Readers Write

Morality Missing From Abstinence Lesson

"How to Keep Teens Safe: Congress Preaches Abstinence Only" (April 2) highlights a short-sighted approach to what is essentially a moral issue.

Until teenagers are given the dignity of a moral choice, they will lack the capacity to abstain from premature sex. But they cannot know that they have such a choice unless they have received in the course of their normal educational experience a knowledge of good and evil, of right and wrong.

Furthermore, they will not have that experience unless parents, who know the difference and who care, are given the right to choose the kind of education their children will receive. I refer to vouchers, which enable parents to make such choices freely.

Olin J. Murdick

Saginaw, Mich.

The Civil War's true legacy

A big hurrah for the opinion-page essay "How Lincoln Finally Made Up His Mind" (April 14).

For years, children have been taught "the big lie" about the War Between the States - that it was a war to end slavery. The author's scholarship rips through this simplistic view and points to a more complex and difficult truth: The burden of slavery is not just the South's but that of the whole Union.

Considering the North's continued reluctance to deal honestly with its own ambivalent history regarding race, is it any wonder that 132 years after Lincoln's death many blacks still feel they are denied genuine social justice in the United States? The truth will, indeed, set us all free.

David D. Brown

Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Downsizing higher education

In the opinion-page article "Easing Families' Tuition Shock" (March 25) the author argues for President Clinton's proposals as the solution to the problem of college costs.

Nowhere is there even the suggestion that downsizing - eliminating the bloated bureaucracy and cutting college catalog offerings by 30 percent - would, just think of it, lead to lower tuitions!

Educational institutions, like all institutions, become fat over time. And as long as trustees continue hiring fund-raisers as presidents, things will continue to get worse.

Undergraduate institutions should be training minds, not attempting to turn out experts in everything. Either graduate work or careers will produce the experts.

Wouldn't it be better to recall Ben Franklin and argue that "a penny saved is a penny earned?" Better still, call on university trustees to show leadership in cutting expenses to the bone.

Tinkering at the margins is how we got where we are, and that is all the president's proposals do. They bring to mind Einstein's admonition, "The thinking that created the problems we face now cannot be used to solve the problems that thinking created."

William Brewster

Chester Springs, Pa.

Judges, protect us from ourselves

After reading the letter "Impeaching Judges a Good Solution" (April 8) I found it necessary to respond to the assertion that a certain federal judge deserves impeachment for "ignoring the wishes of California voters" on Proposition 209.

I ask the letter-writer to consider this hypothetical case: Suppose an initiative imposing a 95 percent tax on a particular minority ethnic group is voted on and approved by voters. That doesn't make it right. Neither does it make it constitutional.

The wishes of the voters should not be all-powerful. The judicial system exists to protect us from such examples of the tyranny of the majority.

It does not exist to rubber-stamp the results of elections.

Nate Eldredge

Petaluma, Calif.

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