Reader Mail

Cross Borders

Our immigration messiness -- some major differences of opinion. Plus: Protected priesthood. Richardson undrafted. Science mavens. And much more.

12.1.05

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ILLEGALLY YOURS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Our Immigration Imbroglio:

Great article by Mr. Tyrrell.

The problem is not immigration, it is Illegal Immigration. Breaking the law should not be the first thing newcomers to this country have to do. I am in favor of massive legal immigration. As you said, we can and must seal the borders. A huge Berlin-like wall. I'll worry what the rest of the world thinks of us when they quit breaking into our country like common criminals. Next, I'll allow massive, controlled immigration, especially from our southern neighbors. A modern-day Monroe Doctrine.

Also, I would severely limit visas, work permits, and citizenship for emigrants from hysterically anti-American populations. If our relations with Syria, France, Saudi Arabia, Iran and many others are already so bad, I can't see what further damage it could do. Hopefully we would also curb terror threats.

We need and want immigrants. Social Security cannot exist without it. But immigration should be on American terms. Not what Jacques Chirac, Vicente Fox, Fidel Castro or any other non-American would like our immigration to look like.

The poem says "Give us your tired, your poor…" -- not your criminals, terrorists or non-assimilating welfare leeches (ode to the French).
-- Joseph R. Davey
Tucson, Arizona

Finally a level-headed thinker and none too late. I am curious as to whether the census bureau accounts for the employed illegals in the employment figures. If they do not then this economy has employed more workers than are registered resulting in a negative employment figure or to say it another way 105%+/- employment.

At any rate I employ approximately 50 hard-working individuals. We have a very diverse group including some Hispanic. I would love to hire American labor but considered from a free market perspective the Hispanic labor is hands down superior. I continue to hear that Hispanic labor works cheaper -- wrong again. Just because their first language is not English does not render them ignorant of their value. The big difference is they perform to the level they represent and the level I agree to pay for on a consistent basis. I see a disturbing trend in that the longer they stay in America the more "Americanized" they become. However, for now it is refreshing to deal with individuals that are appreciative for the job and opportunity given them. I consider myself a conservative Republican but am tiring of the simplistic way we address issues such as immigration, e.g., build a fence along the border) -- hell, why not string a row of land mines along the border? It is as though we cannot see our connection to our fellow man, much less the reality of the situation. At least Mr. Tyrrell understands and is articulating this understanding. I only hope the levelheaded are listening. I can assure you the illegals are.
-- Robert Sneed
Richmond, Virginia

After reading Mr. Tyrrell's article, I am at a loss as to his point. As I read through, he seemed to say that immigration is good, illegal immigration is good, securing the borders is good, but securing the interior of the country is bad. On one hand, we need to know who is entering the country, but on the other we shouldn't worry about who is already here. I am confused. I consider myself a member of the mainstream conservative movement. As such I feel that I reflect the majority of Americans in many areas, including immigration. So, here is my take on the immigration problem. Please correct me if I am wrong on this.

First, immigration is good. Traditionally, those who immigrated to this country did so to become American citizens. They came for a variety of reasons, but American citizenship was their goal. They entered through legal channels and overcame great obstacles to achieve citizenship. This is the route followed by the forebears of 80% of the current citizens of this country. This traditional view of immigrants and immigration is largely accepted by the American people. What is not acceptable to most Americans is illegal immigration. While there is sympathy, compassion and understanding for an illegal immigrant and his reasons for coming to America, his choice of entry status guarantees his failure to achieve citizenship. This causes him to lose favor in the eyes of most American citizens. It makes it appear that he intends to take advantage of the largess available to residents of this country, a largess earned through generations of hard work, without contributing to that largess. The use of public benefits (medical care, education and social service programs) by illegal immigrants is a continual source of irritation for a large number of citizens.

Second, the concept of rewarding people for cheating or, in the case of illegal immigrants, breaking the law does not sit well with basically law-abiding Americans. An amnesty program, especially one that would entice only half the illegals presently living within the U.S. to sign up, sends the wrong signal to both resident and potential resident alike. The only problem with arresting every illegal alien that local law enforcement comes in contact with is finding someplace to house between 8 and 18 million people until they can be deported. It is extremely hard to justify criticizing enforcement of existing laws.

