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Dec. 19 2001 12:13 PM

Charity Needs Clarity

An unusual level of agreement in two Frays this week: No one had much to say in favor of John Walker, subject of  "Frame Game" and "Readme," though there were plenty of suggestions for suitable punishments for him. And then there were Peter Singer's thoughts that "something has gone awry" with the cash donations generated by the 9/11 attacks: Dilettante said he was interested to see in the Fray "even more vitriol than [for] Robert Wright."


Subject: Comparing Criminals

Re: "Frame Game: Walk the Walker"

From: BML

Date: Thu Dec 13  8:08 a.m. PT

[President Bush said:] "We're just trying to learn the facts about this poor fellow. Obviously he has been misled."

Take out "Walker" and replace with "McVeigh." Surely Timothy McVeigh was raised better than to know that grievances with one's government shouldn't be aired out by bombing innocent civilians. We didn't temporize over his fate … Anyone who is as rabid a supporter of the death penalty as Bush must demand that Walker be executed and show the same compassion to his family that previous presidents have shown the McVeighs.

[Find this post here.]


Subject: A Reasonable Mistake

Re: "Hey, Wait a Minute: Who Deserves the 9/11 Cash Pile?"

From: The Bell

Date: Thu Dec 13  7:39 a.m. PT

Everybody had good intentions in the aftermath of Sept. 11, but we simply funneled too much money at too few people. … It is a little late in the game now to say, "Sorry, but you can only have as much as we now think is fair." It was our mistake, so it is our loss and their gain. Could the money perhaps be better used to feed hungry children around the world? Sure. Is this whole thing kind of unfair? Sure. Charity is always inherently unfair in some ways. … A few of us are now a lot richer, and the rest of us are hopefully now a lot smarter.

 [Find this post here.]

Subject: The Polite Approach

Re: "Best of the Fray"

From: Keith M. Ellis

Date: Wed Dec 12  12:07 p.m. PT


Contrary to popular opinion, what you say on the Fray and elsewhere on the Internet matters, because you are participating in and defining part of civil life in doing so. This view into our civil life shows that most people think it's acceptable to outrageously vilify others. Is this the kind of society we want to live in? When you cheer on the lynch mob, keep in mind that some day the lynch mob may be coming for you.

[Find this post here.]

Subject: Insulted in Arizona

Re: "Shopping: A Guide to Buying Term Papers Online"

From: Tim Gauthier

Date: Tue Dec 11 2:38 p.m. PT

Pure slander. An ASU grad, I strongly resemble your characterization of my alma mater's [students] in your article. Yet no self-respecting Sun Devil would ever enroll in a major that demanded of all things ... work!


[Find this post here.]

Fray Notes:

A nice change: Least political, and most charming, post of the week was Arthur Stock's description of "the best train-ride in America." He was inspired by this "Idea of the Day."

The Shopping article on buying a term paper got a huge response, full of reminiscences, warnings, and horrified input—from professors and from others who just plain thought it was cheating. Scroll through the article to read the notes.


Dilettante got a well-deserved star, partly for this cheerful post: "Johnny Walker certainly does seem to cause various Presidents a lot of grief. Why, just last night on West Wing we learned of a possibly fatal error made by the Chief of Staff after a run in with Blue Label!"

Jacob Weisberg's "Ballot Box" on negativism and pessimists produced thisgreat one-liner from 1-2-Oscar: "Pessimists can't lose so long as they can dispatch optimistic, self-confident, and superbly prepared young men to assure their security."

The Harry Potter "Plotholes" got the Fray going: Was there a plothole in the article? No: See the Fray Notes for a firm defense from the junior consultants to the Fray team.

The "Sports Nut" suggesting a boycott of the winter Olympics led us to this conclusion: Don't mess with the snow people, David Plotz. Winter sports enthusiasts were outraged and were anxious to point out how wonderful their events and athletes are. Our favorite argument came from Michael: "[W]ho could forget the Japanese sumo wrestling team doing pirouettes on the ice at Nagano?" Indeed.