Editor: I write concerning the recent advent of the "NC-17" movie rating that in effect replaces the "X" movie rating. It leaves me with a deep concern for the irreparable and continual erosion of family and social values with our society.
There was a day when films that exploited women and graphically depicted sex could only be seen by adults in back-alley peep shows. Community standards did not permit this degrading and socially unacceptable material to reach the "silver screens" where mainstream society would be exposed to it.
As the movies became more explicit, prompted by abolition of movie censor boards, the rating system was established to provide society with a means to make informed decisions regarding movie viewing.
The X-ratings were assigned to those films that depicted extreme violence or graphic sex. Many advertisers would not even accept ads for "X" movies and most family movie theaters would not book them. Not so anymore.
The movie industry, with its insatiable desire for profit, devised a new rating (NC-17), disguising the once X-rated films with a new, more socially acceptable rating. Under this new NC-17 rating, advertisers would once again accept ads and movie-goers would be lured into the theaters while profits soared.
Who suffers? We all do. Once again we permit the degradation of the moral standards of our society in favor of the "smut of the world." While we stand idly by, almost in a trance, as our crime rate increases, as drug use skyrockets, as teen pregnancy soars, as academic standards plummet and as the murder rate reaches new heights.
We dance to the lyrics of "Madonna" and "Two Live Crew" on MTV with our heads in the sand. In our if-it-feels-good-do-it-society, we offer our children (our future leaders) all of our trash and bad habits. We wonder what went wrong.
We must restore a sense of moral standards for all to look up to. Until then, we will continue our social decline to the depths of Sodom and Gomorrah and the ultimate destruction of ordered society as we know.
It is with deep regret that I send our children into this world. It is unfortunate that we continue to lower our standards in favor of profit, convenience and political favor. My heart is burdened and I pray that we will see the error of our ways.
R. Gary Strebeck.
Editor: It was a pleasure and gratification to see and hear members of Congress on television in a three-day debate whether to give the president authority to wage war.
Their speeches were articulate and well-researched, and some were heart-rending.
They were not able to get advice from their constituents who could not make up their own minds on that subject. Congress had to rely on its own conscience, awareness and knowledge.
After the final vote, there was no rancor, malice or bitterness, only agreement to give support to President Bush.
I wonder if they could come to such a tremendous decision in only three days, why they are unable to solve the budget, housing and savings and loan problems in a full term?
What happens to Congress on our other important issues? How could shrewdness, good judgment and perspicacity evaporate so suddenly? It must be the wrath of their constituents and fear of loss in the next election.
Editor: The letter in The Sunday Sun Jan. 6 from Xiso Houde, Counselor for Political Affairs, Chinese Embassy, is an outrageous affront to the sensibilities of moral people.
The genocide committed against the people of Tibet by the People's Republic of China has been repeatedly condemned by the United Nations in resolutions calling for China to get out of Tibet. Those resolutions were arrived at after erudite consideration of historical proofs that Tibet is, and has been, a sovereign nation, free and independent of China.
China has no legal claim to the country of Tibet, and I wish to express thanks to those like Galen Rowell who continue to draw their maps the way they ought to be.
Xiao Houde calls the verified accounts of human torture and massacre in Tibet "untenable allegations," using the same barbaric method of bold-faced lying that his country used when it said no one died in Tienanmen Square during the recent student uprising, as if repeating a cover-up often enough will finally make it so.
He says that Tibet now enjoys a better way of life, since China has lent a helping hand. Why don't we ask the Tibetans themselves what they think of China's help? You and I both know the answer.
Xiao Houde says, "Tibet boasts of over 1,400 temples at religious sites with 34,000 monks or nuns." But before China came in and destroyed every temple in Tibet and slaughtered the priests, there were thousands of temples, and hundreds of thousands of monks.
Only recently has the ugly and repressive hand of China allowed a puppet display of religion in a country once deemed the most religious in the world. Seen against the statistics of what once was, Xiao Houde's numbers do not impress.
Brian Wayne Gray.
Confused Germond-Witcover Column
Editor: After reading the Jan. 13 Perspective column by Jack Germond and Jules Witcover, "Turning Diplomacy Upside Down," I experienced utter confusion. How could two widely respected political commentators exhibit such blatant ignorance on matters of history and foreign policy.
Messrs. Germond and Witcover, at the beginning of their article, champion open diplomacy, and credit Woodrow Wilson with its principles as well as criticize President Bush for grotesquely distorting them. If they had bothered to do any research, they would have found that George Bush practices open diplomacy as much as Wilson ever did.
Wilson returned from Versailles with the secretly formed League of Nations treaty, which he presented to the Senate and the American people as a fait accompli. So disdainful were they of Wilson's failure to consult with them during the creation of the treaty, that the Senate refused to ratify it. Wilson's idea of open diplomacy, then, merely meant that he wanted consent from Congress and the American people, not their advice.
The team of Jack Germond and Jules Witcover, therefore, has failed to demonstrate how President Bush has grotesquely distorted Wilson's idea. Because they evidently know nothing about diplomacy, the gentlemen put too much faith in it to resolve this crisis.
The institution of diplomacy, lest we forget, evolved in the West, and we have merely assumed that non-Western countries will respect its principles and follow its guidelines. As we have seen by a number of terrorist actions on our diplomats and our embassies, the radical Arabs, such as Saddam Hussein, have no respect for the institution of diplomacy.
Also in evidence is the type of people they choose as their emissaries: Tariq Aziz and Iraqi Ambassador al-Mashat. Do you believe that these propagandists possess one of the highest virtues expected of a diplomat: sufficient loyalty toward one's country so that he will tell its government what it should know, not just what it wants to hear? I don't.
Even if they had wanted to, it seems clear that Saddam Hussein would have executed as a traitor anyone who told him he would lose a war with the U.N. forces. Therefore, I suspect his emissaries did not tell him this, and I would suggest this is why Mr. Bush felt Mr. Hussein didn't get the message that he can't win.
Toward the end of their essay, they chastise Mr. Bush again: this time for not practicing secret, back-channel diplomacy. This seems surprising after their praise of open diplomacy, but not altogether shocking considering the consistency of their arguments thus far. Although I consider secret diplomacy the best type of diplomacy, we are dealing with people with whom open and secret diplomacy have not proven effective. How has the back-channel diplomacy helped us with other Arab terrorists, such as with the Hezbollah and the hostages they hold? Or don't Messrs. Germond and Witcover remember how, two summers ago, we went through all back channels with Ayatollah Rafsanjani to supposedly help free our hostages?
In light of their errors, it comes as no surprise that Germond and Witcover have falsely concluded that President Bush has practiced "irresponsibility" rather than diplomacy by communicating and negotiating only with our allies but giving ultimatums to our adversary.
Perhaps now they understand that diplomacy cannot be practiced if it is not a two-way street. If Saddam Hussein's idea of diplomacy is to threaten the sanctity of the American embassy his country, and to appoint subverters of truth as his spokesmen, then I will conclude to Messrs. Germond and Witcover that it is not George Bush, but Saddam Hussein, who has practiced irresponsibility, and who turned diplomacy upside down.
The writer is a Towson State University student.