I applaud your ensemble of articles on Nabokov's Lolita and on the sexualization of children throughout the world in the popular culture ("It's Lolita's World," 10/8). You echoed a lot of what I have observed as well as made me take notice. For example, the "character" of "Baby Spice" hadn't really "clicked" with me until I saw her picture on one of the "Lolita Trading Cards." (An indication of how prevalent and institutionalized the problem is.) In regard to another one of the "cards," JonBenet Ramsey, we are all sickened by her sexual assault and death, and most of us as well by her participation in beauty pageants, yet it is exactly those beauty-pageant photos of her that are always published by the media. We know that other "regular little girl/class picture"type photos must exist, buy they are never the ones used when reporting the story.
In a like manner, while I am heartened by your articles on the topic, I am disappointed in your choice of a cover for this Seattle Weekly. You are doing the same thing with your cover that you speak about and condemn in your articles. That image is irreversibly out there for public consumption whether or not people read the articles or even know what the cover refers to inside the issue. I would have hoped that more creativity be utilized, such that you could draw attention to the issue and its worthy content without perpetuating the sexualization of children found in the media.
Teach your children
Until reading Bruce Barcott's piece on being an unwilling Humbert ("It's Lolita's World," 10/8), I don't believe I was conscious that your everyday heterosexual man worried about being perceived as a pervert when talking to children they don't know and risking getting the Perv Glare. While the article made my heart sink reading how we don't trust men, I also felt indignant and heard myself say, "Just think if you were gay!" Gay men, and to a lesser extent, lesbians, are regularly vilified as being synonymous with child molesters.
Babies and children are regularly drawn to me, and I have to override the knot in my stomach warning me that I may be attacked by an unknowing parent and interact with the child anyway. We need to teach our children that some people are safe, and I don't want to rob this child or myself of a short, pleasant interaction just because a parent may have a misperception about me. I trust myself and, by the way, have actually received very few Perv Glares. I look forward to the day that the knot in my stomach doesn't come up around others' kids.
Ignore the epaulettes
I was pleased that your article "Wait and Switch" (10/8) finally mentioned some truths that all other newspapers are conveniently leaving out, thus making the Makah tribe's intentions to kill whales with high-powered rifles sound glorious, spiritual, and righteous. Either the rest of the media are blind idiots, or they are just seeking to sensationalize a story without really reporting the facts. What I found very disappointing about your article was where you said that the Sea Shepherd Society's Paul Watson "comes off as a wild man in his pirate shirts and epauletted navy coat." This was indeed a very shallow description of a man whose words were so inspiring and full of conviction that I traveled all the way to Neah Bay to deliver food to the crew of the Sea Shepherd. I heard Paul Watson speak at the anti-whaling march and rally, and I saw beyond his physical appearance. What I heard were the words of a deeply caring, compassionate man whose heart is pure. He spoke the truth in a way that I rarely ever hear. It is such a shame that the rest of you would rather try to gain your own glory by criticizing him, for it is his words that ring in my mind as the real truth.
Cowboys and Indians
Makah whale-hunt leader Johnson and crew should take their atavistic hunt to where it could be appreciated by their spiritual counterparts: the businessmen-cowboys who spend weekends shooting black-powder weapons and camping in reproduction 19th-century costume ("Wait and Switch," 10/8). If testosterone levels insist that the group demonstrate its rowing and harpooning skills, its members could re-enact the traditional whale hunt on a nice, safe mountain lake and have a tailgate party afterward with traditional food and beverages. This would defuse the pointless media circus and save whales too, not to mention the tax money continuing to be spent by US Marine Fisheries, the Coast Guard, and the Canadian Mounties on monitoring and supporting the real thing.
A striking solution
There is a possible win/win opportunity for the whole Makah whaling dilemma, one in which the Makah youth could gain self-esteem through reviving a tradition and, at the same time, gain admiration and respect for their efforts ("Wait and Switch," 10/8).
This could be achieved by "striking coup," a tradition of the Plains Indians where warriors would ride out with their "coup stick," strike (but not kill) the enemy, and then return home triumphantly. The Makahs could follow their example. After risking life and limb to "strike coup" on a whale, they could paddle home as conquering heroes.
We would all win. The Makahs would get their whale, Marine Fisheries would stop spending our tax dollars, animal-protection groups could go home, and no one would have to eat whale meat.
Good political move
I was getting worried about Geov Parrish's missing column in The Stranger—I looked for it for the past couple of weeks and didn't see it. As a fan of his work, I'm relieved to see he's landed in the Weekly (see the Impolitics column, 10/22). Wow, two good moves in a row. First, Mark Worth (Media Culpa). Now, Geov Parrish. Keep up the good work.
Now for the other side of your 10/8 "Regional Ripoff" article.
We rural King County residents were downzoned by and for the benefit of Seattle residents, the urbanites whose views were expressed in the March 1992 Municipal League's Issue Watch under the heading "Putting an End to Urban Sprawl." It was stated that "'densifying' the metropolitan area would protect the natural environment lying beyond current urban boundaries, yet still—and this is vitally important—keep them easily accessible to urban dwellers in search of recreation opportunities or peace and solitude."
Seattle City Council member Jim Street served on the rural task force that guided the subsequent downzoning under the county's comprehensive plan, saying that his favorite recreation was to bicycle eastward to view the spotted cows in the green pastures. (Those spotted cows are rapidly disappearing under the fish habitat environmental protection regulations espoused by two more Seattleites, Larry Phillips and Cynthia Sullivan, whom Seattle voters keep electing to the King County Council.)
Taxes on land downzoned from one home per acre to one home per 5, 10, 20, 35, or 80 acres are astronomical. Adding insult to the injury of no longer being able to divide our land, is more Seattle-based law involving both Gov. Gary Locke and County Executive Ron Sims that limits our rural road taxes to safety improvements only, except for arterials connecting urban areas.
And don't forget who will suffer most from the endangered-chinook listing. We ruralites who have not developed our land are to have our well-stewarded land permanently locked up as untouchable wetlands and reparian corridors for fish habitat buffers. And the county has agreed to contribute $3 million of the $7 million estimated cost of daylighting Ravenna Creek through the University District, which is a significant contribution of countywide taxes to the city of Seattle.
Furthermore, ruralites are expected to pay for such "regional" facilities as the zoo and other items that attract paying tourists to the big city. But the big city shares none of the resulting hotel, restaurant, sales, or admissions taxes with the rest of the county.
As to paying for our sewers, we in the rural areas are forbidden by Seattle-sponsored law to have sewers. If our land doesn't work for on-site septic systems, we don't build. So it's not our wastewater that's causing Seattle's outfall problems. Our onsite-treated waste is replenishing our aquifers.
So while Seattleites may regard us as moochers, rest assured we here in the boonies see it otherwise.
We welcome succinct letters commenting on articles in Seattle Weekly. Letters may be edited for length. Please include name and daytime telephone number for verification. Write to Letters Editor, Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Avenue, Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.