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Jefferson's view

In the column ``The Founding Fathers vs. religious tyranny'' [Oct. 29], Tim Hackler attempts to distinguish Jefferson's attitudes from concepts propounded by the ``religious right.'' But the issue is not whether one is for or against these questions, but whether or not they should be determined by state and local governments (as the ``religious right'' argues), or by unelected federal magistrates at the national level. Jefferson believed the greatest guarantee of individual liberty to be a strict limitation of the authority of the national government. He also believed that the people should remain free to govern themselves - even if they governed poorly.

In a letter written to William Jarvis from Monticello on Sept. 28, 1820, Jefferson wrote, ``You seem ... to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so.'' Peter B. Viering Stonington, Conn.

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Saving forests Previous attempts to farm land cleared from rain forests have proved sad failures [``Ecuador's Amazon: land struggle sparks national debate,'' Oct. 27]. The soil wore out in two or three years and without the forest, there was no cycle of rain. The poor Indians who had been given the land then had to move onto land freshly cleared of rain forest, and the dismal cycle was repeated.

We are told the rain forests of South America provide about 40 percent of the oxygen for our earth, so this is not a problem for a few Indians and ``environmentalists.'' This is a world problem. Once those rain forests are gone, there will be no getting them back. If that time ever comes, it really won't matter much what we did about arms control. Jean McKean St. Louis

Not this cabbage While skimming through the article ``Where is cabbage heading? '' Oct. 22, I saw the recipe title ``Warm Cabbage Salad With Duck Fat.'' All alone in the house, I laughed out loud. The ingredients were pretty funny, too. Being a native New Englander, I've eaten and enjoyed most members of the cabbage family all my life, but never anything like that. I'd sooner sample ``Cabbage Meringue Pie.''

All in all, the Monitor has gotten better - the artwork is fresher, the writing style livelier, and, regardless of the cabbage recipe, it's become quite appetizing. Holly B. Welsh Hingham, Mass.

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