Why Aborigines revere Ayres Rock

In your article "Summitof an Aborigine battle for respect" (Feb. 18), yourreference tothe Australian government's "refusal to apologize formally for past government mistreatment of Aborigines" needssome conciliatory explanation.

The apology demanded by Aborigines refers toa long-past government's well-meant action in forcibly removing Aborigine children from their families in order to provide them with a better education anda healthier upbringing. In more recent times that past government action has been seen by Aborigines as an attack on their culture, and the children involved are now referred to as "the lost generation."

During the past 40,000 years, the Australian Aborigines were forced tosurvive in a harsh land. Because the land itself was their only source of sustenance, they had to carefully treasure its meagre supply.Their land itself therefore became to them an object of worship and they preserved certainportions of their land as sacred sites.The national icon, Ayres Rock, or Uluru,has long been one of them.The Aborigines deserve respect from all visitors to their sacred sites.

Ron Walker Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia

Preparing for the college essay

Regarding your article "Personal essays, from pathetic to poetic" (Feb. 8): SAT prep courses were bound to be joined in the marketplace by college application essay coaching services.College essay coaching seems egregious and certainly accessible to upper-income families.But even while the market produces test-prep services and essay coaching, the public sector produces free public schools, free libraries, and, we can now say, nearly free Internet, that offer any child and his or her parents opportunities to get prepared for college without paying high Kaplan or Princeton Review fees at the last minute.

Any child has 17 or 18 years to make sure he doesn't fall behind by 10 steps, and parents, schools, and public programs are there to help.

Al Magary San Francisco

Benetton's death-row campaign

Your article "A wish list for the 21st century" (Feb. 16) puts a new light on the negative publicity United Colors of Benetton has been receiving for its ad-free catalog featuring death row inmates. Thank you for the refreshing viewpoint.

I called Benetton to get a catalog, which are very hard to find, and spoke with someone who was happy to hear a positive response. No matter what one's position on the death penalty, I feel a clothing company should be praised for doing something socially responsible rather than just pandering to the self-absorbing hedonism of today's culture. Other clothing companies could take a clue from their example.

Barbara Dean Henke Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Children should be spared the rod

I read with interest your Feb. 2 article "Mummy and Daddy spare rod - or go to court." I have to say I agree with the Europeans. It should be against the law to spank children. This law protects the children of parents who cannot stop before the spanking gets out of control and becomes abusive.

And what does spanking teach children? That it is OK to hit others? That we solve our problems with violence? It is against the law to hit our spouses. Shouldn't children who are too small to defend themselves have the same protection? I say, spare the rod! Use words to discipline children, not violence and fear.

Bonnie C. Landry Stuart, FL

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