Words, not images, make "free speech"

Regarding your April 25 editorial "Tobacco and free speech": Shouldn't "speech" in this case imply some rational persuasion of a nonsmoker to smoke? The tobacco industry seduces the young with images of young, charming, and healthy people enjoying life - and smoking. Suppose these phony images were banned in tobacco advertising, but the industry was permitted to make its case with the English language. Would a 500-word essay on a billboard persuade any kid to smoke? Let wordsmiths make a brainless case for a poisonous product. Oh, what profits then!

Ron Ruggieri Warwick, R.I.

With regard to the question of tobacco advertising, it isn't clear to me why "commercial" speech should come under the First Amendment.The expression of ideas and opinions are certainly protected under this amendment, but speech that is commercial in intent seems something else altogether.Perhaps a legal distinction should be made.

V.M. Jones Oak Ridge, Tenn.

"Natural" alliances?

In an April 24 letter "India and Israel: a natural alliance," Deapak Chomsky forgets the historical record. For decades, India, not a Middle Eastern nation, supported Palestinian national rights violated by Israel, an imposed settler state. Israel sold advanced weapons to China in violation of US law. Pakistan, a Muslim country, was a staunch ally of the US. Alliances constantly shift because of realpolitik, not religion.

Nancy Withington Santa Barbara, Calif

Deapak Chomsky's comparison between Israel and India runs deeper than he thinks. Both Israel and India are master-race democracies; both practice racist apartheid (Israel is anti-Palestinian, India is anti-Dalit); and both are armed with nuclear weapons.

Bruce J. Malina Omaha, Neb.

Sperling sparks spunk

Shame on you, Mr. Sperling! After years of showing an opinionated pit-bull hostility towards the Clinton administration, you are now showing a puppy-dog adoration towards Mr. Bush. Both positions are extreme and reflect a personal attitude that this reader (and how many more, I wonder?) cannot continue to put up with any longer. Stop demeaning Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore - and, for heaven's sake, stop heaping praises on Bush! Enough is enough!

Shafik E. Sadek Mobile, Ala.

Mr. Sperling, thank you for "Al Gore's disappearing act," your thoughtful piece on Mr. Gore in the April 24 Monitor. I believe that many citizens have been deeply disappointed that Gore has not followed his convictions further regarding the environment, and especially global warming.

If he began now to speak out and to lead on global warming and related issues, I believe he would win enormous respect and support. By pointing to Mr. Bush's already- serious mistakes, by presenting the facts, and by charting a course, Gore could win the next election!

Katharine E. Dreier Belmont, Mass.

"How you gonna keep 'em ... ?"

Regarding your May 1 headline "Down on the farm, reforms failing": "Down on the farm"? Was that "after they've seen Pare-ee?" If you want to be taken seriously by agriculturalists, you might want to take a leap forward from the image of Judy Garland in a pinafore!

R. Paul Canterbury, Conn

If there is one government handout that should not be cut, it is aid to farmers. What will this country do for food when we all move to the city? If there were a global crisis, no one here would be growing food.

Polly Hill Grand Prairie, Texas

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. All submissions are subject to editing; only a selection can be published. Letters must include your name, mailing address and phone number. Mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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