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December 19, 2005

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Radio Star
As an Upper West Sider, I see Howard Stern and his girlfriend, Beth, together all the time—walking along the street in a loving embrace or jogging in Central Park, which they do practically holding hands [“Howard Stern in Space,” by Steve Fishman, December 12]. Once, at the park, my dog decided to play with his dog, Bianca, and we started talking about rescuing animals. He told me about a bunny he and his girlfriend had rescued the week before. I was shocked. I’m convinced he has two very different personalities.
—Meredith Paley, Manhattan

Your cover line “Howard Stern, Free at Last” is inaccurate. When Stern moves to Sirius, it’ll cost listeners $12.95 a month, or more than $150 a year, for fart jokes.
—Kevin Haynes, Manhattan

There is more to Howard than tits and ass. It’s his stance on political and social issues that’s more defining, and it’s often overlooked. On September 11, his listeners were among the first to hear about what was happening. He rarely overlooks anything when doing the news: anti-Semitism, racism, poverty, human strife. Not everyone who appears on the show wants to talk about sex.
—Myriam Abramowicz, Manhattan

The Body Politic
In “The Abortion Capital of America” [December 12], Ryan Lizza neglects to mention the role that first-wave feminists played in the anti-abortion movement. The early feminists were, to a woman, categorically against abortion: Susan B. Anthony decried it as “child murder” and “infanticide,” while Elizabeth Cady Stanton noted that “[when] you consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” What a far cry from our own time, when a Haven volunteer quoted in Debbie Nathan’s article can vaguely assert, “Being pro-choice is a morality that takes you morally out of the picture” [“The New Underground Railroad,” December 12]. The taking of a life would seem to be the ultimate moral issue. What a pity that feminists believe they must be complicitous in it.
—Julia Grella O’Connell, the Bronx

Is New York becoming a safe harbor for women fleeing abortion restrictions elsewhere? It is too soon to tell. While Mr. Lizza is correct in citing the statistical upward trend, the real numbers are less clear: Less than 2 percent of our total visits in 2005 have been from out of state. We hope that, as our friends around the country battle the restrictions, we will not become a nation in which the right to choose remains technically legal yet crippled by laws that render it inaccessible to most and unsafe for all.
—Joan Malin, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of New York City

Few men doubt that in moments of fear, young women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant may panic and seek an abortion. What most men will never understand is how so many middle-aged white, educated women find it necessary to run an underground railroad for nonwhite, underclass girls. It’s sick, and it’s racist to boot.
—William Donohue, President, Catholic League

There are moments in “The New Underground Railroad” when your writer steps into dangerous territory, most egregiously when she imagines what it might be like to be thrust into a foreign environment as her guests are. Painting a lurid picture of a poor black woman’s South Bronx crowded apartment reinforces an alarmingly narrow-minded stereotype about how poor people of color live. She may be aware of her own class and race anxiety, but she seems clueless about how deeply her prejudice is ingrained.
—Christina Stubbs, Brooklyn

Popularity Contest
No one who gives the speech Chris Smith has graciously written on spec for Hillary Clinton has a prayer of being elected president [“The City Politic: The Speech She Won't Give,” December 12]. That’s why Hillary won’t give it. She’s always navigating between what people like Smith want to hear (and what she really believes) and what the rest of the public wants to hear. She’s smart enough not to completely repudiate her vote for war, so she won’t be caught hanging like the rabidly anti-war left when the war-mood pendulum swings back. Which is happening. A recent Rasmussen Poll claims that 48 percent of the public believes we’re winning the war on terror, and Bush’s approval rating has recovered to 44 percent.
—Gene Schwimmer, Manhattan

Taketh Away
Why do so many New York writers feel the need to criticize Michelin Guide–starred restaurants [“Food: Star Lite,” by Hal Rubenstein, December 5]? The review that may have been intended as a slap to Michelin was actually one that could really hurt a small, new, family-run restaurant like ours. It seemed like Rubenstein literally rushed to our restaurant just to negate our hard-earned Michelin star.
—Kimberly Anguil Mafrici, Owner-architect, Lo Scalco restaurant


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