- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Sludge and the city

"Out of sight, out of mind" has become a popular way of expressing the comforting feeling people get when unpleasant things are happening outside their field of vision.

For years, efforts to reform the Endangered Species Act have encountered overwhelming resistance from lawmakers from urban and suburban districts, who have turned a blind eye to the devastation the act has wrought in rural communities across the country ("DeLay presses for EPA equity," June 18).

Now, thanks to a suit brought by the National Wilderness Institute, Washingtonians may find out how the other half lives. Of course, residents in affluent Northwest Washington don´t want trucks hauling sludge rolling through their neighborhoods, just as they don´t want to pay higher water bills if millions of pounds of sediment can no longer conveniently be dumped in the Potomac River. Yet, this is nothing compared with the economic hardship federal efforts to save endangered species have caused in rural areas of California, Oregon, Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and dozens of other states.

A statute that puts the recovery of a species above all other considerations, but which, for political reasons, has been selectively enforced, is insulting to the idea of equal protection under the law.

With the Endangered Species Act set to come to the big city, its legions of fans there may soon be having second thoughts.


Senior Fellow

Lexington Institute


Kyoto would profit Third World elites, hinder economic progress

Bravo to Commentary columnist Charli Coon for recognizing the honesty and integrity behind President Bushs stand on the Kyoto Protocol ("Taking the heat on Kyoto," June 17). The protocol is indeed unfair, costly to consumers and based on questionable science. The unfairness in exempting developing nations is not simply because these countries will soon become big polluters, however. The real unfairness lies in the fact that the beneficiaries of this exemption will be the power elites in the developing world who have been major obstacles to economic progress and reform.

The exemption for developing nations makes a good TV soundbite for the media focused on the plight of the poor, but it ignores the fact that the plight of the poor stems primarily from the power structures within those countries. We should have learned by now, from 50 years of foreign assistance programs, that outside financial aid has benefited primarily the insider elites who hold the power and who don´t want to see their cookie jars broken.

Why should we endorse a treaty that confers special pollution exemption privileges on countries where the power elites will receive an unwarranted windfall and the poor will continue to be poor? Special exemptions under the proposed Kyoto Protocol will help the power elite to stay in power and will weaken the champions of reform. The Kyoto Protocol is a good place to shift the media´s focus from the poor of the world to their systems of governance, which are designed to keep them poor.



Boy Scouts vs. the politically correct

Nat Hentoffs June 18 Op-Ed column "Cut Americas Boy Scouts a break" is an excellent account of how wrongly the Boy Scouts have been treated in recent years. It amazes me how hypocritical the "politically correct" are in demanding that everyone embrace their viewpoint. They reject those who think differently and, even more frighteningly, seek to stamp out groups with a different point of view. This is a troubling development for our culture.

I recognize that some people are always going to be homosexuals and support the homosexual lifestyle. They have the right to do so. However, it is wrong for them to force people in the rest of society to change their beliefs and accept their behavior as normal and decent. I and many others in our nation strongly embrace the teachings of the Bible, and our nation is founded upon freedom of religion. Now, certain people are demanding that we eschew the Bible´s teachings regarding homosexuality. They demand not only that we tolerate this lifestyle, but that we embrace it.

I know gay people and find them to be polite and otherwise good people. However, I believe that their sexual behavior makes their whole philosophy of life destructive to our culture´s obedience to God and to our nation´s moral fabric.

A minority of our population is attempting to impose its beliefs upon the rest of us. This is nothing short of oppressive. I will not be made to accept that which is against my code of morality and my philosophy of life.

Thank you, Mr. Hentoff, for affirming that those who disagree with the homosexual lifestyle have just as much right, according to the Constitution, to gather as any other group in the United States.


El Dorado, Kan.

Concerning flag burning …

In his June 14 Op-Ed article "Hands off the American flag," John Fonte argues, "The proposed flag amendment is not concerned with speech, but with conduct." This assertion just doesnt hold up under scrutiny.

First, consider John Doe, who burns an American flag because, in his judgment, it is unfit for public display and cannot be simply tossed into the trash. Next, consider Richard Roe, who burns an American flag because, in his judgment, the United States is deserving of the strongest display of contempt he can imagine.

The conduct (burning the American flag) is the same in both cases. Only the intent (to show respect in the former case, to express contempt in the latter) differs. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to prohibit the expression of contempt, not the gesture of respect. The amendment, thus, would be a limitation of speech.



Although I find desecration of the American flag disgusting, I oppose a Constitutional amendment, or other law, to prohibit it. There are two reasons for my stance. The first is legal: it is an impermissible limit to the First Amendment´s guarantee of freedom of speech (which has been expanded over the centuries to include expression of opinion in non-verbal ways).The second reason is practical: Flag burning is essentially infantile a temper tantrum by the inarticulate. As with any restriction of behavior, a law prohibiting flag burning would provoke the immature to challenge it: If you tell a small child or an adolescent not to do something, many will do it simply because they have been told not to. I suggest that making flag burning illegal will simply increase its appeal to the emotionally underdeveloped.



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