The economics of an illegal immigrant workforce most greatly benefit the employers of that workforce only as long as the employees are illegally in this country. Their status forces them to accept lower wages and stand mute under discriminatory and sometimes illegal actions of their employers. They constitute a growing underground economy that is estimated to produce billions in untaxed revenues every year. A guest worker program will not solve this problem if two other factors are not met. The borders must be adequately secured against the passage of undocumented persons and undocumented aliens living within the U.S. must be found and deported. Then, while as many of the unknown undocumented aliens living in this country are being identified and dealt with, documented aliens can be given temporary visas, to enter the U.S., for work, education, medical treatment, etc. Worker visas should be for a limited time and, in most cases, non-renewable. This would encourage foreign workers to apply for resident alien status and eventual citizenship.

Unfettered illegal immigration will prove to be very harmful to national security in the short term and to economic and societal security in the long run. The owner of a house takes much better care of the premises than does a mere tenant. What has made this country great is not immigration, but immigrants whose ultimate goal was citizenship.
--Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

No matter how much makeup the president puts on his immigration program, it's still a pig. Although I voted for Mr. Bush twice, not because I liked him, but because the alternatives were worse both times, I resent his trying to flood our country with unskilled, uneducated, cheap labor. His argument that they're taking jobs that Americans don't want is the biggest piece of crap I've seen any politician try to foist on a public ignorant of economic reality in a very long time. By flooding our domestic labor market with cheap foreign labor, he can effectively make any job not one that Americans would want. Ours is a unique country in the history of the world, and it can as easily be destroyed by the right as it can by the left. Pauperizing millions of Americans and helping to cripple the middle class by effectively amnestying millions of illegals willing to work at slave labor wages is one of them.

Moreover, where in the hell has Bush been for the last month? Didn't he notice the riots in France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark? Doesn't he realize what happens when you have a large unassimilated body in your midst?

Sadly, I'm starting to believe that there's truth to what the President's critics have been saying for the last five years. Maybe he really is no more than a rich man's son with no gravitas, out of touch with how most of the country lives, and if he really believes he can flood this country by amnestying illegals and he and his party not suffer serious political consequences, I would respectfully say Mr. Bush should go out and get stuffed.
-- Frank A. Stocker

Since living in San Diego for the last two-plus years and working with a global consumer products company as a design engineer I have had the opportunity to observe two facets of immigration.

One facet largely reflects the illegal (and legal) crossing of mostly Mexican and Central American aliens into the Southeast part of the country. There is a large demand for cheap labor to care for children, prepare food in restaurants, perform manual labor such as landscaping and building, work in factories, support the ag industry in the form of migrant workers, and satisfy the demand for convenient temp help in the form of day laborers. But within this group are criminals who in some instances constitute gangs in the larger cities such as Los Angeles. Because Mexico (and other countries) does not have a death penalty it will protect the worst alien criminal element that escapes the U.S. after committing a severe crime such as murder. As a result if you are a criminal that is beyond rehabilitation then it is better for you to commit a capital offense to protect you from capital punishment. The limousine liberals, activists living off trust funds, general malcontents, and race card dealers know this but since they do not live in the communities that suffer from crime it does not concern them as much compared to those who benefit from hard working, decent people who break their backs for a better life that are similar to the Europeans who came here legally during the last century.

Another facet of the labor market demand is for professional people who greatly contribute to the growing Pacific trade between the U.S. and Asia. This labor pool consists of educated technical people, both experienced and entry level, that are able to speak an Asian language and English. They come from Asia of course and also Europe.

The difference between the two labor groups is for the professionals they observe the legal requirements to work in this country and gain citizenship. Because the professionals are a high value commodity the expense they endure provides a quick economic return to them, their employers, and to this country. But for the human disposables known as cheap labor the expensive process of legal immigration is much more difficult because few will sponsor and provide legal counsel, their English language skills are practically zero, they do not easily assimilate into the mainstream culture as educated professional workers (it took the Europeans such as my father and his friends many years to assimilate), and they require more social services which puts fiscal pressure on governments.

So what should America do to facilitate the process and remedy the negative effects of immigration?

First off we should banish the death penalty. Yes, some terrorists and psycho vermin will live in confinement with their hides in tact but the death penalty now exists to keep a legal business segment employed (how much does it cost government to put down human pests?) and shields some criminals from ever facing justice. If somebody killed or hurt a loved I would personally want to hit the switch to painfully snuff them out but the fact remains it is counterproductive to our best interests.

Second, an efficient immigration process for those who perform low value but vital services needs to be implemented so that they and their children can assimilate in order to move up the social, economic rungs of our society. Government will still be burdened but quicker assimilation will yield faster economic and social returns.

