Best of the Week
of Oct. 25, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Oct. 25, 1998, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. We encourage you to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

THE QUESTION:
GD12: Is it possible for a 37-year-old man who has served half his life in a penitentiary and is now being released to live a productive life? What would it take on an emotional and spiritual level to take him through the transitional phase?
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Mary R. <
Rukz2@glade.net>, Teague, TX

ANSWER 1:
I have a friend who spent 12 years in prison (from 18 to 30 years of age.) Upon release, he never wanted to return to jail, got a menial job and is now a respected member of our town.
POSTED JUNE 9, 1998
Jen S., jscott@access.aic-fl.com, Argyle, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
A lot depends on why he was in the penitentiary. Also, what was his upbringing like? Did he grow up in a severely dysfunctional family? Or only a normally dysfunctional family? What education level does he have? What has he done for himself while in the pen? Does he have any chemical dependency problems? Is he a spiritual being? Yes, a person can become a productive member of society, but you haven't given us enough information.
POSTED JUNE 15, 1998
M.C.T., 38,white, Long Beach, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Yes, you can live a productive life again. I am a 20-year-old female who has just spent the last two years of my life in and out of jail. The longest time I did was eight months. Although that does not compare to the time this man did I can empathize with the things he is going through. Remember that anything is possible through God and that it's not over till it's over. I am now back in school at Dekalb Tech in Georgia. I take GED classes during the day and work a very good job in the evenings and on weekends. A person who's been in jail should try to surround himself or herself with positive people who also want something out of life. Trust me, I had to learn that the hard way. Right now I am sure it seems to this man as if society is not that accepting, but please, he should not give up. Keep trying!
POSTED OCT. 30, 1998
Kamilah J., 20, black female <
kamilahjj@hotmail>, Jonesboro, GA
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THE QUESTION:
SO89: I am a 23-year-old college student who is about to move into my first house. My roommates are female and are a lesbian couple. I am straight and would just like to know what things I can say or shouldn't say when we live together. We have all hung out together, and they are the nicest people. I haven't even told my parents about them yet because I really don't think it's any of their business, and I'm not sure if I should. I think I have a pretty open mind, but I just don't want to step on anyone's toes.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Tia, 23, straight female <
tia.larue@mailcity.com>, Raleigh, NC

ANSWER 1:
What exactly are you worried about? Are you afarid you might say the wrong thing? Are you afraid they may try to come onto you? That you may catch them makin' out? Just because they are gay does not mean you should treat them any differently than any other couple you could have moved in with. There is, however, one important consideration you should keep in mind: That being your dates. You will find there may be two or three kinds of men: 1) Those who are not bothered and couldn't care less about the sexual nature of your roommates, 2) Those who will be very homophobic to the point where they could pose a problem for you or your roomies, and 3) Those obsessed with getting one or both of your roomies in bed because they think that we (lesbians) are a turn-on for straight guys. My sister is very clear to all the guys who show an interest in her that she has a gay sister and that if they have a problem with it, they can get lost. Some have walked, but they were not worth her time, anyway. Also, keep in mind that if your boyfriend does become obsessed with the sexual nature of your roomies, it is not your roomies fault. I'm not saying you would, but some girls feel it is the fault of the gay person rather than the stright dude who is obsessed. If a problem should arise, just deal with it as you would with any other coupled roomies. And you are right in not telling your parents. It is none of their business, and it is not your place to out your roommates to them. Good luck and relax. Just have fun, study hard ... and get good grades!
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Garet, 27, gay woman, St.Petersburg, FL
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THE QUESTION:
R502: Is it possible that disproportionately high rates of violence in African-American communities - that is, after poverty has been figured out - result partly from a greater tendency among black parents to use corporal punishment?
POSTED OCT. 30, 1998
M.W., white <
ed375@cleveland.freenet.edu>, Cleveland, OH
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THE QUESTION:
R349: I've noticed that Korean females tend to snort instead of blow their noses, even at restaurants. Has anyone else noticed this, and if so, why is this?
POSTED JUNE 18, 1998
Neko, European male

ANSWER 1:
I seem to remember an episode of Seinfeld in which George's father could've married a Korean woman, but refused to take off his shoes when entering the would-be father-in-law's house because he had bad foot odor. This started a big fight, and the two broke up.

