Letters - March 22, 2000

Teamsters and turtles

I must protest your naïveté in asking for commentary on Seattle from an apologist for the new globalism, without balancing it against the words of actual critics of the World Trade Organization. Professor Gene M. Grossman spent most of your interview (Notebook, February 9) purporting to tell us what the critics were protesting. Why not ask someone equally learned among them?

Some of my classmates and contemporaries at Princeton have had a hand in creating the new global system. They are now profiting and can give handsomely to Princeton. I am sure they would prefer not to have the system's critics dignified by an interview in paw. Nevertheless, and despite what Grossman said, the critics raise serious issues, and there are those among us who understand how profoundly antidemocratic the current World Trade regime is. Ralph Nader '55 would have been an appropriate person to interview for the truth about Seattle. There are many others. Your choice misled the readers. I hope that was not your intent.

David Arrender Smith '51

Pine Hill, N.Y.


That 3.2 magnitude shock felt in Princeton last week was caused by my jaw hitting the kitchen table after reading Professor Grossman's WTO commentary. A free trade advocate at Princeton! What is the world coming to?

Rick Mott '73

Ringoes, N.J.


In Seattle for the WTO meetings, what impressed me more than "Teamsters and Turtles" was the overflow crowd at the Alliance for Democracy's forum on alternatives to corporate globalization. The participants were not anarchist kids, but concerned citizens of all ages.

I cannot agree that the "several studies" alluded to by Professor Grossman could lead him to conclude that "freer trade benefits the environment." Nor can I agree that labor and community development laws which limit trade will "condemn the poorest people in the world to a life of continuing poverty."

Coherent bodies of study by United Nations agencies-UNCTAD, UNDP, UNICEF and others-show that on balance, the opposite is true. Check, for example, Lori Wallach and Michelle Sforza's systematic book Whose Trade Organization? (Public Citizen, 1999). Neoliberal policies of the WTO, IMF, and the World Bank are enriching corporate owners at the expense of children's health, education, food safety, animal and plant survival, social services, the livelihoods and savings of billions of people, and democracy itself.

David Lewit '47

Boston, Mass.


I am a physician who left my practice for five days to take part in the Seattle WTO protest. I was impressed by how well organized, planned, and executed the protest and many educational opportunities and debates were. My overriding impression of this great exercise in democracy was how horribly slanted the press coverage was of those events. Virtually not a mention of the peaceful protests by mainstream middle-aged people like myself, but nonstop coverage of a few teenagers who broke several windows downtown.  

Secondly, I felt I had to respond to Gene Grossman's comments on the WTO. His comments on studies showing that freer trade fosters a shift of dirty production to countries with more advanced technologies fly in the face of just about all examples of just the opposite. One has to only look at what has happened in Mexico and other third world nations where there are few environmental protections. Capital goes where it can produce items quickly and at the lowest possible cost, and it doesn't give a whit about damage to the environment.

Environmental damage has always been what the economists call an external cost (read: you and I pay the cost) and does not enter into the thinking when it comes to "free" trade.   I believe what we saw with people from all over the world protesting in Seattle is ordinary people saying "enough" to non-democratic, academic, and commercial concerns calling the shots on worldwide commercial development where all aspects of life are being boiled down to dollars and cents without regard to all of the other aspects of life that make life worth living: a clean, healthy environment, safe food, social justice, fair wages, local culture, local sovereignty, etc. Economists' almost religious adherence to the "idea" of completely free trade solving all the world's problems appears to be refuted at almost every turn by data that suggest just the opposite: Environmental damage has been accelerated, and all data on distribution of wealth show that the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen at an alarming rate.

Scott Jones '78

Portland, Ore.

The content of your WTO article bore no relationship to what I experienced in the streets of Seattle. This experience is not surprising when paw asks an outspoken proponent of the WTO to speak for its opponents. A fundamental piece of misinformation is to pretend that the protesters were opposed to free trade, globalization, or world trade. The speakers I heard and the people I marched with were opposed to the WTO, as presently constituted. As one speaker succinctly put it, "fix it or nix it."

