- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 16, 2003

The blame game

I certainly have some understanding and agreement with Tom Knott’s view toward the overpaid sports figures and celebrities (“Boys will be boys — and women often have to pay the price,” Sports, Aug. 1). However, I find it very disturbing that his article all but presents all men as sexual predators and all women as helpless innocent fair maidens. Yes, the scenario exists that another high-paid celebrity figure took advantage of someone’s innocence and will get away with it because he can afford the overpaid lyres, er, lawyers who will knowingly and willingly fight a phony case in our laughable court system/circus ring.

Equally, however, and more often than the politically correct will admit, the scenario also exists that it is one more woman taking advantage in a society where a man is guilty until proven innocent. Even if proven innocent and false charges are proven, he has already been labeled, tarnished and his life ruined beyond repair. It has become another Salem witch hunt atmosphere in today’s society, where a man can be accused of wife abuse, child abuse or molestation and is presumed guilty as charged with no recourse on the accuser when proven false.

Sometimes it is just an angry woman who did not get her way or wants to end a relationship and wants to guarantee she gets the children or just simply wants to ruin the man out of spite, or, even worse, directed to do so by a lawyer to better the case. Better yet, the scenario exists that it is one more woman seeking fortunes who wants a free ride through life. Yes, it could also just be a bad dude, guilty as charged.

The point being, all these scenarios exist, not just the one painted in the article that all women are victims and all men are predators. Both sides equally have their good and their bad.

JOHN CHARETTE

Tucson, Ariz.

A public defense?

Monday’s Op-Ed, “The ban against public safety,” by Eli Lehrer and John R. Lott Jr., presented misleading data to suggest that handgun bans in Washington and Chicago led to increased levels of violence, presumably because citizens were left defenseless without handguns. Mr. Lott knows enough about crime cycles and statistics to know that simple before-after comparisons can produce misleading estimates of a law’s impact.

A careful analysis of the effects of the District’s ban that adjusts for crime cycles found the law was associated with 25 percent reductions in homicides as well as suicides during the first 10 years the law was in place. The ban is not a cure-all for the many social factors and policing problems that contribute to the District’s high rate of violent crime, but there is no evidence that a policy that pumps more handguns into the city will save lives.

DANIEL W. WEBSTER

Associate professor and co-director

Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Baltimore

On the record

John Mallon’s Tuesday diatribe, “Bias and judicial nominees,” builds a sweeping accusation of religious intolerance around an incomplete and therefore misleading quote from my appearance on the “Hannity and Colmes” show.

While being repeatedly interrupted by Sean Hannity as I was answering one of his questions, I said, “Our position at People for the American Way is to oppose those nominees who have an extreme right-wing judicial philosophy, including opposition to reproductive rights, civil rights, and many other issues.” Mr. Mallon leaves out the reference to civil rights, which is clearly audible on a tape of the show, in order to try to bolster his case that the debate about judicial nominees is a question of nominees’ theological position on abortion rather than about their judicial philosophy regarding the Constitution and laws.

That is a distortion not only of my comments, but of the entire judicial nominations controversy. I was making the point that opposition to Bill Pryor and other far-right Bush nominees is based not on any single issue (and certainly not on religious beliefs), but on a judicial philosophy and approach to the law that would turn back the clock on many social justice gains of the past seven decades, regardless of the nominees’ underlying motivation. That includes not only a woman’s right to choose, which is supported by a majority of American Catholics, but also civil rights enforcement, environmental protection, privacy, religious liberty and much more.

In addition to misrepresenting the substance of my remarks, Mr. Mallon’s article includes contemptuous remarks about my faith — I am a lifelong Catholic — that are appallingly beyond the pale. His article is part of an unfortunate and deeply offensive campaign attacking Catholics in public life based on the selective enforcement of theological orthodoxy. (Mr. Mallon does not address, for example, church teachings on the death penalty or artificial birth control. Does he believe people who support access to contraceptives or who support current death penalty laws are anti-Catholic?)

I am proud of People for the American Way’s work to preserve constitutional rights and liberties, including the separation of church and state. And I am proud to be part of a long and still vibrant tradition of Catholic social justice advocacy.

RALPH G. NEAS

President

People for the American Way

Washington

Author’s Response:

Ralph Neas accuses me of distorting his remarks in my Op-Ed, “Bias and judicial nominees.” He says, “Mr. Mallon leaves out the reference to civil rights, which is clearly audible on a tape of the show, in order to try to bolster his case that the debate about judicial nominees is a question of nominees’ theological position on abortion rather than about their judicial philosophy regarding the Constitution and laws.”

This is not true, as I was working from a Lexis-Nexus transcript of his remarks that did not pick up the “civil rights” reference, and did not have access to a tape. But it makes no difference. To a Catholic who thinks with the church, it is an oxymoron to use the term “civil rights” in the same sentence with the ideological euphemism “reproductive rights,” used here to mean the snuffing out of the lives and civil rights of the unborn.

He asserts that “a woman’s right to choose” (another offensive ideological euphemism) is “supported by a majority of American Catholics.” I question those statistics, but, even if true, then those Catholics will have to take that up with God, either here or in the hereafter, assuming the notion is not too quaint for them, because in terms of Catholicism, they are in grave error. Not that I can convince them, but here is what their church says on the matter:

“It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application.” (Declaration on Procured Abortion, No. 22, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Nov. 18, 1974)

As I said in my article, if one chooses to see this as so much poppycock, that is his or her freedom of choice. The problem is claiming to be Catholic while doing so. But my article was about integrity. Speaking of which, Mr. Neas mentions the death penalty. A Catholic of integrity may support the death penalty because, unlike abortion, in terms of moral theology, executing a convicted criminal is not an intrinsically evil act. It is permissible in certain cases, while directly killing an unborn child is not. As for birth control, science is revealing more and more the abortifacient (abortion causing) effects of widespread chemical methods.

Mr. Neas says my article “includes contemptuous remarks about my faith — I am a lifelong Catholic — that are appallingly beyond the pale.” On the contrary, it is the public scandal of Catholics promoting abortion that is contemptuous of the Catholic faith and appallingly beyond the pale.

In short, despite Mr. Neas’ assertions, any “social justice” advocacy that includes a “right” to abortion is not Catholic, and for many Americans, not the American way.

JOHN MALLON

Oklahoma City

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