Letters to the editor

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  • Statue at Columbus Circle. Photo: John Wisniewski, via flickr

Hefner Con and Pro

There is little argument that Hugh Hefner (“Hugh Hefner’s New York,” Oct. 5 - 11) did more to increase the objectification of women than anyone else (though he was not the first, and would certainly not be the last). However, it would be myopic to focus on that single thing. Because there was much more to him than that. He was (quite obviously) a huge champion of First Amendment rights — for all. The old joke that “I buy Playboy for the articles” became, for many, a truth: not only did Playboy run some of the most well-read and well-respected interviews of its time, it also published long-form pieces on a variety of political, social and cultural issues. Hef was also among the first high-profile people to come out in favor of a woman’s right to choose (both abortion and contraception), and was also among the first high-profile people to speak up in favor of the decriminalization (and possible legalization) of marijuana. Finally, he was a major philanthropist, not only supporting women’s rights, gay rights, and animal rights, but it was he who, in 1978, spearheaded the project to replace the old, dilapidated “Hollywood” sign with a new, more permanent one (he personally paid for the “Y”). He also spearheaded the move to prevent the land immediately around the sign from being developed.

Yes, Hef can certainly be blamed for his role in the objectification of women. But he should be remembered for his “good works” as much as for his “sins.”

Ian Alterman

Upper West Side

Protesting Columbus

Every Columbus Day you will find native people in front of the Christopher Columbus statue on 59th Street and Central Park West in protest of Columbus.

Angelo Vivola, President of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, has promised to go after politicians who do not agree with his position on the statue, instead of an honest appraisal of the statue. I do not think that a statue of an honorable Italian-American would be opposed. There are many to choose from. The argument native people put forth is that Christopher Columbus was a man who was a rapist, murderer and thief. Is that truly the man Italian-Americans want to represent who they are as a people? Christopher Columbus committed all his crimes in the name of Spain, not Italy or the Americas.

Christopher Columbus comes with a history that is extremely painful to so many New Yorkers. He is an individual that many have acknowledged enslaved and murdered many indigenous people. His ships never made it to the mainland. It is confusing to me why we are celebrating this man. That statue is a constant reminder of all the crimes committed against indigenous people. It is a constant display of the unequal relationship between Europeans and native peoples. Even though natives feel uncomfortable about the presence of the statue, their feelings are being ignored.

I believe that Governor Cuomo’s support of this statue is just another example of how out of touch he is with the people of New York City. The voices that protest in favor of keeping the statue do not care about the pain that it represents, nor do they care about the real historical relevance of the figure. They have stated that they want an Italian figure to be represented, but there are many great Italian historical figures that should have a spot on 59th Street and Central Park West.

Sharon Canns

Upper West Side

Subway Seats: Lead by Example

Removal of corner seats on A, E, F and R line subway cars to accommodate more riders is the equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig. Imagine if they do this for all the other lines. Homeless people gravitate to both the E & R lines since the routes run 100 percent underground, providing consistent warmth in the winter and cool in the summer. Now they will gravitate to the middle seats, depriving regular riders.

Let MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, board members, agency presidents and other staff lead by example. Give up your seats at future MTA board meetings. Try standing for one hour like riders do and see how you like it. MTA needs to find $17 billion of the $20 billion needed to bring the subway signal system up to a state of good repair. Purchase 1,000 new in addition to routine replacement subway cars to expand the existing fleet. Support the larger car fleet with new and additional yard and shop space. This will provide a real solution to increase capacity necessary to deal with all the new riders.

Larry Penner

Great Neck, NY

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