Third, show no mercy for those who still choose to violate the system. If they bypass the system by sneaking in or commit a crime then punishment should be swift and fair.

And lastly, build that wall. Our neighbor to the south is managed by a corrupt government who does not consider our interests at all. Our neighbor to the north is run by panty waist liberals who as most liberals, tend to luxuriate in their private, little worlds that for the most part are cut off from the daily reality of everyday life. Maybe in time that wall could be taken down but it would depend on those on the other side.
-- Diamon Sforza
San Diego, California

Downside to massive immigration are numerous. Here are a few:

1. Currently in California; 33% of jail cells are occupied by illegals! Recently, 10,000 gang members were rounded up by various agencies of law enforcement across the country. That represents ten percent of the total! Why do I mention it? Because almost to a man, they're here illegally. That means 90,000 gang members are roaming around the streets preying on people! Is that a benefit? I also seem to recall Federal jails have the same percentage of illegals. Who pays for them? Why the United States taxpayer of course! President of Univision recently asked Lou Dobbs if he was for the use of concentration camps, nice touch! I wonder what he'd tell the man in NY, whose wife was raped and murdered by an illegal? Or the wife on Long Island whose husband was slaughtered by a gang of illegals? That's six children who won't have a father and mother to come to.

2. Economics. You're correct, there's a market for the labor. Problem, few avenues exist for the illegal to move up the socio-income ladder. In this country it now requires education, something not available to illegal immigrants. Factories, a source used by generations of workers to advance in this society are closing. The jobs (GM comes to mind) provided good pay and benefits. Thank NAFTA in part for that one! How long before resentment spills over into bloodshed?

3. Many of the current group of immigrants don't like this country as evidenced by dual citizenship. Why immigrate to a country from wherever if you don't want to become a citizen? For that, I do blame in large measure the spineless group of politicians that inhabit Washington! Hispanics refuse to communicate in English, preferring their own language. Should the rest of the country adapt to them? Again, why immigrate if you don't want to learn the language?

4. Who pays for things like education and health care for illegal aliens? All that nonsense about tax payments etc. is just that nonsense! Here's an aside; hospitals along the border with Mexico are closing in record numbers, due to the flood of illegals! And what about funds transfer out of the country? Some $24 billion leaves the United States for Mexico and places south.

In summary; would our roads be less crowded? Would our cities be safer without 100,000 gang members roaming the streets? Would health care be accessible and affordable? Would our schools be better if illegals were shown the door? Here's my recommendation; call time out, meaning no immigration for a five or ten year period while the current group assimilates. And if you're here illegally; have a nice day, see you soon!
-- Bob M.

I fully agree that those currently in the country illegally should not be parachuted back into the center of their country.

I do not, however, agree that those currently here be enrolled in an amnesty program. They broke the law coming here, so they should be returned to their country of origin. Many of the illegal aliens are drug smugglers, MS-13 gang members, and other common criminals.

Living in Florida for the past several years, I followed a white slavery trial two years ago. The main perpetrators were Mexican nationals, who recruited the young girls by promising they would be placed as domestics inside the U.S. Once they got them into Florida, they kept them imprisoned, using them to service young, illegal men who were working primarily in the fruit and construction industries in Florida.

Recently, a nephew of mine who lives in West Virginia, very near Washington, D.C., was singled out and threatened by avowed MS-13 gang members who have recently enrolled in his high school. The reason for the threat: he objected to one of them making lewd and suggestive remarks to his girlfriend. While you might say this is an isolated incident, I suggest you check with local police in the D.C. area.

The border needs to be closed, now, in the interests of national security! If the administration in Washington is serious, they should use the military if necessary....
-- R. Goodson
Vero Beach, Florida

Mr. Tyrrell's notion of a legitimate demand -- of a "market for immigrants" -- makes me wish there was some standardized, internationally accepted credential for journalists and editorialists. Such credentials exist for engineers, physicians, nurses, and other American professionals whose wages are being depressed because of the sudden application of ivory-tower free trade and free-immigration ideas to America's real-world, flesh-and-blood, labor force. Carrying these credentials, foreign-trained immigrants compete for jobs in America, and, predictably, wages and benefits are diminished downward from the American scale toward the world scale.

If such a journalistic credential existed, and if the immigration of journalists were encouraged to the same degree as other professions, then journalists likewise would experience depression of their wages and benefits toward the world-journalist average. Not to mention that aspirants would then have to compete with five- or tenfold as many individuals for a job.