The snorting is more a cultural difference than anything. In the past, politeness was one of the big things that sustained Koreans' identities. In front of someone, especially old people, one couldn't blow his nose. It was taken to be impolite behavior or even an insult because the person could just go some other place and blow. Blowing one's nose was thought to be a controllable thing. Snorting, on the other hand, was acceptable if it didn't make a considerable noise. The foot odor is a different story. Foot odor was taken to be an uncontrollable thing. To Koreans, having bad foot odor isn't a big deal. If you're invited to a Korean family's home and you have bad odor, you just tell the host you want to wash your feet. It is not an awkward thing in Korea. In fact, the host might give you a pair of new socks if she/he senses odor.

Anyway, if you're seeing a Korean girl acting like that (snorting), you are lucky, because I think Koreans are getting more impolite every day from learning American cultural practices - though a few well-bred girls do still do things like that (snorting). P.S. I'm sorry if I'm exaggerating things.
POSTED OCT. 30, 1998
Sang P. <
parksa10@pilot.msu.edu>, East Lansing, MI
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THE QUESTION:
R500: Why don't immigrants share the same interest in learning English and American customs as their fellow countrymen did when immigrating to the United States years ago? Becoming "American" doesn't mean forgetting about your heritage, but shouldn't it mean learning and participating in our culture, learning our language and learning our value systems? Or do many people now come here simply to work, with no intention of "becoming American?"
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Robert A., gay male, Swedish ancestry, Houston, TX

ANSWER 1:
What do you mean by "American customs?" When was English declared the official language of the United States? I do know that in some parts of America (Puerto Rico), Spanish is the official language, with English also taught. I am in the military, and having lived all over the United States, I still wonder what U.S. customs are. From New York to L.A. the language (slang) changes, along with other behaviors. I was just an American while living overseas. When I returned to the United States (to serve in the military), I was told I was now a Puerto Rican. This by virtue of the fact that that was where my grandfather was born! The only American custom I can see is one of "Everyone must confrom to my belief system and talk to me in the language I know!" Many Americans take this attitude with them when they go to other countries. This I have seen firsthand. As a U.S. citizen and member of the nation's armed forces, I have to say that America is no longer the "melting pot" people once fantasized about. We are a salad bowl, and with each unique part we grow better. No one has to lose their identity to be a part of this nation. You state that you are gay. I have heard many people state that gays should change their "preference" to fit in. Can you change who you are just because others disagree with what you are?
POSTED OCT. 29, 1998
Frank, 31, white Anglo-Hispanic Pagan <
gonzalez1@hauns.com>, Alamogordo, NM

FURTHER NOTICE:
When you say that previous immigrants were eager to learn to be American, you are making a very unfounded assumption.

Wisconsin had huge German-speaking communities well into this century - until the time of World War I, when they were compelled by increasing discrimination and federal interference to become "Real Americans." (The government threatened to withdraw all funding from any school that taught in German - sound familiar?)

This country was always divided into communities of Polish, Italians, Belgians, Chinese, etc., who lived near each other to be in a linguistically and culturally familiar area - until vandalism, violence and threats from "Real Americans" forced them to conform. In the past, as in the present, people like the Cajuns and Native Americans have been attacked, beaten, regulated and even killed for not speaking English or not being "Real Americans." In my opinion, it's a holdover from the English heritage of our early government - the reason Gaelic is a dead language is that when the English took over Ireland, they forced the Irish to speak English only.

The only immigrants I've met or heard of who were actually enthusiastic about becoming more "American" are children (who want to be like their peers more than anything else) and refugees from oppressive regimes, who lived in enough insecurity, poverty, and danger that America really seems like a land of freedom and plenty.
POSTED OCT. 29, 1998
Colette <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI
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THE QUESTION:
D29: I have a friend who is very obese and getting larger every year. We're worried he's going to go the way of the late John Candy. He's only 26. How do we approach him about our concerns and fears without offending him? I used to be overweight myself, and the last thing I needed was someone telling me so because I knew it already. None of us want him to die or even come close to it.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Worried, Detroit, MI
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THE QUESTION:
SO46: I have a friend who says only a lesbian can be a true feminist. Another says it is impossible for a man to be a feminist. Does anyone have an opinion on this?
POSTED JUNE 15, 1998
Hilary, 20, white <
hwisler@eagle.cc.ukans.edu>, Lawrence, KS

