Letters to the Editor

For Humanist.Network.News
Sept. 2, 2009

HNN Readers React

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Flying Spaghetti Monster Symbol?

(Re: Humanist Legal Center Reminds Court of Cross's Religious Meaning, Humanist Network News, Aug. 19, 2009.)

Your Aug. 19, 2009 article by Bob Ritter mentioned that "the Veterans Administration recognizes 39 emblems of belief for use in its cemeteries across the nation." These are shown at the web site of the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs.

There I was happy to see the non-religious Atheist symbol (No. 16) and the HUMANIST EMBLEM OF SPIRIT (No. 32).

I came across another symbol  Perhaps someone in the military would like to have that emblem on their headstone?   If so, the time to petition is now, while you are still alive! (I hope you never actually use it, though it would make
quite a media splash …)

–Tom Schneider, Frederick, Md.



Reader thinks cross represents torture

(Re: Humanist Legal Center Reminds Court of Cross's Religious Meaning, Humanist Network News, Aug. 19, 2009.)

This is beside the point of legality, just a comment.

I do not understand why, Christian or not, we must be subjected to viewing an instrument of torture. Yes, I said an instrument of torture. That's what the cross symbolizes to me.

Had the Christian savior been tortured to death by hanging, would we be seeing hang man's nooses displayed all over the place? If he had been decapitated, would we be witnessing severed heads on our government properties?

You get the picture.

–Marilyn LaCourt, Brookfield, Wis.



Disagrees that prostitution is anti-feminist

(Re: Podcast, Humanist Network News, Aug. 26, 2009.)

I started listening to this podcast tonight, and thoroughly enjoyed the first two segments, one featuring PZ Myers and another featuring a high school student who had started a "secular pinkie swear" movement as a fun-poking alternative to religious-based abstinence pledges in schools.

But then it presented what I can only describe as a diatribe against prostitution and the notion of legalizing it. It was abhorrent to hear this from an organization that otherwise values the power of logic, because this speaker's assumptions made no more sense than the creationists' that we all rightly criticize.

Do I support exploitation of women? Of course not. But this speaker makes the assumption that ALL women who are in the sex trade are being exploited; that NONE can be going into prostitution of their own free will; that any effort to legalize or legitimize prostitution will make the exploitation worse.

And she doesn't stop with prostitution. She promotes the theory that men who turn to prostitutes are inspired by pornography. So therefore, again, ALL women who take part in the creation of pornography are being exploited as well.

Now, this is important: I DO NOT DENY that some, probably most, prostitutes are being exploited. But I submit that at least in part, its illegality is part of the problem. Prostitutes usually have to rely on pimps in order to avoid being arrested; and because they are already living "underground" they often get caught up in the drug trade, and their need to feed their habit leaves them open to further exploitation. If they are subjected to abuse from their pimps or johns, they can't turn to the police for fear of being prosecuted themselves.

I found it interesting that the speaker cited a survey of workers at a legal brothel in Nevada which found that 87 percent wanted to escape the prostitution business. OK, let's assume that's true for the sake of argument. What about the other 13 percent? Should they be not allowed to hold a job that they enjoy?

I'd also like to see how the questions in that survey were worded. I know that if someone were to ask me, in my last two years of employment in the newspaper business, if I wanted to find some other way of making a living, I'd say, Hell, yeah. And I wouldn't be surprised to find a majority of my coworkers answering the same way. But does that mean we were being exploited?  How many businesses would become illegal based on a majority of their workers not enjoying their jobs?

I really try to be a feminist, but to me that includes the belief that women should be free to make money any way they see fit, and I am sick to death of feminists who assume that anything that creates a business out of sexuality must automatically be degrading and/or exploitative of women.  BTW, I have never visited a prostitute. I do enjoy erotic material, but of course the point at which "erotic material" becomes "pornography" is open to debate.

–Jerry Petersen, Springfield, Ohio


(Editor's Note: The author is referring to a segmant of the podcast where Norma Ramos, co-executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women, discusses the dangers women face in the sex industry.)