Ecologically sensitive areas need better stewardship

There was an important common thread to the Dec. 2 stories, "North American birds on the decline" and "Bush plan on dams rekindles salmon debate": Unless we get smarter about how we manage our land, we are going to push an alarming number of Earth's other inhabitants into oblivion.

The American people collectively own many of the places that will be critical in the effort to save threatened fish and wildlife - national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and 261 million western acres overseen by the US Bureau of Land Management. Unfortunately, the political appointees who are setting policy are pushing for commercial exploitation of some of our most ecologically sensitive landscapes.

They want to turn the biological heart of the Arctic Refuge into a sprawling oil complex. Polar bears, shaggy muskoxen, and migratory birds would be among the losers. Wild canyonlands and plateaus up and down the Rockies would be drilled and logged, putting grizzlies, sage grouse, and elk at risk. Similar misadventures are on the drawing boards across the country.

All Americans should tell Congress and President Bush that we want a more balanced stewardship of our natural heritage. We owe that much to future generations.
William H. Meadows
WashingtonPresident, The Wilderness Society

Monitoring kids' TV intake: whose task?

Regarding Daniel Schorr's Opinion piece in the Nov. 25-26 Monitor, "Regulate drugs more and words and pictures less," The issue of regulating drugs vs. regulating "dirty pictures" on TV should not be an either-or situation.

There is no question drugs need to be carefully monitored - more effectively than is currently being done. But what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is doing regarding television programming is long overdue. The trash that is being aired at times when children may be watching is deplorable.

Even many commercials are offensive. For instance, on all four major networks during the evening national news, a drug for sexual dysfunction is advertised with side-effect descriptions that definitely are not for kids. Unfortunately, I haven't heard much criticism of that aspect of TV, but I have written to the networks and drug companies and I urge others to do the same.

It is hard enough to monitor the programming for children, let alone commercials, since one never knows when an offensive one will pop up.

I was mildly amused at the criticism ABC and its affiliates received for not showing "Saving Private Ryan" with its terrible language. This movie is not for the faint of heart, nor children.

We need to be protecting our youngsters from violence, profanity, and graphic sex, not pandering to the view that the First Amendment entitles networks to have anything they please broadcast.
Joan Grieg
Aurora, Ohio

Regarding Mary Bissell's Nov. 22 Opinion piece "Proper sin tax?": I tire of people thinking that the government is here to parent my children. Stating that "it seems only fair that at-risk children share in the profits as well as the pitfalls of the boundless American imagination" is not correct. These "at-risk" kids are not open to any pitfalls unless they have thoughtless parents.

The reason the rating system remains voluntary in the video-games industry is that there are and can be no clear definitions for the content. The ratings supply only general guidance for parents. It is shameful to try to hold responsible citizens and hardworking companies of this country accountable for poorly parented children.
Charles Parcell
Yorktown, Va.

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