Shakespeare's Staying Power
Your story on the booming business in all things Shakespearean made me laugh [March 27]. Two weeks ago, I saw a performance of Macbeth in which all of the roles were played by men. What made it even odder was that they were all totally nude from the first to the last second of the play. Well, sometimes Macbeth had a cardboard crown on his head, and occasionally Lady Macbeth wore a very long wig, but that was all. When "she" took it off, there was Lady Macbeth with short blond hair and a penis. The stage was covered in gore and what I think was supposed to be human excrement. The standing ovations at the end went on forever. I wonder what the Bard would have thought about all that.
I read your reference to Shakespeare as "Will" with a shudder of distaste. Should we British be grateful you did not call him Bill? Moreover, I must disagree with Gary Taylor's Viewpoint in which he argued against Shakespeare's reputation as history's pre-eminent playwright. Renaissance dramatists Thomas Middleton and Robert Greene were good and even great, but definitely not as great as Shakespeare. My enjoyment of Shakespeare's language, wit and universality has grown steadily over the past 50 years.
The Price of Victory?
I broke down while reading "One morning in Haditha" [March 27], the story of the Iraqi civilians killed by U.S. Marines. Military excesses should never be covered up and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The lives of the children who lost their parents are permanently devastated. Rather than paying the relatives of the victims $2,500 each, the U.S. government should work with nongovernmental agencies to see whether those innocent children could be adopted into Western homes and have new parents to love and care for them for the rest of their lives. Victory in Iraq seems hardly worthwhile when the very people who are to be protected by U.S. forces are slain under questionable circumstances.
Rex S. Arul
Smyrna, Georgia, U.S.
Why doesn't time try to show some of the many positive things resulting from the war in Iraq? In various parts of the nation, life now is vastly improved over what it was like under Saddam Hussein. You go out of your way to publish negative photographs and editorials. Your articles are so slanted, it's ridiculous.
Irwin, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Your account of the alleged massacre and ensuing cover-up at Haditha was the latest appalling example of the plague this war has become. Like the Vietnam War, it seems to taint the reputation and humanity of all it touches and belies what's left of any claim to a just war. We're a long way from the heroism of the Marines at Iwo Jima.
Elkton, Maryland, U.S.
Questioning the War
I commend time for the forum of views on the Iraq war, "Was It Worth It?" [March 27]. While the question may not have immediate relevance to our policy options in Iraq, it provides an important framework to evaluate future actions. I was disturbed, however, that none of the experts you gathered weighed the cost of the war abroad against investments at home. Had the U.S. taken the billions of dollars spent on the war and instead invested in a moon-shot-style program to gain energy independence, would such a war even have been necessary? What about investments in education and port security and in shoring up Social Security? I am no expert, but it would be nice to hear that debate from those who are.
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Iraq is a strategically important country in the Middle East, a region whose resources the whole world depends upon and one that is rife with ruthless dictatorships that spawn much of the world's terrorist activity. So was the war worth it? That depends. Is human freedom worth it?
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Your "wide array of experts and thinkers" was largely characterized by hand-wringing, worrywart American élites (save for Tommy Franks) who opined that Iraq is a disaster. Those who live in the Middle East and have a direct investment in democracy, however, see the value of the U.S.'s hard-fought quest to stabilize Iraq, defeat Islamic terrorism and bring liberty to oppressed peoples. Our Founding Fathers would be proud of the latter and disgusted by the former.
Bozeman, Montana, U.S.
I have one question for George W. Bush & Co. Why did they choose Iraq and not Saudi Arabia one of the worst offenders regarding human rights as a location for implementing democracy in the Middle East? American troops have been stationed in Saudi Arabia since 1990, and I cannot understand why, over the past 15 years, the U.S. has not pressured the Saudis toward democracy. Twenty-six million Saudis are controlled by 7,000 members of a dictatorial royal family. That King Abdullah adopt democratic reforms seems secondary to the oil needs of the U.S. I suppose democracy in Saudi Arabia would not be in America's best interests.
Re your milestone on the death of Oleg Cassini [March 27]: When Jacqueline Kennedy selected Cassini to design her wardrobe, it was a rare event, of note not just in the fashion world but also in politics. As a team, they turned elegance into power. For one brief shining moment, our country was the epitome of grace and style.
West Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Au Revoir to Job Security
My advice to the students demonstrating and rioting throughout France over the youth labor law [March 27] is: Get over it. Job security no longer exists. I am an American who graduated from college in the early '90s when the U.S. economy was in a serious recession. I spent the next two years working as an unpaid intern. At least Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's "first employment contract" would offer graduates the equivalent of paid internships. The global marketplace is changing rapidly, and without employment flexibility, France will not be able to compete. People of my generation in the U.S. learned that we're the only ones who can secure our future. That would be a good lesson for French students to start learning today.
I am an 18-year-old French student. I agree with your article about the French fear of change. While France has a particularly powerful and efficient public system of free tuition, medical and unemployment insurance and pension plans, all these lead us to be very demanding of the government. We want it to assist us with every difficulty, even if the current economic situation makes that impossible. The French have to think now about the government as a guide not a miracle worker.
On one hand, I rage against the French for their unwillingness to change, to accept new ideas. On the other, I rather admire them. In a time of globalization, wherever I go I see the same shops, the same food chains and the same clothing, and yet the French want to maintain their distinctiveness. They don't want to be like everyone else, and for that maybe we should be thankful. France is itself, quite simply and stubbornly, even though McDonald's and office lunches have made some inroads. In the end, the resistance will lose this battle. Maybe not this time, but eventually the inexorable tide of globalization will wash over France and make it more and more like everywhere else. Is that good news? I feel pretty mixed about it.
Decoding a Best Seller
Re "Five easy steps to a best seller" [March 27], on how The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's court testimony in the copyright case against him could be read as a blockbuster how-to: When I read his book, I enjoyed it greatly but its close relation to Holy Blood, Holy Grail became increasingly obvious. The name of Brown's character Teabing is an anagram of the last name of Michael Baigent, one of the authors of Grail. A sixth step to a best seller?
Frits Sollewijn Gelpke
Vorstenbosch, the Netherlands
In "around the corner" [march 20], your forum of thinkers who discussed the trends of the future, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Andrés Martinez said he takes longer showers because the shower is the last place he can think and the one place he isn't hounded by his BlackBerry, cell phone and 24/7 news on TV. Apart from wasting a precious commodity (water), it would appear he's never heard of the off switch.
Above the Law?
While I believe that presidential wiretapping for political reasons is wrong, the National Security Agency (NSA) can read my e-mail and listen to my phone conversations all day long if it will help them find the bad guys. [Jan. 23] I don't think the NSA, the CIA or any other government agency will have time to weed through our everyday mail. They know whom to be suspicious of. I am sure they are trying desperately to find terrorists. Why would our government spend needless hours reading the e-mail I send to my mother? Please let the government do its job and keep us safe. After all, why do we have spy agencies if they can't spy?
In time of war, the president has a great degree of latitude granted by the Founding Fathers. Sullivan's assertion that President Bush thinks he is above the law or is another King George is beyond ludicrous. Any President would have reacted the way Bush did after 9/11. Thank God the President has discharged his responsibilities in carrying out the global war on terrorists. We are all safer for it.
Jamestown, North Carolina, U.S.
It seems that no publisher was interested in Frey's book when it was labeled fiction [Jan. 23], so calling it nonfiction became a necessary evil for Frey to participate in the new American way: making more money than you need, at the irretrievable cost of what used to be considered ethics and morality.
Newnan, Georgia, U.S.
Skiing's Wild Child
[Bode] Miller is little more than a pretty good downhill skier who qualified for the Olympics [Jan. 23]. He lives a self-centered, self-indulgent, party-boy lifestyle and is hardly a role model for kids who want to break into competitive skiing or anything else.
Naples, Florida, U.S.
Anyone who says this young, aggressive, intuitive man isn't the embodiment of pure American spirit needs to watch the Olympic skiing events and learn about sport from Miller, who, for better or worse, will certainly dominate the races. He parties a lot and doesn't care what people think. But he isn't only about partying. He wins a lot. Part thinker, part natural athlete, Miller becomes the sport of skiing and doesn't deny his life. We should all be so determined to find our own ground.
North East, Maryland, U.S.