Letters

My late-breaking understanding was delayed by other troubling messages implied by the teaser headline. First, this headline foregrounds Dr. Schlessinger's Jewish lineage through the use of the word "Yiddish." (Dr. Schlessinger is only Jewish on her father's side.) As you know, this word is the name of a language uniting Hebrew characters and words with the German language and that was spoken exclusively by eastern and central European Jews. For a variety of reasons, including its derivation from the German word for "Jew," the word "Yiddish" has in American usage become more than the name of a language. It has become synonymous with "Jewish."

Based on this, I expected the article promised by the teaser headline to analyze Dr. Schlessinger and her role as a sex moralist in the context of her link to Judaism. The article actually printed in the Machine Age column, "Mostly, It's about Sex, Mostly: Online with Dr. Laura, curmudgeon," had nothing to do with her religious affiliation. Therefore, the teaser heading misled me from its intended message.

Furthermore, once I understood what must have been your intention, I was further confused about what was added by highlighting Dr. Schlessinger's Jewish roots, except for the fact that "Yiddish" and "British" rhyme sufficiently to allow you to play off the movie title.

The teaser headline could also be construed as anti-Semitic. The use of the term "Yiddish" appears to be a classic case of guilt by rhetorical association. Your article highlights offensive behavior it identifies Dr. Schlessinger to have committed. Your use of the word "Yiddish" appears to capitalize on its own latent suggestion of offensive behavior. You subtly suggest there is a common denominator between Dr. Schlessinger and other people identified by this term.

One test of improper or offensive usage, when any term of sociological or religious nature is used, is to insert another descriptive term in the place of the one in question. For instance, an article about an accomplished military leader might not have the same attraction if it were to read "the golf-playing Colin Powell" instead of "the African-American Colin Powell," unless the article were being published in a golf magazine. In Dr. Schlessinger's case, any other gratuitous term used to identify her might not have been as intriguing.

For the reasons identified above, I respectfully insist that you publish in an upcoming issue an apology for the careless and offensive use of the word "Yiddish" in identifying Dr. Schlessinger. I would further ask that you forward to me a copy of your published apology. I also feel obligated to forward this letter, by courtesy copy, to the Anti-Defamation League together with the offending article and front-page headline.

Mark A. Rothaman, Los Angeles How about this for an apology: Terribly sorry. Maybe you have to be a regular reader of theWeekly—or one of Dr. Laura's regular radio listeners—to know how frequently she reminds us that her morality grows out of her Jewishness—like she might merely be another AM shock jock if she were, say, a Muslim or an atheist. So here she is, representing herself as a conservative Jew and yakking about sex (child sex, homosexuality, incest, mommy/daddy sex) like she's Larry Flynt's evil twin. Now, if we were Jews—and some of us are—we'd be writing apology demands to Dr. Laura at KFI, 610 S. Ardmore Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005. Or we'd take a clue from the Catholics. They know how to deal with someone like this: they call it "excommunication." WE PAWS

I just wanted to give you a handshake for your articles about the Orange County Animal Shelter. You've kept the pressure on, and you've been doing a lot of good follow-up articles. It's been a black eye on the county's face for quite a long time, but no press has really paid attention to it. I'm glad you guys finally are. Keep up the good work.

—Derrick Arita, Tustin IDIOT MERGING

Hey, there, "Pissed-Off Christ" writer (Hey, You! Aug, 20). Now let me get this straight: in heavy traffic, you took your car and inserted it into a lane between a semi and a small car where there obviously wasn't enough room by your own admission ("its grill filled my rearview mirror") and then honked at the car in front of you?

Well, not to unsettle you, but you're not just an idiot, you're also one of those special kinds: the Stupid Idiots. If you keep driving like that and pissing off other drivers, you're going to end up as a statistic (not to mention a small spatter mark on a semi's grill somewhere).

Now, I'm not the person you were harrassing on the freeway, but I've seen your kind before. A car isn't a toy for you to swerve all over the freeway, playing tag with your newfound playmates. It's a multiton instrument of death in the hands of people like you. I'll let you in on a little secret: other drivers aren't impressed with your zany antics. Driving erratically and speeding are excellent ways for you to kill yourself and other innocent bystanders. You are supposed to use your turn signals to change lanes (which you didn't mention, so I'm willing to bet that you didn't), leave a two-second buffer in front of you (which you obviously didn't since you had to "hit your brakes to avoid being accordioned"), only supposed to move into the lane next to you once you make sure that it is prudent and safe to do so (which you didn't), and only supposed to use your horn to alert the driver of a situation that could be dangerous (it's not a musical instrument or a message-relay device).

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