LETTERS: December 1st Issue
Editorial Note: I feel as if the basic rule of life is: Don’t be a jerk. It is a guiding principal.
But for the past several months, someone or people have been jerking around our distribution boxes. Please stop. Or, do us a favor: If you see our boxes messed up, would you mind tidying them up? We appreciate it.
Re.: Josh Gross
To the Editor: I am absolutely appalled that Rogue Valley Messenger would publish a blatantly mean spirited “review” of a local artist’s work that is clearly written by someone who lacks any musical understanding or education and apparently has a distaste for all traditional music. Furthermore, since the writer could not find fault with my actual musical work, he chose to go after me personally, by twisting my words and going so far as to publicly defame me by making false statements and the absurd the claim that I have “a white savior complex” for doing the work of song preservation. Let me be very clear here, Nowhere in my bio do I claim to be the authority on any of the traditions which I perform. My bio lists the many traditions from which I have studied, many of them for over 10 years – Indian Classical Rag being one of them, but no where do I claim to be “the savior of traditional Indian Classical Raga.” These statements are absolutely absurd, untrue and damaging to me both personally and professionally.
As for the insulting “white savior complex” remark, this also completely misses the point of my work and the aim of this album. I come from Irish and Scottish ancestry and I’m very upfront about the fact the I was born in the USA. The whole point of this album was to re-trace my family heritage back through time with song. With the exception of one song from Peru, all of the songs on this album come from white Europe or are my own originals. I don’t know who the writer thinks I’m trying to save other than myself, my heritage and what little I can find left from my own ancestral culture.
Yet another false claim here is that the title track has “themes borrowed from Chinese opera.” Are you really insinuating that my original song writing is plagiarized, seriously? I realize some of my songwriting and vocal sounds are unusual, but just because you’ve never heard anything like it, or the only thing you could think to compare it to is Chinese opera does not make it ok to state that I’ve “borrowed from Chinese opera” as if it’s a fact.
Furthermore, the writer clearly needs an education in basic instrument identification, There is no “Ukulele” anywhere on this album. I play an instrument called the Charangon, which comes from the Andes mountains (hence my choice to include a single Peruvian song on the album.) And likewise, there is no cello anywhere on the album, there is however a double bass.
I strongly urge Rogue Valley Messenger to reconsider this man’s roll as a music critic. Sure, maybe he knows something about basement indie rock, but he clearly was in over his head here, and the statements he has made about me leave me know choice but to demand a publicized apology and correction of this review or take legal action. I work incredibly hard to make a living as an independent musician and to do what little I can through my musical platform to give back to our indigenous communities and the earth, not because I’m trying to save anyone, but because it’s the only reasonable and responsible thing to do given the state of the world. With any platform, be it the stage or a magazine column, comes both privilege and great responsibility. I only wish your writer Josh Gross understood seriousness of that responsibility and respected that privilege.
Dear Editor: I admire your socially conscious publication. But this month I feel put off by something on your cover. You invite people to “pig out,” and show a picture of a pig next to that. Many people believe that pigs are greedy when it comes to food, but this is not true. When I interviewed Jim Brewer, co-founder of PIGS, A Sanctuary, he told me, “Pigs aren’t any more gluttonous than dogs.” He should know, because he rescued both species, and had hundreds of pigs. One study backs him up: In an experiment, pigs were actually picky: They refused 171 out of 200 vegetables that were offered to them.
Brewer told me, “Pigs will quit eating. They’ll eat a lot but will not eat themselves to death. They don’t overeat. They don’t get fat. Our domestic pigs are very slim. We do control their weight, we do not free feed. But I know a couple of places that free feed their pigs, and their pigs are not standing at the trough until all the food is gone. That is a misconception…Pigs are not constantly shoveling food into their mouths. When they’re full, they’ll either go back in the field and starts grazing or into their sleeping area and sleep.”
He gave an example: “.…at Christmas we throw enough fruits and vegetables into each area that pigs will go to bed and leave food laying on the ground. They eat until they’re full. And every Christmas for the past five years, the pigs will go to bed and leave fresh fruits and vegetables in their pen.”
People have developed false stereotypes like “stupid Poles” “lazy African-Americans,” or “rogue Native Americans.” Like that, people also develop false stereotypes about animals. This prejudice is like racism, sexism, or age-ism, but it’s directed toward other species, so it’s called speciesism. In your zeal to get rid of racism and sexism, I ask that you please not increase the speciesism in our society. Thank you.
-Ambuja Rosen, Ashland
Hey Messenger: Is WikiLeaks a reputable source?
Dear Ely: The way people analyze and discuss the various contents of WikiLeaks reminds me of the way certain factions of Christians used to discuss the Book of Revelation back in the 1990’s when everyone thought the world was about to end. We have a primary source sure, but what we often do not have is context. Any historian will tell you context is everything. With analysis of Revelation, we cannot be sure of context, characters, or the specific culture of the writer, which can change SO MANY THINGS. It is essentially a giant inkblot test, which often says more about the one doing the interpreting. Similarly, WikiLeaks publishes private emails and we read them without having similar details. Do we even know what we are reading? Sometimes reading an email from even a friend can be difficult enough. “Did I interpret their tone right?” “Did they just insult me? Oh my gosh, I can’t tell!” At least with the friend, we can ask them later, in person. It is difficult for me to understand how those completely disconnected from the people and events in these emails are qualified to interpret their true meaning. For example, where some people saw John Podesta as being a “devil-worshipper,” I just saw kind of a weirdo who just enjoys modern art performance from probably the most famous performance artist alive today, Marina Abramović. She’s been shocking us via art since the 1970’s, so why would she stop now? Why would an art-loving person with the financial and social means, NOT enjoy her if they could? It is easy to see how another person, one who does not have this prior knowledge and context of Abramović, could have a different interpretation.
Then there are the moral issues surrounding WikiLeaks. They have outed rape victims, doxed Turkish women in similar vulnerable conditions, and defended known-racist Milo Yiannopoulos. WikiLeaks has also been involved with several anti-Semitic scandals on Twitter. For anyone reading who does not know what “doxing” is, it is when you publish online the personal information of a person without their consent, with the intent to make them a target for attacks. It is a particularly popular weapon for use against women among so-called Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s).
Let us also not forget WikiLeaks played a serious role in the outcome of the election, possibly more than any other single factor. If they just published illicit emails indiscriminately without commentary, I might have a different opinion. Anyone who was watching their Twitter feed during the campaign knows this. Emails were not simply published; they were tweeted and linked to with very anti-Hillary commentary and a clear bias. If WikiLeaks’ release of emails is manipulated, including their timings, can the source still be valid? You decide. As for “reputable,” that is all a matter of perspective.
Hey Messenger: Would you say it’s normal to not like somebody simply because they wear yoga pants?
Yes, not liking people for superficial reasons is completely normal for human beings. What often happens is that several negative experiences occur in the presence of what becomes the trigger, in this case yoga pants. Perhaps the person had one too many women in yoga pants try to sell DoTerra oils to them, or maybe their ex-partner wore them all the time. I am certain most people have at least one or two of these hang ups. However, I would still encourage us all to recognize that this is a cognitive heuristic, and one that is often not very trustworthy. I am sure some very nice people wear yoga pants.