Censorship 101

Dear Editor:

Regarding your cover story claiming censorship by the Austin Museum of Art ["Why a Duck?" Vol. 16, No. 22], one would think that your publication would have a clearer understanding of what is and is not censorship. With the Art Guys show, the museum was doing what every museum does when it curates a show; it was selecting objects which, as a whole, make the exhibition complete. Every museum does this, and, in almost every case, the museum reserves the right to have final say as to what does and does not go in the show.

Some museum curators call this process "editing," similar to editing a newspaper. If Lindsay Lane's understanding of censorship applied to The Austin Chronicle, each time the editor chose to cut part of an article it had commissioned by a writer (or to cut it altogether), this would be an act of "censorship." The act of editing an article does not infringe upon a writer's right to free speech or to get it published elsewhere. (If a local book store chose not to provide a space for a stack of Chronicles each Thursday, would you accuse them of censorship?)

What the Chronicle calls censorship is world's away from the type of repression of free speech one associates with cold war Eastern Europe. If you want to take issue with the quality of a museum exhibit or the way it is selected, give it straight-up criticism, but don't resort to a trumped-up cry of "censorship." It makes you look petty, sensationalist, and ignorant of what freedom of expression issues are all about.

Sincerely,

Jack Nokes


I'm Running!

Editor:

Kudos to the Chronicle for its revealing and disturbing story about the the censorship of several art pieces that were supposed to be part of an exhibit at the Laguna Gloria Art Museum ["Why a Duck?" Vol. 16, No. 22]. I regret to inform you that this isn't the only censorship going on in Austin. At the University of Texas, it is not art, but speech that is being censored. As a Daily Texan editorial columnist and the host of "Texas Politics," a public affairs program on Texas Student Television, I have been promoting open political dialogue since I arrived on campus. When I decided to run for student government, I had no intention of leaving my First Amendment rights at the door. Now, as the Vice Presidential candidate on the ACTION (Allied Campaign to Increase Opportunity Now) ticket , I am one of the students who is challenging unconstitutional UT S.G. rules that prohibit candidates from campaigning until two weeks before the election. These gag orders ban candidates from telling their friends they're running and prohibit candidates from seeking endorsements until Feb. 12. With the election on Feb. 26 and 27, it is a farce to suggest that two weeks is enough time to reach out to a campus of 50,000 students with over 700 registered student organizations. We appreciate the support of the A.C.L.U. who is currently investigating our case. I commend the Chronicle for its continuing devotion to freedom of expression and urge every student at UT and all Austinites to join with us in affirming the First Amendment.

Marc Levin


Dildos or Dodos?

Editor:

If Peter Pan lived in Houston and found himself needing to pay for his magical "fairy dust" he might find inspiration from fellow Houstonians Galbreth and Massing to turn to the production of art as a source of revenue. And I imagine his output might resemble the adolescent antics and childish puns of the "Art Guys." The AMOA exhibit you described and depicted in your sensational cover story of January 31 ["Why a Duck?" Vol. 16, No. 22] reminds me of the pranks of kids -- lighting firecrackers on the tails of cats, little boys filling condoms with water for ammunition... I'd be very surprised if the "Guys" overlooked the obvious art-just-waiting-to-happen, "It's Raining Cats and Dogs" with appropriate carnage and open umbrellas.)

Sure the kids were snickering at the recent showing; but was it about the dildos or the dodos? Perhaps they were whispering "the emperor has no clothes."

J. Patrick Boland


Home Groan

Editor:

107.7 KNNC

Oct. 31, 1991-Jan. 31, 1997

R.I.P.

Leslie Decker


Effin' Edgy, Dude!

Dear Austin Chronicle:

Way to go printing Bernadette's story ["Jailhouse Blues," Vol. 16, No. 20]. It effing rocked. Please keep printing edgier (I mean as in beyond whatever edge you're thinking of) material. Real estate listings are effing boring. And could you please get my band in SXSW?

Love, and thanks,

Robyn Gammill


Over the Top

Editor!

Can't you do something about the "Personals"?!? The Chronicle is sorely lacking in innovative personal ads and I think it's high time you did something to remedy the situation. Why don't you have specials where it's not only free to run an ad, but free to pick up messages or respond to an ad? The increased volume of personal ads and responses would pay for the "freebies" you'd be giving to certain people on certain days, etc. (and make every "Personals" reader's life more exciting). Please consider taking drastic action.

Sincerely,

Blalice Beklewurst

P.S. And what is up with the "Variations"?!? Top, bottom, top, bottom -- I am so over it.

[Ed. Note: There is never any charge for "Personal" call advertisers to pick up their messages.]