ANSWER 1:
It's sometimes true that minority groups come to view alienation from others as a sign of status. Eventually they feel their alienation is a measure of their uniqueness and self-worth, so they try to maintain it by differentiating into splinter groups. Sometimes these groups are valuable and productive, sometimes they aren't. The problem comes if they try to co-opt a larger movement for themselves, instead of creating their own movement. It is one thing to say "only a lesbian can be a lesbian feminist" and something else to say "only lesbians can be feminists." It's like saying that only Baptists can really be Christian. Don't waste your time with these people - they aren't really interested in changing the world. They get their kicks out of trying to put you down and feeling like the "select few" who truly understand the world. They are worse than the most cliquey sororities (and have much worse parties).
POSTED JULY 17, 1998
Will H. <
whuer@hotmail.com>, New York , NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
I get very angry with people who try to say "You must/must not do XXX in order to be a real feminist." There is a branch of feminism that advocates that women give up heterosexual relationshps, based on the belief that the power differences between men and women are so great they can never be adequately resolved, but in my experience, this kind of feminism is limited in its number of followers and isn't a very realistic view of the world. I believe men and women of all orientations can believe in equality for the sexes, the special virtues and value of each sex, the importance of "women's issues" like child care and reproductive needs, and most imporantly, in the ability and right of individuals to transgress the artificial boundaries that tell us "men/boys do this and women/girls do that."
POSTED SEPT. 1, 1998
S. Addison, 24, bisexual female, <
elusis@dreamscape.com>, Syracuse, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I once referred to myself as a feminist and was told (by lesbian friends) that I could not be. I have accepted that. I think one cannot really, truly, deeply (pop references aside) understand a woman's experience without having been one. Because our society in many ways continues to be organized on a patriarchal/hierarchical system, it's difficult to repudiate this inequity while still living within its system. Thus the supposed existence of "political lesbians." In brief, I've come to think that I'm a feminist sympathizer, for lack of a better term. And I think that most can appreciate that. Gays and lesbians should permit straights to be our allies, and lesbian feminists to allow men to be their allies. One cannot have lived the same experience as another, but we are philisophically capable of coming to different degrees of understanding of one another.
POSTED SEPT. 24, 1998
Jeff, 26, gay white male <
jleppard@hotmail.com>, Bangkok, Thailand

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
We need all the feminists we can get! I would not exclude anyone. I am particularly encouraged when I meet men who are feminists. This helps nullify the negative stereotypes about feminists, and it helps me feel better about the world we live in. Thank you to all men who support women's rights. Feminism would never be successful if it were supported by one small sub-group.
POSTED SEPT. 30, 1998
Jessica N., 26, bisexual female <
jessica@pioneeris.net>, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
My dictionary says feminism means "the movement to win political, economic and social equality for women" and that a feminist is someone who practices feminism. As far as I can see, we can use all the feminists we can draft - male, straight, or whatever.
POSTED OCT. 5, 1998
Athena W., 47, bisexual female, Houston , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Lots of people seem to think feminism has to do how men and women relate. I think this is quite wrong. I believe feminism is a political theory based on analysis of power relationships between people/groups of people. Coincidentally, men have and have traditionally been the holders of the power in many cultures, and therefore this system of political analysis is labeled "feminist." I would say that because of their focus on issues of power imbalances, many minority-equality political movements of this century should be labeled feminist in nature because of this basis of analysis, including the black equality movement, gay equality movement, women's equality movement, the trade union movement, etc. Anyone can be a feminist.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Alan B., gay male <
awb@writeme.com>, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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THE QUESTION:
R395: Why is it that everything from European culture (i.e. folklore, history, literature, language) seems to be considered fair game for any American who wants to create their own version of it, while Americans insist that cultures of other groups be protected and kept exclusive? I'm talking about things like the recent movies The Three Musketeers, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Man in the Iron Mask, all made with no regard for the original literature, true history or original culture; Doctor Doolittle made with Eddie Murphy; and versions of European folk stories and legends filmed or illustrated with multi-cultural characters, etc.
POSTED AUG. 5, 1998
Colette <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

