Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Melanie G. Hampton, Baltimore: I used clothes dryer lint to add to the cedar chip bedding in our hamster's cage. Tom built himself wonderful, cozy-looking nests with it.
I also empty the water collection pan from the dehumidifier in the basement into the washing machine. Why waste good water?
COMMENT: I close my eyes and see Planet Earth in the Year 2525. I see crystalline streams, clear air and verdant fields. I see healthy, smiling people wearing simple, undyed tunics, gamboling through fields full of flowers.
And in one of those fields is a gigantic, biodegradable statue.
On that statue is this plaque:
"Though no photographs of her survive -- an overflowing washing machine destroyed all the ones in her house -- this statue of Melanie G. Hampton is based on descriptions provided by her fellow Nobel Laureates.
In the last years of the 20th Century, Melanie G. Hampton began promoting simple, yet profound changes in the way that people lived.
"Slowly at first, but then with gathering enthusiasm, Melanie G. Hampton Societies sprung up all over the globe, and eventually billions of people were converted to the environmental movement, changing the course of history.
"Today, we salute her memory and her cause.
"She Saved Her Lint. And Salvaged A Planet."
* Ed Fritz, Ocean City: There always looms the possibility that maybe 10 years from now, one of your staff, if you have one, could accuse you of sexual harassment.
It could stem from maybe an off-color joke you may have told at a social affair where she was within earshot and after great exaggeration presented as a charge against you.
She could not really prove her charges, but on the other hand, neither could you prove your innocence.
Are you guilty until proven innocent as your article implies or should it be the other way around? I feel the latter prevails; innocent until proven guilty!
If you elect to comment on this, and I don't care if you do or not, you will probably append one of your cute, snide, sarcastic comments.
Your comments only reflect the extent of your thought processes.
COMMENT: Oh, yeah? Well, bounces off rubber and sticks to glue, pal! Nyah, nyah, nyah!
* Danny Devine, Crofton: If Ms. Hill was to prove her accusations, then she must have concrete proof of those charges.
I normally enjoy your column, especially when you stay within the context of Maryland or Baltimore City life.
zTC When you venture into the political arena, you seem to lose the fine perspective you otherwise have.
COMMENT: When I was a beginning reporter, I covered the criminal courts. And I got to see a lot of rape trials. And again and again, I heard lawyers argue that the woman had no proof of her rape. There were no witnesses; she was not cut or bruised; and the guy said she consented. So, therefore, the woman had to be lying.
In the case of sexual harassment, what proof can a woman provide? The law says witnesses are not necessary. The law says no pattern must be demonstrated.
Besides, Anita Hill bore no burden of proof; she was not trying to convict Clarence Thomas of a crime. She came forward and told her story. Itwas up to the senators to take it from there.
In my mind, Anita Hill raised a reasonable doubt as to the suitability of Clarence Thomas to ascend to the Supreme Court.
And that, I believe, was sufficient reason for this country to find a better qualified person.
* Rosinda N. Alexander, Baltimore: I am a black woman, now 64, who has been in the work place since age 16, and my incidences of sexual harassment are too numerous and painful to recall.
It is one of the reasons why I left federal employment as soon as I reached 60 and had the appropriate number of years for a pension. I will also add that my advancement in government was hampered by my refusal to knuckle under to sexual advances.
We black women have carried a silent burden of almost daily sexual harassment.
White men seem to assume we are all whores until we prove otherwise. And as for black men . . . well, I won't go any further.
COMMENT: I regret that I am unable to believe your story because you do not include any videotape, audio tape, hair, carpet or fiber samples in your letter that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that any sexual harassment took place.
Even if you were to pass a polygraph test, this would mean only that you believe in your own fantasies.
I want to state for the record, however, that I am a sensitive individual who cares deeply about the problem of sexual harassment in our society.
There, I guess I can get on the Judiciary Committee now.
* Catherine Hall Myrowitz, Baltimore: The message to women is clear: Unless we get serious about electing women to public office we will never be able to trust the process to protect us.
COMMENT: It should help, but it is no guarantee. The two women in the Senate split on Clarence Thomas. Barbara A. Mikulski voted against, and Nancy L. Kassebaum voted for.
* Mary Kane Anderson Scholz, Towson: The only reason I would ever vote for George Bush again would be if he were running against John Doggett.
COMMENT: Are you sure? John Doggett is one of the nicest, brightest, cutest, sexiest men on the entire planet. Just ask him.