February 27, 2011
Joan Baez
c/o Nancy Lutzow
Diamonds and Rust Productions
p.o. box 1026
Menlo Park, CA 94026
650 328 0266

Dear Joan Baez,

This is a fan letter including a possible suggestion.  I went to college in 1960 and one of my favorite memories has always been from sophomore  year  listening to my roommate’s copy of one of your albums on his ancient portable record player.  The world you painted was more akin to the southern life I had just entered than the Connecticut life I was beginning to become acquainted with, and somehow you made that world seem timeless, as if it was always going to be there … intimate communities with modest means and without the assumption that every moral and emotional question had been answered, canned and put on the shelf.

Many thanks.  Of course I now realize that the world was far more fragile than what I felt listening to your music, but it was very important to me at the time and I’ve always loved it.

My current path has led to the realization that the prejudice against marrying cousins is probably the most venomous and universal prejudice of our time and society.  Oddly this is a new prejudice.  A century ago it did not exist.  You tend to think of prejudices as being ancient.  Of course in the world of your music in those days such a prejudice would have been unthinkable, so I have always – without good evidence – rather felt you were a kindred spirit in this matter. 

As it turns out, there is an actual advantage of marrying cousins.  It makes fertility possible.  I am attaching a poster I shall present in Vancouver next month at the American Society of Medical Genetics.  It has the proof of what I say.

I could hardly lay this issue at your feet.  It’s really the field of genetics that needs to make this known.  But if by chance you find this strikes a note in your heart, please let me know if there is anything further I can do having brought it to your attention.


M. Linton Herbert MD 

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