Teens, and plain talk about sex

Regarding "Plain-talk: teen sex is not OK" (opinion, Aug. 6): The author states that "even with easy access to birth control, 1 million girls became pregnant last year." Access to birth control is easy if you are a well-off, well-informed, middle-class woman. If you are not, simply knowing where to go may not be obvious. In addition, the expense can be prohibitive.

She also states that parents, "who are supposed to look out for the best interest of their children, are instead giving in to the trend [of media obsession with sex] by allowing kids to go along with it." In most American households, both parents must work. Parents, struggling to make ends meet, have less time to spend with their children than ever. It's hard to guide your children if you aren't with them. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that parents would spend more time with their children if they could.

Mandatory sexuality education in school could do a lot of good. This notion is held hostage by conservatives who believe that educating teens about sexuality encourages them to become sexually active, despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support this view. K. Christine Scarpinatto, Pittsburgh

Insanity and the death penalty Regarding the opinion article "Execution vs. treating ills" (Aug. 16): Author Michael King's grossly misleading article states that "the evidence is abundant that [death row inmate Larry Robison] was completely insane at the time of the murder."

Reality tells an entirely different story. The five murderers committed by Robison were absolutely premeditated. There was planning of these crimes for at least two weeks. Robison admitted to the motive of auto theft and robbery. He had consciousness of guilt: He knew to flee in the car he stole, showing planning and forethought by changing the license plates.

The evidence shows Robison was not insane at the time of the crime, that he was competent to assist in his own defense, and that he fully understands the nature of and reason for his punishment - the legal standards for the death penalty and the basis of competency for all criminal punishments.

Incredibly, King tells us "the evidence of Robison's madness was largely ruled inadmissible so the juries in both his trials heard almost none of it."

In fact, the jury was presented with the defense's version of Robison's claims, including 100 pages of testimony on the insanity issue by Robison's mother, as well as a thorough review of Robison's various diagnoses, only one of which found paranoid schizophrenia. The jury weighed all of the evidence and found that Robison failed to prove a case for insanity. Dudley Sharp, Houston

India has many famous authors Your article on Indian writer Arundhati Roy states that she "put Indian writing firmly on the map and gave this country something it never had - a bona fide celebrity author" ("India's Arundhati Roy: novelist turned social activist," Aug. 17).

Where have you been? Rabindranath Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in the early part of this century, was certainly a celebrity both in India and world-wide; to this day he is considered one of the century's greatest literary contributors.

Haven't you heard of Salman Rushdie? Vikram Seth? Rohinton Mistry? The list is longer than you would want to print. This is not to contest Arundhati Roy's brilliance or celebrity; this is only to say that she is part of a long-standing tradition of literary excellence and well-deserved fame. Kathryn Densmore, Santa Barbara, Calif.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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