Readers parsed our Oct. 13 cover story, careful to avoid any rush to judgment. "Your article on Kobe Bryant was informative and impartial," one said. But another added, "As I read a very enjoyable article on Bryant, one statement stood out as blatant stereotyping: 'In a sport where 80 percent of the players are black, the idea of giving older players their respect takes on huge importance.' Isn't that an attitude shared by many ethnic groups around the world?" One mother observed dryly, "My favorite part of the article is when you try to make it appear unhealthy that his mother did his laundry, cooked his meals, kept him on schedule and never missed a game. In healthy American families, that goes on every week." And others said they'd had enough of "overpaid athletes with poor judgment." One grumbled, "Your cover story shouts to me, 'The Kobe Bryant You Don't Know.' The only thing I need to know about Kobe is the verdict."
As He Faces Judgment
It seems as if African-American parents can't win ("The Kobe Bryant You Don't Know," Oct. 13). The obvious efforts made by Bryant's parents to keep their children alive and well and out of the ghetto have been made to seem like failure. The underlying suggestion is that they made the wrong choice in taking their family to Italy. Whatever recent mistakes Bryant may or may not have made, his parents have raised a son who was not a "playa." Somehow, for a young black man, this is not the correct thing to do, as shown by the criticisms of friends and fellow basketball players quoted in the article. If Bryant's family had been a white diplomat's family, I suspect that a childhood in Italy and the ability to speak Italian would be seen as a plus. Not so for a young African-American. The criticisms of Bryant's parents' choices say more about American society than they do about them.
Rose Spencer Gibbs
For too long we've put up with famous male athletes treating women like just gold chains to hang around their necks. The NBA makes much effort in training rookies to keep them from using drugs and to be careful with groupies. What if they taught them to be nice guys and to remember that just because they are talented at a game and get paid a lot of money doesn't mean they can treat the world like their personal whorehouse? I have no problems with players' screwing around, but I'm not sure I want a national news magazine saying Kobe's mistake was that instead of staying home with his wife he should have been having his crew check out women for him.
If the media are going to run articles on the Kobe Bryant case, isn't it fair that all parties involved be profiled? Go deeper and pull out the skeletons in the accuser's closet as well. This woman is just as guilty as Kobe by playing the role of seductress. For the truth to be told, both sides of the story should be published.
You state that Kobe Bryant did not learn from the older players, and in "a sport where 80 percent of the players are black, the idea of giving older players their respect takes on huge importance." What exactly is that supposed to mean? I suspect that had these words been uttered by, say, Rush Limbaugh, he would have paid a heftier price than merely losing his ESPN gig.
New York, N.Y.
If Kobe Bryant had been living the excessive lifestyle of some of his fellow NBA stars, you would have sensationalized his overindulgence. But since he has tried to stay out of trouble and refused "to hang out with his fellow Lakers after a game," you portray him as misguided, because he missed the benefit of such shared wisdom as packing a "treasure chest of diamond tennis bracelets" on road trips to hand out to groupies after loveless sex. I am not a fan of Kobe Bryant's, but I have admired his sense of purpose and his concentration on becoming a superb basketball player for the Lakers. By selecting a career that puts him in the limelight, Kobe is a fair subject for public examination. But I can't help feeling sympathy for such a young man having to handle the intense pressure.
Margaret Palmer Parks
I read your cover story on Kobe Bryant and simply don't see a "troubled road to a rape charge." So Kobe talked with a foreign accent instead of in Ebonics. He got good grades. He didn't do drugs but concentrated on improving his game. He had one girlfriend at a time and kept to himself instead of partying with teammates. Sounds to me as if Kobe traveled a pretty straight road, not a troubled one. Maybe Kobe raped that girl, or he was set up for money. But why not let a jury decide instead of dirtying the water for him?
New Brunswick, N.J.
A social misfit with no idea about how to deal with the real world is not newsworthy. To think that adults want their children to emulate Kobe Bryant because he is a basketball star is sad. We don't need a jock strutting around letting kids believe that if you can play a game, you can do whatever you like to anyone, any time. Such an unworthy subject on your cover only adds to the buzz of someone who is undeserving. Maybe I missed some information by not finishing the story, but who cares?
St. Paul, Minn.
