Letters to the Editor

Letter: Ike bench?

March 2, 2014


To the editor:

Unfortunately, it is not just the John Waters “crazies” in Lawrence who idolize William Burroughs. The Lawrence Arts Commission is holding a two-month celebration of Burroughs as a “creative observer.” The Kansas University Library recently bubbled about its “good fortune” in having received Burroughs’ journals. The city honored Burroughs with the development of the Burroughs Creek Trail. Clearly Lawrence has fully embraced this counterculture radical.

Like many left-wing radicals, Burroughs was given a privileged life in America. He was an heir to a corporate fortune and the recipient of a Harvard education. Liberals will embrace a “one-percenter” if he is critical of America. Liberals will also overlook many disturbing facts about Burroughs including that he was convicted in absentia of killing his wife in Mexico. Even his version of the killing would be second degree murder in Kansas. Where are the outcries from the “war on women” crowd?

Rather than celebrate Burroughs, I wish Lawrence would celebrate a working class Kansan who protected Burroughs’ right to ridicule America. I know it will be unpopular so let’s start small: a park bench for Dwight Eisenhower.


4 years ago

I am a "liberal" in that I think all people deserve a chance to succeed. I am not a fan of Burroughs. I am a fan of Eisenhower, mainly because I grew up during his Presidency and fished the same river in Colorado he fished. I think he was a unique person. I am also a Christian who believes that I have no right or reason to judge others.

Gerald Kerr 4 years ago

When we celebrate others with civic honors we judge them. Is Burroughs, in your judgement worth such honors? Do we celebrate him or his ideology?

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

Is it wrong to be a fan of both? Why are we choosing instead of including?

Bob Smith 4 years ago

Ike's probably too hetronormative to be acceptable to the loony Lawrence leftists.

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

It was the letter writer who was suggesting excluding Burroughs, not the other way around. It's your assumption that someone who likes to showcase Burroughs that they wouldn't want to also showcase Eisenhower. That is the assumption that I suggest is the wrong one.

John Hoopes 4 years ago

It's true that Burroughs enjoyed a privileged upbringing, attending expensive prep schools and gradúating from Harvard. His parents supported him to study medicine in Vienna and epigraphy in Mexico City. However, the wealth that permitted them to do that (and to pay for multiple episodes of rehab as well as years of psychotherapy) was due to their own and his grandfather's entrepreneurship. Isn't it the "American way" to aspire to wealth to help one's children and grandchildren? If being "heir to a corporate fortune" is a liability, isn't it hypocritical to routinely fault Burroughs but not the Koch brothers and Gov. Brownback? Whose legacy benefits us? Whose harms us? Whose wealth will Kansans inherit?

Gerald Kerr 4 years ago

John, there's no shortage of faulting the Koch's and Brownback in these hallowed pages.

John Hoopes 4 years ago

It is also hypocritical of Kansans who oppose gun control to cite the tragic death by gunshot of Burroughs' wife Joan. All one has to do is Google search on the words "accidental," "shooting," and "Kansas," to see that Kansans are committing similar unintentional "murder" on a disturbingly regular basis, something that will continue as long as handguns are widely available. Burroughs' tragic experience was hardly unique except for the fact that he was willing to memorialize it in his writing.

Rich Noever 4 years ago

I think we should offer asylum to Oscar Pistorius. He meets all the qualifications. He was an international star. He had issues, being a double amputee. He was a darling of the press. He killed his girlfriend. After he passes away, we can rename Parnell Park on the banks of Burroughs Creek to Pistorius Park .

John Hoopes 4 years ago

Burroughs' works include 18 novels/novellas, four essay collections, and six short story collections. Regardless of what one thinks of them, he is recognized for his influential contributions to literature.

Pistorius fired four shots through a locked bathroom door, hitting his wife with three of them. His trial is about to begin. Burroughs has always asserted his wife's death was a tragic accident, which there is no reason to disbelieve.

John Hoopes 4 years ago

"William S. Burroughs is one of America's most influential and widely studied writers. A leading member of the Beat movement, his books and essays continue to attract a wide readership. His films, paintings, recordings and other projects that grew out of his literary production, together with his iconic persona as a counter-culture (anti-) hero, mean his work has become a broad cultural phenomenon. This collection of essays by leading scholars offers an interdisciplinary consideration of Burroughs's art. It links his lived experience to his many major prose works written from 1953 on, as well his sound, cinema and media projects. Moving beyond the merely literary, the contributors argue for the continuing social and political relevance of Burroughs's work for the emerging global order. Themes include: Burroughs and contemporary theory; debates on 'reality'; violence; magic and mysticism ; cybernetic cultures; language and technology; control and transformation; transgression and addiction; the limits of prose; image politics and the avant-garde." http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0745320813/

Mike Ford 4 years ago

Ike would be lampooned as a rino by today's gop. He was a moderate. He had the stones to let Little Rock, Arkansas know they were still in the US and US laws applied which many fiefdom leaning libertarian tea partiers would have a problem with. He also mentioned the military industrial complex which bushco, cheneyco, and haliburtonco fit into. He advocated the congressional termination of federally recognized tribes which I have a problem with but he's the sanest republican I can remember. I went to Mr. Burrough's memorial service at Liberty Hall when he passed. People who criticize creativity must not be create right? but then again this is Kansas and in much of this state wrong is skewed as right.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years ago

Mike, I read that Ike appointed Warren to the Supreme Court because he thought the man was a segregationist and was appalled to discover that he was not. From your comments, I am now assuming that writer was wrong. How on earth does one determine how to find the facts about something?

Gerald Kerr 4 years ago

Ike was no Rhino. He loathed crony capitalism the hall mark of modern day DC politics practiced today. He was fearful of entangling government money and influence in academic discovery and comingling political ambition with the power of wealthy elites of all stripes. Rhino's celebrate big government and cherish those who buy it and sell it. Ike was no Rhino.

John Hoopes 4 years ago

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."


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