- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Supremes shoot a hole-in-one

When lower courts ruled in favor of Casey Martins right to use a golf cart, the PGA Tour took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court ("The right to golf," Editorials, June 2). Mr. Martin, who must use a cart due to a circulatory problem in his legs, is to be commended for his courage and diligence during what must have been a very difficult time for him. As a victim of disability discrimination myself, I can attest to the difficult times involved when one files a lawsuit against an employer.

The high court heard Mr. Martin and ruled that Congress intended organizations like the PGA to reasonably accommodate disabled golfers when it enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The 7-to-2 decision is a strong indication that the court upholds the intent of the ADA. The dissent by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas demonstrated a contempt for or ignorance of the law.

The court´s decision will be unpopular with some of golf´s old lions like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, who opposed Mr. Martin even though both use carts on the senior circuit. However, younger golfers should embrace the decision and let Mr. Martin compete fairly. He may not be another Tiger Woods, but he deserves the right to play without regard to his disability. With this decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has shot a hole-in-one.


JAMES PATTERSON

Washington




Was Deep Blue´s victory over Garry Kasparov illegitimate because the supercomputer needed a human assistant to move the pieces for him? Mr. Kasparov was beaten by superior strategy, and strategy is the essence of chess. If Casey Martin wins on the PGA tour while riding a cart this year, it will be the result of highly skilled shot making, which U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens correctly terms the "essence of golf"

For all the criticisms that this decision sets a precedent for a 5-foot, 100-pound high school freshman to don chain mail and wield an M-16 to play in the NFL, the fact is that such hypotheticals are pure fantasy and prove nothing. Should Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have been prohibited from wearing glasses? Did James Naismith invent basketball as a glorified eye exam?

This is clearly a contentious issue, and Mr. Martin´s detractors have a meaningful basis for their protest, but recreational and competitive sports are all based on systems of arbitrary rules, which constantly change. PGA golfers, for instance, have a distinct advantage over high school golfers: caddies. Do high schoolers therefore play a more legitimate, and thus higher quality game than the pros? When the network broadcasts start tracking every step of the pro golfer´s harrowing walk from one shot to the next to see if he makes it, then I´ll believe that this walk is part of the essence of the game of golf.


BILL WALSH

Falls Church

Laws recognizing rights of fetus should be consistent

Nat Hentoffs Op-Ed article on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act touches on a trend that I find very odd ("Abortion rights by any means," June 2). It is legal for a woman to have an abortion if she does not want the child. However, under the bill, if she is attacked and the fetus is killed in the process, the attacker would be charged with murder. How can a fetus be an independent human being in one case and not the other?

What I find particularly upsetting is that a fetus is considered a human being only when the mother desires it so. Otherwise, it is just extra tissue, a parasite. It is frightening that we could give one person such power of life and death over another.

I hope that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is defeated. Our laws should be consistent regarding what constitutes life. Otherwise, we will continue to have varying standards, reminiscent the days of slavery.


CAROLYN BLANCHARD

Aberdeen, S.D.

Use of poll in Jeffords story reveals 'right-wing bias'?

In your June 1 article reporting the recent death threats against Sen. James M. Jeffords, you cite a Burlington Free Press online poll that allegedly shows "52 percent of readers disagree with Mr. Jeffords decision and 48 percent approve. In a separate online poll, 70 percent said Mr. Jeffords defection would hurt Vermont" ("Jeffords gets guards after death threats," Nation).

But the Burlington Free Press conducted an actual scientific poll which it published on May 26. That poll found "Sixty-six percent of Vermont voters surveyed approved of Mr. Jeffords´ decision. Among the rest, 27 percent disapproved and 7 percent were unsure. The poll has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points." The same poll also gave Mr. Jeffords higher approval ratings than President Bush.

Why do you cite an online poll that suggests Vermonters disagree with Mr. Jeffords´ decision which everyone knows is not a scientific poll while ignoring a legitimate poll that concludes the opposite? Looks like classic right-wing bias to me.


FRANK CAMPAGNA

Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Should educational policy be aimed towards sending students to college?

On June 1 you reported that the National Center for Education Statistics compiled a report showing that education results in the last decade are "flat" compared to the growth in the 1970s and 1980s ("U.S. education report faults progress of students as 'flat," Nation). Maybe school reform, high expectations, and business model standards arent working, after all. Aside from that issue, however, the report implies that the goal of education is to have all students "succeed" by going to college. The problem is that the U.S. Department of Labor recently predicted a trend that by the year 2020 only about 20 percent of the jobs will require a college degree and that the largest number of new jobs being created are low-paying jobs.

What kind of educational policy aims for college certification when there aren´t going to be jobs available for those people after they get their degrees? Or is this just a plan to feather the tuition nests of colleges and to flood the college graduate labor market so as to drive down the cost of highly trained employees?


BILL HARSHBARGER

Arcola, Ill.


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