The Fish
for 7 August 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


T. Jay (the man) Fowler
T. Jay Fowler
Production Manager
& Ass Kicker


Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch


Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

The Uses of Enchantment

It's interesting to me that
the point of your article
seems to be "they're kids,
forgive them." I know nothing
of the three metal heads you
mentioned towards the end,
but the girl in New Jersey is
a dispicable specimen of
humanity no matter how you
slice that story. No matter
how the child died, her
disregard for her baby's, her
own, and her classmate's
health was appalling to say
the least.

When I was an adolescent in
7th and 8th (not too long ago
at all, believe me) I spent
my time playing games,
arguing politics, studying
math, and reading Orwell. My
concern at the time was that
kids wern't getting treated
with the same respect as
adults - I personally wanted
to vote at 16 (this was my
big issue). Now I see that
the big issue for kids is
impersonating their favorite
TV character (be it Beavis or
the Menendez brothers). It's
a major cop-out to imply that
the inexperience of youth is
any kind of excuse for the
major felonies kids AROUND
THE WORLD (majority in the
US) are increasingly
committing. You know right
and wrong: By 7 you know not
to throw things at people; by
10 you've learned hitting is
bad; and by 14 when you've
learned how to load a
semi-automatic 9mm handgun,
you sure as hell know that
discharging it in the
direction of another human
being is going to bring
consequences a little more
severe than grounding.

Todd Mentch

It wasn't my intent to forgive
the New Jersey mom, just to
call attention to how
demonizing her makes it easy
to ignore the stickier and
more ambiguous cultural
issues which undergird her
situation. Niche marketing
has made for a increasingly
divided American culture -
with their own television
networks, music artists, fast
foods, personal technologies,
and catalogs, teenagers and
children exist more and more
in a separate consumer
universe, and therefore a
separate cultural universe
than their elders. Hyberbolic
rhetoric about juvenile crime
and the easy moralization and
easy answers that come with
it widen that same gap.

A gap that has an analog in
your argument: You imply that
(except for you) teens are
stupid mimics, unable to
distinguish between goofball
fart jokes and double
homicide, and yet you also
suggest that a junior high
school kid with a gat will
somehow be able to judge when
to use it. Maybe he'll just
kill his television.

I have no trouble at all
believing that 7th and 8th
grade were "not too long ago"
for you; your vindictiveness
toward adolescents reeks of a
convert's sanctimony....
However, seeing as how you've
cast yourself as some kind of
since-day-one, I bet you were
an asshole even back then.


Fish With Letter Icon

Lemme get this straight.
According to someone calling
themselves Ann O'Tate (how
cute) in The Uses of
Enchantment, "The
vilification of the New
Jersey high school senior who
gave birth" (and also death,
by the way) on prom night is
"small-minded." What's more:
"[Critics'] speedy damnation
is an exercise in ... petty

So condemning the murder of a
child is petty stuff to be
engaged in by intellectual
inferiors insufficiently hip
to understand that, dammit,
sometimes you just have to
take a little kid down. What
would Ms. O'Tate prefer the
public's reaction have been?
A standing ovation? A little
help tightening the grip
around the poor kid's neck?

I'm a new reader of your
publication, and I hope that
all your writers are not as
"open-minded" as Ms. O'Tate.

Clint Conatser

Actually, my original draft
included the suggestion that
we eat the child.

All for Swift justice,


Fish With Letter Icon

The Uses of Enchantment

A fascinating expression of
postpubescent angst. People
are responsible for their own
actions. I do not villify the
youth, I condemn the ACTIONS
of the individual.
Accountability ... regardless
of age OR origin. Deprived
childhood. My heart bleeds,
along with the victims
wounds. You write well,
though. ;-}

The Voice of Reality.

Hey, Voice - good to get
something in writing from
you, as I usually only hear
you in my head.

I'm all for accountability, of
course. Attempting to
understand why someone does
something horrific and even
trying to understand what
larger issues surround her or
his actions doesn't mean we
should pretend everything's
forgiven ... or that we're
not a little bit guilty, too.


Fish With Letter Icon


As usual, another brilliant
article. Most of the
headline-grabbing horrors
that bedevil America can be
traced to a simple inability
of our society to confront
ambiguity. The cover of this
week's Time is a Napoleonic
head shot of Gianni Versace -
momentarily I thought Versace
had been named Time's Man of
the Year. Actually, he's just
been canonized by a country
that cannot afford to face
the reality of a pissed-off
sociopath with a vendetta
against the wealthy gay men
whose circle he could never
join. Andrew Cunanan is not
the devil. He is a bit like
most of us, actually;
confused, desperate,
starstruck, and largely
insignificant in the grand
scheme of things. (I can
almost hear Bret Easton Ellis
laughing his ass off about
the Versace murder. Of
course, Ellis is demonized
exactly because of his
appreciation for this kind of
ambiguity, for acknowledging
the difficulty with
separating atrocity from the
nuts and bolts of everyday

That's why it's important that
we start telling kids early
that it's a jungle out there.
Babies get strangled in
bathrooms because teenagers
cannot comprehend that their
promised life of school, job,
success, glory, etc. may be
jeopardized at any stage by
such absurdities as
pregnancy. The mind cannot
fathom this - because it was
never part of their sanitized
fairy tales, their prince was
never wearing an ill-fitting
cummerbund - and so the
unthinkable happens. The
unthinkable happens because
we made it unthinkable in the
first place. Had it been
thinkable, it might have been

Keep up the good work.

Daniel Morris
Assistant Editor, PC Gamesi magazine

Your point about the need to
introduce ambiguity to kids
is a good one, because if we
avoid telling ghost stories
at bedtime, the bogeyman just
turns up later on CNN. The
Versace murder, the
ped-necrophilia of the Jon
Benet case, the deadpan chill
of Paradise Lost, the 24-hour
Hitler festival that used to
be the History Channel, all
the docutrauma of the evening
headlines make American
look like, well, a
fairy tale. Speaking of which
- I heard the woman behind
the feminist fable I Shot
Andy Warhol
will be taking a
stab at filming Easton's
simultaneously numbing and
nauseating novel.

Looking forward to the


Fish With Letter Icon

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