Samuel J. Rascoff's column ("Peninsula Fails Its Audience," column, March 3) asserts that we at Peninsula are "artless and sorry." We disagree, and humbly submit our response.
First, the form of his argument. Mr. Rascoff condemns us for including in our latest issue two photographs, one of Miss Shannon Lowney's casket and the other of an aborted fetus. Mr. Rascoff writes, "I shall not provide a graphic description of the photographs--good taste forbids it. Suffice it to say that Peninsula has out-done itself."
How good and noble of Mr. Rascoff to protect the sensibilities of his readers! Peninsula has done something Bad, and the evidence is too horrible to be revealed. Mr. Rascoff's refusal to say exactly why he was so upset by the photographs conveniently relieves him of the responsibility for making any reasoned criticism of them. (How easy the life of a Crimson columnist must be.)
Secondly, Mr. Rascoff writes that the kind of conservatism represented by Peninsula "has utterly aborted the project of serious debate and nuanced argumentation. It prefers easy pictures and tidy slogans to the knottiness of words." Peninsula, he writes, is a magazine for "picture-readers."
Mr. Rascoff is wrong. The issue he criticizes contains five articles, all made up of words, with arguments, about various subjects. (One of them--Polly Langendorf's "His Truth Is Marching On"--was even about abortion.)
Yes, we sometimes print photographs too, and that is done on purpose. You see, we print articles for those who can read and understand arguments; and photographs for those, like certain Crimson columnists, who either cannot or will not do so.
Thirdly, Mr. Rascoff argues that our liking "the 'Great Books' approach to learning" implies "a reverence for the fantastic power of words to shape our cultural horizons." That is true. He then criticizes "Peninsula's decision to go beyond words, or rather below them..."
There are only two logical conclusions to this line of reasoning: 1) that images are incapable of conveying serious meaning or 2) that the particular images in question did not do so. The first conclusion is absurd. The second conclusion is arguable, but Mr. Rascoff does not provide any argument (see above).
Despite his inability to express himself well (perhaps he should have drawn a picture), Mr. Rascoff is clearly upset about something. We suggest that he is offended by the photographs, not because they express nothing meaningful, but because the message they do convey is disturbing to his conscience. That is, that murder is evil, whether the victims are Planned Parenthood receptionists or innocent, helpless babies; and furthermore, that the pro-choice movement, with the blood of over 30,000,000 innocents on its hands, is hardly in a position to denounce murder. Emil J. Kiehne '95 for the Council of Peninsula