Mind boggling

Letters to the Boston editor: September 15, 2006
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  September 13, 2006

The article “Rethinking 9/11” offered some provocative, well-written food for thought. But what I ultimately found most “mind bending” was that you could run a piece like this without including the voice of a single Muslim or Arab. I raise this issue not from a knee-jerk impulse toward “political correctness,” but because 9/11 has had profoundly negative effects on these communities — effects often very different from those experienced by people from other backgrounds. The vast majority of Arabs and Muslims in this country — whether citizens or visitors — must now live with the hostility, mistrust, and fear of too many Americans who are quick to paint them all with the same brush. Intentionally or not, your article sent the message that their perspectives don’t matter.

Charles Coe
Cambridge

Cold dots
Every Thursday, I look forward to reading the newest Phoenix. Your political coverage is the best in the city, your editorial column is always provocative and intelligent, and I love almost all the other features.

That said, I despise the “Hot Dots” column, which pretends to be a preview of the week’s best television options but instead is almost always little more than seemingly reluctant plugs for PBS shows. In the September 8 issue, for example, the column includes just three football games and a quick note of The Simpsons premiere as the non-PBS options.

“Hot Dots” is so consistently insubstantial, it’s hard to believe it’s not some sort of weird inside joke. There are too many wasted opportunities to explore in this short letter, but this week’s column failed to mention the premier of either ’Til Death (a new sitcom starring Brad Garrett and Joely Fischer) or the much-anticipated launch of the racially segregated Survivor. And then you have the gall to call the column “not your father’s TV listings”!

Please, get the esteemed Mr. Garboden to do something else and turn “Hot Dots” over to someone with a true interest in modern-day television. Or at least someone who has cable.

Jamie Willmuth
Boston

Clif Garboden responds: We share some of your pain. The original “Hot Dots” mission (back in 1973) was to publicize under-publicized PBS and local television programming, and, secondarily, to make fun of most commercial TV and alert our readers to funky old movies and relevant network specials. It never did much with commercial-series TV. Since then, the TV landscape has changed. Old movies aren’t funky any more. PBS has a higher profile. Commercial TV is seldom worth commenting on at all — one reality show being as lame as the others. And aside from occasional Channel 5 efforts, there is no more local programming, and the networks seldom do politically or culturally important documentaries. So, to our dismay, the only programming left worth taking seriously is on PBS or on cable. I’ve always considered “Hot Dots,” which apparently has a large readership, to be entertainment and commentary first and information second. A typical service feature it is not. That said, branching out into cable is becoming increasingly tempting.

Needle pricking
Like Worcester magazine, I wonder what will happen to used hypodermic needles bought over the counter at drugstores starting September 18.

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