Radical, but Necessary
As an aspiring librarian, maybe I have been spending too much time studying censorship issues, but I was angered by [Slant, "Here's a Radical Idea," Christopher Paslay, Feb. 23, 2006]. While I might not support Amiri Baraka's attitude to violence, and may not find his work to constitute a "celebration of black writing," does that mean that students should be deprived of reading, or even learning about, Baraka? Introducing an idea is not the same as advocating it, and it is important for teens to learn the difference. I would rather see controversial ideas introduced to teens with the purpose of learning to think critically about them, than to censor such ideas from them under the illusion that they will not confront them later. Discussing race and violence with "a racially mixed class of 10th graders" is a daunting task, but a necessary one.
It is important that there are voices that continue to loudly denounce racism. Exposing young people to ideas like Baraka's is important as we all struggle for a more just world. It is irresponsible to say we no longer need "Creative Revolution," that we no longer need to stand up to racist repression, and that we should cast aside the voices of confrontation, debate and Black Power. I have no interest in celebrating the oppression I see around me. I'll save the celebrating for when all are equal and free.
Your Feb. 23 issue featured a teacher who wants to protect his students from the thoughts of Amiri Baraka, and a landlord pressuring his tenants to remove a sign he found offensive [News, "Shot to the Art," Jenna Portnoy]. It is appalling that they each have so little regard for freedom of speech. Perhaps they should switch careers and serve as spokesmen for those who riot against Denmark's free press.
Baraka has no place in the curriculum of any school other than an as example of how a once decent, intelligent writer has gone off the deep end.
Kudos to Andrew Parks for his inspired and hilarious send-up of the independent music scene [Music, "Hot Freaks," Feb. 23, 2006].
From its opening parody of bad Jim Knipfel-like prose ("So this is what concrete tastes like") to the name of the invented band ("Man Man" is enough to enshrine this piece next to Rolling Stone's celebrated "Masked Marauders" hoax), Parks precisely nails the tone of every loudmouthed nincompoop that ever picked up a guitar in the mistaken belief that he had something to say.
Robert W. Getz
I rarely agree with you guys, but [Philly Blunt, "Five Ring Circus," Brian Hickey, Feb. 16, 2006] should be required reading for every City Council in the country. No City Council in its right mind should even consider hosting the Olympics; its funding formula is a lesson in catastrophy for the local economy. All one has to do is look at the history of local municipalities and their funding of just one
stadium. In the case of hosting Olympic events, multiply that tenfold.
Schuylkill Tea Party
Two important corrections to [News, "Tax Burdened," Jenna Portnoy, Feb. 9, 2006]: The University City District wants to begin taxing residents of West Philadelphia [at a rate] closer to $20 per month, not $5. Secondly, the UCD did not hold three public meetings, but tightly controlled invitation-only presentations.
Glenn Moyer West Philadelphia