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Letters: State of the Union, Privacy and Classical Radio

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Listeners comment on the President's State of the Union address, privacy and the growing number of surveillance cameras in the country, and classical music radio stations.


It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mails. As part of last week's series Crossing the Divide, we focused on bringing people together with different points of view - Republicans and Democrats for one. We also looked at the value of partisanship in politics.

Compromise is the bedrock of democracy, e-mailed Robert Ashton in San Jose, California. But some time ago, both parties decided that the goal was winning. This win-at-any-cost, winner-take-all approach polarizes the voters and disastrously undermines the democratic foundations of the nation.

Another listener, Kara(ph), took a different view.

It is through the dynamic tension created between opposing views that new answers are possible, she wrote. I don't relish the idea of seeing the opposition disappear or seeing everyone come to the middle. That would be a recipe for a stagnant society. So long as we aren't killing each other, let's keep arguing.

After the president's State of the Union address last week, we heard from a broad range of Americans about the state of the country. Some of our callers worried about jobs and the economy, about gas prices and about Iraq.

Dixon Cooms(ph) e-mailed from Washington, D.C. to complain about the complaints.

Everybody who's called in so far probably sleeps in a comfortable bed, has a job, health insurance, takes vacations and generally enjoys the spoils of a bourgeois life that comes from a good economy. Sure, they don't like the war in Iraq, but they are doing fine because the USA is going strong. USA right now: not perfect, but the best thing going.

On the Opinion Page last week, we heard an argument that the growing number of surveillance cameras in public places does not pose a tremendous new threat to our privacy. In fact, according to Katherine Mangu-Ward, the privacy train has long since left the station, anyway.

A listener named C.B. cautions: It is painfully obvious that modern Americans implicitly trust technology and the powers behind it, that the privacy train has left the station does not mean that we should release the brakes. Rather, we should demand to find reverse. The right to privacy is far too precious to give away in exchange for trivial conveniences and some perceived sense of security. I say ix-nay to public cameras and the scary people who want them.

And Rusty, a listener in Corona, California, commented: We don't have privacy anymore. A camera just allows the recording of our un-private acts for posterity.

Our program on whether classical music is in trouble brought a number of e-mails in support and against classical on the radio. Sonja Lanchioni(ph), a listener in LaPorte, Indiana, e-mailed: It is possible for symphonies to relate to different ages and gain new generations' interest. They just have to make it relevant and reach out to the community. Every year, the LaPorte Symphony gives a concert for area schools. It plays classical, contemporary and children's popular music like Disney, plus actors acting out different parts. The kids just love it.

Another listener e-mailed to tell us he's heard enough.

I'm an occasional and enthusiastic listener to symphonic music, but - wrote John in Boise, Idaho - how many times can one listen to a Beethoven symphony or any other classical music work before it gets boring? Symphonic music suffers because it is old music played over and over and over again. As they say, if it ain't got that swing, it don't mean a thing.

If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by e-mail. The address is Please let us know where you're writing from, and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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