Pinochet and extradition
The opinion piece "Pinning guilt on Pinochet" (Dec.2) contains an odd statement: "Spanish criminal law does not apply to events in Chile any more that it applies to events in the United States." This overlooks the fact that Spain wants to prosecute Pinochet for the killing of Spanish citizens in Chile.
In a well-known case several years ago, the US Supreme Court approved the prosecution in the US of a Mexican who had caused harm to an agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico. And in that case, there was no orderly extradition procedure as with Pinochet but an admittedly improper seizure and transportation of the defendant from Mexico to the US. So American legal scholars should be wary of finding fault with Spain for wanting to extradite and prosecute Pinochet for harming Spaniards.
Course difficulty not the issue
The Class Act column "Evaluating the evaluators" (Dec. 8), concerning the role of student evaluations, made an excellent point regarding the tough decisions teachers must confront when trying to make a course suitably difficult.
However, I would disagree with the conclusions. I do not believe the difficulty of a course is simply related to a class's endearment toward a teacher. Indeed, many of my favorite teachers were tough on me, and I still enjoyed their instruction. Students do not hate hard teachers. The Monitor has printed quite a few articles reporting that many students are put off by boredom in school, not angered by challenges.
The University I attend, Miami University in Ohio, is very interested in the students' perception of a course's "difficulty." However, as I have seen while working side-by-side with the university's faculty senate, concerns such as those expressed in this article are taken to a deeper level, examining what type of students is entering universities, and whether such comments even warrant addressing.
Until universities, and high schools, realize that student skills are of greater concern than grades and evaluations, the problem will continue.
Uncaring employers get no smiles
Re "Service with a shrug? Consider the flip side of service crisis" (Dec. 9): Service with a shrug? Service with a snarl is more like it. My husband and I now do more than half of all our shopping at a warehouse club. They have made a truly startling discovery. If you offer decent wages and benefits, you get and retain better employees. The cheerfulness and helpfulness of the employees we've encountered at this club makes the bargains we find there just that much more satisfying.
Customers certainly ought to treat service workers with courtesy and dignity, but maybe employers ought to start doing their part, too.
A hero in the trees
It was good to note that the Monitor is at the forefront in reporting on heroic acts by female and socially conscious citizens, as well as space and military heroes. "Protest and prayer in a redwood perch" (Dec. 8), the Monitor's account of Julia Hill's 12-month residence in a towering redwood tree in Northern California, is a welcome example.
Her act of civil disobedience is making a statement that private and corporate "ownership" of natural treasures such as our forests is wrong. The horrendous depletion of Mother Earth's old-growth forests is the result of runaway consumption and the "bottom-line" culture.
Frederic H. Duperrault
Mountain View, Calif.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org