Capital Punishment: `Imp of the Perverse'

Plaudits to you for the article ``Death Penalty in Texas: High Cost of Punishment,'' May 12, on the flaws of capital punishment. In addition to the three you discuss - high costs, wrongful convictions, and racism - you should add another. (Besides, of course, that it's immoral: If killing is wrong, institutional killing has to be at least as wrong.)

The flaw that you should have included: Capital punishment is no doubt counterproductive. The evidence is very strong: Not only is it not a deterrent, it does what Edgar Allen Poe so eloquently described as ``provoking the imp of the perverse'' present in all our personalities, and fosters that which we would like to curtail. Delbert O. Lawrence, Bellevue, Wash.

Oxymoronic intelligence briefings

A great deal is taken for granted regarding the accuracy of intelligence data and the use thereof. (``Clinton's Style of Governing Hurting US Foreign Policy, Experts Say,'' April 25.) Built-in presuppositions have misled both intelligence gatherers and politicos many times. To laud George Bush for his careful and extensive use of daily briefings is to forget that the actual results are not that impressive: Remember Panama? Still a catastrophe. Remember Nicaragua? It does not speak well for our policymaking. And Iraq? Nothing was settled.

Unforeseen consequences make short work of the most careful daily briefings. When one begins to see such consequences in any policy one adopts, there is bound to be a fair amount of wobbling in the process of making up one's mind. Is that any worse than having one's mind made up and seeing the results are poor? Or seeing the answer as that which was adopted? Wilton Vincent, Auburn, Calif.

No NAFTA benefits for Canada

The flattering article ``Canada Can Play Broader Role in Hemispheric Affairs,'' April 28, may go down in some quarters, but not here. Most Canadians opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by Brian Mulroney. It tied us too closely to the United States' apron strings and was the main cause of Mr. Mulroney's forced resignation. The party he left behind was decimated in the national election last year. Clarissa Smith, Victoria, British Columbia

Where to find religion

The writer of the article ``News on Religion Scarce in Media,'' April 29, makes a valid point about the disproportion of attention given in the media to religion and sports.

But the simple fact is that the majority of people's involvement in sports is through the media. The regular media could well salt their content with a little more attention to the spiritual side of life, but I suspect that most religious people would still prefer the majority of their input on the subject to come from their scriptures and sermons. Brian Zavitz, Toronto

White supremacist stands alone

Concerning the article, ``Pro-White Rally in Boston Prompts Little Sympathy,'' May 9: I have often wondered how one man like Richard Barrett, with his very few supporters (16 in Boston and I doubt any more than that in Mississippi) can get so much publicity and, as a result, cost cities so much time and money to protect him.

When he applies for his marching permits why can't cities send him their refusals and then forget it? If he comes in and marches anyway, arrest him. If the news media step in and make a big thing of it, as Barrett somehow assures that they will, then let them be responsible for all actions.

I understand that Richard Barrett is not a native Mississippian, that he is from New Jersey or somewhere up there. If he came to Mississippi seeking sympathizers, he sure hasn't found many. Mary M. Jones, Yazoo City, Miss.

Short wait for next eclipse

In the Home Forum article, ``A Momentary Marriage,'' on last month's solar eclipse, May 19, the photo caption reads, ``The next eclipse will occur in 2012.'' This is incorrect. While I believe it is the date of the next partial solar eclipse visible from North America, the next solar eclipse will be a total eclipse visible from South America in November. Patrick B. Hall, Tucson, Ariz.

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