ANSWER 1:
Just an inquiry: Were you aware that The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask were both written by Alexander Dumas, a black man?
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Black female, Los Angles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I had no idea Dumas was black. Thanks for the info ... but he was still part of European culture in any case (African-French?), and his work is considered French literature. I am surprised to learn he's black, though, since I read his book Adventures with my Animals, in which he included his black servants along with the cats and dogs. Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a question about race (it's probably safe to say these movies and books are made mainly by whites), but about culture, and why some seem protected while others are regularly ripped-off. For example, would anyone publish a book of Native American legends and feel they had to illustrate it with Europeans and Africans included? Why is that idea any more ridiculous than the idea of giving Robin Hood a multicultural band?
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Colette <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
To Black female: Where did you get the idea that Alexandre Dumas was black? I'm French and have studied French literature, and my mother is a French professor. I can guarantee you that Alexandre Dumas was not black. Besides, it does not answer Collette's question. I think that Americans do this because as America is still a new country by European standards, it has not had time to produce enough cultural material of its own, so it tries to make some by importing raw material and adapting it to U.S. standards to satisfy the needs of its inhabitants. Thus the transformation of bad endings to happy endings and inserting multicultural differences to be politically correct and not hurt any feelings. I must point out that we Europeans smile at the attempts made by Americans to remake original European cultural creations. We feel Americans try to simplify everything and make everything seem shallow and commercial, and that in America, everything has a price tag on it - even culture.
POSTED OCT. 24, 1998
Zobe La Mouche, 25, Paris, France

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Zobe's reaction to the idea of Alexander Dumas being black inspired me to go have a look. Check out this site for confirmation: http://www.africaonline.co.zw/AfricaOnline/kidsonly/people/index.html. (DIRECTOR'S NOTE: This page states that Alexander Dumas was black; another link addressing this subject can be found at http://www.cadytech.com/dumas.)

Zobe, try to be more open to new knowledge. That is the spirit of Y? Forum. Just because you didn't already know it doesn't mean something is not true.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Iteki, 22, Irish lesbian <
iteki@chickmail.com>, Stockholm, Sweden

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
To Zobe: I checked it out before I responded, and Dumas had a grandmother who was black. Here in the United States, there's apparently something called the "one-drop rule," which dictates that anybody with a black ancestor is also black. To be honest, I have never heard of this rule except from black people. By this rule we are all probably black, so why should we even bother trying to label people by race?
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Colette, <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
As a French citizen I am actually proud that a French person (as most European people) did not know Alexander Dumas had a black grandmother (what about the other three-quarters?). I think it could prove that French people are less racist - or at least less race-concerned - than U.S. citizens. I thought the value of a person and of his or her deeds did not depend on his or her ancestry.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
French republican, 60 <
fdondon@club-internet.fr>, Paris, France

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Just a point of clarification: Dumas was the son of a Frenchman and a former African slave. For more information, click on http://24.1.81.71/dumas/biographie.asp.

Zobe's guarantee that Dumas wasn't black and his question of "Where did you get the idea..." is indicative of a serious problem in this country (by the vehemence of his answer I would say it's a French problem, too): Namely, contributions by minorities are constantly overlooked or diminished by the majority.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Tony <
tonyway@yahoo.com>, San Francisco, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
Dumas had a black grandmother (Marie-Céssette Dumas, a slave from the West Indies) and a white grandfather (Marquis Antoine-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie). Other interesting notes: In his time, Dumas was more famous for his plays than his novels; his father rose to the rank of general under Napoleon; his son wrote several novels including La Dame aux Camélias, the basis of Verdi's opera La Traviata. Relating (somewhat) back to the original question, Dumas wrote many historically based novels, but was not above changing things to make a good story. He did not, however, claim them as historically accurate.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Gene <
geneand@ix.netcom.com>, Oakland, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
There were of course two Dumases, father and son, both writers. Dumas senior had one black grandmother, and so junior had one black great-grandmother. Maybe a separate question needs to be asked: What percentage of a race, whatever race it may be, must a person have to be considered "of" that race? This is something I've never really understood. Maybe someone can clarify it here. I know that in some Asian countries, being a quarter Caucasian counts a person as "white." Of course, none of this explains why Robin Hood's band of 13th Century Merrie (English) Men should be "multicultural," which was the original question, wasn't it?
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Steve H, 49, European mix, Redondo Beach, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
White American popular culture comes from so many different countries that we don't know what's what anymore. Most people don't speak up enough when culture gets trashed. Look at Disney - their "Hercules" was a complete butchering of the Greek myths, but very few people spoke up. The general population accepts such garbage because they either are not aware of the original source material or don't care. If minority citizens and groups speak up for their heritage and culture, they should be applauded for fighting to keep the integrity of their arts. Let's see more white people speak up for the heritages and cultures of the countries they and their ancestors are from.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Alan N. <
chowfoon@iname.com>, Boston, MA