The question of whether there should be a unified supranational organization with the power to overrule the laws of sovereign nations (a.k.a. world government) such as the WTO is an interesting one. There is definitely a problem when the WTO is also secretive, undemocratic, and constrained to ignore labor rights, human rights, and environmental considerations in its deliberations. I could hardly put it better than the WTO official who described it as follows, "the place where governments collude in private against their domestic pressure groups." People wanting accurate information about the subject are encouraged to check the following resources: Public

Citizen (founded by Ralph Nader '55) Website at www.citizen.org/pctrade/tradehome.html; the Earth Island Website at www.earthisland.org/; the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Website at www.wtowatch.org/. I also invite paw to do some research and write a more informed article as a service to their readers.

Keith Iosso '80

Snohomish, Wash.


Your short interview with Professor Grossman about the WTO did not point out that U.S. regulations created to limit gasoline contaminants from Venezuela that pollute our air are weakening. Nor did it mention that the U.S. is unable to prevent the use of untreated wooden packaging from China and Hong Kong which results in the severe infestation by the Asian longhorned beetle which has devastated many thousands of trees in several regions of this country. In the latter instance, there would still be enough economic incentive to import the Chinese goods with safe packaging; only the profits of the importers would be decreased.

Other inequities in the name of free trade include the U.S. penalizing many small European industries (and U.S. importers) in retaliation for Britain and France protecting the small banana farmers in their former or present colonies. And there is still the glaring example of the U.S. regulating the import of sugar and raising the cost of sugar to protect the profits of a small group of industrial farmers. Small wonder that there were so many protesters in Seattle whose rights were trampled by the angry response of the police to a few anarchists.

James P. Harrington '47 *51

West Chester, Pa.


I must object to the narrowly pro-WTO and therefore pro-corporate stance of both your brief introduction to Professor Grossman and his comments in the February 9 paw. You might instead have characterized the demonstrations in Seattle in such a way as to acknowledge that phrases like "wrecking stores" and "fighting with police officers" describe only a tiny number among a massive crowd peacefully and nonviolently engaged in civil disobedience. And Grossman's sweeping oversimplifications of the positions of WTO goals and of those who object to them cannot be excused by the small amount of space you gave him. There are many legitimate and very urgent objections to those aspects of multinational trade agreements that present serious and specific threats to local democratic government, to national controls of environmental pollution, to the safety, human dignity, well-

being, and minimal prosperity of workers, and to many other aspects of the ways of life that many of us enjoy in the U.S. and Europe and hope to see enjoyed elsewhere. "Poor labor conditions are the result of poverty," Grossman says; many of us have noticed that poor labor conditions are often the result of the exploitation of politically powerless human beings by politically powerful ones, who, like Professor Grossman, are not themselves at all poor.

Reginald Gibbons '69

Evanston, Ill.

Athletics vs. academics

Living in the shadow of a major university with a strong emphasis on athletics and seeing extremely few of its athletes graduate despite tutoring has always bothered me. Perhaps jock schools are really training sites for professional athletes and should be recognized as such.

During recent years, I have become aware of Princeton's rising reputation and success in athletic circles, making me wonder if it is succumbing to the siren song of national sports fame. I would decry that, even though Annual Giving might rise as a consequence.

It was a relief to read about Princeton's philosophy as reported in paw's article about former head football coach Steve Tosches (Sports, January 26).

Athletics are important but can't hold a candle to the importance of training the mind.

Joseph K. Myers, Jr. '55

Jamesville, N.Y.

Up in smoke, up in arms

As a smoker, I object to the "no re-entry" policy implemented suddenly and for the first time at Jadwin Gym at the Penn-Princeton men's basketball game on February 15. This policy made no allowance for paying customers to go outside for a smoke at halftime, which we have been permitted to do for years.

The event staff pointed to notices on the doors and stated that anyone leaving the building would not be readmitted. The reasons given were that "the lobby barricades have been taken down because this game is a sellout," and "we don't want ticketholders giving their stubs to others outside the building." One staffer commented pleasantly that the policy might help me quit smoking, a well-meaning suggestion, but off point.

If there is a response to this letter, will the powers that be please state clearly, in advance, whether or not this no re-entry policy will be in effect at future sellouts, or at all times. If so, I will modify my behavior.

Bruce F. Morgan '74

Wyndmoor, Pa.


