RE OPRAH'S show on rap:

They had the rapper (although not one of the demeaning ones), the label execs, the upper-middle-class African-Americans (columnist, magazine execs), the angry black college sisters and, of course, the savior of our entire race - Oprah. The one group not represented was (excuse me) the ho's.

I make no excuses for today's rappers - I don't really listen to anyone new. But the songs are based on actual women who see rappers and athletes as a means to get further in life and will do anything to snatch them up.

With all due respect to the angry sisters from Spelman, women who engage in this type of activity do exist and are not made up.

But when Russell Simmons says that because these rappers come from this culture and that they are only speaking of what goes on, it's a copout.

Rappers talk the ills of the society that they come from (or live in) and offer no ideas on how to change the environment - in fact, they glorify it.

There is a major difference between saying, "I came up hard, this is what I lived through, and I want to tell you WE can change it, and here is how" and "Yeah, that's my hood, we dropping bodies . . ."

The women degraded in songs and videos also share the blame. (There's no shortage of them waiting to become the "It girl" with an hour-glass figure, damn near nothing on, "shakin it like a salt shaker.").

There our many different spectrums of African-American culture (from poor to rich to even black Republican) and to just say these rappers need to stop saying the b-word and ho is simplistic. The labels, the rappers, society AND the women who inspire these songs must also become involved in the dialogue to eradicate the misogyny, and the glorification of violence and drugs, in a genre that has helped so many yet cannot seem to help itself.

Charles L. Herndon III, Philadelphia

Phables insults Catholics

The April 23 Phables ("Brad Guigar on Life in This City") is offensive and disrespectful to Catholics in general and to the thousands of women religious in particular who have so faithfully served in hospitals, schools and other institutions throughout the Philadelphia area. The cartoon mocks women religious, the Bible and the Catholic Church. It is an unfair representation of women who've given their lives to serve God. We must not allow the allegedly true story of one individual to engender such hurtful and prejudicial attempts at humor that degrade the reputation of many.

Publishing it feeds into stereotypes that are dated and demeaning to the educated and compassionate women who have lovingly served our community because of their commitment to Jesus and his church. For 200 years, women religious in the archdiocese of Philadelphia have tended the sick, educated children, fed the hungry and housed the homeless. The contributions of all should be celebrated, not held up for ridicule through one account involving someone throwing a Bible at a nun. These women devote themselves to a life of service which merits admiration, not a punch line.

Donna Farrell, Director of Communications

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

The latest Phable opened with a stereotypical nun in habit appearing cold-hearted to a woman in labor. Besides being offensive to all those dedicated nuns who have given their life to helping women in need, the cartoon looked rather feeble considering that the Daily News just ran an op-ed by Jennifer Simmons (April 18) decrying the closing of the third maternity program in Philadelphia in the past year. Now's the time to herald the nuns, not shun them.

William A. Donohue, President

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

New York, N.Y.