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
I find myself scratching my head, not knowing who to agree with, or how. But I will say this: Zobe, despite her anti-American cheap shots, is onto something. America is a nation of many disparate cultures and cultural influences, as it has been since its infancy. Because of this, America may never have been able to make a serious claim to having a monolithic, primary culture, as Zobe seems to imply that France has. Both our language and popular culture are so rife with cultural mixture that almost anything produced to appeal to the masses will reflect this inherent diversity. While the dark side of America's brief history (and present) is colored with hatred and intolerance, the beauty of our diversity is undeniable. In fact, many Europeans clamor for the simplified cultural knock-offs we produce. And, before you attempt to deny that Zobe, I've got two words for you: Jerry Lewis.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Sam; 30, male, brown American <
SamAlex67@aol.com>, Chicago, IL
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THE QUESTION:
R494: I would like to know people's perceptions about why Asian men in general, and Chinese men in particular, are seen as unattractive as mates.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Joe C., Chinese, Fremont, CA

ANSWER 1:
I have to disagree with you. I have never thought Asian men were unattractive. I guess the only problem for me is that I am very tall and have a large build, and I haven't met many Asian people in my life that match my build.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Anonymous, female, London, England
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THE QUESTION:
GE87: Why aren't men more emotional, and why don't they let their hearts rule their minds?
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Kavita, female <
snowyt@hotmail.com>, Delhi, India

ANSWER 1:
Since I was a little boy, I was told to buck-up, not cry, etc. Emotions were for girls. Boys were to remain calm and strong. And not to put too fine a point on it, but "only weak men (read gay) have emotional responses." It has to do with this "machismo" crap. I find it funny that women complain that they make only 60 to 70 cents to a man's $1 for wages, yet men don't complain that they are denied something much more basic than money in this lifetime: Their emotions. So to set the record straight, woman are not the only people who have a burden against them from birth. For too long, men have been shaped into something far less than their potential.
POSTED OCT. 28, 1998
Matthew, white, 40ish, New York, NY

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THE QUESTION:
R499: In a recent Philadelphia case, a white woman was sentenced to five years in jail for "alerting" her white neighbors that a black family was moving in. She did not participate in vandalism or violence against them, yet she received a more severe sentence than some of those who did. Do you agree with the judge? Why or why not?
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
Linda F., 47, white female, Bristol PA

ANSWER 1:
I'd like to know more about the facts of the case. Did she incite or encourage others to do this vandalism or violence? If so, she's criminally liable. Charles Manson never lifted a finger against the people he was convicted of killing, but he gave the order.
POSTED OCT. 26 1998
Andrew, 34, white <
ziptron@xoommail>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
Without knowing more of the details of the case, it's hard to say. If she "alerted" her neighbors so that they could plan how to get them out, harrass or threaten, or even "keep an eye on them," she is guilty of conspiring to commit hate crimes. If she was just complaining in a bigoted way, she is an immoral racist, but she should not go to jail.
POSTED OCT. 26 1998
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian, San Antonio, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I'm certain this same white woman wouldn't feel the need to "alert" her neighbors when a white family was moving in the building. Other than being a racist, why would anyone feel the need to do such a thing? So yes, I agree with the judge wholeheartedly because racism has to stop and somebody has to be made an example.
POSTED OCT. 26 1998
Janet, African-American female, 33 <
jbutler@commoncause.com>, Capitol Heights, Md

