By Jeanne Cooper (Literary Life Section)
With very few advertisements to clutter its pages (and nudge its editorial direction), ON THE ISSUES…is denser and more politically diverse than it first looks.
On the opening pages, Merle Hoffman explores the ethical issues — or rather, the ignoring of those issues — around xenotransplantation, the use of animals for organ transplants to humans, and related death-defying efforts. Phyllis Chesler brings a 19th-century crusader into long-deserved limelight: Elizabeth, who fought for the rights of women and mental patients after being imprisoned in an asylum for disagreeing with her husband’s religious views. Andrea Dworkin attacks the Bill of Rights as a guarantee of inequality, examining Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with slave Sally Hemings in that context and, inevitably, condemning freedom of speech as buttressing pornography. But Andrea Peyser, responding to the Oklahoma bombings, repudiates limits on free speech, even that of hate groups and paranoid militias, and notes, “The best way to defeat the enemy is to know his mind.”
Lighter entries include a feminist reading of Stephen King (answer: he is one), a celebration of artist Florine Stettheimer, a sexagenarian’s ode to her Harley (“Bike Lust”) and Mariah Burton Nelson’s account of being an “out” author.