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"The Man Who Shot McKinley" (Feb. 19) claims an autopsy discovered assassin Leon Czolgosz had tertiary syphilis -- a condition typically marked by insanity. In fact, the three-hour autopsy (conducted by Dr. Edward A. Spitzka under the supervision of Dr. Carlos F. McDonald and Dr. John Gerin) "revealed a perfectly healthy state of all the organs, including the brain."

The article asserts that Czolgosz's body was not released for medical study because of public health concerns. In fact, interested medical schools were denied access because the assassin's brother signed an agreement with prison authorities that forbade the release of the corpse or any of its parts "to any person or society."

The article contends that Czolgosz was buried in a lead-lined casket that was covered with sulfuric acid to prevent the spread of contagion. Other sources indicate that society's desire for retribution (electrocution wasn't sufficient) resulted in Czolgosz's casketless body being destroyed by six barrels of quicklime in addition to the sulfuric acid.

The article is filled with other extremely dubious and typically stereotypical claims too numerous to detail in a short rebuttal.

Was Czolgosz insane? James W. Clarke, author of "American Assassins: The Darker Side of Politics," offers this conclusion: "The insanity label is clearly without any empirical support. What we see is not a psychotic but a young man who was as much a product of the times as William McKinley. A man whose beliefs, considered in the context of the life he knew, were no less removed from reality than the platitudes of the President he killed."

Parent Power
In "Power to the Pint-Sized" (Feb. 26), Emily Margulis-Eisenbaum describes how her 4 1/2 -year-old son has been "overtaken" by the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, acting in character as Jason, the Red Ranger, and practicing his karate kicks and corresponding grunts. She acts as if she is powerless over her son's obsession with the Rangers. My advice to her is to turn off the television. You have the authority to monitor what your son watches.

The Power Rangers show depicts violence as an acceptable and effective means of conflict resolution. We have all heard of cases where preschools and day care centers have banned the Power Rangers and Ranger-like "play." Why? It doesn't take a child development expert to figure out that kids imitate what they see and are strongly influenced by media images. Research by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D., and Diane E. Levin, Ph.D. has shown that, "Many teachers believe that entertainment violence directed at children, especially boys, is contributing to the general level of violence in classrooms and to children's heavy reliance on violence in solving their conflicts (1991)."

As parents, by allowing our kids to be "overtaken" by the Power Rangers and other violent children's programs (and buying the resultant products), we give the media the message that we accept the poor quality of these shows, and their lack of educational value is OK with us.

Our kids deserve better. If you're tired of public television fund drives, get some videos from the library.

My son knows I don't want him watching or playing it, and he knows the reasons why. End of story. To see the picture of a half-dozen preschoolers dressed in Ranger attire and wielding swords disturbed me greatly.

We as parents have a responsibility to nurture and love our children as best we can. They need guidance and protection, and sometimes that means saying "no" to inappropriate, insipid, and educationally devoid television programs. When it comes to watching the Power Rangers and other similar programs, this is one case where we shouldn't be giving the "Power to the Pint-Sized."

Are we the readers supposed to feel sorry that the writer has "lost" her son to the Power Rangers? It seems that she has found many sources to blame for this loss -- PBS, older cousins, birthday parties and television. May I ask who allowed her son to watch the show on TV, who purchased Power Ranger slippers, books, swords, toys and Halloween costume, and who thinks her son looks adorable in the costume?

Please don't write a column bemoaning the loss of your son when you, as the adult, have a degree of power to stop it. As the mother of a 4-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son, I have chosen not to allow Power Rangers in our house and they are not there. Take control of your child instead of your child controlling you, and please don't whine about it.


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