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To the Editor,

As I read about how the Legislature would change the Board of Transportation, I am reminded of a phrase uttered by a friend regarding another legislative effort: "grudging tidbits of reform".

The scandals at DOT and the Board of Transportation are an outrageous and glaring example of the corruption engendered by our current system of campaign financing. Rearranging things a bit now, and asking for a little more information from the high-rolling campaign donors who end up spending billions in taxpayer dollars is absolutely not enough.

I second wholeheartedly the Greensboro News and Record, which wrote today, "In the final analysis, the rot at DOT is only a symptom of the larger problem. The only true cure is real and meaningful campaign finance reform — something most state lawmakers have not shown the courage to embrace."

I invite all readers to browse through a year's worth of money and politics scandals emanating from our state's transportation system: [just visit] the Web at http://www.all4democracy.org/transportation. Then contact your legislator, and talk to them about the courage we demand for real reform.

Paul M. Rosenberg
Chapel Hill

Dear Prism staff,

Thank you for printing the review of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating. Vegetarian for seven years, vegan for a year and a half, I can attest to the health benefits and ethical soundness of a diet free of animal products.

I enjoy knowing I can eat without harming my fellow creatures. Now I can look my dog in the eye without feeling guilty for exploiting his pals with my consumer choices.

Many fear a vegan diet will open up a host of inconveniences, but in a place as hospitable to vegans as the Triangle, it's not difficult to find vegan grocery items and excellent restaurant meals as well. Thanks for raising awareness about this more humane way of life.

E. V. Noechel
Raleigh, NC

To the editors:

When you print and distribute explicit drawings of naked women you are no different from and no better than other pornographers who print and distribute explicit photographs of naked women.

[Reference is to the cartoon section, July-August issue, in which one of the cartoons had elements depicting women displayed as sex objects on the Internet.—Editor.]

Do you think your newspaper is never taken into households with children? Do you think that satirical, politically produced pornography is somehow less insulting than commercially produced pornography? If so, I assure you, you are mistaken. It is far more hurtful to be stabbed in the gut by one you considered a friend than by any number of enemies.

When you publish images of women stripped of all human dignity and all spiritual meaning, you have ceased to oppose the enemy: you have become him.

If you oppose pornography on the Internet why do you not oppose it on television? In magazines? In newspapers? Why do you not object to distributing it yourselves?

Freedom of the press is not a license to oppress. Degradation of women in word and image is the most pervasive form of hate speech on the planet. You have no excuse for perpetuating it. You owe your readers an apology.

Gkay Bishop
Durham, NC

A response to this letter follows, provided by Prism staff member, Jeff Saviano.

These are difficult questions, worthy of more discussion. That this letter writer took offense is not in doubt; but the accompanying arguments / guidelines appear to me to be unconvincing. For example, the writer claims that it is impermissible to satirize the pornography industry, in its Internet version in this case, with any caricature of its contents, no matter how grotesque and undesirable the drawing makes the pornography industry and its consumers appear. Take this claim to be a general rule applied to other presumably harmful behaviors, and it becomes quite difficult to imagine much room for satire at all. Beyond these complexities, it is at least relevant to add that the women involved in editing and producing the issue approved the drawing without objection, including the editor who selected the first round pick of cartoons from the pile.

— Jeff Saviano

To the Editor,

The recent passage of the Shays-Meehan bill signals a hopeful change in Congress. There was every reason to fear that big campaign contributions had total control of what would be allowed to come up for a vote, as well as how most representatives would vote. It has been going on for years. What happened?

We believe that the work of activist groups, especially Common Cause, Public Campaign, Public Citizen, the NC Alliance for Democracy, and a lot of public outrage made the difference.

This victory in the House of Representatives is something to celebrate, but getting through the Senate is likely to be nearly as difficult. We hope the Senate can see the wisdom of concurring with the House.

Senator Trent Lott and other top leaders in the Senate adamantly oppose campaign finance reform. They are masters of delay and obfuscation. But sometimes a seismic change like the House action will start a new movement. Let's hope it will.

To assist Senators with evaluating their positions on CFR we all need to tell them again and again how we feel. Please do contact Senators Helms and Faircloth as well as express appreciation to House members who voted for Shays-Meehan.


Sam Brown, Chairperson
Common Cause/North Carolina
Raleigh, NC 27612

To the editor,

I got your address out of Profane Existence. I was sprayed with pepper spray and taken to the police station and asked to read a sign in the wall. I was chemically blinded and without being decontaminated asked to read to prove my innocence. I was sentenced to 10 years TDC (DWI). I was offered five years but I wanted to ask for treatment and my punishment was doubled for asking for help.

Can you please send me a sample copy and a quote for Library Rate? Thank you in advance.

Tom White
Venus TX


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