FANS DESERVE BLAME FOR BRAWL IN DETROIT

The video of the NBA brawl in Detroit shows clearly that Ron Artest responded in the way most of us would have in that situation - by going after the man who had just come down on the floor to pour beer on him as he lay on the scorer's table. Before Artest could do anything more than grab the lad by his jacket, several of the surrounding fans descended on him with more beer, bottles and fists, and the well-documented bedlam ensued.I do not agree with those who condemn Artest because I find it unreasonable to expect the patience of a saint from the warriors we put on the floor to entertain us.

Yes, they are overpaid from the excess of TV and franchising revenues, but the players are not to blame for that. Yes, I wish we had more Lou Gehrigs and Magic Johnsons in today's sports, but, no, again I cannot fault the players who come out of our own culture and society to don their uniforms.

They are spectacular athletes, and we love to watch them play. That does not give us the right to throw things at them, pour drinks or spit on them, scream obscenities at them, and then dare them to respond. But Artest will go down hard because the NBA, like all big corporations, must tidy up its public relations mess with a "strong message" so "public confidence" can be restored and the show can go on.

Bill Yaner

Jamestown

\ FUNERAL BOARD COUNTS MANY BLACK LEADERS

In her Oct. 13 letter, "Adams listens to us," Maxine Bakeman included the statement, "She also worked to get African American funeral directors a seat on the Funeral Service Board after more than 100 years of exclusion."

The portion of that statement regarding exclusion of African Americans from the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service is not accurate. Since 1968, the citizens of North Carolina have been well served by African American funeral directors elected by their professional peers to the Board of Funeral Service.

The late Aaron Kelsey of Salisbury held the distinction of being the first African American funeral professional elected to the board in 1968. Kelsey was followed by Rudy Lea of Raleigh, the late Earl Brown of Greensboro and Darryl Hart of Asheville. Each of these funeral professionals served multiple terms and held the office of board president. In addition to his previous terms, Lea is currently a board member.

There are also private citizens of African American heritage appointed to the board as public members. These citizens include former members Randy Mears of Raleigh and Julia Jordan of Burlington and current members Windell Daniels of Wilmington and Jeannette Sherrod of Monroe.

It has been my privilege to work with a majority of the aforementioned members of the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service. I believe it to be improper to ignore their commitment to the public welfare by not acknowledging their service on the board.

Paul Harris

Raleigh

The writer is executive director, N.C. Board of Funeral Service.

\ ACLU UNDERMINES AMERICAN HERITAGE

The ACLU is trying to undermine everything America stands for. It has put pressure on the Pentagon to kick the Boy Scouts off of military bases. What will it be next, mom's apple pie thrown out the window?

If people would research where the ACLU came from and its original organizers, it might frighten people to start standing up for what is right and good. The ACLU is not defending your civil liberties, it is trying to destroy America by destroying our spiritual and moral heritage.

John Watson

Sophia

\ WHAT WE DON'T KNOW

I feel compelled to respond to the article, "U.S. to study vets' Gulf War illnesses."

Has it occurred to anyone to check for the possible link between the Gulf War Syndrome and the mass vaccinations required of the soldiers? Each of the soldiers is required to receive 17 different vaccinations plus an experimental drug, according to the book, "What Your Doctors May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations." For years, the link between vaccinations and the proliferation of autoimmune disease has been in question.

If they are as safe as our doctors want us to believe, then why was our government forced to set up a compensation program for families harmed by the vaccines?

Just like in the case of Vioxx, the new wonder drug, the medical profession is afraid that if we have all the information, we may actually make an informed decision.

Kathy Long

Greensboro

\ DEMOCRATS PROMOTE MORAL VALUES, TOO

Many of the postmortems of the recent election suggest that most Americans concerned about "moral values" voted for George Bush. But many of us voted for Democrats because we believe that "moral values" are much broader and more inclusive than abortion, homosexual marriage and stem-cell research.

Isaiah 9:6 called Jesus a "prince of peace." In Luke 2:14, the angels proclaimed "on earth peace among men" at His birth. In Matthew 26:52, He said, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." We believe seeking peace is a moral value.

In the parable of the last judgment in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus commended feeding the hungry, taking in the stranger, clothing the naked and visiting the sick and imprisoned. When asked in Matthew 22:36 what is the greatest commandment, He replied that love of God and love of one's neighbor as one's self are the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. We believe seeking to abolish poverty and discrimination through the establishment of economic and legal systems that are fair to all is a moral value.

On many occasions, Jesus healed the sick and the maimed. We believe seeking to provide adequate medical care for all at a reasonable price is a moral value.

Many of us who voted for Democrats are as concerned about moral values as any who voted for Republicans, and we deeply resent any implication to the contrary in the national media.

R. Dowd Davis

Chapel Hill

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