Thursday, May 19, 2022

LOC for Spartacus #55

The following is a letter of comment sent to Guy Lillian, editor of Spartacus, commenting on #55.

Dear Mr. Lillian:

I recently read a recent issue of your perzine, Spartacus #55, and in an effort to develop the habit of writing more letters of comment, here’s a brief missive. I hope that my correspondence finds you and yours happy and healthy.

I enjoyed reading about your recent travels to Paris, London, and Edinburgh. I am especially glad you were able to see the Mona Lisa up close and personal. The last time I visited the Louvre, with my wife while visiting friends, we saw it the way you described it from video: "crammed shoulder to shoulder, belly to belly with tourists." It was still meaningful and worthwhile, though I envy your prolonged exposure. You also reminded me of my brief time in Edinburgh, perhaps more than two decades ago. Most of what I remember is mist and cool and stonework. A beautiful city redolent of atmosphere and the weight of history.

Given Lloyd Penney and Rich Lynch’s letters of comment, I seem to have missed a lively discussion of Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine. I shall have to explore back issues, perhaps. I am heartened by—and encourage—discussion of world events in fanzines such as yours. Avoiding political conversation doesn’t seem to be a viable solution to the situations in which we find ourselves. With the recent shooting in Buffalo, I think we’re already seeing the expected outcome of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Your inclusion of William O. Douglas’s concurring decision in Roe v. Wade made for interesting parallel reading. And I think the Supreme Court leak, draft opinion, Buffalo shooting, and Rittenhouse are unfortunately interconnected. Not only could overturning Roe v. Wade lead to the erosion of other personal rights for women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color, but participating in a reproductive rights rally this past weekend with my wife, I was also mindful of the increasing enabling of far right and police state violence against peaceful protesters, as well as the dearth of media coverage of such protests, while smaller events held by the far right seem to draw more attention. I was also mindful of the chilling effect such violence—police or otherwise—can have on peaceful protest. There are days I wish we lived in less interesting times, and as a person of some privilege, I am aware that many others feel the weight of such issues even more heavily. Empathy is increasingly needed. As is direct talk about just what extreme rightists are afraid of and fighting for—or fighting against. We need to be able to address that explicitly.

But the concerns about privacy writ large are also compelling and concerning—and would affect all people, regardless of gender, race, or sexual identity or preference—presuming any shifts in privacy protections are applied equitably. That’s one of the most challenging aspects of events in recent years: the uneven application of law, largely based on class and race, and the lessening recognition and strength of what we’ve already agreed to in terms of community, legislative, and procedural standards. There’s a difference between changing our societal mind based on new knowledge or modern attitudes, and disregarding standing rule of law to increasingly protect the interests of a growing minority, imposing those interests on—and removing existing rights of—the larger collective.

Having recently read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time, I am curious whether you’re aware of other books that address similar issues: reproduction rights, bodily autonomy and integrity, privacy, religious fascism, and political violence.

Thank you for such a thought-provoking issue. I look forward to exploring future editions of Spartacus.

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