Your Letters: Sharpton And Gingrich, Lorrie Moore

Host Scott Simon takes a look into the Weekend Edition mailbox to read listener letters.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of typing and music)

SIMON: We heard from many people about our interview last week with Reverend Al Sharpton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The two men are planning to tour the nation to campaign for education reform.

Greg Adamo(ph) of Metuchen, New Jersey, writes: It is sad that you interviewed these two instead of those who deal with education every day.

Several teachers wrote us to emphasize the connection between school reform and parental involvement. James Warner, educator in Sacramento, California, writes: If the student does not get the message that education is valuable and important from their parents, the best efforts of teachers and educators will fail.

And Susan Degraffe(ph) of Columbus, Ohio, says she's been teaching for 16 years. She writes: Successful schools do not always have the best teachers, but they do have the most involved and concerned parents. So while money can fix some things, ultimately education in the U.S. will not be reformed until parents are reformed.

We also spoke with technology expert Clay Shirky last week. He filled us in on the new ways that local governments are beginning to use social media.

Sam Murphy of San Francisco wrote in about Mr. Shirky's characterization of the so-called digital divide between those who use the technology of social media, and those who don't. He writes: I take issue with Mr. Shirky's comment that the digital divide is no longer a question of access to hardware. Apparently, computers are cheap now, but cheap is extremely relative. The digital divide widens as the economic crisis grows.

(POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The title of Lorrie Moore's new novel is "A Gate at the Stairs.")

And a couple of weeks ago, we interviewed Lorrie Moore about her new novel, "A Very Crowded Life." She read a section in which a character says that she sometimes fantasizes about changing history by driving a steak knife through a public figure. Ms. Moore and I were heard to laugh at the end of her reading.

Eli Blake of Joseph City, Arizona, said: I was embarrassed to hear this kind of hateful comment on NPR.

Let me respond to all of those who wrote similar notes. Lorrie Moore has written a well-advertised satire of a smug, liberal, university town. I thought it was clear in the excerpt that Ms. Moore was mocking the intemperate opinions of people who consider themselves open-minded but say they want to take a steak knife to someone with whom they disagree. I believe that's why I laughed.

Now, this being said, many of your letters reminded me that satire should be used carefully in news programs, and perhaps not at all. We should have left out that line. I apologize.

We welcome your comments. You can write us, leave a comment on the new NPR.org, or reach us on Twitter. I'm reachable there at NPRScottSimon - all one word -and our production staff is on Twitter at NPRWeekend - all one word.

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Correction Sept. 29, 2009

In the audio, we mistakenly called Lorrie Moore's novel A Very Crowded Life. In fact, the novel is called A Gate At The Stairs.

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