I read the insightful front-page articles `` `Three Strikes' Laws Strike Out With Law Enforcement Experts,'' Feb. 1, and ``US Governors Vie to Be the Toughest on Crime,'' Feb. 2, with great interest.
If profanity is the lazy communicator's way to be emphatic, then the ``three strikes you're out'' campaign is the lazy politician's way to be anticrime. In the 1988 elections, many governors campaigned on the capital punishment issue and were aptly portrayed as running for ``executioner'' rather than governor. Now politicians are seeking to be more respectably portrayed as umpires in a baseball game.
The metaphor is unwittingly instructive, however. A functional society might encourage government to take the role of coach and teach its players to hit before they are confronted with an umpire. Batters could be ``schooled'' on the sliders of drug abuse, the curveballs of child abuse, the knuckleballs of unemployment, and the fastballs of access to guns. ``Making a hit,'' accordingly, would then resume some of its pro-social resonance as an act that helps a team, even a community - instead of alluding to the slang for murder.
In New York, Gov. Mario Cuomo's call for the ``three strikes you're out'' legislation places a rhetorical fix on the problem of crime. This fix does an injustice not just to America's favorite pastime, but to America's future. Robert J. O'Connor, Stormville, N.Y.
Comparing Crime to Baseball
The strategy of ``three strikes and you're in [prison]'' is like giving criminals license to commit three serious crimes before they're locked up.
We're not playing baseball here. ``One strike and you're in'' is how crime punishment should be. The war on crime should differentiate between crime against property and crime against persons. Those committing property crimes should go to military-style boot camps. Those committing crimes against persons should go to prison. Nora Marie Lewis, Basin, Wyo.
Bosnia policy a dangerous precedent
The article ``Reticence in Foreign Affairs,'' Feb. 3, recalls the years 1938-39 when France and Britain, the superpower policemen of their area, also pursued a ``standoffish'' policy with regard to Hitler.
If this is what the American public wants, then it will have to be ready for a possible war. If the Serbs succeed in their ``ethnic cleansing'' policy, the United States may face a far greater threat from ethnic cleansing on a colossal scale in Russia, Ukraine, or Kazakhstan (which have nuclear weapons), or in other former Soviet republics. In a supposedly ``confined'' conflict, will nuclear-tipped missiles miss their targets and hit European cities - or even American cities? Will the strontium 90 from atomic fallout encircle the globe again as it did during Soviet nuclear tests of the 1960s?
When one dictator succeeds, others are tempted to grab power. Bosnia is being watched closely by would-be dictators. Henry G. Rutledge Jr., Davis, Calif.
Zionism's long history
The chronology ``Highlights of Zionist History,'' Jan. 25, is misleading: It starts in 1882 with Jewish immigrants arriving in Palestine from East Europe, rather than at the beginning of Zionist history. Zionism is comparable to other nationalistic movements.
Despite the fact that many Jews have been kicked out of Israel for over 2,500 years, there have always been Jews living in Israel since the time of Moses. As a matter of fact, Jerusalem has had a majority population of Jews for thousands of years. Because it was a political situation, the royalty and government leaders were expelled from Israel. Many Jews continued to live in Israel, but the yearning to return of those who were expelled was always present. Yale J. Berry, Boston