Editor: The article about the federal government funding gyms at the taxpayers' expense really angered me.
I am one of many self-employed nurses who by some misfortune owe taxes. How the government expects us ever to pay this money is a mystery, when there is penalty and interest for the duration of the bill.
Unless you have a large sum of cash to pay on this bill, you are at the government's mercy. Making scheduled payments is fine if you are steadily working, but when you are not, the interest and penalty are still applied. Many of us are having money taken from our checks, our credit ruined and property lost.
We don't deny owing this money, but we have to live, too. Gyms are not necessities.
Right and Wrong
Editor: Cheers to Roger Simon for his well-written Aug. 9 column. It was refreshing to see someone finally recognize that women who seek abortion are not cold-hearted, evil killers but people who must make a most painful choice.
Without fail, we are subjected to coverage of anti-abortion demonstrations showing people in tears and screaming, wailing for the unborn and their right to live. What we do not see is the emotional nightmare a woman faces as she makes the decision to have an abortion, then carries through with the decision, for whatever reason (rape, incest, threatened health of the woman or fetus, etc.)
Operation Rescue has inflicted even greater emotional baggage women who have made the difficult choice of having an abortion. Who is there to rescue a woman from the pain of bringing an unwanted, unhealthy or nonviable infant into the world? Who is there to rescue these children once they are no longer unborn? Who is going to rescue all of us from people who are so pompous and narrow-minded as to believe theirs is the only view on an issue?
Maybe members of Operation Rescue can step back a pace and realize who the killers really are. While abortion may kill a fetus, the members' actions are killing any hopes that we, the thinking people, have of continuing to be able to make our own choices.
This is still America, right?
Anne R. Valenti.
Cal Thomas, Jeffrey Dahmer
Editor: The horrifying saga of Jeffrey Dahmer was repulsive and riveting at the same time.
Cal Thomas has seized this opportunity to push for capital punishment as a just method to eradicate true evil. In his Aug. 3 column, ''We must confront true evil,'' Mr. Thomas wrote that humans are basically not good. In fact, he declared that human goodness is not spontaneous or innate, but a by-product of evil kept in check by spirituality.
Good and evil coexist in the human mind, and human nature is too complex to be reduced to black or white terms. If human
beings are not basically good, they are not basically evil, either. Whether good or evil asserts itself in a person depends on the person's life experience, spirituality being one of the experiences.
If Mr. Dahmer is all evil, what about the Milwaukee policemen who could have saved a young Asian boy from his clutches? Were they evil, too? Was it homophobia or racism that prevented the policemen from delving deeper? While Mr. Dahmer stands accused of spiritual void, the policemen are accused of none in the article.
Children imbibe respect for all life in warm, loving environments, from exemplary adults. Mr. Dahmer, who was brought up in an affluent Ohio suburb, ended up in a Milwaukee ghetto a loner with tenuous connections to his family. Was Mr. Dahmer seeking revenge for a childhood gone awry?
Mr. Thomas says that disturbing signs of Mr. Dahmer's insanity were ignored by others, probably because our culture still believes that people are basically good.
There is a more plausible explanation for why people ignored Mr. Dahmer. In Western societies, an individual's privacy is considered sacred. While in Eastern societies prying neighbors are the norm, in the West neighbors make a studied effort not to be intrusive. An extreme aspect of the Western mode of thinking is cold indifference to neighbors.
Cal Thomas fails to ask an important question: Do closely knit cultures, where the young are fostered in the heart of a loving community, spawn serial killers? Instead, he advocates raw power and capital punishment to deal with the Jeffrey Dahmers of this world.
Mr. Thomas defines evil as ''the exercise of political power, that is the imposition of one's will upon others by overt or covert coercion in order to avoid . . . spiritual growth.'' By his own definition, I conclude that capital punishment is an evil. It stultifies the spiritual growth of our society.
Jeffrey Dahmer is an exaggerated version of the dark undercurrents in all of us. We can extirpate him, but we cannot prevent other Dahmers from emerging unless we uproot the painful isolation that individuals, especially children, feel in our mechanized and narcissistic society.