To Every Sex Ad...
Turn Turn Turn

Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to Lizzie Angle's letter to the editor ("Grain of Sex," Vol. 16, No. 21): Did you read her letter completely? It seems you did not. I know I'm not the only one offended by these ads. It doesn't seem there's much comparison between a musical artist who [has] spent time and mental effort on learning to play an instrument and form a band and some young girl who has chosen to remove her clothes for a living. I know adult ads have a right to exist but if there are so many people who want to see them, then why don't they have their own section? This was a suggestion in the previous letter from Cheryl Dragel. The retail and services have a section, and the movies and theatre and art, so why not adult entertainment? How would you feel if there were an adult section and religious ads began popping up in it with pictures of the Virgin Mary preaching at you to join the church? I know some people would be offended by this just as much as adult ads in the music section. It seems there is a time and place for everything, so why not adult entertainment? If they did not have their own "special section" then we'd all have the freedom to choose what we wanted to see!

Karen Peterson


Infrastructure for All

Editor:

The anti-growth activists have failed. Despite their best efforts the city grew at unprecedented levels, and continues to do so. What they have managed to do is create an infrastructure that is woefully inadequate coupled with housing costs that are way out of line with incomes. The recent decision to extend Duval Road rather than install a computerized traffic light system is only one example. Put our tax dollars to use benefiting a few while depriving the rest of us. What, are council members and the mayor in cahoots with the auto brake and body shops? Or are they, like Mayor Bruce Todd, feigning quality-of-life issues when they really fear losing another source of revenue; fewer traffic citations being issued because of improvements in the transportation system? I actually liked Daryl Slusher. Simply because I like the Chronicle. But how is limiting the use of existing highways going to improve our quality of life? I suppose it will happen in about the same manner that not having the cancer memorial built at Town Lake would have detracted from it. I have this to say to Bruce Todd, Beverly Griffith, and Daryl Slusher: If you really want to improve the quality of life in Austin start riding the Metro everywhere you go. Show us how great it is to free the streets from congestion. Lead us by example. Not by Mayberry RFD public policy.

Jim Brandt


Letters Are Like a Box of...

Dear Louis Black,

Regarding your "Page Two" (Vol. 16, No. 21) retrospect regarding the habits of letter writers: Lemme just say that I sure do miss all those "Forrest Gump" letters of a few years ago! Remember those? Boy, I sure do! I thought they'd never end! In fact, after a few weeks (or was it a few months?) of reading "Gump this" and "Gump that," I thought we were finally getting down to something important!

So you can have your mayoral race-airport-S.O.S.-vegetarian-atheist-barbecue-Eastside-helmet-honey tit tree-Freeport-smokers sex ads crap! Just gimme some more Gumpisms! Now that's good reading!

Michael Keller


I Need My Space

Howdy Bub,

Got to thinking about your column last week ["Page Two"] and wondered about that myself. Could it be that psychologically most folks are more inclined to comment on items that aren't any deeper than the length of the response they're allowed to have??

Onward,

Stan Gilbert


Bud Light Rail

Austin Chronicle:

I was curious to know if anyone had considered building a "rapid transit" line as a solution to Austin's I-35 traffic dilemma? Perhaps a single line, subway or EI, from North Austin, to campus, downtown, and South Austin? Something similar to San Francisco's B.A.R.T.? Students and downtown workers could avoid the heavily congested highways (I-35 and MoPac). I would think that its ridership would pay for itself. Anyway, has anyone studied this alternative, and is it feasible? Try getting north to south around 5pm, any day, and the idea becomes even more plausible.

Also, I was wondering how much longer Austinites would allow Budweiser to make a mockery of "Texas Pride." Am I the only Texan to notice that the Bud Light billboard on the upper deck of I-35 (you know, the Texas flag -- cowboy theme) is "upside-down!" I know, I know... people make mistakes, right? Well, this billboard has been up for over a year now! In the "capital" of Texas. I've even seen the same billboard in San Antonio. I think I deserve some beer compensation for this insult that we proud Texans have had to endure.

T. Lacy


A World of New Places

Editor:

I'm always inspired by the "Letters at 3AM" by Michael Ventura...

However, "My Grandfather's Hamlet" [Vol. 16, No. 22] took me to a world of new places when I asked myself, "Who's there?!!"

Sincerely,

Peg Morris


Not Easy Being Green

Editor:

With a city election approaching, much newspaper and junk-mail space is devoted to rhetoric about "Austin's environmental leaders." And many cars are sporting green bumper stickers.

I would like to believe that Austin has environmental leaders, but sometimes I find this difficult. I just can't believe in environmental leaders who refuse to make the connection between their personal transportation decisions and Austin's air and water pollution. I really can't consider someone who travels everywhere by single-occupancy car an environmental leader. A blundering well-wisher, perhaps, but definitely not a leader.

Leaders are people who have the courage of their convictions, people whose personal actions are in harmony with their public rhetoric. Air and water pollution due to cars comes from hundreds and thousands of personal decisions. Your car pollutes the air and water; so does your candidate's car. People who can't get to their air quality meetings without polluting the air en route, and who are not bothered in the slightest by this contradiction do not deserve the name of environmental leaders.

