- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2005

No Hollywood ‘schlock’

Cal Thomas rightly emphasizes the positive value of well-made films such as “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” compared to what he calls “the schlock” traditionally dished out to Christian audiences (” ‘Narnia’: Not the church basement,” Commentary, Sunday). However, he is embarrassed by that bugaboo “censorship” of the old Hays Office and the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency. The Hays office enforced movie-industry rules against obscenity and indecency, and the Legion rated films by their moral acceptability, thus exerting financial pressure on the industry. .

Mr. Thomas and other libertarian critics of censorship forget that the era of the 1930s through early 1960s is widely accepted as Hollywood’s golden age, when the greatest, most entertaining movies ever were produced. The collapse of public entertainment standards and the rise of cynical and nihilistic movies originated when these agencies were disbanded.

In 1936, Pope Pius XI published an encyclical “On Motion Pictures,” praising Catholic and non-Catholic Americans for uniting to clean up movie sleaze. However, the Pope made this careful distinction: “Why indeed should there be a question merely of avoiding what is evil?” he wrote, “The motion picture should not be simply a means of diversion, a light relaxation to occupy an idle hour; with its magnificent power, it can and must be a bearer of light and a positive guide to what is good.”

He held that regulation is necessary to avoid obscene amusements that stultify character but that films also serve a higher purpose. The industry should produce well-made movies that dignify and ennoble viewers by advancing a lofty moral vision with the best skills of the craft. “Schlock” does not meet this criterion, nor can censorship provide these positive elements. Nevertheless, censorship can at least prevent the collapse of public standards such as took place after it was ended in the 1960s. Once this happens, it becomes far more difficult to produce movies that inspire in any way. The entertainment industry needs both censorship and moral vision supported by technical skill. To expect to produce consistently great films without regulating gross indecency is like trying to build a grand house on a foundation of sand.



Cameras needed to prevent illegal dumping

I am highly sensitive to government surveillance and privacy issues, but I strongly favor the District’s Metropolitan Police Department using surveillance cameras to capture those engaged in illegal dumping (“Cameras monitor dumping in D.C.,” Page 1, Nov. 20).

We have a serious problem in a couple of alleys in Petworth where contractors routinely dump refuse from home renovations. Aside from the unsightly nature of piles of illegally dumped bulk trash, it costs taxpayers considerably to have the government routinely clean up after these inconsiderate slobs. If it takes a camera to bring these people to justice, tough. Contractors and residents who dispose of their trash responsibly don’t have a any reason to worry.


Acting Chairman

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C (Petworth)


Generic and therapeutic substitutions

In his opinion column “Making Medicare work” (Op-Ed, Nov. 21), Robert Goldberg blurs an important distinction between therapeutic substitution and generic substitution of prescription drugs. This ambiguity, however, sheds light on what may be a common misunderstanding in need of clarification.

The term “generic substitution” simply means replacing a costly brand drug with a vastly more affordable generic version of that same medicine. A generic drug provides the exact same chemical as its brand counterpart and yields the same clinical results, offering consumers tremendous savings of up to 80 percent off the brand price. More than half of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States last year were filled with generics, yet generic drugs represent less than 8 percent of total pharmaceutical expenditures. Thus, Mr. Goldberg’s concerns over the lack of access to new medicines are relieved by the benefits of generic substitution: Generic substitution provides access to the same quality medicine while also yielding significant financial headroom to fund and support access to innovative new medicines.

Mr. Goldberg seems to be referring to “therapeutic substitution,” which occurs when one drug product is replaced with another product that typically is in the same pharmacological class but always contains a different medicine (active ingredient). A therapeutically equivalent drug may treat the same illness as another drug. For instance, a person may take aspirin, ibuprofen or Tylenol to treat a headache, and each may yield similar results. However, aspirin, ibuprofen and Tylenol each has different active ingredients, which could be cause for concern in some cases: A nursing mother should not take aspirin; patients with liver disease should ask their physicians before taking Tylenol; and patients with kidney disease should ask their physicians before taking ibuprofen.

Confusing generic substitution with therapeutic substitution only undermines the tremendous value of generic medicines to our health care system. Without a doubt, generic substitution must and should be part of private and government-sponsored health care programs.


President and chief executive

Generic Pharmaceutical Association


Deserving Redskins

Without a doubt, former Washington Redskins receiver Art Monk and “Hogs” Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (“It’s now or never for Hall for Monk,” Sports, Saturday). Monk, a three-time Pro Bowler, was consistently great and at different times held the NFL records for most receptions in a season and in a career. As for Grimm and Jacoby, though there are no official blocking statistics, running back John Riggins’ election to the Hall of Fame and the Redskins’ four NFC championships and three Super Bowl victories in 10 years are a tribute to the greatness of these offensive linemen.

Unfortunately, they are not the only Redskins who have been unjustly overlooked in recent years by the Hall of Fame selection committee. Surely there should be a place in Canton, Ohio, for longtime quarterback Joe Theismann, who threw for more than 25,000 yards in his career, helped Washington win Super Bowl XVII with both his passing and pass-defending skills, and was named NFL MVP in 1983. Equally deserving is Mark Moseley, who kicked 300 field goals in his career (including five in one game in 1980) and in 1982 became the first and only place kicker ever to be named NFL MVP for his unprecedented consistency and clutch game-winning kicks.

Also, who can forget Larry Brown, the gutsy running back who was named NFL MVP in 1972 when he helped lead Washington to Super Bowl VII; Pat Fischer, the 5-foot-9-inch cornerback who had more career interceptions than Darrell Green or Ken Houston and whose battles with Philadelphia’s 6-foot-8-inch all-pro receiver Harold Carmichael were legendary; Dave Butz, whose 26-yard rumble down the field with an interception against the Chicago Bears in 1981 stands out as perhaps the most memorable moment in a dominating career; Mike Nelms, the fearless three-time Pro Bowl kick returner who eschewed fair catches; Diron Talbert, the heart and soul of the 1970s “Over the Hill Gang”; Joe Lavender, one of the great shut-down cornerbacks of all time; Gary Clark, who caught nearly 700 passes for more than 10,000 yards and 65 touchdowns in his career; and Dexter Manley, who helped defeat the archrival Dallas Cowboys with two key plays in the 1982 NFC Championship Game? All of them, too, deserve enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Walnut Creek, Calif.

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