October 4, 2004

I commend your honest investigation of the real environmental implications of 9/11 [“Fallout,” by Jennifer Senior, September 20]. It did no good whatsoever for the EPA to mislead the people of New York City about the public-health risks at ground zero.
—Michael D. Shaw, Manhattan

First And Goal
Maybe at 60 Minutes he was a bit gruff and controversial [“Don Hewitt’s 59th Minute,” by David Blum, September 20], but if Don Hewitt were a football coach like Bill Parcells, he’d be loudly applauded and congratulated.
—Philip Kirk, Sea Cliff, N.Y.

Kelly’s Heroes
Police commissioner Ray Kelly may want to pat himself on the back for his largely unnecessary stormtrooper tactics during the Republican National Convention [“The City Politic: Law Pre-Enforcement,” by Robert Kolker, September 20], but it was the vast majority of well-behaved and orderly demonstrators themselves who kept the peace during the week. I marched the entire length of Sunday’s route and never once witnessed anyone goading or acting disrespectful toward the police. We were not wannabe hippies with delusions of the sixties; we were clean-cut, well-mannered, ordinary citizens trying to voice our legitimate concerns.
—Joseph O’Connell, Manhattan

Ray Kelly’s joking response “Don’t eat the bologna” to the demonstrators who were arrested during the Republican National Convention shows just how far law enforcement has come from the presumption of innocence. These days, it seems, punishment begins at custody and includes rotten food.
—John Tebbel, Manhattan

Sybil Defense
No mother I know would passively allow a monstrous child to perform sadistic “rites” on her child [“Smart City: The Devil Is Her Only Friend,” by Lauren Slater, September 20]. Rather than quoting obscure psychiatric ramblings, this mother needs to enroll in a parenting course and get her daughter some interventional help. Did she ever hear of setting appropriate limits on what to allow a 5-year-old to do with her child? If she will not protect her daughter now from the rambunctious actions of another child, what will happen when a real monster comes along?
—Julia Beck, Manhattan

As both a parent and a clinical psychologist, I agree that childhood friendships, both positive and negative, are critical to normal, healthy development. I also believe that children should be able to make choices even if they are not the best. However, it’s appalling to see this rationale used as a justification for poor parenting. This mother allowed her 5-year-old to be bullied and abused while she sat and watched and engaged in a self-centered intellectual exercise. By the time she is finished overthinking the situation rather than stopping the abuse and protecting her child, her little girl will be grown up and in need of the services that my colleagues and I provide.
—Christina Paul, Manhattan

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October 4, 2004