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Playboy 39:5, May 1992


PLAYBOY: Is there a hidden agenda behind our romance with war?

HELLER: American rulers are discovering that the way to get instant popularity is to go to war. I think if the Vietnam war had been over in a month or two, Johnson might still be President--and might still be alive.

-----

VONNEGUT: It's also very bad if the enemy shoots back.

HELLER: Well, you have to pick enemies that won't.

VONNEGUT: What was that island we attacked before, with that long runway?

HELLER: Grenada.

-----

PLAYBOY: Let's switch to censorship. Are you at all concerned about the government's intrusion into our privacy?

HELLER: Do I think, for example, this guy Pee-wee Herman should be arrested for playing with himself in an adult theater?

VONNEGUT: Did he play to climax? I really haven't kept up with the news as I should.

HELLER: But is that a crime? I would say no.

VONNEGUT: I agree with Joe.

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VONNEGUT: This is a huge country. There are primitive tribes here and there who have customs and moral standards of their own. It's the way I feel about religious fundamentalists. They really ought to have a reservation. They have a right to their culture and I can see where the First Amendment would be very painful for them. The First Amendment is a tragic amendment because everyone is going to have his or her feelings hurt and your government is not here to protect you from having your feelings hurt.

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PLAYBOY: Do either of you read any contemporary writers?

VONNEGUT: Well, it's not like the medical profession where you have to find out the latest treatments. I've been reading Nietzsche.

HELLER: And I've been reading Thomas Mann. I hesitate because maybe I'm reading more difficult books to grasp than nonfiction. Scientific books. Philosophy, I would not be able to read rapidly. I have a definite impression that I'm reading more slowly than I used to.

VONNEGUT: There's no urgency about reading anymore. We're not trying to keep up. I have that big book by Mark Helprin and I don't think I'm going to read it because I'm too lazy.


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