Creating enemies

with aerial strikes

Post-9/11 U.S. military action has so often disregarded civilian safety that official characterization of "collateral damage" as a tragic aberration lacks good faith. By even a ridiculously low estimate, the U.S. military has killed several times more innocent people than the terrorists did on 9/11 ("Escalate, then exit," Dec. 2).

I don't totally reject a military component to U.S. policy on Afghanistan. If there are bad guys out there, fight them on the ground. Use aircraft for surveillance only. Aerial bombing causes out-of-scale destruction. Video game-type drone attacks are a novel atrocity that should cease.

Every strike that kills civilians creates many new enemies.

Chris Surowiec


Errors in

Brown story

Your article "Honoring John Brown's legacy" (Nov. 30) contains several errors.

You state that "within four years, the Union was divided by the Civil War." The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, only 18 months after Brown's raid. You also state, regarding the song "John Brown's Body," that "black troops added the words about Brown" and that Julia Ward Howe wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" after hearing the troops sing it as they marched.

In fact, the words of "John Brown's Body" were added by white troops of the 2d Infantry Battalion of Massachusetts militia sometime in 1860, and were not about John Brown the abolitionist at all, but were about a soldier in the battalion named John Brown, whom comrades teased because he had the same name as the famous John Brown.

Julia Ward Howe did hear soldiers singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and wrote the lyrics to it in November 1861; the lyrics were published in February 1862, a full year before blacks were recruited and enlisted in the Union armies.

You also fail to mention that Brown's larger intent was to use the muskets (not rifles) to incite a slave rebellion. The raid on Harpers Ferry was truly the Rubicon of the Civil War; after John Brown's Raid, rebellion and war became inevitable.

Thomas M. Reiff

Elkins Park

Confusing games

with sport

Re: "Hunting is not a sport," letter, Friday:

I was once told the definition of a sport. It is something one pursues as a pastime that was once required for survival. Therefore, only fishing and hunting are sports.

Two equally matched teams on a level playing field with agreed-upon rules for fairness and equity is a game, not a sport. This of course means that baseball, football, soccer, basketball, etc., are only games contrived for the pleasure of fans and viewers, nothing more.

If the letter-writer is opposed to hunting, just say so and move on instead of rationalizing on a subject this person obviously knows nothing about.

George R. Kawchak Jr.


Courts cannot

judge science

Michael Smerconish should spend some time educating himself on scientific matters and less opining on things about which he is admittedly ignorant ("Another layer of confusion regarding climate change," Sunday).

The Scopes trial is the exact reason we do not settle science matters in the courtroom, as Smerconish suggests. Scopes was convicted for teaching legitimate science - evolution - and his conviction impeded scientific education for decades.

Anyone who is scientifically literate knows that the so-called "climate-gate" is a nonscandal. Nothing in the e-mails invalidates the overwhelming scientific consensus that human actions are contributing to global warming. Unfortunately, Smerconish's column minimizes this assessment from those who are informed while elevating the opinions of those who are ideologically driven to assert otherwise.

Mario Sikora


Just another

dumb law

So, more than 160 tickets have been issued to motorists for using a handheld phone. Whoa! In a city of 1.5 million residents and hundreds of thousands of cars with drivers who likely own a handheld phone, you'd think that there would be far more tickets than this.

I assert that the police know full well the stupidity of this new law. I don't expect them to focus on this issue. And I hope they don't.

Fortunately, life in the city will go on, with City Council forever attempting to regulate everything from what we eat to the type of bags we can use shopping. I can't tell you how warm and fuzzy this makes me feel.

Mike Seidenberg