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
No, I do not agree with the sentence. The First Amendment of our Constitution protects our right to free speech. If all the woman did was mention to her neighbors that the new people moving in were of a different race, that seems pretty harmless to me. Just about anyone (of any race) would have mentioned this in casual conversation if the subject came up. Even if her intentions were not innocent, I do not think the penalty for her actions should have been more harsh than for someone who vandalized or physically injured someone. The prisons are already crowded enough with hardened criminals. I worked in a prison, so I know.
POSTED OCT. 26 1998
Michell, 31, Panama City, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Unless one knew all the facts, it would be foolish to voice an opinion on the judge's ruling. However, language is a funny thing, and what you call "alerting" might be termed "inciting to riot" by someone with a different point of view. Personally, after having moved into an all-white neighborhood and experiencing the hatred my children had to endure from some of our bigoted neighbors, I find it hard to sympathize with vandals, "alerters" or racists of any stripe.
POSTED OCT. 26 1998
S.F., black male <
sfinley@wans.net>, Naperville, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I guess I'd have to know a little more about the case, but from what you've said I would definitely appeal the case. As far as I know, the First Amendment still protects free speech, and if it can be used to defend the KKK and the Nation of Islam, then I don't see why it wouldn't apply here. I would guess this was a case in whichi justice was swayed by political action groups. Either way, five years is a long time for that when a lot of murderers get only 15 to 20.
POSTED OCT. 26 1998
B., 23, straight white male, Kokomo, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
No, I do not agree. You cannot punish somebody for their personal feelings or prejudices. However, once those feelings lead to actions, then there is a basis for punishment. If the woman did nothing more than speak her mind, then how can she be punished for it? From your description, she did not provoke violence, so I would have to assume she did not incite a riot. If the community did not agree with her words (and I would hope that they would not agree), then they could have easily ignored them.
POSTED OCT. 26 1998
John K., straight Irish-American male, 25 <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford, NJ

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I agree with the judge, because she fueled the hysteria.
POSTED OCT. 26 1998
A.A.W., 42, black female <
ANABWI@aol.com>, Plantation, FL


THE QUESTION:
G33: Why do Americans cut their food, then put down the knife and put the fork in their right hand? Are we the only ones who eat like this? Why don't we eat like the Europeans?
POSTED SEPT. 29, 1998
N. Baugh, Temecula, Ca.

ANSWER 1:
I'm Canadian and eat like that, too (cut up the food with the knife, then put it down to use the fork with my right). I think it's just what one's comfortable with.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
C.C. <
petitecosette@yahoo.com>, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
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THE QUESTION:
A31: What do you do if you're a kid and have no money?
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
Josh, 11, Gainesville, MO

ANSWER 1:
Well Josh, that would depend on what you need money for. One would assume that an 11-year-old would not need money for groceries, bills, house payment, rent, car payment, etc. So I would suggest you ask your parents for money in exchange for doing something around the house that would exceed the normal chores an 11-year-old would do for an allowance. Maybe ask the neighbors for some job you could do for pay. Wash the car, paint the fence, walk the dog.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
J.P., 36, still needing money at my age, NC

FURTHER NOTICE:
Get a job. Deliver newspapers on your bike. Mow your neighbor's lawn. Save your allowance. Stay in school.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Mark K., San Francisco Bay Area, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Most kids don't have money. I guess if I were in your shoes (again,) I'd remind myself that most of what I truly need - and many of the things I want - don't cost anything or don't cost much, and I'd set priorities. And I wouldn't worry about what kids who do have money think. You don't value a person by their possessions.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Andrew, 34 <
ziptron@xoommail.com>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Well, there seem to be two options: One, you can come up with things to do that don't require any money, and two, you can come up with ways to make money. I spent much of my formative years at the library, and the time served me well and didn't cost me a thing. Time I spent in parks, hanging out with friends and such was for the most part similarly cheap. For the second option, when I was your age, I was well on my way as a babysitter. Yard work services are another easy place to start a source of income for younger people. Use your imagination, and then do your best to present yourself to potential customers in a professional and well-organized manner. Hand out flyers explaining your services, that sort of thing.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Catherine, 25, computer chick <
tylik@eskimo.com>, Woodinville, WA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
There are plenty of things you can do to earn more money, even if you are 11. My own children earn extra money by doing odd jobs for me around the house; not their usual chores, but special jobs such as organizing a closet or cleaning out the basement. If you don't have this option (perhaps your parents can't afford to pay you), I am sure there are other people in the neighborhood whom you could approach. In this day and age, people work outside of the home, and many times all those little odds and ends around the house don't seem to get done. They would probably be delighted to pay someone like you to rake their leaves or clean their garages. Good luck!
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Laura, 37, white female, Baltimore , MD

