- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2001

PC students soon to be unleashed on public

I was happy to read that a student chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) was finally allowed to register as a student organization at Penn State ("Recall on campus," Commentary, April 13). Thanks to the action of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), university president Graham Spanier reversed the decisions of the Undergraduate Student Government Supreme Court and the student-faculty appeals board that YAF could not register due to a reference to "God-given" human rights in YAFs constitution.

However, I am concerned for this country when, in a few years, the young members of Penn State´s student court and the appeals board will be in real judicial positions and the president of the university will not be there to force them to reverse their politically correct decisions.


SUSAN JENKINS

Shrewsbury, Penn.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condemns polygamy

When I moved to the Washington area, I was overjoyed finally to find a newspaper that I could trust. I was dismayed, however, by your March 25 front-page article "Too many wives," which perpetuates the myth that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be polygamists.

Your article refers to certain polygamists as "fundamentalist Mormons." This misnomer created confusion in my friends and acquaintances of various faiths. A fundamentalist is a person belonging to a religious or political movement based on a literal interpretation of and strict adherence to basic doctrine. Though it is widely accepted today, "Mormon" is a term of derision coined by early groups hostile to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The current practice of polygamy is against one of the most basic principles of the church continuing revelation taught by the church´s prophet Joseph Smith. Polygamists reject this doctrine and the last hundred years of prophets.

I was relieved that it was mentioned midway through the article that members who practice polygamy are "threatened with excommunication by the main church." However, that one phrase may not have been enough to counter the overall impression conveyed by most of the article.


KRISTINE NICHOLLS

Vienna

Environmentalists not responsible for California crisis

William Rushers insulting diatribe against those who value what many believe are Gods creation betrays his utter lack of understanding about how the planet actually works ("Blundering of the green machine," Commentary, April 6). Mr. Rusher should know that eliminating insects from our planet would be as catastrophic as a nuclear disaster, precipitating a chain reaction culminating in our own demise.

Contrary to Mr. Rusher, the environmentalists did not cause California´s rolling blackouts. Rather, the loud-voiced industry lobbyists and their greedy clients pushed through an unworkable deregulation bill, which resulted in the blackouts. Furthermore, California did indeed construct 4,010 megawatts of new power-plant capacity between 1990 and 2000, but most of this generation is now off-line because the big utilities reneged on their bills.

In 1994, California utilities strongly resisted the addition of 1,200 megawatts of power from industrial cogeneration and renewable sources, measures that were strongly supported by environmentalists and the California Energy Commission. Ultimately, the utilities made an appeal to the federal government to keep the plants from being built. If they had followed the prescription of environmentalists, the lights would have stayed on.

Despite Mr. Rusher´s claims, strident exaggerations and untruths about the environment are losing popularity, not environmentalists. When it comes to a choice between big polluters and the panda, I think it is clear where most people´s hearts are.


LINDA GUNTER

Communications director

Safe Energy Communication Council

Washington

University-sponsored play has similarities to Taleban aggression

A few weeks ago, the world watched in stunned disbelief as Afghanistans extremist Taleban government ordered and then carried out the destruction of two ancient Buddhist statues that stood at the crossroads of the Silk Road. To all civilized cultures, it seemed an act of unfathomable callousness, wiping away in an instant irreplaceable artifacts that had stood for more than 1700 years.

To Buddhists, the act had an added dimension of cruelty. It represented not just the destruction of objects, but the desecration of images held sacred by that religion. Appropriately, the media voiced its outrage at an act of government so profoundly insensitive to the religious beliefs of others that it took on the character of a violent personal assault.

One can imagine my confusion, then, when a few weeks later a Palm Beach Post staff writer praised Florida Atlantic University (FAU) for funding an event that desecrates the image of Jesus Christ. FAU sponsored a play called "Corpus Christi," in which Jesus is depicted as a homosexual who surrounds himself with a cast of lecherous and profane disciples.

As with the destruction of the great stone statues, the public sponsorship of this enormously disrespectful act should appall any thinking person who honors the religious beliefs of others. For Christians, it is a personal attack, a defilement of the image of the Son of God.

How could administrators at FAU have shown such poor judgment in spending taxpayers´ money for this purpose? Reflexively, they cite "academic freedom" as the rationale. Of course, "academic freedom" is the final refuge in which professors hide when confronted with the absurdity and arrogance of their decisions. It is a concept entirely unmoored by standards, in which any activity can be justified that exceeds our "comfort level" and "challenges" our preconceptions. Stripped of its shock value, however, "Corpus Christi" is simply a sophomoric treatment of Christ´s crucifixion. It is too shallow to "challenge" anything but our comfort level in the leadership of FAU.

Before cloaking the enterprise in "academic freedom," perhaps these leaders should have considered why the survival of "Corpus Christi" was dependent on the University.

First, no private organization in Florida was willing to pay to have the play presented to an audience. Why? Because the play is so ferociously unappealing that it would never turn a profit. Surely, in spending taxpayers´ money, universities have some duty to reach the broadest possible audience.

Second, no newspaper would print substantial portions of the play´s script because the language is so foul. If the editorial staff of the Palm Beach Post think "Corpus Christi" shows great literary merit, why don´t they publish the text for their readers? They know that if they did, the newspaper would lose readership, and therefore revenue. Instead, the newspaper encourages the university to produce the play with your money.

If this bit of hypocrisy were not enough, the Palm Beach Post then rails against the Florida Legislature for threatening to withhold money from FAU in response to "Corpus Christi." Apparently, the newspaper hasn´t heard of "legislative prerogative," the legislature´s ability to take almost any action without fear of limitation or consequence. In that sense, it´s a lot like academic freedom. Unlike the university, however, Florida´s legislature is acting to protect the public interest.


CHARLIE CRIST

Commissioner

Florida Department of Education

Washington

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