The Oklahoma City bombing is causing heated discussion of hate speech and its nexus to the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Unfortunately, everyone at both ends of the spectrum, from U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter to James "Bo" Gritz. the leader of the Patriot Movement, repeatedly misquote and consequently misstate the applicable law.
We have heard numerous proclamations that "you can't yell fire in a crowded theater." The problem is this quote is not correct. Indeed, I certainly hope someone would loudly shout "fire" if there was a fire.
Oliver Wendell Holmes' view that the First Amendment does not convey an absolute right of unabridged speech was set forth in Schenck vs. United States.
This yielded the famous but routinely misquoted line: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater, and causing a panic."
If we are going to debate the free speech clause, we should at least avoid confusing one of its very cornerstones. Simply put, let's not have sloppy speech in the debate over free speech.
Steven D. Reske
Not the Militia
Your coverage of the disaster in Oklahoma City is disheartening. Articles published in your newspaper have attempted, through guilt by association, to link so-called "militias" to the bombing.
By all reports, the suspects were not even members of any of these groups. Yet you have attached labels to just about every person and group that doesn't conform to your political ideals.
First, your articles blamed persons of Middle Eastern descent for the bombing. Then your writers turned their sights on any person who has expressed a view believing in the Constitution, calling them "right-wing extremists," "anti-government" and "white supremacists."
When is the labeling going to stop? Who is the next group you are going to sling mud at?
What if the suspects had been members of the local book-of-the-month club? Would you then go after this club as a group that is responsible for the carnage?
At the very least, your paper owes an apology, not only to all persons of Middle Eastern heritage, but also to the millions of Americans who you have unfairly linked to the work of terrorists.
I am writing in response to John P. Kimball's April 26 letter, "Payment Due." I think he owes Kalevi Olkio an apology.
Mr. Kimball disagreed with Mr. Olkio's statement that "GOP tax cuts are good for middle income families."
Mr. Kimball used the 1980s and President Reagan's large tax cuts and "trickle down economics" as an example, stating they resulted in a "quadrupling of the national debt and a period of the greatest inflation that our nation has ever encountered."
First, the period of greatest inflation in this country occurred during President Carter's administration.
Second, what Mr. Kimball forgets is that every time President Reagan proposed a budget with tax cuts and less spending, the Democratic Congress announced that it was dead on arrival.
The Democratic Congress would keep the tax cuts but increase the spending. This led to the increase in the debt. After tax cuts, federal revenue increased and the deficit decreased. Mr. Kimball and anyone else can get these statistics through the Congressional Budget Office.
Also, the downturn in the economy came after President Bush was coerced into a tax increase in 1990 by a Democratic Congress.
Kent Z. Erman
I am writing this letter in response to the April 3 article about Robert A. Gordon, a Johns Hopkins University professor who is teaching a course based on the book "The Bell Curve." FTC Assuming the article was accurate, there is no justification for Hopkins allowing such a biased course to exist.
The article quoted Hopkins President William C. Richardson as saying, "It seems to me that so long as a person is teaching in his or her area of expertise, that the faculty member's given the freedom to exercise judgment, unless there's some evidence of impairment."
This statement has two errors with respect to the course taught by Dr. Gordon.
First, academic freedom, like freedom of speech, is not absolute. A case in point is the recent ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing the demotion of a City College of New York faculty member, Leonard Jeffries, for spewing forth anti-Semitic rhetoric. (The Sun, April 5).
Second, while Dr. Gordon may be an expert in the field of sociology, he is obviously not a geneticist.
The premise that racial groups have homogeneous gene pools that distinguish one from another is not supported by current molecular genetic studies.
In fact, there is much greater genetic variation between individuals within a racial group than between racial groups.
Furthermore, African-Americans also experienced genetic heterogeneity through inter-racial mating.
Therefore, even if one accepts IQ as a measure of intelligence, variations are much more likely to occur due to environmental (nutrition, toxicity, stimulation) and social (which group has designed the test, i.e. assimilation) rather than genetic causes.
This explains why the average IQ of some ethnic groups has dramatically changed over the course of one to two generations.
Daniel J. Sussman
Single-Payer Health Plan Is a Better Mousetrap
In the May 5 lead editorial, "Managed Care for Medicare," you note, "Until a better idea comes along managed care provisions should form an essential part of . . . legislation to bring Medicare (and Medicaid) under control."
Have I got good news for you (and for President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich if they are paying attention). That news is Rep. Jim McDermott's, D-Wash., single-payer bill currently being politely ignored in Washington . . .
Understand some people may prefer to have their health care under one roof of an HMO, but the data is clear. HMOs do not provide answers. If you check, you will find significant problems around the country with Medicaid managed care.
Moreover, a report just issued by the Congressional Budget Office points out that most forms of managed care make little difference in health costs.
Staff model HMOs are the exception. The more common independent practice association model shows scant savings over fee-service-coverage using utilization review.
Further, as larger proportions of citizens move into HMOs, those managed care companies will lose their ability to negotiate below-market fees with suppliers since there will be nowhere else to shift costs.
In comparison, if the McDermott single-payer plan had been enacted, there would be health coverage for everyone.
Everyone would be able to select their own health care providers. Coverage would be more comprehensive than in most current plans.
Prescription medications and long-term care would be included. No supplemental health insurance plans would be needed. There would be no deductibles.
The only co-payments would be for long term care. And the costs for individuals would be 2.2 percent of a person's taxable income. Businesses would be required to pay 8.7 percent of payroll into the system.
Studies in a variety of states, including Oregon, Minnesota and Alaska, have shown that a single-payer plan would provide payment for more services to more people at lower cost than any alternative approaches.
So too have studies by the U.S. General Accounting Office and the Congressional Budget Office. In fact the CBO has reported that there would be savings of over 100 billion dollars by the year 2003 if the single-payer bill were passed by Congress.
But the single-payer approach to health financing reform has been distorted by its opponents and too often ignored by those who simply believe it has no chance to be enacted.
The fact, however, is that we would not be hearing the current rhetoric about a crisis in Medicare if single-payer legislation had been enacted last year. Any effort to control costs will not occur until we have universal health financing.
Representative McDermott's plan (now with 59 co-sponsors) is a better mousetrap. The alternative is what The Sun suggests.
We individual Americans will have lost our choices about where we receive medical treatment. And the insurers will have won their long-term quest to control the delivery of medical services rather than just the payment for those services.
Albert P. Cohen