'Knee-jerk' rightist views offer nothingColumnist Mona...

the Forum

April 12, 1994

'Knee-jerk' rightist views offer nothing

Columnist Mona Charen, desperately trying to find a crime to accuse Hillary Clinton of committing (Other Voices, April 5), instead decides to create one.

She asks numerous times if the reader would do what Mrs. Clinton did at various times in the past, concluding that her actions make her look "unscrupulous and a little tawdry."

If Ms. Charen is, as she claims, more interested in crippling the Clinton presidency on issues like health care, why doesn't she do so? Why must she create phony issues like her so-called "Would you do it" test? I suspect this is because she has no ideas on solving these tough problems.

Like many Republicans who are knee-jerk critics of the president and his wife, she is using her objections to government activism as a reason for doing nothing, and as an excuse for their inability to solve problems they seem to have no idea how to handle.

She goes on to complain that Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas and "scores of other conservatives" were "pilloried" by the press.

She accuses the media of hypocrisy for not coming to their rescue but seems to feel it is wrong for them to re-examine their over-zealousness in reporting on the Whitewater affair now that it has become apparent that the press has spent over two months headlining an insignificant matter.

Her argument is absurd. If there is any concern for fairness in reporting on Whitewater, it is hard to find in the mountain of highly critical opinions of the president and his family that has come from the press since the days he was elected.

President Clinton was elected by Americans who wanted someone who will get things done, not because they expected him to be a saint.

In fact, they elected him knowing full well that he was not faultless. Many of these people were conservatives who agreed with his economic policies.

I am sure that The Evening Sun can find someone who could better represent conservative views than Ms. Charen. Her lazy, do-nothing-but-complain brand of conservatism gives her flimsy arguments when discussing the many serious problems that our country confronts.

Joe Otterbein Jr.


Pay the price

Jon Margolis' "Light up and smoke -- a strike for freedom" (Other Voices, March 29) has some very good points. A person with an addiction for a legal drug such as nicotine should be able to get a lift at work, and also when out on the town during the evening.

There should be special smoking rooms in office buildings, ventilated areas in restaurants, bars, night clubs, etc.

When lung cancer, emphysema, stroke or a heart attack happens to a tobacco user, all care costs should be paid by the user.

Tobacco products should be taxed to fund all of the above. The amount of tax per year would be dependent upon how much money was reimbursed to the executors of the above measures during the previous year.

If smokers, chewers and sniffers render harm to themselves, they should be allowed to do so, but they should pay all related costs.

Charles Johnston



Smokers, prepare for more blitzes from the so-called scientific areas.

The blitz that could send me rolling in the aisle is when it will probably be said that even outside, smoking is bad and helping destroy the ozone layer.

But, then again, what can be expected when science doesn't utter a word of disapproval about prepared foods sold with three, four or five times more sodium than potassium?

Emil Antos


Correct speech

In his April 6 Other Voices essay on politicized language, Steven Pinker makes an extraordinary concession, coming from a professor of cognitive sciences when he says, "Respect means treating people as they wish to be treated, beginning with names. That is why there is a clear need for guidelines."

The essence of the cognitive process is seeing and identifying. Neither step is advanced by "guidelines" that tell the observer in advance what is an acceptable perception.

It may be true, as Professor Pinker declares, that "words are not thoughts," but words happen to be our only means of crystallizing thoughts (for our own use) and communicating them.

The PC police understand this issue better than some of free speech's defenders. Why else battle against certain words, which are harmless things in themselves, if not for the hope that if the offensive word disappears, the thought (and action flowing from the thought) will go with it?

It may be of little importance whether we describe a person in a wheelchair as a "cripple" or by some other term preferred by a lobby claiming to represent people in wheelchairs.

Similarly, if Professor Pinker chooses to accept the politicized "native American" despite the factual and anachronistic fallacies contained in those two words, that is his privilege; not a triumph of cognition, but the chore of seeing and identifying is each individual's.

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