As it is, the peculiarities of the American media labor market virtually guarantee that only the home-grown citizen is able to earn a living in such an occupation. As a result of this homogeneity in the journalist population, immigration and free-trade practices are, to many opinion writers, mere abstractions. The journalist is more inclined to embrace the ideas of the free-immigration policy theorist than the unemployed American engineer whose job was given to an Indian immigrant willing to work for much less than he.

On the other end of the salary scale, many unskilled American citizen laborers' jobs are now filled by illegal immigrant Mexicans. "American citizens just don't want those jobs...," is the usual cant we hear. But is this not a tautology? Without the huge illegal Mexican labor force long present in the United States, would not Americans have already taken many of these jobs? And is it not conceivable that the wages and benefits of these jobs, held by Americans instead of illegal immigrants, would be much better than what they are now?...
-- Francis Dillon
Indianapolis, Indiana

Countries happy to export their people don't realize that, once Americanized, these de facto deportees and their children will change the futures of the mother countries. Latin America, in particular, will be changed by Hispanic-Americans, who will be instrumental in prying loose the grips that corrupt oligarchies have on their native countries. Latin America will become less Latin and more American, to the general benefit of the hemisphere.
-- David Govett
Davis, California

The United Kingdom is suffering from an immigration crisis every bit as severe as that being endured by the United States.

With all due respect to Bob, his article reads as if it were written by a guy who doesn't mow his own lawn.
-- Martin Kelly
Glasgow, Scotland

TOO DANGEROUS FOR THE PRIESTHOOD
Re: Patrick O'Hannigan's Fighting Tendencies:

Mr. O'Hannigan writes an interesting article dealing with a difficult subject. However, I was surprised to read in the article that "the idea that sexual abuse and cover-up scandals in the church prove same-sex attraction is 'too dangerous to tolerate'" is incorrect. In point of fact, same-sex attraction is far too dangerous to be tolerated in the priesthood.

As a refugee from the 1960s, I used also to be of the opinion that gays are just like straights except for the object of their affection. This naive view, however, was modified as I became aware of "glory holes," "bath houses," multiple-partner sex," and the tolerance, nay, the encouragement, that one gay partner is wont to give to his boyfriend concerning the third-party lovers. Of course, all members of this category are not the same; however, the bias in modern Catholic circles appears to be to make the same mistake again and again: pretending that homosexual is simply something that can be held in check with really, really good promises.

The plain fact is (a) homosexuality is objectively disordered; (b) the homosexual disorder includes promiscuity as a functional element; (c) homosexuals drawn to the priesthood -- no matter how heroic their actions -- bring with them - indeed are attracted to the priesthood because of -- the promiscuity inherent in their disordered condition. I am surprised that the ancient law of the Church concerning homosexuality requires so much annotation in order to be understood. The ancient law of morality is still the law of the Church.

It may be amusing that Mr. Saletan (according to Mr. O'Hannigan) criticizes Pope Benedict for being right about the homosexual problem in the Church even before the explosion of homosexual molestations by priests. However, that insight should be a cause of celebration by Catholics rather than some sort of cautionary tale.

Similarly, Ms. Welborn (according to Mr. O'Hannigan) is quite wrong to write that the problem "is not, in simple terms, the homosexual priest." In point of fact, that is precisely the problem. The homosexual has sexual pressures that are not at all like heterosexuals. The homosexual is compelled by the "cultural" aspects of his disorder to at least contemplate the need for numerous and strong same-sex encounters. In a male priesthood, out of the public eye, the opportunity for mischief is so great that homosexuality represents a major danger to the priesthood and to the Church.

Most predictions concerning this are wrong: when the standards are tightened, when male celibacy is among males and not among homosexuals, then the priesthood will grow stronger. The reversal of the decline of the Catholic Church in America will begin only when the obvious precepts of the Church are returned to their central place in our lives.

I thank Mr. O'Hannigan for his article on this tough issue and hope that he will write again.
-- John Shea

Patrick O'Hannigan replies:
John Shea raises several valuable points, and I thank him for that.

In defense of my claim that intolerance of same-sex attraction is a straw man argument that commentators like Sullivan and Saletan have addressed in misguided fashion, let me add that I wrote that not to minimize the risks involved in ordaining gay priests, but to acknowledge the distinction that the church continues to make between inclination and action.

A LifeSite news report of November 28 paraphrases Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston on this very point:

After clarifying that the Catholic Church does not tolerate unjust discrimination towards persons with homosexual tendencies, the leader of the Catholic Church in Boston reminded Catholics that although Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, he did however -- after saving her life -- tell her "Go and sin no more."

