To the editors:

OK, so my objectivity–even my right to comment–will be immediately called into question because I’m (1) a white male and (2) a regular contributor to the Reader. But I’m also a dedicated advocate of social change, and this current self-styled radical obsession with elevating trivia to the level of impending fascism has got me fed up and more than a little worried.

I saw the “Search for Nightlife” cartoon [January 3] Diana Slickman [Letters, January 24] didn’t like. I found it juvenile, more than anything else; having graduated from junior high years ago, I simply turned the page.

On its own terms, however, the cartoon satirized, rather than promoted, sexist men and obtuse women, as well as venues that profit from their ignorance. They’re all richly deserving targets, and Ms. Slickman should read Jonathan Swift and learn what satire is all about before she decides what it is and what it isn’t. But the issue is more serious than that: to read a full-blown philosophical manifesto into what’s obviously a throwaway joke is more than obsessive, it’s politically unwise. Ms. Slickman seems to want us to pour gallons of water on a burning match while entire cities go up in flames behind us.

Right now a woman’s right to control her body is in danger of being eliminated by the Supreme Court; women’s and children’s health care is being cut to the bone across the country; advocates of the “backlash” theory are blaming feminism for male sexism, violence, and even rape. Sorry, but I don’t believe that a silly cartoon –especially when it’s the latest in a series of silly cartoons lampooning nightclubs and their patrons, whether male, female, straight, or gay–deserves even a second glance in these frightening times.

I know, I know–that’s where it starts. Today’s cartoon becomes tomorrow’s reality. Nope. Marijuana ain’t heroin; traffic violations ain’t murders; cartoons ain’t violence, and one that satirizes both drooling men and politically retrograde women won’t cause any more oppression than this society already serves up.

One more thing: critics of the Tillman cartoon and the “Nightlife” cartoon continue to grind the old “an insult to one is an insult to all” ax. Strange–I thought it was the racists and sexists who claimed that “they all look alike” or “they all think alike.” Some women adhere to the beliefs Ms. Slickman claims the cartoon accused women of holding; most do not. It’s up to us (yes, “us”–I’m on your side, y’know!) to spread the word, so even fewer people (men and women) think that way in the future.

By the way–I agree wholeheartedly with T. Diane Slatton’s reasoned criticism [Letters, January 24] of David K. Nelson.

David G. Whiteis

W. School