Nude Olympics

Three cheers for Peter Suedfeld *63 and Christopher M. Hinsley '92, who wrote to decry the return of a heavy-handed in loco parentis role for the university, which has been necessitated by the current legal climate in which holding students responsible for their own actions seems to have become impossible (Letters, December 1). Mr. Hinsley had an excellent suggestion: Require entering students to sign an enforceable release, which would ensure that they, not the university, would be responsible for their own drinking and drinking-related behavior. This would be a legal solution to a legal problem.

The alternative is for the university to become a near-police state in which every word and action of all students must be monitored and corrected when not in line with university dictates. This atmosphere is hardly conducive to academic learning or to the kind of experiential learning necessary for college students to become responsible adults.

Instead of a legal solution, the university has chosen to adopt baby-with-the-bathwater tactics, like removing the clapper from the bell in Nassau Hall. These tactics are extremely detrimental to the Princeton experience, and the resulting infantilization of students is at odds with the fundamental mission of the university. If the university is reluctant to pursue a legal solution, perhaps we should ask why it wants such a heavy-handed role in students' lives and whether such a role is appropriate for an institution which should be inculcating independence and responsibility in its students.

Jim Cohen '89

Bethesda, Md.


The report by Jeremy Weissman (Notebook, February 23) on the enforced demise of the Nude Olympics should be welcome to all, young and old, who have the university's best interests at heart. Nonetheless, the news that the sophomore class has yet to come up with an acceptable replacement is disappointing. May one recommend-instead of an outdoor food fight (wasteful, messy) or a tropical beach party (clichéd, sybaritic)-an activity based on the weather much as was its unseemly predecessor? I have in mind a combined cookout and winter-clothing drive. Sophomores would gather in the snow of Rockefeller quad to partake of a university-sponsored chili supper with, say, hot cider; then, on the way home, each student would take off and donate an item of cold-weather apparel to help the needy: sweater, good boots, overcoat, woolen socks, you name it. The old theme would be there in echo: take off clothing to celebrate the first snow, now however with the positive spin of Princeton in the community's service.

A final thought. Since past sophomore classes have wanted to compete with each other over having the biggest event, they would have the opportunity to compete now over which year can produce the biggest collection of winter clothes. For this, perhaps the name "Sophomore Strip-stakes" would be more suitable than "Princeton Pain Spree."

C. Webster Wheelock '60 *67

New York, N.Y.

Bring on the middies

Lamar K. Adkins '87's suggestion (Letters, February 9) to play Navy once again reminded me of a Navy game played in Baltimore, I believe in 1949. After the game I met my sister, then a freshman at Goucher College, who was with a group of midshipmen celebrating the Navy win. After observing the unrestrained reaction of some Tigers after our loss, one middy turned to us and asked in wonderment, "What do you guys do when you win?"

Let's play them again and show them.

Henry Spitz '50

Northfield, Ill.

Singer encore

Thank you for publishing an interview with and some quotations by the controversial Peter Singer in your January 26 issue (cover story). In the space of two pages, he managed to deliver the orthodox socialist positions on income redistribution, nationalized health care, homelessness, and foreign aid. He still believes that poverty can be eliminated by giving people money, that the federal government owes everyone a blank check to pay medical bills, that there is a governmental obligation to provide everyone a home, and that giving money to other countries is helpful to their creation of wealth. This spares me from having to concern myself with his views on euthanasia, for I can dismiss him as just another left-wing utopian. Perhaps Dr. Singer was too sheltered in Australia, and didn't observe the great lesson of the 20th century: These ideas have all been tried, and they don't work. It seems that one of the few places one can still hold such archaic views and be accorded respect is on the campus of an American university.

Do we really need to spend any more time parsing the words of someone who says that infanticide is one of those things which "you need to look at on a case-by-case basis?"

Robert H. Braunohler '68

Washington, D.C.


Many alumni wouldn't be so upset about the Peter Singer appointment if they had any hope that another faculty member could counterbalance his views. How about allowing one conservative Christian into the faculty of the so-called departments of religion and the center for human values? Or even, gasp! a confessional Lutheran? I don't expect this to happen, but it would be a welcome surprise, and it would allow me to truthfully say that Princeton allows a wide spectrum of ideas for debate and critical review.  

Matt Brekken '97

Boston, Mass.


In the fall of 1949, as a very naive sophomore, I took a basic philosophy course taught by Professor Stace, who was at the time, I believe, the head of the department.

Our text was Castell's An Introduction to Modern Philosophy, which contained chapters on Descartes, Berkeley, Mill, