Had I not read Sgt. Stacey Koon's book, "Presumed Guilty: The Tragedy of the Rodney King Affair," I would have concurred with Wiley A. Hall's commentary of March 24 ("Convict in King beating tries to cash in on crime").
After all, I had seen the "beating" on TV dozens of times -- or part of it at least, although with no explanations of exactly what I was seeing or of the portions not shown. And of course we were all exposed to a virtual consensus of a "presumed guilty" opinion in the press.
I came across the book at the library and was curious. My initial skepticism turned to total belief by the book's end. I am now convinced of Koon's innocence and troubled by the role played by our news media and "justice" system in this affair.
Am I alone in my conversion? Am I truly naive and gullible? Space does not allow me to repeat his explanations here, but he seems to have written a completely substantiated and rational case for himself and his fellow policemen.
Wiley Hall is "absolutely, positively, convinced" of Koon's guilt and would only see the Koon letter he received as evidence of "nonrepentance, casting about for scapegoats, trying to cash in on his felonious acts." But has he read the Koon book?
I plead for Mr. Hall to separate himself from the sheep herd for a few hours and read it. At the library he needn't even spend $30 to benefit Koon.
After reading the book, would Mr. Hall please give us his evaluation? Would he still be as absolutely and positively convinced? Would he please reveal what part of Koon's story is untrue or biased?
Maybe Mr. Hall can also tell me why this book has never been taken seriously by the media. I have never seen a review, discussion or even a reference to it until his March 24 commentary.
Nelson L. Hyman
As one gets older, perhaps his reasoning powers diminish. If that's true, it might be why I can't understand the signals from Washington.
On one hand, a Democratic administration considers a ban on smoking almost everywhere, indoors and out, and the head of the Food and Drug Administration wants guidance from Congress on whether to label nicotine a narcotic. Even the military is joining the effort.
On the other hand, the president proposes to pay for his health care plan largely with tax increases on cigarettes and other tobacco products, and the health subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee voted to increase cigarette taxes by $1.25 a pack to raise money for health care reform.
It may be time for these people to meet jointly, because if you ban smoking or even enact measures to deter it, fewer dollars will be available for health care. You can't have it both ways.
If Michael Barrash (letter, March 24) wants to be disgusted with a political party, or if he needs to be disgusted period, I suggest that he be thoroughly disgusted with our federal government. If that government in the future tells anyone the truth about anything, put it down in your diary as a first.
The proposed Clinton health plan is just another socialist or communist takeover plan to take away our right to choose.
This federal government is no longer democratic. If the freedom loving, honest and moral people do not take control away from it, we will be its slaves.
A democratic government is only supposed to handle for us what we cannot do for ourselves -- defense, law enforcement, etc.
Ross Perot said that we have a government that comes at us. I know that it is true.
Robert H. Goebel Sr.
With Bill and Hillary traipsing all around this here U.S. of A., spreading the fairy tales about their magnificent health plans, it certainly makes one wonder who is paying the costs of all this travel.
When a president travels, the price of security, flying, among many other things, is considerable.
Besides, if this plan is so good, why is all this hard sell necessary?
H. Robert Wagner
Killer gets second chance, victims don't
It makes me sick to hear of people who cry for a poor criminal who is in jail.
I refer to the story in your Maryland section March 28. The topic of the story was Terrence Johnson and why he should not remain in jail just because he was convicted of killing two Prince George's County police officers in 1978.
It says that Terrence Johnson is 31 years old now but was 15 years old when he committed the crime.
Officer James Swart was just 25 years old and Officer Albert Claggett was just 26.
Johnson has had the opportunity to see his 31st birthday. Officers Claggett and Swart never had that opportunity.
They also never had the opportunity to testify about how they treated Johnson the night they were shot and killed. Johnson took care of that. As the saying goes, don't leave any witnesses.
What we are asked to believe is Terrence Johnson, who just happened to have suspected burglary tools and $29 in change in a sock in the back seat of his car.
I guess that we must also believe that he didn't break into the laundromat that the officers wanted to talk to him about.
What we must do now is feel sorry for Terrence Johnson. He has had the opportunity to get a degree from Morgan State University, and he has a job waiting for him when he gets out of jail.
Officers Claggett and Swart don't have anything waiting for them. They are dead and will be long after Terrence Johnson finishes serving his maximum sentence for what he did.
Also keep in mind that Terrence Johnson has a one-year sentence for assaulting a prison guard during a dispute over visitations. We should question whether or not Terrence Johnson is a nonviolent, law abiding person who is not a threat to society.
As for Mr. Taalib-Din Ugdah, who wants to employ Johnson when he gets out of jail, try this. Give that job to some other poor kid who did not commit an alleged burglary and kill two police officers. They deserve more of a break than Terrence Johnson does.
The next time you hear of people who want criminals released from jail, make this suggestion to them:
Take that prisoner out of jail with the requirement that the criminal live with the person who cried for their release . . .
William W. Bocklage
The writer is president of Lodge 34, Fraternal Order of Police.
Why the Federal Reserve is still needed
Vincent A. Henderson's letter to the editor, "It's Time To Halt the Federal Reserve System" (March 20), should have been discarded instead of published in your newspaper. The writer has taken a one-time event to generalize on the Fed's effectiveness.
Long-term interest rates are not dictated by the Open Market Committee, the Fed's policy making arm, currently headed by Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Interest rates are determined in world markets.
It is the duty of the committee to maintain demand for dollar-denominated securities, like the U.S. bonds we issue to fund our deficit.
If the committee is seen in world markets as not reacting to an upward bias in longer-term rates by raising the federal funds and discount rates, not only does the dollar purchase less of world production but long-term rates move up as an answer to too much printed money.
Rates were rising before the committee increased the federal funds rate recently. The gist of Mr. Henderson's letter is to take a one-time event in a static world and extrapolate a federal funds increase now into a huge, 16-year addition to the deficit.
But only a multi-year period can be used to judge the rightness of Fed policy.
During the tenures of Paul Volcker and his successor, Mr. Greenspan, we have had generally good job growth with decreasing inflation. That is an optimum we don't want to lose.
If the open market committee is ever politicized, as Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., would like, there would soon be sky-high inflation, sky-high interest rates and a crash in the securities and real estate markets.
A stable currency is the measure of a nation's strength to determine its welfare.
Jobs are created when investment is attractive, promising payback in equal dollars.
The more government interferes vis a vis other countries, the dimmer our economic future in comparison.
Richard. L. Frank