IRISH IREEditor: I was horrified by Mike Klingaman's piece...

LETTERS

April 24, 1994

IRISH IRE

Editor: I was horrified by Mike Klingaman's piece on "Something Special About Spuds" [March 6]. It seems that in these days of political correctness and displays of non-prejudice it is still in vogue to bash the Irish people and their culture. When Mr. Klingaman's "Irish genes" start stirring, perhaps he should learn more about the culture from whence he comes, rather than relying on tired jokes.

St. Patrick was not too busy driving snakes out of Ireland to plant potatoes. He was busy bringing the message of Christianity to the people of Ireland. . . .

It is very true that potatoes were native to South America, and not to Ireland. However, when the British came and took over the country, stripping the people of their land and belongings, the potato was introduced as a subsistence item. The potato was seen as suitable to feed the Irish chattel [the British] housed on their land. The British landlords forbade the Irish from farming other crops -- unless they were to be sold for the landlords' profit.

Ten of thousands did not die in those horrible famines. Millions did. During those times, the landlords had to pay taxes for each and every Irish person living on their lands. Hence, the practice of undercounting. Many of those lucky enough to survive emigrated here, where they were persecuted by many, including the Ku Klux Klan. Historical records show that sufficient food was exported from Ireland to feed the entire population several times over. The problem was that no profit would have been gained from such a venture.

If the attitudes concerning those of Irish descent presented by Mr. Klingaman are indicative of those held by the paper's editorial staff, then perhaps no one of Irish heritage should purchase The Sun.

Sharon Flynn Stidham

Columbia

SEX, VIOLENCE AND POP

Editor: I am writing in praise of J. D. Considine's March 6 feature "Picking on Pop." I have been a fan of Mr. Considine's style and content for some time, and a feature the length of "Picking on Pop" gave him a chance to highlight both.

In my opinion, the purposes of Mr. Considine's essay were: to get us to look a little deeper at the issue of how different individuals define sex and violence, and to show us how tenuous the evidence is linking what we see and hear to what we choose to do. Mr. Considine achieved his purpose not only by presenting research which clarified both sides of the controversy, but also by presenting us with some fresh and even surprising examples, such as the one about Japanese comic books.

I once heard that it takes two to speak the truth: one to speak it, and one to hear it. In "Picking on Pop," I heard Mr. Considine express the truth skillfully.

Mike Dial

Eldersburg

Editor: J. D. Considine's article totally denies any connection between the violent images and ideas pervading today's pop culture and the mayhem occurring daily in real life.

Citing the Japanese, Considine notes that TV in Japan is more violent and sex-filled than American TV. He states that Japanese men read adult comic books (manga) that "reek of sex, death and sadism."

Nevertheless, claims Considine, the violent crime rate in Japan is a "mere fraction" of what it is here. . . .

However, in holding Japan up as a model of a culture that is immune to the negative effects of pop culture, Mr. Considine disingenuously fails to point out the following about the Japanese: (1) Japan has a national gun control law that stringently regulates gun ownership and use; (2) Japan is a homogenous society; (3) Japanese families are still highly intact and functional; (4) shame is still a powerful concept for shaping behavior in Japan. When is the last time any public figure in the U.S. admitted to being ashamed for his/her actions?

About 24 years ago, the Rolling Stones cut a record titled "Let's Spend the Night Together." Scandal followed the release of this record, and most radio and TV stations refused to play the song until the lyrics were changed to "Let's spend some time together."

Today, one is assaulted by audio and visual images of the absolutely most clinical kind.

While attacking critics of pop culture's current excesses for failing to prove their case, Considine's article is equally deficient in doing anything more than flexing its rhetorical muscles in behalf of a sensibility in current pop culture that has gone berserk.

What I hear and see in pop culture today is profoundly disturbing, because it is hostile and ugly, it demeans both women and men, it advocates behaviors which are destructive of any form of functioning society. Still, violence does sell movies and CDs, it moves the product, so that makes violence all right. Money changes everything, justifies anything.

No direct cause and effect there, eh, Mr. Considine. Then, why does pop culture today just feel all wrong?

Michael Holden

Chestertown

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