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Hoffman's Polish Joke

May 22, 1988

Abbie Hoffman, you laugh at Solidarity and scoff at Lech Walesa: "Big dissident! Is he getting his arms broken? His legs? ("It's Stand-Up Time for Abbie Hoffman, by Jan Herman, May 11).

I used to consider you somewhat an intellectual. Stop watching TV and go back to reading. Start with something simple, such as John Fox's "Murder of a Polish Priest" in the Reader's Digest (December, 1985). It is about Father Jerzy Popieluszko, the outspoken supporter of free unions and other reforms in Poland. Here are a few sentences.

"Family members and sources present at the autopsy described a body covered head to foot with deep, bloody wounds and marks of torture. His face was deformed, and both hands were broken and cut, as if the priest had been shielding his face from the blows. His eyes and forehead had been beaten till black. His jaw, nose, mouth and skull were smashed, his fingers and toes dark red and brown from the repeated clubbing. Part of his scalp and large strips of skin on his legs had been torn off.

"The autopsy showed a brain concussion and damaged spinal cord. . . . The kidneys and intestines were reduced to pulp, as in other cases of prolonged police torture in Poland. When Father Jerzy's mouth was opened, the teeth were found completely smashed. In place of his eloquent tongue, there was only mush."

Mr. Hoffman, Lech Walesa and every other "dissident" in Poland risks a similar fate. Your comparison of dissidents in Communist-controlled Poland with dissidents in the United States is not funny. It suggests an ignorance of recent history and yesterday's headlines. Do go back to reading!

ROMAN J. ZAWADZKI

Los Angeles

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