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Reader Looks Terrible

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To the editors:

I'm writing to comment on your review of Camille Paglia's book of essays ("Reading: Tales of Two Narcissists," December 18).

This review makes the Reader look terrible. Paglia makes a good, all-out attack on your core views (views you never expose to scrutiny in editorials, but which you work in between the lines in half your first section articles). This is a good chance for you to defend yourself, and you have nothing to offer but personal attacks on her character.

If you want to admit defeat, it's easy--just ignore her. That's a reasonably gracious way of saying you have nothing to say. If you are going to acknowledge her, it would be classy to try and make a well-reasoned defense of social constructionism. If the defense includes some personal attacks on her character or scholarship, that would be OK--she mixes personal attacks with her intellectual arguments, so no one could fault her critics for doing the same.

The worst thing to do is simply launch a vituperative attack with no defense of yourself. This looks awful--as if you feel so cocky and sanctimonious that no one could possibly entertain doubts about your core beliefs. Is this really your position? Has intellectual history come to an end with the (unstated) editorial positions of the Chicago Reader? Is there nothing more to discuss or debate? Are your critics motivated solely by evil designs or psychological problems?

You should have chosen another reviewer, or done something else differently in this case.

On a positive note, the recent interview with the CTA chief was excellent--that's the Reader's first section at its best [December 11].

David Ready

Evanston

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