WE WERE distressed and disappointed to see the

Daily News

give front-page treatment to a fringe hate group far out of proportion to what it deserves (

"Kansas Church Labeled as a Hate Group is Planning Protests in Philadelphia," Dec. 11

).

The Daily News, however unwittingly, helped the Westboro Baptist Church to score a victory even before appearing in Philadelphia and encouraged the group to not just blow smoke but actually show up.

Westboro Baptist is a very small Kansas-based group, far outside the mainstream, that has no affiliation with mainstream Baptist organizations and engenders minuscule popular support.

Westboro Baptist regularly stages rallies around the country, often several a week. In many cases, it's announced plans for appearances, including in Philadelphia, that have not materialized.

What they do consistently, however, is use language that is vitriolic and inflammatory to draw attention to themselves and to their message, testing the limits of our First Amendment rights.

What Westboro Baptist desires most of all is to receive the kind of media attention that the DN has now provided.

The Daily News would have been wiser, and Philadelphia better served, if it had waited to see if, in fact, the group did appear in Philadelphia, and then put it into proper context and with a proper sense of proportion.

Barry Morrison

Regional Director

Eastern Pa.-Delaware Region

Anti-Defamation League

nolead begins

A too-mild word

Re

"N. Philadelphia Narcotics Officer Pulled from Streets a 3rd Time after Accusations of Theft"

:

Theft? It sounds like Officer Sulpizio allegedly committed more than just (another) "theft."

"Armed robbery" seems like a more appropriate term!

Rob Boyden, Drexel Hill