The Rating Game

The Rating Game

The Rating Game

Letters from our readers.
July 29 1999 3:34 AM

The Rating Game

X-it Strategy

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David Edelstein's article ("Blame Blockbuster, Not the MPAA") makes good points about the way that the after-market also influences what can be seen in theaters. But I believe the MPAA is partly to blame for that situation, because it allowed first the X and then its clone the NC-17 to be described as categories hospitable to hard-core pornography. My hope is that an A rating would work specifically because the NC-17 would be retained, to give Blockbuster something to feel pious about.

The current situation has become impossible. The R rating has been stretched to the bursting point and now permits material that would have been NC-17 a few years ago. Yet a Kubrick film cannot be seen as he intended it.

--Roger Ebert

Chicago

Burning Bush

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I was disappointed in Michael Kinsley's "Go to Hell" because it took so many cheap shots and was so internally inconsistent. He first asserts that George W. Bush's having an opinion about how one gets to heaven is tantamount to "condemning most of humanity." Then, in response to Bush's efforts to get out of this subject by stating that God decides who goes to heaven, Kinsley mocks him, noting that "we can stipulate that God decides." Well, which is it--is Bush "condemning" people by having an opinion, or is he a weenie for saying that God decides?

Then, after frying Bush for having a view, idly wondering if he is an anti-Semite, and criticizing him for trying to avoid a theological quagmire in the midst of a political campaign, Kinsley attacks him and others for not sticking to their true views and also criticizes the general public (to which he was pandering only a few column inches previously) for caring about what other people believe about such issues. Really--it seems like Mike is trying to have his cake and eat it several times.

--Steve Aeschbacher

Woodinville, Wash.

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The Road to Hell

Who in the hell cares whether anyone thinks someone else will go to heaven? (See Michael Kinsley's "Go to Hell") Does this belief change one's ability to govern? This should only matter if the person governing is governing over the place where admission to same is the governor's prerogative. As long as the religious belief of the person governing does not promote or condone acts of violence against those governed, or in the repression of those who fail to share his/her religious convictions, then the beliefs that the governor holds are not a newsworthy event, or even the public's business. We in the United States seem to give too much weight to things that do not have any bearing on the person's ability to lead the country. I couldn't have cared less if President Clinton had an extramarital affair, other than that he spent taxpayer money to get on television and swear to us repeatedly that it did not happen. His affair has no bearing on his ability to do his job ... his dishonesty does. If we ever prove that George W. Bush has lied to us at our expense, then this will be a factor that should be weighed in determining his ability to truly lead this country. But otherwise, so long as his religious convictions, no matter how weak or strong they may be, are not geared toward the outright oppression or destruction/neglect of those who fail to share his views, they should not matter, and warrant no scrutiny.

--Jeffrey K. Honor

Raleigh, N.C.

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Closing the Circle

I shall direct my remarks to Ellen McGarrahan ("Florida Juice"). I, like you, on the morning of May 4, 1990, attended the legal execution of Jesse Tafero, at the Florida State Prison. I, like you, was attending his execution as a witness, not for my former employer, the Florida Highway Patrol, but to complete a cycle. A promise to myself, as it were. You see, unlike you, I was on the scene the morning of Sept. 19, 1976, after Jesse Tafero shot and killed state trooper Phillip A. Black and his friend Canadian constable Donald Irwin. Irwin was unarmed. I will save you the description of the scene that morning, but it is indelible in my mind, as Tafero's execution obviously is in yours. Your murderer, you said, suffered for seven minutes. I cannot tell you the length of time it took Black and Irwin to die. Irwin was shot through the eye. Black was shot multiple times and had a stun gun used on him. Then the two were left to die on the pavement. I thought it more than a little curious that you did not mention those fine law enforcement officers in your article.

I realize the purpose of your article was to indict the electric chair, as well as to generate sympathy for the likes of Jesse Tafero. Yes, the death penalty involves death. Unfortunately, it is often the death of a law enforcement officer that initiates the process. I am somewhat surprised that you did not invoke that over-worn liberal word "deterrent" somewhere in your article. But then your essay was not against the use of capital punishment, only the barbaric electric chair. Well, I'm sorry that I cannot join your indignant outrage. If someone being electrocuted in the chair, God forbid, happens to get burned or suffer a nosebleed, so be it. One fact remains above all others; it was Jesse Tafero's choice.

--Don Walston

Fort Pierce, Fla.