Charge of hypocrisy not supported
Sean O'Ciomtogh has an interesting notion of hypocrisy [Letters to the Editor, Vol. 6 No. 20, May 22-28]. He faults the Spectator for printing Lisa Hundley's "effusive praise" of City University in the Letters to the Editor section of the newspaper. What he doesn't mention is that Hundley's opinion does at least come under the guise of disagreement with an article printed in a previous issue.
It is fair of him to criticize Hundley for using the opportunity as free advertisement. Still, this is a far cry from hypocrisy. Public and private institutions all over the world use the press for free promotion. Indeed, the Spectator has allowed many organisations the same opportunity (some even in the Letters section). It would be hypocritical of them to deny City University the chance to air their opinion about an article when various embassies, NGOs and business organisations were given the same opportunity in the past.
O'Ciomtogh is arguably correct for citing this practice as corrupt. He may even have a reasonable point that it is a poor business decision. Nonetheless, it is unfair of him to isolate this impropriety to the Spectator or even to Slovakia when the practice is common in other places as well. If he has an issue with an opinion in the Letters section, then he should focus his critique on the author and not on the forum in which the opinion appears.
It is also a rather ironic claim O'Ciomtogh makes when he says that Hundley's letter is a change from the "attacks" on Mečiar and the HZDS that appear in the Spectator. It isn't clear if he means the Letters section alone, or if he is including the editorials and the main body of articles that have appeared in the paper. At any rate, this position is shortsighted. Many of the articles and opinions that have had something to say about Mečiar and the HZDS have focused on his "hypocrisy" or that of his cronies. The fact that these articles have appeared in many issues of this and other publications is proof at least of newsworthiness. O'Ciomtogh calls these articles (letters) splenetic, implying irritability or an unnecessary melancholy created by the opinions in question. There is even an element of spite connected with this assertion. Is he being fair, though?
In order to determine that, one has to figure out who bears the responsibility for creating such feelings. It is clear that O'Ciomtogh blames the Spectator, perhaps because people might feel unhappy after reading about abuses of power and crimes like kidnapping, murder, financial ineptitude and violations of the Slovak Constitution. However, faulting the Spectator for this state of affairs is tantamount to shooting the messenger. Mečiar and the HZDS are the reasonable targets for such criticism. The Spectator supplies one forum in which people can discuss their views on this topic. In fairness, they have also brought attention to abuses in the current coalition. The raid on Mečiar's home is one recent example. That being the case, O'Ciomtogh has little support for his claims of hypocrisy or questionable attacks on the HZDS.
[Note: Phillip Sanchez is an instructor at City University]
One last fly to end the debate
Since Phillip Sanchez presumed to lecture me on ethnocentrism and priorities in Slovakia [Letters to the Editor, Vol. 6 No. 18, May 15-21], I would like to ask him a few questions.
Does he know that in the mid-19th century most Slovaks lived in two-room huts with mud floors, no chimneys, small windows and no outhouses? It was returning American Slovaks who decided to upgrade their homes by putting in wood floors, larger windows, chimneys, and outhouses, thereby completely transforming the Slovak village at the turn of the century. Would Phillip Sanchez have preferred that they not introduce these "ethnocentric" improvements, even though they raised people's living standards? Screens on windows fall into the same category.
Chair in Slovak History,
29. May 2000 at 0:00