- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 23, 2002

When will 'women's' groups usefully channel their rage?

Rep. Christopher H. Smith's Tuesday Op-Ed column, "Modern Slavery," should be an eye-opener, especially for the women's groups that tout women's rights as their top concern. While more than 2.3 million girls and women are forced to work in the sex industry, liberal women's groups are busying themselves with expanding the welfare state, blocking Bush administration nominations and lobbying for women to be in combat missions.

The Outrage of the Week on the Web site of the National Organization for Women is an Army policy that classifies new reconnaissance units as combat units, which will cause a handful of women to be reassigned to noncombat units.

Other issues that the leftist NOW encourages women to "take action" against are the judicial appointment of D. Brooks Smith, redistricting based on new census figures in New York that would eliminate a radical feminist's congressional seat, and welfare reform bills that focus on "more work less money." In NOW's Global Feminism section, there has not been an update concerning global women's rights since mid-1999, although NOW's stated universal mission is to "eliminate sexism and end all oppression."

On the liberal Feminist Majority Web site, the latest headlines are about Nickelodeon's special on gay parents and the claim that conservative groups are aligned with repressive Islamic regimes. Its Global Feminism page calls for women to be involved in the Afghan government (which they are) and stresses a need for increased funding of contraceptives in developing nations. The Feminist Majority's mission is to advance feminism, which it defines as "the policy, practice or advocacy of political, economic, and social equality for women." Slavery is socially, politically and economically wrong, yet the Feminist Majority remains silent on the issue.

In a time when true injustices and violations of human rights exist in the world, it is ridiculous that organizations that claim to speak for women and promote equality focus on trivial issues for political gain. Based on the numbers in Mr. Smith's article, it is clear that women's groups have fallen short of their purported missions.


LISA DE PASQUALE

Program director

Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute

Herndon

Now Lenny can keep tending his rabbits

The Supreme Court was right to declare the execution of mentally retarded inmates unconstitutional, for such a practice is grossly inhumane and fits within even the broadest definition of the "cruel and unusual punishments" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment ("Ruling spares retarded killers," Page One, Friday).

Although the court ruled correctly, it grounded its decision on a feeble foundation. Rather than support their conclusion with the natural law principles from which the American Constitution was derived or a close analysis of the founders' text, the justices declared ex cathedra that the Constitution no longer permits the execution of mentally retarded inmates simply because "a national consensus has developed against it." This declaration ought to frighten every friend of freedom.

Should a "national consensus" develop against religious expression, will the Supreme Court render going to church, synagogue or mosque unconstitutional? If free speech falls out of fashion, will the justices declare that impermissible as well? Perhaps not anytime soon, but the precedent established by the Supreme Court Friday opens the door for such dangerous decisions. The American founders assigned the third branch of government the power to interpret parchment, not public opinion.


ANDY BREHM

Minneapolis




Liberals frequently moan that the U.S. Supreme Court has a conservative bent. Yet decision after decision indicates that this charge is false. The latest example is the blanket prohibition on executing those deemed to be mentally retarded, without regard to the circumstances, brutality and heinousness of the crime.

Basing their ruling on a specious rationale, the justices in the 6-3 majority asserted that they were responding to public opinion against executing the mentally deficient, which supposedly has changed since the court last addressed this issue. I reject that theory. I believe that if the public were presented with the facts in cases of unspeakable brutality that involved calculating, sinister actions to plan the crime, there would be no cry to spare the criminal from appropriate punishment, even if he or she were deemed mentally deficient.

However, even if it were true that public opinion has changed, since when has the court been moved by majoritarianism? Justices are appointed for life to ensure that they will be free from public and political pressure and thus be able to act independently to do what is just. Of course, they know this, which makes their appeal to public opinion so bizarre and dishonest. Do not expect them to overturn, say, Roe vs. Wade, even though the majority of Americans are opposed to abortion.


OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.




The article "Ruling spares retarded killers" quotes William F. Schultz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, declaring that Kyrgyzstan is among the only three countries in the world that have executed the retarded. (The other two are Japan and the United States.)

I highly respect Amnesty International USA for its advocacy of human rights and democracy worldwide. I have never before questioned the objectivity or credibility of its reports about problems pertaining to those subjects. That is why I was surprised to read that its executive director is not aware of the current situation in Kyrgyzstan.

I would like to inform The Washington Times and its readers that the legal system of Kyrgyzstan prohibits the execution of the retarded. Furthermore, although capital punishment is still legal, it has not been applied since President Askar Akaev introduced a two-year-long death penalty moratorium in 1998 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2000 and 2001 the moratorium was extended for an additional year. Then last January the president signed a decree to extend it through this year. Moreover, Kyrgyzstan recently instituted a program to promote human rights, which predicts that the death penalty will be permanently abolished by 2010.


BAKTYBEK ABDRISAEV

Ambassador

Republic of Kyrgyzstan

Washington

Smallpox vaccinations persisted in the military

Small thinking on smallpox" (Commentary, June 20) is quite informative, but it suffers from one small mistake: The author's statement that no one in the United States has been vaccinated against smallpox since 1972 is not true. The U.S. military continued to innoculate its troops into the early1980s.

As a newly commisioned Army nurse in July 1981, I not only received the standard issue combat boots and dogs tags, but also a smallpox vaccine to compliment the numerous other vaccines that were required. I would be happy to produce my shot record as evidence.


LAURIE GRABENSTEIN

U.S. Army Nurse Corps, Ret.

Burke

Fishing is a humane spor

Columnist Gene Mueller once again misrepresented the position of the Humane Society of the United States on the issue of fishing ("Sport fishing targeted by environmentalists," Sports, June 9). Contrary to the statement made by Mr. Mueller, HSUS has never issued a statement or adopted a policy position indicating that fishing "is simply awful," nor have we launched any campaigns to target recreational fishing.

The source of this statement reportedly is Fisherman magazine. We urge Mr. Mueller to do his own reporting. Your readers should know that Mr. Mueller failed to contact HSUS to verify this information. We believe your readers deserve better than the regurgitation of misleading information from other media outlets.

Instead of targeting fishermen, HSUS works on such programs as strengthening laws against animal cruelty and animal fighting, protecting the animal victims of disasters, preventing pet overpopulation, and combating animal abuse on industrial "factory farms."


WAYNE PACELLE

Senior vice president

The Humane Society of the United States

Washington


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