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Free Speech or Publisher's Prerogative?

The author of the opinion-page column "Reinforcing a Bad Civics Lesson in Texas," Oct. 8, gets carried away. The refusal of school newspapers to publish some articles is not an issue of First Amendment rights or prior restraint, nor is it due to incompetence by school administrators. How many editors print everything reporters and letter-writers submit regardless of the publisher's desires? Schools that refuse to permit certain articles are acting as all publishers do, whether or not we agree with their judgment. Publishers prevent the publication of articles in their newspapers; they do not prevent individuals from speaking out on their own. Editors and publishers should be responsible citizens, and that includes using judgment as to which articles to publish in their newspapers. R. Wojciechowski, Springfield, Va.

Brazil's 'faith-based' communities Regarding the article "On Brazil's Front Line, Priest Says Liberation Theology Is Still Basic to Helping the Poor," Oct. 11: The ecclesiastical base communities are not, as the author asserts, "neighborhoods organized around leftist political beliefs." These are faith-based communities where people gather around the Word, reading the Gospel in light of their daily lives and reading social reality in light of the Gospel. This cross-fertilization of faith in a God of life and the lived reality of misery and oppression leads these communities to take up action on behalf of life: literacy programs, community day care, union organizing, and supporting local political parties. Mev Puleo, Berkeley, Calif.

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More mouths to feed The article "World Hunger Is Persistent but Not Inevitable, Says New Report," Oct. 17, should have emphasized the implications of the fact that the world population is increasing at a rate of 86 million per year. When you quote someone as saying, "The principal barrier to ending world hunger is neither lack of resources nor insufficient knowledge," you should emphasize that such a statement cannot possibly be true 20 to 100 years from now without large decreases in population growth. Increasing food production may be successful in the short term, but has harmful long-term effects: The resources of the Earth decrease as the land is eroded, ground water is depleted or left polluted, species become extinct, and forests are cut. Intelligent use of resources is essential, but is less important than population stabilization. Those who want to have a long-term impact on world hunger will keep in mind the most fundamental problem: overpopulation. We in the US could start by encouraging our government to dramatically increase support for education of women in third-world countries and for international family planning. Steven C. Hill, Las Cruces, N.M.

Unrepresentative democracy The editorial "Thomas and the Court," Oct. 17, concludes: "The Supreme Court of the Unites States, Justice Thomas included, now needs the support of the American people." In a putative democracy it is difficult to support an institution and a system that are so deeply unrepresentative and flawed. Women, a majority of American voters, are enfranchised but not empowered. There are only two female senators and one woman Supreme Court justice. If justice is truly to be served, a much better balance is needed. Possibly the best solution would be to have term limitations for all three branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Louis R. Ward, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

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