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Everybody's column

We must change mind-set, not simply silence people

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me" is an old saying we used to chant as kids. However, today's rush to blame someone, anyone, for something over which we take extreme umbrage has blinded us to the truth; we have allowed words to drive wedges throughout society.

I am not championing Jimmy the Greek, Alphonse D'Amato, Don Imus, Fuzzy Zoeller, the writers of "Desperate Housewives" or anyone else who has made a thoughtless racist or ethnic slur. But I have been following the recent comments regarding the remark by Teri Hatcher's character about a doctor's dubious qualifications, and whether or not he attended medical school in the Philippines, with great concern.

Folks, we're missing the real issue here, and unless we address that, our outrage will continue for all time. It's not the words we should be concerned with, but the attitude or mind-set that gave them birth in the first place. I read another old saying once that has more meaning today than ever before: "You have not converted a man because you have silenced him."

I say we should spend more time on conversion and less time on our outrage at someone's thoughtless comments.

John Fantini

Buffalo

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Try choosing a major that will lead to a job

I'm writing in response to the unemployed college graduate who wrote the Oct. 25 My View. I'm also a 24-year-old college graduate, although I have a degree in engineering and a job. I feel bad for the guy. I really do. Still, he did choose his own path.

The purpose of an education should be to give you valuable skills, but all too often students choose classes and majors based on how fun they are. Anybody could have predicted that a history major would have these problems, but either no one told him or he didn't listen.

There are options for people who want an inexpensive education, like community colleges and state colleges. Expensive private schools are more enjoyable, but if you can't afford one, you shouldn't go.

It's great that he wants to volunteer, and programs like AmeriCorps could still be possible for him. However, the role of our government should not be to bail people out when they make bad decisions. We have enough trouble taking responsibility for our actions without our government capitulating to our misplaced sense of entitlement.

Thomas Oldani

Town of Tonawanda

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Many pro-life women will never back Clinton

I would like to comment on the Oct. 25 article: "Good news for Giuliani and Clinton." As polling director for the Los Angeles Times, Susan Pinkus says Clinton is getting backing from many major groups, and that women voters are driving her support. The truth is, she is not receiving support from all the "sisterhood." The Susan B. Anthony List's recent survey said: "Support from the girlfriends is underwhelming."

In its August poll of women, found in the October National Catholic Register, a majority said they would support a woman president, just not the actual person running. The poll reveals that young women of substance are looking for candidates who are life-affirming.

The present myth that abortion liberates women is being challenged. Clinton can try to submerge her extreme position on the abortion issue, but we all saw how she threw a hissy fit when the most disordered form, partial-birth abortion, was recently found by the courts to be too unspeakable to remain a woman's right. As more women finally discover that they have been deceived and that something precious has been taken from them, like human dignity and the sacredness of life, the polls and the votes will change.

Karen A. Flumerfeldt

Elma

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News series on poverty is a must-read for all

Thanks to The News, especially to Charity Vogel, for the informative, compelling, gripping articles in the Oct. 28 News on the tragic conditions and poverty facing so many young people in Buffalo. It would be most helpful if every local political leader, business executive, state legislator and U.S. senator from New York was compelled to read those articles every morning and evening until the issue was both confronted and solved. Please send them copies, and continue to write about such realities.

David Belasic

Cheektowaga

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Stay off railroad bridge in Letchworth State Park

While I enjoyed the beautiful fall pictures of Letchworth State Park, which appeared on the Picture Page Oct. 26, I was shocked to read an accompanying caption daring those "brave enough" to illegally trespass onto the Norfolk Southern Railroad bridge over the gorge.

While there may well be "breathtaking views" from this historic structure, the bridge and approaching rail rights of way are private property, with trains liable to appear without advance notice at any time. Besides it being against the law to be on the bridge, making all trespassers subject to arrest, it would be highly dangerous to be caught in the middle, 234 feet above the river below, with no safe way of escape if a train does appear.

I trust The News will in the future remember that trains and railroads in general can be dangerous and will advise its readers to enjoy the beauty of such scenic wonders as Letchworth Park only from legal and publicly accessible vantage points.

Bruce B. Becker

East Amherst

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Diesel engine emissions will continue for years

In their Oct. 23 comments in The News, Peace Bridge Authority officials Paul Koessler and Ron Rienas rightly state that emissions will be dramatically reduced in all new diesel engines by 2010. What they fail to mention is that the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed no emission regulations on existing in-use vehicles.

With 13 million in use in the United States, diesel engines require less maintenance, operate more efficiently and last longer than gas engines. Heavy-duty diesel engines are so durable, they may be in service for two or three decades and may be typically rebuilt one or more times.

But despite their economic advantages, diesels are more harmful to human health on a per-vehicle basis than similar gasoline-powered engines, emitting harmful particulate matter, nitrogen oxides -- not nitrous oxide, or "laughing gas," as Koessler and Rienas erroneously stated -- and a variety of carcinogenic substances.

The most telling fact is that the overwhelming majority of heavy-duty diesel engines on our roads today operate outside the new standard and will continue to produce their dangerous emissions for quite a long time to come.

Peter Joseph Certo

Buffalo

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