Backtalk (Cont’d)

THE 400 TALK BACK

Why do I contribute to political campaigns? Until this country adopts a more rational and democratic system of campaign financing, too many worthy candidates for national office will be defeated by less worthy, but better financed, candidates–unless they can obtain substantial contributions from those of us who believe they would govern best.

Maurice Tempelsman, #93 on the MoJo 400 list
General Partner, Leon Tempelsman & Sons
New York, N.Y.

We regret being labeled as wealthy contributors who give for personal gain.

We support campaign finance reform, without which only the independently wealthy, or those owned by wealthy special interest groups, will run for office.

Our activism and financial support of Democrats are products of our ethical core. We believe Democrats express in action the notion that there are basic rights guaranteed for all people–the right to food, shelter, clothing, education, religion, work, and health care. And we believe in those Democratic leaders who inspire and hold a vision of hope that empowers people to their best and greatest heights. Our money follows our beliefs.

Diane Meyer Simon, #18 on the MoJo 400 list [with husband Herbert]
President, Global Green USA
Indianapolis, Ind.

Re: Your article “Deep Pockets.”

I am not yet 59! If you got that wrong, you probably got other information wrong, too!

Julie Finley, #15 on the MoJo 400 list
Co-chair of finance,
Dole presidential campaign
Washington, D.C.

BATTERED SHRIMP

Will Nixon’s article on shrimp aquaculture (“Rainforest Shrimp,” March/April) is both timely and a much-needed contribution to a growing international debate.

Shrimp aquaculture is designed for export markets and does not contribute to local food supplies. The destruction of coastal areas that support fisheries, the displacement of communities, and the pollution and salinization of fresh water supplies add up to greater poverty and less food for people who live where food needs are most acute.

The bottom line is that much of the shrimp consumed in the United States is destroying the environment and driving many people deeper into poverty and hunger. Let’s hope consumers can begin to understand the real price of a plate of shrimp and make informed decisions about what they buy and eat.

Matthew Gianni, Fisheries Campaign
Lorenzo Cardenal, Central American Campaign Greenpeace
San Francisco, Calif.

The statistics used for mangrove loss (162 square miles) and employment generated by the industry (260,000 jobs) should correctly be attributed to Ecuador’s National Chamber of Aquaculture. In other words, these are industry statistics. Varying statistics of national mangrove loss from environmental groups range from 30 to 50 percent higher. Studies of Bangladesh and India indicate the number of people displaced by export aquaculture to be in the tens of thousands.

Northern initiatives to solve shrimp farming problems through a “green tax” or other cost internalization measures as identified in the article will work only if they are adopted across the board by the countries involved. Otherwise, U.S. importers will simply shift to other markets.

Solutions to the problems discussed in Mother Jones’ “Rainforest Shrimp” should begin with the meaningful participation of the coastal people who must live with the results.

Kate Cissna
Field Coordinator, Mangrove Action Project
Seattle, Wash.

GUNS, PRO AND CON

Thank you for bringing attention (“Who We Kill,” March/April) to the tragedy of 130 Americans killed by guns for every attacker shot and killed in self-defense. It is obvious that guns threaten personal security rather than enhance it, yet gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association continue to deceive the public by spreading the myth that a gun in the home will keep you and your family safe.

It is everyone’s responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of children and to help reduce the risks associated with fire-arms, including unintentional shootings like those described in your magazine.

Sarah Brady
Chair, Center to Prevent Handgun Violence
Washington, D.C.

Self-defense is measured in lives saved, injuries prevented, and crimes thwarted. Your magazine, however, devotes pages to the blatantly false assumption that self-defense occurs only when a criminal’s life is taken.

Research by Florida State University professor Gary Kleck estimates some 2 to 2.5 million annual protective uses of guns. That’s two to three times the number of intentional and unintentional misuses (with or without injury). In the majority of self-defense uses, Kleck notes, no shot is fired.

Let’s not fool each other. Our agendas differ. We believe our agenda is the one with merit. Countless victims, crime experts, and law enforcement officers who have testified before state legislatures and the U.S. Congress concur. They believe, as do we, that the right of self-defense is fundamental and that restrictive laws are fundamentally ineffective in stopping the violence all of us abhor.

Thomas C. Wyld
Director, Public Relations and Communications
National Rifle Association of America
Fairfax, Va.

Your story dramatically illustrates the point that guns are much more likely to be used to kill loved ones than protect them. It is understandable that people want to protect themselves, especially when the evening news recounts the latest murders and other horror stories, but buying a handgun will only make matters worse.