The rape trial of yet another idolized sports superstar, Kobe Bryant, will not be about who did it but about whether this possibly naive woman "asked for it"--despite the physical trauma clearly evident on her body. Besides my concern that the victim gets justice, I'm worried that Johnnie Cochran's "jury nullification" ploy will once again be employed, whereby Bryant will walk, freed by a jury of his peers choosing not to see the trial in front of them but instead focusing on the trials they themselves may have lived. It is quite understandable that such a jury would not want to be party to taking away the freedom of yet another black man, but, nonetheless, that would be nothing more than sanctioned racism.
Paul Peter Paulos
St. Paul, Minn.
As a sexual-assault survivor, I have to say that the Kobe Bryant case makes me very upset. I do not know what to think of Bryant's guilt or innocence, but I am sickened at the treatment of the case by the media. Every minute in America, a woman is raped--not just when a public figure stands accused. It is happening to someone right now, as you are reading this. Think about that and tell me it is an issue you can continue to ignore.
Europe and the U.S., Poles Apart
Common sense tells us that Europe and America must have different viewpoints, since each has had different historical experiences ("Paris Versus Philadelphia," THE LAST WORD, Oct. 13). Politically and philosophically, America is Europe's child, for our Founding Fathers were deeply immersed in European political philosophy and adapted it to their situation in the New World, thereby underpinning American political philosophy with the best of Enlightenment thinking. Today, with all the challenges facing us, we would be much better off if we listened to Europe and tried to work together to make this a better planet for all. By the way, as long as our government cannot protect its citizens from random gun violence, cannot guarantee its citizens a good education in public schools nor adequate health-care coverage, we have no business displaying a holier-than-thou attitude.
Palos Heights, Ill.
In criticizing Europe and championing America as the one true defender of popular sovereignty and self-determination, does George Will forget all the dictatorships America installed or propped up during the cold war? Does he really expect Americans to support the sort of radical Islamic constitution that "popular nationalism" is likely to demand? American policymakers will have to prove our good intentions for a long time to come for anyone outside our borders to believe we are the champion of anything beyond our own self-interest.
Rik Lain Schell
George Will is right that European attitudes are influenced by the horrors of war, but he veers out of control in his attempt to paint Europeans as elitists and self-proclaimed philosophers. I can hardly blame Europeans who see preventing future world wars as the primary goal. The simple fact is that the greatest European tragedies in the last century were two devastating wars, not the adoption of some snobbish "Parisian" school of thought. As we know too well, in many parts of the world, war continues to rage, often driven by popular sentiment. People who understand this are realists, not elitists.
Leaking CIA Identities
It is incredible that NEWSWEEK's two articles on the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame scrutinized the names of potential leakers, but barely mentioned the culpability of the person who certainly did damage: Robert Novak ("Secrets and Leaks" and "Hey, Rat Out That Source!" Oct. 13). Assuming that "administration officials" leaked Plame's name inadvertently, negligently or even intentionally, no harm was done until Novak decided to identify Plame and her associates, and possibly place the nation at risk under the guise of journalistic privilege. What gives Novak the idea, or the right, to think that as a citizen/journalist he doesn't have to keep a secret that ends up on his desk?
Does anyone believe that if President Bush wanted to find out who leaked the identity of former ambassador Joe Wilson's wife, he couldn't get the answer right now? Instead he makes disingenuous statements that he has "no idea whether we'll find out" who leaked the information. As Wilson says, consider this a warning shot to anyone who speaks the truth about the "misspeaks" of this administration. This act is a felony and could put someone's life at stake. We should get to the bottom of it.
Forest Park, Ill.
The Passion of Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson has made a courageous movie that I can look forward to seeing ("Who'll Buy Mel's Movie?" Oct 13). You mention that "the press surrounding the film... has done some damage to [Gibson's] reputation" and that some think he's "crazy now." But what he has done is taken his own money and created a film that illustrates the life of the person he considers his Savior and Lord. Perhaps the media's problem isn't with Gibson, but with the Bible and what it represents. It's much easier to put up smoke screens by calling the film anti-Semitic and saying it promotes violence than to deal with the true issue: that believing or not believing in Christ's message may have eternal consequences. I commend Gibson for standing up for his beliefs. When his movie comes to my town, I will see it as many times as I can afford to.
I am offended that people in the movie industry, regardless of their faith, think that Mel Gibson is "crazy now" and that he is "way out on a limb" because of "The Passion," his film project telling the story of Jesus Christ's death. Did this same industry call Cecil B. DeMille crazy when he directed "The Ten Commandments"? I am impressed that Gibson would take on this endeavor, and I admire his courage in creating such a film in an industry that is "predominantly liberal and significantly Jewish." For executives to cite "The Last Temptation of Christ" when discussing Gibson's movie shows how disconnected they are to Christian moviegoers. "Last Temptation" offended Christians. But as you state, Gibson's movie "should appeal to Christians, not alienate them." Hollywood shouldn't be afraid to support and promote the story of a man who harmed no one in his short life, but gave millions hope, love and salvation.
