- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2005

Resorting to name-calling

It is a sure sign of a weak argument when an author resorts to name-calling. That Bill Smith of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, in maligning my article as being written by a “known conservative researcher,” resorts to this technique indicates to the discerning reader how little of substance he has to say and how poor his logic is (“Debating abstinence data,” Letters, May 6). If Josef Stalin were to have said that the Earth revolves around the sun, his repugnant political record would not invalidate the truth of the proposition.

The article in question, “Can Abstinence Work? An Analysis of the Best Friends Program” was the first-of-its kind evaluation of Best Friends, an important national abstinence program. It appeared in a scholarly journal, Adolescent and Family Health, and was thoroughly peer-reviewed in the standard scientific manner.

If name-calling were not enough, Mr. Smith also fails to report on what the article actually says. After performing a detailed statistical analysis, it found that D.C. Best Friends participants were far less likely to smoke, drink, take drugs and have sex than a comparison sample of middle school girls from the District.

Some of the factors that did not account for the results included students’ age, grade, race, the year in which the girls were surveyed and the fact that the schools in which the Best Friends program was assessed were located in wards with higher out-of-wedlock birth rates than for the city as a whole. Also contra Mr. Smith, girls who dropped out of the program during the year did not do so because of changes in their risk behavior.

Whatever weaknesses the study has are discussed thoroughly in the article itself, quite the opposite of the bias exhibited in Mr. Smith’s letter.

ROBERT LERNER

Rockville

Valuable advice

The item titled “PC dream” (Culture, et cetera, Friday) may well have saved me the cost of seeing “Kingdom of Heaven.” How PC, indeed, to blame the Crusades on the Knights Templar.

It has always been my understanding that, while both Christians and Jews were at one time considered to be “People of the Book” by Muslims, isolated and sporadic persecution of both resident and pilgrim Christians and Jews by resident Muslims in the Holy Land began in the ninth and 10th centuries. However, it was the sixth Fatimid Caliph, Hakim the Mad, sitting at Cairo in the late 10th and early 11th centuries, who institutionalized the persecutions and began destroying holy places, including the original Church of the Holy Sepulcher built by Constantine. These depredations and others that followed were the casus belli that prompted Pope Urban II to institute the First Crusade in 1095.

KEN WILLIS

Ashburn, Va.

Nuclear ambitions vs. naive policy

Your editorial claiming that China is not serious about containing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions should be a wake-up call to the Bush administration that Beijing is not our friend (“Pyongyang’s Communist enabler” Editorial, Friday). Somehow the White House forgot that China is a communist dictatorship and an adversary of free nations, especially the United States.

The whole basis of the six-party talks was a naive assumption that China would pressure North Korea to end its nuclear ambitions. Instead, Beijing just used the talks as a cover to allow Pyongyang precious time to build up its budding nuclear arsenal.

Both China and North Korea only respect power. Therefore, the White House needs to take strong measures that will motivate both communist regimes to defusethe nuclear crisis.

One option is for the administration to put military force on the table. Another strategy is for the White House to make plans to give either South Korea or Japan nuclear weapons.

To continue to dither with endless diplomacy is to send a message of weakness and will only allow North Korea more time to grow stronger and more dangerous. Soon, this unstable regime will be able to incinerate American cities, either by missile delivery or nuclear terrorism. Americans should not have to wake up each morning facing the threat of extinction.

LOU VENTICINQUE

Jamison, Pa.

Price controls don’t work

I couldn’t agree more with Richard Rahn’s position against price controls (“The wrong medicine,” Commentary, Thursday). It has been my experience that when it comes to controlling the price of anything — milk, gasoline, widgets and yes, drugs — the broad interest of consumers is always damaged.

Fixing prices below a natural market level never works. And although I acknowledge that health care costs in general need to be addressed, I cannot see how manipulating prices for something as essential as drugs (for seniors and all market demographics) is the way to go. As a matter of fact, I consider price controls to lead to a denigration of both supply and services, exacerbated by an increase in bureaucracy and regulation.

The honorary chairman of the 60 Plus Association is former Rep. Roger Zion, Indiana Republican, who has said, “I believe the miracle drugs that the pharmaceutical industry’s research and development provides us to be nothing short of a miracle … and a bargain, to boot.” I’m confident that Roger is 100 percent right in that assessment.

JIM MARTIN

President

60 Plus Association

Arlington

WHO and Taiwan

The challenges the World Health Organization faces in fighting global epidemics are as daunting as James Glassman portrayed in his column “WHO’s losing battle” (Commentary, Wednesday). However, these problems do not necessarily doom the world health body to defeat as long as it is willing to take advantage of whatever help is offered.

Take Taiwan, for example. As one of the world’s wealthiest trading nations, Taiwan possesses a world-class health system and seeks to share its human and financial resources with people in need around the globe. Since 1995, Taiwan has contributed more than $180 million in humanitarian aid to 95 countries. Considering the budgetary shortfall the WHO faces in its program to eradicate polio in Africa this year and next, bringing Taiwan and its considerable human and financial resources into the fold would only help protect the lives of the very people the organization has sworn to protect.

The WHO’s problems are not insurmountable as long as public health issues aren’t hamstrung by political concerns. Taiwan’s participation, even in the capacity as an observing “health entity,” will do much to help the WHO fulfill its mission of making the world a safer place for everyone.

STEPHEN CHUNGJEN CHANG

Director

Press Division

Taipei Economic and Cultural

Representative Office

Washington

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