Kaczynski: Reclusive Doesn't Equal Insane
Regarding "Tracing Kaczynski From Cabin to Court" (Jan. 5): I agree that accused Unabomber Ted Kaczynski is certainly no Thoreau. But I am wary of the intimation - promulgated by Kaczynski's defense lawyers and publicized by the news media - that life in a cabin, without running water and electricity, supports the assertion of mental illness.
The proof of his lack of sanity must come from his actions, not from the fact that he lived in seclusion, without the conveniences that most of us think of as "necessities." Such poor logic provides a framework for those who would persecute others who innocently live alternative lifestyles. This man may have built bombs that killed people: That must be the reason he's convicted, not for being a recluse.
Race relations revisited
The main question raised by Roger Clegg's opinion article "Obsession With Race Detracts From Real Issues" (Jan. 6) is whether he is African-American. It would be rare for any African-American to reach a conclusion that we should declare victory in the civil rights war. One need only remember studies proving the disparate treatment of African-Americans in the criminal justice system, retail stores, job interviews, applications for housing, schools, and every aspect of life in the United States to realize that the war is far from over.
At the same time, most of the dominant culture are delighted to hear that the racial problem has been solved. It's to our distinct benefit to believe such assertions.
Patricia A. Keefe
Financing public education
Regarding your editorial, "A Key Civics Lesson" (Jan. 2), on the New Hampshire Supreme Court's decision to strike down its "traditional reliance on local property taxes to fund public schools": The means you advocate to help students are of dubious validity.
Many studies have shown that more money doesn't necessarily buy better educational outcomes. Even if you achieved educational parity through alternative funding schemes, you would be taking away the ability of parents to exercise choice among schools - thereby destroying the competitive pressures among schools that can generate outstanding results.
Parenthood vs. other opportunities
In your article "Targeting Boys in Fight Against Pregnancy" (Jan. 7) you look into efforts to resolve the problem of children being born to teenagers. You also report on a current trend in Japan, where women are postponing or deciding against marriage because the world of work and freedom is more attractive than the world of being a housewife and mother ("In Japan, Single Life Looks Good," Jan. 2).
There is a link. When women have clear economic opportunities they tend not to have children. All of the efforts to end teenage pregnancy fail to recognize that link. Too often, young women are presented with the "traditional" picture for women - housewife, mother, etc. If that's "all there is," why not start now and avoid the rush?
Of course, the solution puts us in a bind. The conservative forces that want to end teenage pregnancy also resist the transition to a society where women have viable economic potential. Why? Because it usually leads to dramatic decreases in marriage and births.
Boys, too, seem to be more responsible when there is clear economic opportunity available. It will never end the problem, but it can cause dramatic reductions in teen pregnancies. However, it also drops overall marriage and birth rates.
George N. Wells
Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org