People of Austin, please put pressure on your candidates for office to recognize transportation as an environmental issue. And please pressure them (gently and politely, by all means, but firmly) to start taking responsibility for their own personal transportation decisions.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich


A Little Less Corruption &
a Lot More Lovin'

Dear Editor:

I wanted to respond to Brigid Shea's letter supporting Kirk Watson for Mayor ["Postmarks," Vol. 16, No. 22].

With all due respect, as one of the hundreds of activists who worked on S.O.S., I must disagree. Brigid quite correctly scolded Ronney Reynolds for participating in the skulduggery to keep S.O.S. off the ballot. But, what she left out is that Kirk Watson said he would have voted like Ronney to do the same thing to the campaign finance reform petition signed by 29,000 voters. (Notwithstanding Ronney's and Kirk's proclamations, a lawsuit will be filed very soon, and campaign finance reform be on the ballot this May 3.)

I co-authored the petition gathered by "Austinites for a Little Less Corruption," which would stop council and mayoral candidates from accepting contributions from persons or PACs above $100. I did so for many reasons, not the least of which was to send a message to candidates like Kirk Watson who spend lots of money to mobilize environmental voters and then spend their term returning favors to their financial benefactors.

The bottom line for the ordinary pro-environmental voter is that we cannot win environmental reform through a polluted political process. Therefore, I applaud Max Nofziger and the other candidates who have the guts to run on the $100 limit before it is passed on May 3.

Sincerely,

Brent White

Austinites for a Little Less Corruption


...Stuff

Dear Editor:

In "Postmarks" (Vol. 16, No. 21) on January 24, Fred Schmidt took you guys to task for ignoring Wild About Music. Y'all gotta go there. Those people are real excitable and they have pulled together an amazing variety of great art. Give Fred five minutes to tell you about it and he can easily spend the rest of the day waxing loquacious until you are exhausted from the waves of energy washing over you. This place is right up you metaphorical alley, don't you think? Isn't The Austin Chronicle wild about music?

And... what's up with the review of the Found Object Show at Laughing at the Sun Gallery? Did Cari speak to the partners of the gallery to find out why they would include such things as photographs and paintings? They had a pretty good explanation when I asked 'em. I suppose reviewing a show with the work of 30-plus artists in three paragraphs is especially difficult when just walking in the door to that gallery can be overwhelming. Tons o' art. All kinds of art from the cigar box watch spring motif to a huge, purple, hanging-on-the-wall thing with chains, sticks and... stuff. And the creepy octopus art in-a-bottle thing next to a navel in the window of a weird medical tool-looking doohickey. Oh, and the doll head music box with scissors for legs. Or the freaky stare-you-in-the-face eyes of that little mannequin holding the crystal ball. Yikes!

Yours truly,

Colly Kreidler


Wild & Wooley

Editor:

Theistic Cerebro-pathology gets goofy when it comes to logic. George Wooley ("Postmarks," Vol. 16, No. 22), says I lie for saying our founders deliberately formed a secular government without reference to the supernatural. He says the founders placed our nation in God's hands, citing theistic references in the Declaration of Independence and pious words of George Washington.

Oh, George, if you get nothing else out of this, please note that the Constitution founded our government, not the Declaration. The facts are:

* Benjamin Franklin's motion to begin deliberative sessions of the Constitutional Congress with prayer was tabled with no more than five supporting votes (Madison's diary).

* The Constitution makes no reference to supernatural authority.

* We the People are our government's source of authority.

* Our government was the first in Christendom to not claim supernatural authority.

Our founder's deliberate choice of a secular government is seen in the way those believers kept theism out of the Constitution and their deliberations. Conservative Christians spread the lie that we were founded as a Christian nation so that their destruction of our secular freedoms can be disguised as a restoration of lost virtue. However, even the claim that we were then a nation of Christians is a lie, since less than 20% of the people were church members at that time. Hopefully, this will help clarify some woolly thinking

And, lest we forget the original complaint, the City Council's theistic worship still disrespects our Constitution. If keeping theism out of government was good enough for our founding fathers, it should be good enough for all public officials.

Howard Thompson

Central Texans for Respect of State-Church Separation


Shock Me? No!

Letter to the Editor:

Shock treatments must be banned!

My life was dictated to by doctors who prescribed shock for my emotionally charged circumstances that only needed caring attendance; and instead, I got my I.Q. lowered, and memory suffered much. I had to retrain and relearn how to think, to read, to get along...

But it is good for something... it fills the doctor's wallets!

In the name of humanity -- and truth.

Mimi Greenberg

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Our readers talk back.

July 9, 2004

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A plethora of environmental concerns are argued in this week's letters to the editor.

March 31, 2000

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