Unfortunately, Americans tend to disregard these facts in favor of the false emotional security that guns offer. We have been taught all our lives that since the “bad guys” have guns, we need them too. We allow our fear to overcome our reason. It is this fear that leads us to buy firearms, increasing profits for gun manufacturers and endangering our lives.

Mike Beard
Executive Director
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Washington, D.C.

ANTI-LABOR BOSS?

The night of the performance mentioned in your Bruce Springsteen interview (“Bruce,” March/April), Springsteen crossed a picket line of the stage employees’ union. I was on the picket line that night and was deeply disappointed when he crossed. Artists have crossed our lines before and since, but we thought that Springsteen would be especially sensitive to our cause. That night a scab crew put up Springsteen’s show, and a subsequent court ruling found the show’s promoter guilty of unfair labor practices.

Gerard W. Crangi
Seattle, Wash.\

ANGRY AT ANN

Your interview with Ann Richards and her daughter (“Two Fisted Texans,” March/April), in its fawning praise of the governor’s progressive nature, regrettably failed to challenge her on her decidedly retrograde support of capital punishment in Texas. This is a woman who could have prevented state-sponsored taking of life with a stroke of her pen, but in several cases failed to do so.

Jeff Granger
Chicago, Ill.

20 YEARS OF ROCK

Your article on “rock rebellion” (“Rock ‘n’ Revolution,” March/April) toes the mainstream rock-critic line that punk emerged in 1977, disappeared, then re-emerged as a rebellious vessel as grunge in 1990 or so. Ironically, the heavily politicized hardcore punk movement of the 1980s–the most stridently independent and outspokenly political of all musical expressions since the Ghost Dance–is ignored in this worldview entirely.

Young bands literally too numerous to mention multiplied like rabbits on both sides of the Atlantic during the ’80s. With strong leftist or anarchist lyrical content, tens of thousands of youths wrote their own songs, started their own record labels, put on their own live shows (nearly half benefits for progressive groups), published their own fanzines, and inspired many of us who grew up in that dark decade to carry a “DIY” ethic and spirit into other areas of our lives.

The few bands who altered their message and sound, and signed to major labels, were (and are) ostracized by the community as sellouts. As more bands lacking the direct message, focus, and ethos of the ’80s (Nirvana, Green Day, Rancid), sign to the Time Warners and EMIs of the world, professional rock critics such as Dave Marsh suddenly find punk relevant again. Coincidence? I think not.

Put another way, Marsh’s 20-year rock history was more Ted Koppel than Howard Zinn.

Chris Randolph
Philadelphia, Pa.

[Editor’s Note: In our March/April issue, we published rock critic Dave Marsh’s list of the top 20 political songs since 1976. We asked you to send us your list of top political songs. We received far too many to print them all. Here, however, is a selection of the songs and albums you suggested, in alphabetical order by artist.]

Black 47, “James Connelly,” Fire of Freedom

Billy Bragg, “Between the Wars,” Goes to Moscow; “Waiting for the Great Leap Forward,” Workers Playtime

The Clash, “Clampdown,” Clash on Broadway; “Spanish Bombs,” London Calling; “Know Your Rights,” Combat Rock; Sandinista

Bruce Cockburn, Nothing but a Burning Light

Dead Kennedys, “Holiday in Cambodia,” Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Ani DiFranco, “Blood in the Boardroom,” Puddle Dive

Melissa Etheridge, “2001,” Never Enough; “All American Girl,” Yes I Am

Fugazi, “Dear Justice Letter,” Steady Diet of Nothing; “Suggestion,” 13 Songs

Eddy Grant, “Gimme Hope Jo’Anna,” Barefoot Soldier

Husker Du, “Turn On the News,” Zen Arcade

Joe Jackson, “Tango Atlantico,” Big World

KRS-One, “Black Cop,” Return of the Boom Bap

Bob Marley & The Wailers, “War,” “Crazy Baldhead,””Get Up, Stand Up,” Rastaman Vibration; “Johnny Was,” “Redemption Song,” Legend

Midnight Oil, “Power and the Passion,” “U.S. Forces,” “Read About It,” 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

Pearl Jam, “Glorified G,” “W.M.A.,” Vs.

Pink Floyd, “Waiting for the Worms,” The Wall

The Pretenders, “Revolution,” Last of the Independents

Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine

R.E.M., “Welcome to the Occupation,” Document; “Ignoreland,” Automatic for the People

Rush, “Territories,” Power Windows

The Specials, “Free Nelson Mandela,” The Singles Collection

10,000 Maniacs, “Eat for Two,” Blind Man’s Zoo

U2, “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” “New Year’s Day,” War; “Pride,” Unforgettable Fire

Vova Nova, “White Man,” “Money Under the Table,” Vova Nova

Frank Zappa, Broadway the Hard Way.

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