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Letters: Slurs, War Music, Money Troubles


It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails. Our program on the power and politics of slurs brought several impassioned responses from listeners last week. Melissa in Kansas City, Missouri disagreed with our decision not to use the words in question.

I believe your refusal to use the N-word and the F-word on the air is just contributing to their negative power. Part of the shock value of a word comes from the fact that it's whispered or only used in hurtful contexts. Hearing these words used in benign conversations such as this discussion is the first step toward taking away their power.

And Joyce Arnold, a listener in Nashville, Tennessee e-mailed to complain: The first half hour of the show was an exclusive male perspective, and it showed. One comment - we'll call it the D-word - resulted in laughter, not conversation about an obviously missing part of your conversation: gender. I'm lesbian, so that's my personal context, but for any population, some effort at gender balance is critical.

We also talked last week about personal soundtracks for the War in Iraq. Tom Ricks, the Washington Post military correspondent, discovered an album by Josh Ritter that spoke to him, and he listened to the CD "Animal Years" as he finished his book about the war. Josh Ritter broke out his guitar during the conversation, and you can hear him perform at our Web site,

Many of you e-mailed with your own personal soundtracks, including Mary Mickala(ph), who wrote: the most powerful anti-war music of our time is "Falling Water River" by Switchback. Their latest CD is the fictional story of Private William Henry, a soldier from his birth to his death. It is a hauntingly beautiful CD and tells the human story of war, any war, in musical vignettes that tear at the soul.

Another listener, Tom Katositch(ph), e-mailed from California to tell us: I think you might find that the soundtrack to the Iraq War is more upbeat and certainly more ferocious. What's shrieking and booming out of the earbuds of those iPods is the mayhem and melodies of Tool, Lil Jon, Gretchen Wilson and Radiohead, to name but a few, and made their music help them through the night.

A week ago, we talked about what may be the last taboo in the country: money. We feel guilty if we have too much or too little, and even for the rich, there never seems to be enough. Debbie Davidson(ph) a listener in Wisconsin, e-mailed this story.

My husband and I inherited several million dollars. Do I talk about this? Not on your life. For the most part, we live exactly the way we did, but we spend when we want because we know that huge safety net is there. But I won't go shopping with my less-well-off friend because I'm totally embarrassed if I buy an expensive pair of shoes in front of her, knowing for her it would be a choice between buying shoes or that month's groceries. As for thinking always that you might need more, my husband thinks we're going to barely scrape by in retirement and helping our kids through college because we, quote, "only have $5 million."

You can send us your own stories, comments and questions or corrections. The best way to reach us is by e-mail. The address is [email protected]. Please be sure to let us know where you're writing from, and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.