Letters from our readers.
May 18 1997 3:30 AM

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Right Wing, Wrong Neck

In "If At First You Don't Secede," Alex Heard should have used the term "redneck" instead of "right-wing." It is unfair to lump a bunch of wackos in with those who are just politically conservative. The new "Republicans of Texas" are gun-brandishing "rednecks" with an attitude. I grew up in the Southwestern state of Oklahoma and have seen others of the same type. As a conservative, I think we need to revise government and the general posturing of the BATF, FBI, and CIA, but I know people will pay for misuse of authority eventually, and I think there are other ways to fix our problems without stupidity injected into the debate. Those "rednecks" don't represent my part of the political spectrum.

--Pastor Lew Everett Lewis Maysey III

Kooks. Cranks. Loons.


I was offended by the language employed by Alex Heard in "If At First You Don't Secede," his portrait of the participants in the Republic of Texas movement. With an insouciant and supercilious tone, he employed descriptors such as "trailer-trash," "redneck," "codger," "nut," "fringe," and the rest of that all-too-familiar list.

The undereducated, lower-middle-class white Southern males comprise the only identifiable class of people in our country that can still be insulted with impunity in today's politically correct society. What if, instead of white folk, Heard had attended a gathering of Hispanics, Muslims, radical feminists, or even ordinary-grade media liberals? He would never have used analogous terms to describe them.

--Tito Perdue

Cops as Robbers


Akhil Reed Amar made a disturbing comment in his dialogue with Alan Dershowitz on "Truth and Crime." In criticizing the ability of the exclusionary rule to reverse a conviction, he wrote: "The wrong done was the search, not the conviction. Yet the exclusionary rule in effect rewards B with just such a windfall by sparing him from the conviction."

Amar fails to grasp the purpose of the reversal. It is not a reward for the criminal but a punishment for the prosecutor. It is very important in our imperfect justice system that the police and prosecutors do not get the idea that the ends justify the means. As it stands now, police officers, especially in urban areas, present more illegally obtained evidence than legally obtained evidence. They justify their actions with the fact that the men and women whose civil rights they routinely violate are involved in criminal activity, and therefore have no rights. However, this indicates that law enforcement is convicting before trying and is ignoring the fact that in performing illegal searches, they themselves are criminals. I would encourage a reinterpretation of the exclusionary principle to keep criminals in jail where they belong, but only if the cops and prosecutors are severely punished for their crimes as well.

--Mark Hoofnagle

Book Revue


It was clear in "Z." that Walter Kirn had made up his mind about the book Mason & Dixon before he picked it up. Kirn doesn't like Thomas Pynchon and doesn't like the kind of novel Pynchon writes. Nor does he have anything interesting to say about why he doesn't like them.

You might as well pick somebody to review a Picasso retrospective who never liked all that Cubist stuff in the first place (too hard to look at), or have somebody who thinks rock music is just screeching write about Alanis Morissette. The reviewer ought to consider whether the work succeeds on its own terms.

To say nothing of how, somehow, it's not only OK but cool to say, "Hey, I didn't even read the book in the first place," as if we could really infer the book is unreadable from that. This, I guess, is Slate's self-chosen role, the forum for those who can't really be bothered to try. How " '90s."

--Andy Lowry

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