Prof. Brian Stonehill tells us (Commentary, Oct. 20) that since a videotape cannot always show accurately whether a football player is in or out of bounds when he catches a pass, it also cannot be used to establish that a man has smashed a brick into the head of another, knocked him bleeding to the ground, and danced following the delivery of the blow. This modish blurring of fact, interpretation and moral judgment is what Nero Wolf might call "fashionable flummery."
There can be no doubt that a riot was going on in the area of the assault and that most of it cannot be seen on the tape. That, however, does not affect the sequence of action we see on the tape. No one seeing the tape's record, including the dance, can doubt that the assailant was not forced to act as he did. Unless Stonehill can make a case for the tape having been falsified, the facts have to be accepted as seen.
It is true that the tape does not show much of what others were doing at the time of the assault. It is nothing but a judgment, however, to assert that the assailant's action ought to be judged on the basis of considerations other than and in addition to what he himself, without direct coercion, did. A case could be made for that judgment, although not, I think, a compelling one. However, to present that judgment as being not a judgment but a straightforward indication of technical limitations is to confuse one's values with facts.
MARC J. SWARTZ
* Jerome H. Skolnick (Commentary, Oct. 22) poses the following question: "Could any juror, or any reader of this column, for that matter, confidently conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Williams intended to put Denny to death or disfigure him with a blow by a brick?" Answer: Given that Williams deliberately willfully and maliciously smashed Denny's skull with that brick, could any fair, reasonable and rational person conclude otherwise?
GEORGE H. McCARTY
* After years of racism perpetrated upon blacks and other minorities by an "unjust system," it is interesting that these former victims are pleased by the verdicts in the Denny case.
It is truly unfortunate that our minority communities would prefer to share the misery of injustice rather than honor goals of the system and lift themselves through its pursuit of the truth.
It is especially tragic that the "heroes" of our black community today are lawbreakers who "got away with it."
R. E. GREENBERG
* Everyone is missing the lesson to be learned from the Denny trial. The simple lesson that is the answer to the anger and division and unrest in our communities: the lesson of forgiveness. Who gained the most from all this? Reginald Denny--because he learned that forgiveness toward those who would do us harm brings healing and peace. Jesus Christ taught it 2,000 years ago and it is as true today as it was then. Dust off your Bible and read it! So simple. Who can improve on the Ten Commandments as a guide to a healthy society? Even simpler is one sentence--the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
This simple truth--exercised every day by each one of us--could change Los Angeles and all of America forever.