THE PROPAGANDA PROBLEM

TO THE EDITOR: I was disheartened to read Marjorie Skinner's review of Michael Moore's new movie Fahrenheit 9/11 [Film, June 24].

Firstly, the spirit of the review was not in keeping with the precedent set by the Mercury when they wrote in the Bowling for Columbine review: "Michael Moore is a self-righteous demagogue; which makes it all the harder when you agree with what he has to say." Is this not a sentiment that bears repeating?

There was also Skinner's ridiculous assertion that the film couldn't possibly be propaganda because conservative groups and the MPAA had blocked its viewing. This seems to imply that only the government or those we disagree with are capable of producing propaganda. As propaganda is, simply defined, "material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause," I see no reason why Michael Moore's movie should not be included as an example of propaganda. It is either a blind naiveté, or a deeply imbedded foolishness that leads Ms. Skinner to believe otherwise. It may also be a knee jerk reaction to the pejorative reputation the word "propaganda" is saddled with.

A final problem may be the political point that seems to be pushed by Ms. Skinner's review. When she dismisses left wing critics of Moore's work with the phrase "fuck you again, liberal haters" she seems to be buying in to the sort of rhetoric that assumes everyone on the left wing must be in love with Michael Moore, or else they don't really belong on the left wing. Isn't that the sort of "with us or against us" mentality we're trying to unseat?

Arya Imig

MARJORIE SKINNER RESPONDS: One of the primary points I was attempting to make is that you have to take Michael Moore's style of filmmaking with a grain of salt. His manipulative tendencies have been preemptively used by haters from the Left and Right in an attempt to discredit the film and discourage people from seeing it. And yeah, fuck those people, 'cuz it's the waffling middle ground who need to see anti-war info, "propaganda," etc, the most. And right now Michael Moore is the best bet in the contemporary mainstream. Of course this film is obviously propagandic, which I thought was made clear by my title, "Propaganda Wars: Michael Moore Shoots His Gun." But the amount of incontrovertible evidence in the film FAR outweighs me giving a rat's ass if Moore doesn't bend over backwards to be pristinely impartial.

ADULTS AT THEIR WORST

TO THE MERCURY: I'd like to respond to Phil Busse's June 24 feature story: "The Truth About Hobo Teens." My family spent a week in Portland in late June. While I felt sadness at seeing these unhappy young people, never once was I accosted or made to feel unsafe. Instead, I wished the adults in these young people's lives had done right by them so they wouldn't be in this situation.

Consider the advertising immediately opposite Phil Busse's feature. We find a head with an unkempt mane, a beer-belly coated with tattoos, and a cigarette dangling from puckered lips. Immediately below this ad is a half-naked woman in a suggestive stance. Other pages offer even worse examples of adults at our worst.

These ads were placed by adults. Before any of us find fault with these kids, we had best take a hard look at ourselves.

Janice Arnett, Battle Creek, Michigan

SQUATTERS VS. DOGS

TO THE MERCURY: This is in response to Heather's letter ["Letters," June 24, in which Heather claims unleashed dogs are ruining the parks' ecosystems]. Before you go spewing your hateful venom, maybe you should get more informed. Right now some homeless squatters are camped deep in Forest Park and have caused significant damage by cutting down trees and damming a stream (as reported by The Oregonian). Apparently the parks people don't do anything about it because they are too busy chasing off-leash dogs.

David Flynn

VOTE COBB, NOT NADER!

TO PHIL BUSSE: You claim that the Green Party delegates "specifically voted against endorsing Nader" [News, July 1]. That's just not true. The delegates voted in favor of nominating Cobb. Period. There was no "specific vote against Nader." If the Convention had made the decision to not nominate a candidate, then there would have been a vote on whether or not to endorse Nader. However, Cobb received the Party's nomination and that point was moot. The National Reform Party has endorsed Nader, which might give him a ballot line in seven states, based on each state party's decision.

Jeff Cropp

THANKS, JEFF! Your sharp eye wins you the Mercury "Letter of the Week," which includes two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater and two passes to see The Walkmen at Berbati's on July 14!