Two images from the article "Who'll Buy Mel's Movie?" highlight the main problems in this controversy for open-minded, churchgoing Roman Catholics like me. Jonathan Bock, head of a PR firm specializing in marketing movies to faith-based communities, claims that "people will be deeply moved" by a film he compares to "watching a family member being beaten up for two hours." This makes me wonder which Christians he's been talking to. Why would anyone want to spend two hours watching such a thing, and exactly how is that moving or, for that matter, particularly appealing to Christians? The second image is your picture of a protest over "The Last Temptation of Christ" in 1988. I remember driving past movie theaters at the time of the film's release, seeing signs much like the one in your photo, and it sickened me. As a priest told me then, if your faith is so fragile that a movie can seriously damage it, then the problem is with you, not the movie.
To College and Back
After reading the article "Free at Last!" (Oct. 13), I urge parents not to turn their kid's bedroom into a hobby room as soon as he or she leaves for college. Thanks to sky-high tuition costs, student loans that take at least 10 years to pay off, a horrible job market and low entry-level salaries, your 22-year-old college grad will be back home to mooch, I mean, live with you again. That's what I did! I didn't leave the nest until I was 27 with a ring on my finger. The day your children can pay for their own food, clothing and shelter is the day parents will truly have an empty nest. Save your tears and enjoy this temporary break. The college years are nothing but a warm-up for when the kids really leave for good.
Lisa Concepcion Giassa
Your article on the empty nest, "Free at Last!" hit the proverbial nail on the head several times for parents sending their children off to college. My husband and I have been empty nesters for more than a year now. To the experts who say back off and don't overdo it with trying to stay in touch, I say this: go e-mail your kids. They may be in college, but they are still your family. Life is precious and tenuous; we never know what lies ahead of us, so stay in touch. What good is this electronic age if we can't use it to our best advantage? We don't want to know about the latest up-till-dawn party, but we do deserve a "Hi, Mom, things are going good, I love you" on a regular basis.
'The Rush Limbaugh I Know'
Your Oct. 20 cover story, "Rush's World of Pain," does not even remotely portray the Rush Limbaugh I know. I don't know anyone, for example, who knows Rush well who would agree with the statement in the article that "The man behind the curtain is not the God of Family Values but a childless, twice-divorced, thrice-married schlub whose idea of a good time is to lie on his couch and watch football endlessly." To the contrary, Rush is a man very dedicated to his family, a loyal friend, a tireless co-worker and a terrific, caring and generous human being. He is a thoroughly enjoyable person in any setting, professional or social. Your article makes a big deal over the fact that he is different in a social setting than he is in the studio or in his professional setting. Now, there's a revelation. You could make the same statement about most entertainers and public figures. But the fact remains that the personality, wit and sheer intelligence that propelled him to the spot of the most popular and successful radio talk-show host of all time do not evaporate when he leaves the studio. Rush is secure enough in who he is that he doesn't impose his broadcast persona on people in a social setting. I could go line-by-line to demonstrate the obvious bias of the story, but perhaps the best example, after the "schlub" remark, is the revelation that "Two women who dated Limbaugh... said... They did not have a good time." Having to reference interviews from a decade ago as the source of your article only demonstrates the lengths to which your reporters will go to ensure their predetermined slant. We know that Rush's show generates strong feelings on both sides of the aisle. However, there is no excuse for NEWSWEEK to abandon the journalistic tradition of fairness. Midway into the article, I had to check whether I was reading the opinion page or the news section. I was shocked to see that this story was presented as news in your publication.
Kraig T. Kitchin, President/COO
Premiere Radio Networks
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The Oct. 6 Tip Sheet item "Strokes: New Risk Factor," on the genetic causes of stroke, should have specified that deCODE Genetics obtained informed consent from subjects in 50 genetic studies, including its research on stroke. DeCODE Genetics' medical-records database, which does not include informed-consent procedures, is a separate project.
In "You Want to fight?" (Oct. 13) we misstated the first name of the promoter of the Toughman prizefights. His name is Art Dore, not Al. NEWSWEEK regrets the errors.