- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Smoking for dollars

In his June 16 letter "Attacks on personal-injury cases taken too far," Association of Trial Lawyers of America President Frederick M. Baron once more sets up a straw man to be easily dispatched. If common sense told you that a certain product was harmful, and if for most of the time you used that product it had large warnings printed on it that it could prove fatal, and yet you continued to use the product, only a trial lawyer could find grounds for a tort action.

Additionally, for the last three years the state of California, using public monies, has been carrying on a media campaign demonizing the tobacco companies and their managers. These advertisements have accused the tobacco companies of wantonly killing people for money and seducing the young to an early death. The ads have run throughout the state and have served no purpose but to dehumanize those managing legal companies.

Small wonder, then, that the jury not only found in favor of Richard Boeken, an alcohol and drug abuser as well as a smoker, but also awarded an unjustifiable monetary amount. I believe the entire jury pool in California has been tainted by the state. I had hoped that at least there were still some non-activist judges on the bench, and that the dollar amount awarded Mr. Boeken would have been knocked down.


San Andreas, Calif.

Shaq attack

So, columnist Tom Knott thinks Shaquille ONeal is just too good, too strong, too talented, too everything ("Too big, too good and too much," Sports, June 15). The only reason Shaq has achieved the dominance that he has is because the NBA, in its zeal to have a recognizable icon after Michael Jordans departure, has instructed league referees that ONeal plays by one set of rules, and the rest of the players by another set. Shaq commits offensive fouls on virtually every possession. He is an XFL football player in a Lakers uniform. On defense, he abandons all pretense of defending a player and simply stands underneath the basket waiting to get a rebound. Shaq is not a basketball player, he is an NBA marketing tool, and apparently Mr. Knott has been duped along with many others.

Basketball is a team sport that is most elegant and enjoyable to watch when it is played with finesse. Shaq is an absurd joke that turns it into a sport not much different from WWF wrestling. Instead of celebrating his supposed greatness, Mr. Knott should expend some ink lauding the merits of players who still understand that basketball is not, at its heart, a game of brutal physical intimidation. At least it wasn´t before "Goliath" came along.


Tall Timbers, Md.

Bush shouldn't adopt Clinton position on homosexual 'rights'

In return for strong support by the homosexual "rights" movement in the 1992 and 1996 elections, former President Clinton appointed many homosexuals to government departments. Eventually, "diversity training sessions" were imposed on employees so that they could accept and work with their homosexual co-workers. The homosexual activists influence in the Clinton administration, however, did not affect only government. Mr. Clinton and his education secretary, Richard W. Riley, urged the inclusion of similar diversity training in the curricula of the countrys public schools. This effort corrupted and threatened the lives of untold millions of children, both morally and physically.

President Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige should not repeat this tragedy of shame and moral turpitude. It is not right that we should allow a small minority of our population to dictate morals and policies for our nation.

Mel White, a former adviser to Rev. Jerry Falwell, became a homosexual "convert" and leader. Regarding his approach to Christian denominations, Mr. White told Time magazine: "We don´t debate anymore. You change your policies, or we´re going to split you apart and leave." Those defending bibilical morality against homosexual activism, he says, are guilty of "spiritual violence."

In reality, the damage is being done by homosexual movement to our religious beliefs, our families and our cultural and moral heritage. Mr. Bush, you owe the homosexual "rights" movement nothing. Please do not repeat the mistakes of the Clinton administration.


Kea´au, Hawaii

PBS documentary 'Scout's Honor' raises eyebrows

The airing of the documentary "Scouts Honor" by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an assault upon the idea of public broadcasting ("PBS film on Boy Scouts slammed as one-sided," June 18). If Americans are going to collectively pay for a broadcasting company such as PBS with our tax dollars, the least we can ask is that the organization not pursue a political agenda. The airing of "Scouts Honor" is a clear violation of this principal.

The issue of a liberal bias in the media has been vehemently debated, but the fact that PBS is an company that all Americans pay for makes this situation even more scandalous. It is a question of fundamental fairness. Why should people who believe that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have the right to prohibit open homosexuals from becoming scout leaders be forced to pay for a nationally-televised propaganda piece that stands against their values or political ideology? Either the issue should be covered with a non-biased piece, or a separate program should be produced which portrays the other side fairly.

An organization which is funded by all Americans must represent all Americans. Of course, in news media, this is an almost impossible task. We need to rethink the entire idea of public broadcasting. It is an institution paid for by all, but which represents very few.



The film "Scout´s Honor," has created quite a stir. The specific issue of debate is the funds that support PBS, which come from viewers and national and state governments. The viewers who donate money to PBS expect quality television broadcasting. In my eyes, "Scout´s Honor" is nothing less.

You report that the film portrays the Boy Scouts as "homophobic and intolerant", and that Steven Cozza, the 16-year old co-founder of "Scouting for All," could appear "heroic and worthy of admiration." How is Mr. Cozza not worthy of admiration? He is everything a scout pledges to be: "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, brave, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent." As for the BSA, they are homophobic and intolerant.

If people are concerned about funding public broadcasting, which is "supposed to serve the nation," then perhaps they should cease to do so. Perhaps state and national governments should also pull the plug on any support, in terms of money and facilities, that they give the BSA. I certainly do not want my tax dollars supporting exclusion and intolerance. And, for the record, I would much rather support the kind of heroism exhibited by Mr. Cozza.



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