Goofs are the main focus of this mailbag.
Did ABC goof in giving Soviet spokesman Vladimir Posner nearly seven minutes to respond to President Ronald Reagan's televised speech urging continued high defense spending? Did I goof (March 1) in endorsing ABC's right to have David Brinkley interview Posner? In the same column, I also rapped Brinkley for being so passive.
Were Reagan and Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) wrong to evoke "soft-on-commie" demons while blasting ABC's decision to put Posner on the air? In my column, I questioned the tone of their attacks on ABC, not their right to reproach the network.
Now, the readers respond to that column and others:
I was disappointed in your column on Posner. It's evident you know little about propaganda techniques nor how those perceptions impact on mass attitudes. So how could you possibly understand a discussion of propaganda? Tragic.
For any real improvement in international relations it's imperative that we hear, at first hand, the point of view of the Soviets. Only that way can the American people judge. At present we hear the Soviets' intentions only as filtered through, at best, a newsman with his own bias. Much worse, partisan politicians unscrupulously use "the Communist threat" to obtain carte blanche for massive spending, political advantage, or even to deflect public attention from their own misdeeds.
You defended ABC's showing of Posner by citing "freedom of the press." I am appalled. All freedoms would seem to have limits. Even the Supreme Court has said as much. You cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater. You are not allowed to urge others to kill, pillage, rape and burn. I'm terribly afraid that if you people keep screaming "freedom of the press" when you are wrong, people will stop listening. Then, when someone comes along who really is attacking you, many people will say, "Again? Who cares?"
JOHN T. KANE
Rancho Palos Verdes
One has to wonder if Ronald Reagan is so insecure--or is it arrogance?--that he can't stand a rebuttal, flawed and false though it be? Come on, Mr. President!
Is it any wonder that Reagan complained? You are guilty of McCarthyism when you associate his understandable reaction with the "Joe McCarthy . . . witch hunts in the 1950s." Come now, Howard, do you honestly equate the two?
Reagan seems to be moving more closely to Nixon's "the press-ain't-no-damned-good" theme whenever challenged on his frequent misstatements.
CARROLL R. RICHARDSON
San Juan Capistrano
Your defense of Posner's right to speak makes me wonder if President Roosevelt would have had Goebbels on to explain the Nazi cause. Because of people like you, Dornan is a shoe-in in the next election.
Reagan is such a smooth propagandist that a segment of the population is regularly influenced by him or his spokesmen whose combined self-righteousness is legendary. McCarthy screamed "fire" in a crowd, and many panicked. Reagan should not have the same opportunity.
LOU JACOBS JR.
As you discussed ABC's encouragement of a communist, your disrespectful, arrogant tone directed at President Reagan only served to reveal you as a charmless slob!
I think they should let Posner talk for the same period of time as any American. He is not going to make me or anybody else a communist.
LAWRENCE H. JACOBSO
The hatred of Reagan certainly brings together strange bedfellows, the Jewish Howard Rosenberg and the Jew-hater Conrad.
Thank you for your sorely needed column on Ramboism. It makes me weep to see how we fuel paranoia and hostility in this country, while everywhere I went in the Soviet Union in 1985, peace and friendship were on everyone's lips, on street signs, on TV and in the open smiles and warm handclasps of so many citizems who were eager to meet us. I'm sure Soviet parents would be horrified at the brutality and warmongering that Americans feed to their small and vulnerable children via the Saturday morning cartoon shows.
There's one thing . . . you'll never be accused of being objective. Your intolerance for triteness is interesting, and clearly reflected in your review of "Blood and Orchids." You used such scintillating phrases as "utterly intriguing," "Hawaii's lush, languid . . . ", "ugly undergrowth," "richest melodrama," "wonderful fleeting sequence,""touched their minds as well as their emotions" (I may not be able to finish this . . . the tears in my eyes are clouding the keys), et al.
I was going to say Aloha and good riddance to you, too, but I need you. You are utterly intriguing, and the mere thought that you might touch my mind, even once more, simply inflames my emotions.
I do hope that you are always as steadfast in your own convictions as you think a character in a TV movie has to be. TV characters are human too. Don't you think the character played by George. C. Scott in "Choices" could truly have meant what he preached to his daughter, but when it came to him, he found he could not follow his own precepts? If you felt you simply had to dig up something scandalous for your column, why didn't you point at the real fault in the film--that rich people can do just about anything regardless of their so-called scruples.