Drug Warriors

How did a profession that produced the iconoclastic works of H.L. Mencken become one that produces shamefully sycophantic works like “Inside the Box With the Super Dope Cops”Dec. 23–29]?

Drug prohibition is a foolish replay of alcohol prohibition, causing all of the same social pathologies: high crime levels; powerful, violent gangs; and an ugly, brutal culture.

Having been waged more intensely and over many more decades, the drug war has produced many more violent criminals than alcohol prohibition. Millions of nonviolent drug offenders have been “enrolled” into America’s prisons, our “universities of crime.” They gain real criminal skills in murder, armed robbery and fraud from the professionals in the fields. Every day, 1,600 “graduates” emerge back into American society as more brutal and skilled thugs.

Drug prohibition is the principal source of money for terrorists, at home and abroad. Illicit drug profits, which are possible only because of drug prohibition, fund terrorist efforts against democracies in Colombia and Afghanistan. Transnational gangs, like the infamous MS-13, rely on illicit drug profits to bankroll their mayhem.

Finally, Prohibition-era journalists understood and reported the connection between prohibition and these pathologies — e.g., the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Modern reporters routinely carry water for drug warriors, principally by conflating the harm resulting from drugs with the harm resulting from drug prohibition.

Mike Binkley


Mountain Men

It does not matter if the actors are straight playing gay roles or if they are gay [“Horsefeathers!,” Dec. 30–Jan. 5].

These movies are made to show the majority of straight people that gays are just as normal as anyone else.

There are a lot of straight folk who are so paranoid and homophobic that all they do is look for an out to put the gay community down and discriminate in any fashion they choose.

Ralph Vendegna

Countryside, Illinois

Mr. Ehrenstein is wildly naive. It took seven years for Brokeback Mountain to get made. The script sat in development hell for that long. The only way it was going to get made is if there were two big-name box-office draws as the leads.

I recently saw the film for the third time in Del Mar, north of San Diego, which is generally a rather conservative area. On the Monday after Christmas, the 1:45 showing was sold out, and the showings after that were sold out as well. In the audience were seniors, young girls, and various straight folk of all different ages. They were rapt with attention, and there was lots of sobbing by the end as the audience sat shell-shocked during the closing credits.

This was a beautiful, serious film made for a wide audience, not for audiences in WeHo, Silver Lake, Chelsea and Castro. It’s done more to get people to think about homosexuality than any demonstration or parade ever has. That’s something we should be thankful for.

Martijn Hostetler

West Hollywood

Pointillist Taken

It is ludicrous to say that Pissarro’s role in the history of early Modernism “was arguably as great . . . as Cézanne’s” [“First Impressions,” Dec. 30–Jan. 5]. Harvey really fell for the thesis promoted by Joachim Pissarro’s “judicious arrangement” of the works of these two artists. This exhibition examines only a moment in the history of each artist and, in the process, curator Pissarro does a great job promoting his great-grandfather. As an exercise in promotion, it’s perfect for L.A.

Robert Shapazian

Los Angeles

Rock & Roll Old School

Thanks for your article on the East L.A. rock & roll era [“Naa Na Na Na Naa,” Dec. 30–Jan. 5]. I laughed, smiled and felt sadness over the loss of Joe Jaramillo. But I’m so glad you are telling our story.

There were things for young kids to do in those days, dances and romances to look forward to each weekend.

There were the annual rock & roll shows at East L.A. College, the weekly dances at various halls throughout the city — Elks 99, Little Union, Big Union, Kennedy Hall, churches, and more. It was the time of our lives.

Pamela (Ponder) Marquez

Los Angeles

Factum Obscura

Due to a miscommunication, we mistakenly reported [“5 Inspired Art Acquisitions of 2005,” Jan. 6–12] that the Julius Shulman archive was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum. In fact, it is held by the Getty Research Institute.

Also, we incorrectly stated the Web address for Caryn Coleman’s blog; it is https://art.blogging.la.

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