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
You don't specify exactly what you mean. Do you mean "How can I get some money?" or "What can I do for fun without any money?"

There are very few ways for an 11-year-old to get money, and most of them involve living in a safe neighborhood. Some newspapers might be willing to hire you as a carrier. Try the once-a-week advertising papers. If you are in the suburbs, you can offer to do yardwork for neighbors for money, such as raking leaves or mowing lawns. You can ask your parents for extra jobs for which you could be paid.

If you mean what to do without money, there are plenty of activities that could lead to a more interesting life - and possibly even a career - which require only lots of practice. Like sports, drawing, singing, writing stories, learning to play an instrument (harmonicas are fairly cheap), juggling, doing magic tricks, baking (clean up after yourself or they'll never let you do it again), acting, doing stand-up comedy routines for your friends or family... For most of these activities, the only instructions you need can be found in books at your local library.
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Colette, former kid with no money <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Since you are only 11, you really can't go apply for a job at a business. But if you live in a safe neighborhood and you know your neighbors, you could do odd jobs for them like mow their lawn, rake leaves, take out garbage or shovel snow. Also, ask your parents about getting a weekly allowance for doing chores
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
Sam, 20 <
SMF78@hotmail.com>, Redford, MI
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THE QUESTION:
R450: For the past 12 years, we have lived in a middle-class neighborhood. Demographics: 80 percent black, 10 percent white, 10 percent other (Hispanic, Filipino, Asian). The new high school near our neighborhood is 65 percent black, with a majority of black teachers. When the time came for the prom this year, the music committee (all black students) submitted a list of 100 percent rap music. No allowance was made for the "country" or "techno" or "rock and roll" enthusiasts in the student body. The reaction from the committee was: "Why should we include that other music? We're the majority." My question: Is equality and tolerance being perceived by our children as a one-way street?
POSTED SEPT. 7, 1998
Jackie I., 46, white mom <
hockeyrat@hotmail.com>, West Palm Beach, FL

ANSWER 1:
I believe my white daugher, who attends a school with a 60 percent black, 10 percent Asian and 10 percent Hispanic population, and her friends (of all races) are made to feel by some school mates and teachers that because the black culture has been held back for so long in the mass-culture, that now is the time to let it be at the forefront - to the point of excluding all others. My daughter and her friends do not attend dances, basketball games or participate in yearbook or student council because these activities, meant to be all-inclusive, have become solely African American. She and her friends have been told that "they don't need to participate," and that regarding dances, the music to be played is going to be rap and R & B and that is that! We live in an urban setting, and my daughter attends a school with a diverse student body because we have chosen this, but the pendulum has swung too far to the other side, and the white, Hispanic and Asian students are often treated unfairly.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
White female, 40, Milwaukee, WI

FURTHER NOTICE:
I believe these other (non-black) students have been discriminated against. It is not fair for the committee to not make musical allowances for other ethnicities. I don't believe we youth, as a whole, see tolerance as a one-way street. I think this is a case of people (the all-black committee) abusing their power.
POSTED SEPT. 10, 1998
Whitney T., 19, black female <
wkthomps@olemiss.edu>, Oxford, MS

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I've always thought of modern R&B and hip-hop as "urban" music, not "black" music. Though the artists are generally black, I think it is more accurate to say that the audience is generally urba - and even that's a stretch. I grew up in an upper-middle class neighborhood, and I was one of the only kids not listening to these types of music. Being black, everyone thought I was strange. So be sure to ask yourself: Is it the entire non-black population that has a problem with the musical selection?
POSTED OCT. 26, 1998
M.B., 19, black female <
modAgogo@yahoo.com>, Chicago, IL
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