Nobody understands human nature better than Christ and His church. To emphasize intolerance, as Mr. Shea does, can be salutary in certain contexts, but it's important to recall -- as Sullivan and Saletan do not -- that Catholicism still follows Jesus in hating the sin and loving the sinner.

A DRAFT OF HOT AIR
Re: Jay D. Homnick's Drafting a Lie:

Mr. Homnick, I thought you were a wee bit soft on King Bill. Then I discovered that you were making a point using sarcasm. The King will ignore you as he does the rest of us.

King Bill is the perfect patron for the Kingdom of Santa Fe. He freely parcels out political favors to the dukes and duchesses who contribute mightily to his reelection coffers. He ignores traffic laws because they slow him down or are security risks or whatever. He enjoys a fast jet airplane for a 30-minute car trip (of course his car must be driven from Santa Fe to meet him when the plane lands). With the windfall of oil and gas royalties to New Mexico, King Bill is now giving away our money if ye but ask on bended knee. There is much more but I won't bore you.

Oh, I almost forgot: King Bill loves a good cigar. Does that remind you of someone?
-- Nelson Ward
Ribera, New Mexico

When I was a junior in high school I had some modest success on the football field and as a result received some "letters of interest" from various colleges. Because of my family's modest circumstances these letters were received with great enthusiasm by my parents, particularly my mother. I received one such letter from Dartmouth. The letter (I'm sure a form letter) merely congratulated me on my performance and suggested that if numerous other criteria were met I might be considered a candidate for the school and the team. This became, in my mother's view, a scholarship offer. I stressed to her that it was merely an inquiry and she should not get her hopes up.

Several years later my brother received a similar letter. I'm sure my mother went to her grave believing that her sons had gotten scholarship offers from Dartmouth. My brother and I went on to small colleges where we enjoyed an extra four years of participating in football but we never made it to The Big Green.

I have been around athletics, athletes, and their parents all my life and I have heard all manner of tales about illusory scholarship offers, evanescent sporting accomplishments and fabricated achievements. I can say for sure when you receive a bona fide scholarship offer or are drafted by professional team you know it. There are a lot of wannabes who believe their own fantasies and as the years roll on pass them off as reality.

Perhaps a friend of Mr. Richardson knew someone who knew a scout who might be interested in him and that resulted in his being "drafted by the "A's."
-- Randy Ferrari
Western Springs, Illinois

Back when Richardson was making waves about the border I said he was watching polls because he wanted to be President, and oh my, most Americans were for a tight border. Before the polls he had said many times his state would welcome illegals, kind of like another person running for President in 2004, I voted for the war before I voted against it.
-- Elaine Kyle

Wouldn't it be delicious to know who turned Mr. Richardson in to the Albuquerque Journal? Let's see now, Mr. Richardson, not that I share his political views, most probably would be a strong Democratic contender for president. Now, assuming two plus two still equals four. Boys and girls, can you say HRC? Hmm, I wonder!
-- Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

Even, if he didn't get drafted by the Kansas City A's, if he is selected to be the Democratic Presidential candidate, he will be smarter than the GOP candidate. They always are!
-- Steven Doyle
Seymour, Illinois

Q. How are Bill Clinton and Bill Richardson alike?
A. They were never drafted.
-- Allen Hurt

OFF TRACK
Re: Tom Bethell's Politically Incorrect Science:

True enough, unfortunately, science in influenced by politics, and vice versa. So what? Tell us something new. It is apparent that the author is ignorant of science and how it works, and especially ignorant of the historical importance of public health preparedness. He makes many true statements, but these are negated by wild assertions about a "need to bring back DDT." In fact, despite misguided pressure to stop its use, DDT is still used in residual spraying of homes for control of Anopheline mosquitoes in areas where malaria is endemic. Furthermore, he assumes that the overzealous hype infused into the "public health crisis of the month" negates any need for concern whatsoever. True, bird flu is not likely to be the next "1918 Pandemic," but neither is it a "scam," as the author idiotically claims. Nor can planners assume it will be a non-issue. If such public health problems were ignored by those in gub'mint, only to perhaps morph into an unexpected disaster, he would be writing a similarly wacky diatribe about "Government ineptitude." Instead of citing valid concerns and problems to enlighten the reader, this author, who probably has a degree in some lesser subject that I studied for fun, as a required humanities elective for my science curriculum, embarks on a foil-hatted, stream-of-consciousness diatribe about things he cannot possibly begin to understand. Very irresponsible. No wonder I like Reason Online better... Gimme a break!
-- Bradley E. Foster

In his article, Mr. Bethell raises a number of issues with contemporary science and its funding that clearly need to be addressed, although he does so in a heated and intemperate tone. In raising awareness of these issues, he performs a worthwhile service. Unfortunately, he shares a characteristic of his colleague Mr. Neumayr, the ability not only to run off the tracks, but then proceed for a considerable distance over rough terrain, oblivious to the damage he is doing to his train.

