things that makes the Tenderloin Housing Clinic a decent service provider is that they don't treat their "clients" as victims needing rehabilitation in order to fit into society. Sure, they help people to address their immediate situation -- substandard or no housing. But they also recognize the importance and civic responsibility of involving everyone in society in the political system, for it is politics more than charity, social work, or free food that most greatly impacts the road out of poverty.
The fact that government muzzles service providers from speaking publicly about what they feel are solutions to increasing poverty in our community, or that corporations make money by setting up a charitable trust through tax write-offs, is indicative of the politics behind service provisions to the poor.
The "big boys" in the poverty industry routinely say, "We don't care who is in political office, we're just here to help," and then change their policies, procedures, and funding priorities at the behest of the mayor (i.e. Matrix, mandatory direct rent payment) or the federal government (Continuum of Care).
I have been client, staff, and now am called an advocate in S.F.'s homeless program for the past 14 years. I had to choose between my ability to speak truthfully about my experiences and beliefs, and my job. I am not alone. From child-care agencies to the Department of Health and Social Services to shelters, if you are funded by government or corporate donations, you must be willing to sacrifice your constitutional rights to political involvement and freedom of speech. To me that is truly the power play that goes on within poverty program funding. And it is very political. Attempts like those of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic to combat this power play separates a service provider from a "poverty pimp."
In Night Crawler (April 17), the name of film director Craig Baldwin's assistant was misspelled. It is Steve Polta.