Eminem is a scapegoat for society's failings
Regarding Tom Manoff's Feb. 7 opinion piece "Boycott the Grammys": The controversy around Eminem has lately devolved into a string of reactionary drivel, and this article sadly was little different.
While Mr. Manoff may be an excellent judge of classical music, his skill at sociological interpretation leaves a bit to be desired.
I wonder if Manoff thought to reflect on the violent and sexual content of so many classic operas before he laid blame on Eminem for the waves of violent and sexual crimes so characteristic of American society.
The author's point that a 10- year-old may not be able to appreciate the context of some of Eminem's songs is moot: Parents that would allow their 10-year-old to listen to music clearly intended for adults, like Eminem, or, say, Faust, will be a far greater problem in that child's life than a few filthy words or disturbing ideas picked up from music.
Manoff's high opinion of the Grammy is also not shared by many, as far as I can tell. Eminem himself dismissed the importance of winning this award in one of his songs.
Manoff makes a few good points about the inappropriateness of Eminem's music for what has turned out to be precisely the audience that consumes it, but misses the ramifications of this fact. That young teenagers are so disenfranchised and angry that they can identify with Eminem does not tell us that we should ban him from award shows he doesn't care about, but perhaps should tell us that we should spend a bit of time addressing the problems of our nation's troubled youth.
Alex Verbeck Portland, Ore.
The voice of freedom should not be cut
Regarding your Feb. 8 article "Cutbacks at VOA prompt critical chorus": Having just returned from a 14-day trip to China, I strongly oppose any reduction in the capability of Voice of America.
One young man, fluent in English, who was our tour guide at the Three Gorges on the Yangtze, said in response to my question that he had learned English from listening to VOA. Others said they had turned to it to get reliable information, rather than swallow hook, line, and sinker the local news.
Del C. Revels Tampa, Fla.
Can you imagine how repressed people in Burma feel when they hear a voice of freedom like VOA? It offers hope to humanity. If VOA's funds are cut, is this a harbinger of isolationism during the next four years? The last time the US tried to isolate itself from the world was the decade of the 1920s. It ended with a stock market crash, preceded by a plethora of mergers.
In the 1920s, the US tried to relive its dreamy past. This proved unrealistic and impractical. It took two crises - back-to-back depression and war - to awaken the US to the real world again.
Henry Rutledge Davis, Calif.
Immigration should be restrained
Regarding your Feb. 6 article "Million-watt question: Can California conserve?": Conservation is vitally necessary in a world of limited resources. It seems to me, though, that overpopulation, fueled by high immigration, is the fundamental cause of California's energy crisis.
California now has a population of about 34 million, up 14 percent since 1990. Those who advocate "smart growth" (which is motivated by profit) seem content to see it rise to 55 million. This is unsustainable, and would worsen the state's energy crisis.
John Simcox Minneapolis
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