Let special interest groups write their own letters

As a veteran letter-to-the-editor writer, I was shocked that "special interest groups are putting words into the mouths of letter writers" (Aug. 4 article "In letters to the editor, too many copycats?").

And shame on the letter contributors for allowing themselves to be "used."

Writing a letter to one's favorite paper or magazine is an important part of living in a free country.

It is one of the few opportunities for us average citizens to express our opinions.

It was interesting to me as a Californian to learn it is a misdemeanor for a writer in this state to sign a letter to a newspaper with a name other than his own.
Mary Meyer
Pasadena, Calif.

Free speech shouldn't be twisted like this

I must emphatically disagree with Professors Robert D. Richards and Clay Calvert regarding the harmful and dangerous effects of violent video games (Aug. 1 Opinion piece, "Target real violence, not video games").

Parenting advice says that children will mimic behavior they learn from parents. Why is it such a stretch to think they will act out behavior they see through what they perceive as a legitimate source?

How many studies do we need in order to see that beside violent effects, these videos degrade and cheapen public discourse?

I think the founders intended the rights of free speech to refer to political and religious speech, and would be appalled that these rights are being perverted to protect graphic violence and pornography.

Professors, what has happened to common sense?
Joan Mortner
Fishersville, Va.

Japan's storied history of empresses

Regarding the July 28 article "After 26 centuries, is Japan finally fit for a queen?": I'm delighted that you are providing coverage of events in Japan, since so often they are ignored.

However, the "26-century habit" of male heirs to the throne in Japan dates all the way back to 1889.

Before that, women could and did inherit the throne. The most recent woman to do so was Gosakuramachi Tenno, who reigned from 1762 to 1770.

In 1889, the law was changed to allow only male heirs, in accordance with other laws being changed at the same time to allow only male inheritance of property. This law, found in the Meiji Constitution, was upheld in 1947 by the Imperial Household Agency.

I also would urge you to give the historical dating of the Japanese imperial line, which dates to the seventh century CE (Common Era) and well after the development of rice paddy agriculture, rather than the mythical dating still propagated by the Japanese Imperial Household Agency, which dates the "first emperor" to 660 BCE (before the Common Era).
William Johnston
Middletown, Conn.
Professor of history, Wesleyan University

Don't cut kids' summers short

Regarding the Aug. 14, 2003, article "Summer's lease expires early as more kids return to school": I am in favor of our kids going back to school after Labor Day - their summers are too short and they are not getting a chance to be kids and enjoy this time off. We put too much pressure on our children to succeed instead of letting them be "just children."

I would like to start a petition to get things changed - I know there are a lot of parents who feel the same way.

Give the children three full months of fun. They work hard for nine months - they deserve it.
Arlene Carter
Lawrenceville, Ga.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .

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