Protecting the American flag Regarding your editorial "Flag measure doesn't fly" (April 27): The proposed amendment, which would criminalize desecration of the American flag, does not reduce our freedoms under the Bill of Rights. It merely restores the Constitution to the way it had been understood prior to 1989 - to the notion that the people had the right to protect the flag from physical desecration. This is how the Constitution had been interpreted for 200 years.

The American people overwhelmingly support the right to protect the flag. In poll after poll, more than 80 percent of Americans believe the flag deserves protection. In addition, 49 state legislatures have petitioned Congress for the amendment and 310 members of the House voted in favor of the amendment in 1997.

The flag amendment does not itself change the Constitution. It simply takes the protection of the flag away from the courts and returns it to the American people.

Dan Wheeler,Indianapolis, Ind. President Citizens Flag Alliance Inc.

Racism and refugees Your article "Why aid workers call Kosovo toughest case" (May 12) was disconcerting in the underlying racism it revealed among the workers.

Why is the expulsion of 650,000 Kosovars so much more upsetting than 10 times that number "eking out an existence in Africa or the 2.6 million Afghans still outside their homeland"? It can't be the numbers, which pale against those of Africans and Afghans. Maybe it is a reflection of our values - both social and economic - that it only counts when it happens to white people.

Bonnie Benson, Coral Springs, Fla.

Voyeuristic news The first paragraph in your May 24 article about Heritage High School illustrated one of our problems in this country: voyeurism ("Act of valor may help Georgia town heal"). That any school age child would watch the Columbine High events "unfold live on TV monitors in class" is disturbing. That they watched that televised "event" in school is at best irresponsible.

When I was in school, newsworthy events that warranted TV watching in school were things like moon launchings. I don't know why any educator would think watching a tragedy unfold could do anything other than fuel children's feelings of insecurity and impending doom.

I was heartened by your article in the same issue about the Chicago Sun-Times' decision not to put school violence on their front page ("The dilemmas of covering youth violence"). With ethical publications such as the Sun-Times and the Monitor, perhaps Americans will be able to enjoy news other than tragedies.

Laura Crandall, Seattle

Two's company Your article about having only one child was interesting, but there is something important about having one versus having multiple children that I never see discussed ("One is enough?" May 19). That is how often having a second child alters the world view of parents.

As the parent of one child, there is a strong temptation to think that this is how children turn out when they are "properly" reared. Given a second child, it generally becomes evident that many character traits are innate, and that there are serious limits to a parent's influence. A second child tends to broaden and soften one's outlook, I believe. I wonder whether there is any way of quantifying that!

Ann Somers, Pepperell, Mass.

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