I wish to address two complaints about his latest effort.

First, he mischaracterizes science's position on Intelligent Design. As a scientist, I have no trouble with the proposal that miracles may happen; indeed, I admit that Intelligent Design (though not Young Earth Creationism) may even be true. The problem is that science has nothing to say about miracles and unfalsifiable claims. Thus, they not only shouldn't be "taught" in a science class, they can't be.

My major beef though, is Mr. Bethell's allusion to his apparent opinion that AIDS is not caused by HIV. The corpse he is flogging here is too far decomposed to be certain it was once a horse. Unlike ID, though, this is a testable hypothesis, thus suitable for science to address. How about it Mr. Bethell, would you be willing to demonstrate your confidence in that position by submitting to a transfusion from an (otherwise healthy) HIV positive donor? Who knows, you might get lucky; some guy once swallowed a test tube full of vibrio bacteria to prove it didn't cause cholera, and he didn't even get sick.

Of course, the result of one such test would prove very little, but if the AIDS-HIV connection is so untenable, surely he could round up a few hundred clean-living stalwarts, willing to undergo the same trial to put those money grubbing AIDS researchers in their place.
-- Rick Skeean

PARTIES AREN'T STOLEN
Re: Gary Blume's letter (under "Small-Tent Conservatism") in Reader Mail's A Charlie Brown Holiday and W. James Antle III's Don't Blame the Social Conservatives:

In response to Gary Blume's letter regarding James Antle's excellent piece on social conservatism, I have a question. How does one go about "stealing" a political party? By participating? By contributing? By voting?

Republicans, in today's political demographic, will be on the outside looking in if social conservatives are forced to look elsewhere for the opportunity to participate in the political process. Perhaps Mr. Blume reasons that losing would be a small enough price to pay to exclude Christians and others who espouse "religious nonsense" and other dangerous philosophies from the marketplace of ideas. Misplaced secular superiority and antireligious snobbery are the stuff of Democratic victories.

Oh! and by the way, while it's still legal (I think) to say it, Merry Christmas!
-- David Atchison
Mobile, Alabama

NO TRIAL DEFENSE
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's reply to Bob Casselberry's letter (under "Tort Target") in Reader Mail's A Charlie Brown Holiday and Ralph R. Reiland's Making Things Whole:

I apologize for not reading your story more carefully.

But if you knew that Murphy was a child at the time of the accident, why does the case upset you? There is no way to anticipate the boorish future behavior of people. If there were, many professional athletes would never sign the big contracts they have.

I suppose that your story just hit a sore point with me. Every few months the internet circulates "factual" accounts of mind-boggling legal settlements. Few, if any, of these tales bear any relationship to reality. I know because I routinely check them out, using my resources as an attorney. So when I saw yet another story about an "unfair" lawsuit, by a writer I respect, I was disappointed.

In my own defense though, I am a fairly careful reader, and if I missed your reference to Murphy's age at the time of the incident, I suspect that many other TAS readers did the same. The piece came across as "teenage burglar gets unjust reward."

Again, I apologize for a rash, and probably overlong, reply.
-- Bob

Ralph R. Reiland replies:
All's ok ... and today's law thing to be mad about is the N.Y. jury finding the guilty terrorists only 32% to blame for the first World Trade Center bombing (and the deeper pocketed building owner 68% at fault).

CHARLIE CHOPPED
Re: Debra Poore's letter (under "Charlie Brown Remembers") in Reader Mail's A Charlie Brown Holiday and Lisa Fabrizio's The Ghosts of Christmas Presence:

In Debra Poore's December 1 letter about "A Charlie Brown Christmas," she wonders if the old TV special has been chopped up for more commercials. Actually, it has. Towards the end, where Charlie Brown is leaving the auditorium and going out into the night with his little Christmas tree, there is now a brief commercial. This has been going on for many years now. But in the earliest broadcasts, there was no commercial interruption. He simply leaves and walks to Snoopy's heavily decorated doghouse -- no interruptions.
-- John Lockwood
Washington, D.C.

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