Causes and effects of Kent State

David Kirby's April 29 opinion piece "'Good American' revisionism" certainly made an interesting point. As a young marine just back from Vietnam at the time, I remember seeing a sea change in America after the killings at Kent State in 1970. It was actually like a fever breaking.

America's will to continue the war in Vietnam was what really died at Kent State, and the government's claim to owning the mind of any generation along with it. Polls taken in the immediate aftermath of that seminal event may not have reflected it well, but thereafter the "hawks" tired of talking about the war.

People responding to opinion polls were unable to admit that they had suddenly found their cause too ugly to support, but the simple fact that there really were no subsequent Kent State-type killings, even though the protests continued and even escalated, speaks more loudly than the polls as to how the killings at Kent State changed America.
Daryl Bell-Greenstreet
Lakeside, Calif.

In "'Good American' revisionism," David Kirby does a bit of revisionism himself by conveniently leaving out the student violence that led up to the Kent State shootings.

In downtown Kent, students broke store windows, looted shops, and vandalized other private property. The situation caused by the students was so dangerous and destructive that the governor called out the National Guard. On campus, student arsonists burned down the ROTC building and threw rocks at the firemen and police who responded and at the National Guardsmen when they arrived.

It was against this background that young, inadequately trained National Guardsmen fired at the students. They should not have fired or even loaded their weapons. But revisionists like Mr. Kirby should not get away with telling only the side of this tragic tale that suits their purposes.
Thomas McKenna
Montpelier, Vt.

Laws to punish British MP

The April 25 article "Newly found Iraqi files raise heat on British MP" about the Labour Party MP, George Galloway, who is alleged to have accepted millions of dollars from Saddam Hussein while advocating his policies in Parliament, is one of the most remarkable stories to come out of the Iraq war, and poses a challenge to parliamentary democracy everywhere.

If Mr. Galloway broke no British laws, then it is imperative that the Mother of Parliaments enact laws that identify Galloway's conduct as criminal, with fitting punishment. Such laws need not inhibit contributions to legislators made in good faith, but if they are not properly reported, are of significant magnitude, and originate from foreign sources, they should be banned, with severe criminal penalties for violations.
Lawrence Cranberg
Austin, Texas

Smoking in smoke shops?

Regarding the April 28 editorial "Clearing the air": Although the no-smoking rules are welcomed by many, California has once again demonstrated how some well-intentioned legislation can go awry.

The smoking ban in California extends to smoke shops, where, traditionally, potential customers could try samples of various pipe tobaccos, and smoke their pipes and cigars while they chatted with other smokers.

Why not provide exceptions to these establishments? Certainly they would not be frequented by nonsmokers, nor is it likely that these small, and usually individually owned shops would be operated by nonsmokers.
Peter Guttman
Santa Maria, Calif.

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