A great deal of attention has been focused recently on alleged incidents of children imitating what they see on television and in the movies.
A five-year-old imitating MTV's "Beavis and Butt-head" set fire to the family trailer in Ohio, killing his infant sister. High school students in Pennsylvania and New York, apparently imitating the movie "The Program," lay down in the middle of the street and were run over.
Now distraught family members of the victims have been pointing the finger of blame at the producers of these movies and TV shows.
Perhaps MTV, which aired the cartoon in which pyromania was glorified, is partially responsible for the fire set by the five-year-old. Perhaps "Beavis and Butt-head" shouldn't air during prime time when young children may see it. But a better solution might be to simply not leave young children unsupervised in a house with matches lying around.
It is another matter entirely to blame a movie for the actions of 17- and 18-year-old high school students. By the time one reaches that age one should know better than to lie down in traffic, jump off a bridge or play Russian roulette just because one sees someone else do it in a film.
Your editorial, "Cliometrics Wins," Oct. 17, states that Winston S. Churchill was the only historian to win a Nobel prize before this year. This is untrue. The 1902 Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to the German historian Theodor Mommsen, author of the monumental "Roemische Geschichte" ("The History of Rome," 1854-5).
The editorial also states in the first sentence, "There is no Nobel Prize in history." While this statement is true on the surface, it ignores the fact that the second paragraph of the Nobel statutes specifies that the Swedish Academy is not confined to belletristic writers when it tries to determine who should win the prize for literature.
The German philosopher Rudolf Eucken won the 1908 prize for literature; the English philosopher Bertrand Russell was awarded the prize in 1950; the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre declined the award in 1964.
The definition of literature implied in all this is broader and more serious than the definition of literature implied by common parlance. Separating Clio from her sister muses is a disservice to the arts and humanities.
Mark F. Lund
Perks for the Elite
"Animal Farm" by George Orwell has it that all the animals are equal, except some of them are more equal than the others.
President Clinton doesn't come out and say that in his nationwide health care plan "some are more equal than others," but he should be up front about it. The vice president, Congress and federal judges are not part of the plan. Communism may be dying in Russia, but in the U.S., perks for the elite are alive and well.
The Maryland Monument
H. Robert Dickerson, in his letter of Oct. 19, was both right and wrong about the Maryland monument to be built at Gettysburg.
He is right to point out that there are other Maryland monuments already on the battlefield. There are actually seven regimental monuments showing where some of the Maryland units fought on Culp's Hill.
The Maryland Memorial will honor all the Maryland regiments, plus all the Maryland soldiers who fought under other commands on the field. Of the 29 states that participated in this terrible battle, only the state of Maryland has no memorial at Gettysburg.
Persons interested in supporting this effort are asked to send contributions to Maryland Monument, Suite 347, Cross Keys, Baltimore, 21210.
Only $51,000 remains to be raised for the $160,000, 13-foot bronze and granite sculpture.
I talked with Mr. Dickerson, and he said he was wrong to imply that he didn't support the Maryland Memorial. He promised to send a contribution.
James A. Holechek
The writer is chairman and organizer of the Maryland Monument Project.
This Maryland monument must be completed and eventually take its place in our country's history.
What a world we would have if that war started all over again -- with the killing. We must build from the past and leave a history for our future generations.
The great period of Egyptian sculptors and architects is a sort of beginning for us -- we learned much from each subsequent society.
To forget the past means trouble, and the killing goes on as in parts of the world today.
So let's remember Maryland's heritage in the Civil War. This new monument can help educate the young against the futility of future wars.
The writer was chairman of the sculptor jury which selected the proposed Maryland Memorial monument for Gettysburg from 83 entrants.
Baltimorean Defined George III's Illness
As Britain's Royal National Theatre brings to Baltimore three weeks of "The Madness of George III," the longest engagement in any city on its American tour, The Sun has provided the play's medical background based on the historical research of a mother-and-son team, Dr. Ida Macalpine and Dr. Richard Hunter.
Writing from the London Bureau, correspondent Carl Schoettler stated (Oct. 10) that these two psychiatrists "were the first to study the voluminous medical records."
Not so. That distinction belongs to a Baltimore psychiatrist, the late Manfred S. Guttmacher, whose thoroughly researched and fascinating book, "America's Last King: An Interpretation of the Madness of George III," was published in 1941.
A Baltimore native, graduate of Park School and Johns Hopkins, Dr. Guttmacher received his Hopkins medical degree in 1923 to begin a distinguished career as practitioner, teacher and writer.
As Medical Officer to the Supreme Bench (now Circuit Court) of Baltimore, a position unique to Baltimore at the time, he became a nationally recognized authority on psychiatry and the law. . . .
Sources for Dr. Guttmacher's work included the royal family history contained in innumerable letters by George and others, voluminous diaries royal and otherwise, medical records, reports of Parliamentary inquiries, and various news sources of the day, prompting the author to observe that "it is possible to get a much clearer picture of George III's insanity than can be obtained by reading today's clinical record of a patient in a good modern mental hospital."
His extensive investigation led Dr. Guttmacher to conclude that "the mental disorder which seized George III on five separate occasions was manic-depressive insanity."
This diagnosis is at variance with the medical interpretation that informs the current theatrical production based on the Macalpine-Hunter work, which attributes the king's abnormal behavior to a rare metabolic disturbance known as porphyria.
By the time this contradictory opinion was first published in 1966, Dr. Guttmacher was terminally ill with leukemia and unable to pursue the matter. Although Mr. Schoettler's dispatch says that the "king's recent biographers accept the porphyria theory," it too has been critically questioned by medical authorities, at least one of whom has suggested yet another possibility.
Regardless of how future research may adjudicate the medical controversy, there can be no doubt of the priority and originality of Manfred Guttmacher's book.
Its introduction states: "It has always seemed strange to me that whereas our poets and historians have repeatedly turned their creative energies to the concepts of madness in power, our men of science have completely ignored the subject.
"There has never been a book about an insane ruler written in English by a psychiatrist. . . . And it is as a psychiatrist that I have presumed to take up that challenge in the study of King George III. . . .
"As I have proceeded with my studies, I have found that one can feel the same sympathy toward a sick man, dead for more than a century, that one develops toward the patients one personally attends."
Sidney Hollander Jr.