Letters to the Editor


Regarding Prof. Kirstein of Saint Xavier University in the Note from the Editor, November 19, 2002.

Dear Editor: Though I do not always agree with some of the content found on Swans, I find value in reading well thought-out perspectives and opinions from all viewpoints. I have never felt personally troubled or compelled to write until today when I read the November 18th, "Note from the Editor."

Swans' unbalanced defense of Prof. Peter Kirstein's e-mail to US Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Kurpiel, and ensuing condemnation of the action's taken by Saint Xavier University, was offensive and absurd. I read the entire statement by the president of SXU regarding this incident, and frankly, I see no evidence of the "chilling" censorship to which you suggest. Based on my own research, Prof. Kirstein's response to Cadet Kurpiel and follow-on e-mail to academy staff were never suppressed by SXU.

Prof. Kirstein is certainly entitled to his opinions and position, however, his initial response to Cadet Kurpiel's request for assistance was injurious, hateful, and anything but "pacifist." I must also add, his was not a very accurate or well-written communication. What does this suggest about Prof. Kirstein's competency? Professor of History indeed....

Austen Frey
Littleton, Colorado, USA


To the Editor:

I read with interest your comments on the controversy surrounding Professor Peter Kirstein of St. Xavier University. I have just received the December issue of the L.A. Mentary -- the monthly publication of Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa, which is the local chapter of American Mensa -- and couldn't help but notice that GLAAM has decided to weigh in on the issue as well.

For those who aren't familiar with the organization, Mensa is the best known of the "high IQ" societies. Its publications are purportedly dedicated to -- or should be, anyway -- the celebration of independent, critical thought, and the free exchange of ideas. What they are actually aimed at, however, is shaping opinion among those who consider themselves intellectually gifted.

Bear in mind here that the organization steadfastly maintains -- as is printed in all of its publications and on its promotional materials -- that "Mensa holds no opinions, champions no causes, and is not affiliated with other organizations."

Strangely though, that policy seems to get tossed by the wayside when it comes to the issue of suppressing dissent on university campuses.

The editor of L.A. Mentary, a man by the name of Robert G. Williscroft, PhD, has penned a lengthy and deplorable attack on Professor Kirstein. After reproducing the cadet's initial e-mail to the professor, the first response from Kirstein, a follow-up response from Kirstein, and the statement by the president of the University, Williscroft finishes up his missive with these words:

"It is important to understand that this is not an issue of academic freedom or freedom of speech. It's a matter of rational response by concerned parents and citizens to an individual who reveres Carl [sic] Marx on his website, teaches a revisionist version of history in his classes where terrorists are heroes and patriots are evil, and who attempts by word and deed to pervert and poison the impressionable young minds of students entrusted to St. Xavier University.

"I have taken up the torch to have Professor Kirstein stripped of his professorial rank, and barred forever from teaching anything to anybody anywhere. He has a right to his opinion, but I want it to stop there.

"If you are interested in helping in this cause, please contact me for the names and addressed [sic] of the Board of Trustees of St, [sic] Xavier University. These good people have the power to remove Kirstein forever from being able to influence young people.

"Together we can give the academic world a Christmas present that will reach far beyond the bounds of this single incident, setting a precedent that all future campus terrorist wannabees [sic] cannot miss: We will no longer tolerate lies, deceit and terror in the name of academic freedom."

Hard to believe, I know, but this comic-book view of a world composed of heroic "patriots" and evil "terrorists" was actually written and edited by an allegedly learned man (we know this because he rarely forgets to include the PhD after his name), and then published in a periodical aimed specifically at high-IQ individuals.

Williscroft has thoughtfully included the following contact information, to rally the faithful to his "cause": Phone: 323-822-0280 - Mail: PO Box 1087 Studio City, CA 91614 - E-mail: L.A.Mentary@argee.net

Anyone wishing to get involved in this cause should immediately contact Mr. Williscroft and inform him that we will indeed "no longer tolerate lies, deceit and terror in the name of academic freedom," nor in the name of journalistic freedom.


David McGowan
Los Angeles, California, USA

[David McGowan is a photographer, a contractor, a political essayist and a writer who lives in Southern California. He is the author of "Derailing Democracy: The America the Media Don't Want You to See" (March 2000, Common Courage Press, ISBN: 1567511856) and "Understanding the F-Word: American Fascism and the Politics of Illusion" (Writers Club Press, 2001) which was reviewed by Steve Gowans for Swans. McGowan maintains his own Web site, the Centre for an Informed America. McGowan's essay, "America Through The Looking Glass," was published on Swans on April 8, 2002.]

Regarding Swans

Dear Editor: All I have to say is thank you, and that I sincerely hope that this way of thinking becomes more mainstream and allows for a society of open minded intellectuals to come about.

Scott Harned
University Center, Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan, USA

Regarding I Vote. Therefore I Think. Therefore I Am., by Eli Beckerman

Dear Editor: Thank you for this thoughtful article. I agree with Eli Beckerman's call for active participation in the process of democracy. As a computer specialist, I would like to hear his thoughts on the use of touch screens computers. Currently, I am working with a group that is researching the use, programing, and misuse of these machines. The more I learn, the more I wonder if we are voting at all. No, I am not a conspiracy advocate; I am serious about this.

We would love to hear from him. Also, if he would care to know more about this subject, we can provide the links.

Donna Bozin
Maine, USA

We appreciate and welcome your comments. Please, remember to sign your e-mails with your real name and add your city, state, country, address and phone number. If we publish your opinion we will only include your name, city, state, and country. We are for real. Please be for real. Thanks. (Letters may be shortened and edited)
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Published December 2, 2002
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