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When those who preach fall

LETTERS

October 30, 2004

While I agree with Tim Rutten that both Bill O'Reilly and William Bennett are "a melancholy -- even pitiable -- pair," I must disagree that it's "hard to gloat over [their] problems" ["Preaching Virtues From Glass Houses," Oct. 23].

The problem with O'Reilly, Bennett, et al., is not just that they set themselves up as the moral police, but their insistence that anyone who disagrees with them is not different, but wrong. Even worse is their insulting and, frankly, stupid suggestion that personal morality and virtue go hand-in-hand with right-wing political beliefs.

The fact that these men did not always practice what they preached makes them human and sympathetic. However, the fact that they loudly and unforgivingly spread their hypocritical message to anyone who would listen makes them hatemongers. They and their mean-spirited brethren are responsible for much of the divisiveness in this country today. Hopefully, their downfall will help usher in a new era of tolerance and understanding among good people of all political persuasions.

David T. Levinson

Los Angeles

*

Once again, Tim Rutten writes a "paint-by-numbers" diatribe against Bill O'Reilly (and now, gratuitously, William Bennett as well).

First, O'Reilly has not been proven to have done anything wrong. At worst, a phone-sex relationship went south and his private sexual interests were then disclosed for everyone to laugh at after he refused to pay hush money. So what? Does his private sexual fantasy trump his criticism of the amount of sex imagery to which minors are exposed by the media? Why?

Second, Bennett did nothing illegal or particularly immoral. He gambled away his own money. People do that in the stock market every day.

Because O'Reilly and Bennett are moral conservatives, Rutten is exploiting their insignificant missteps to damn the ideas they espouse, rather than telling us why those ideas are wrong -- or, better yet, presenting both sides' views in a thoughtful, respectful manner.

Peter Rich

Los Angeles

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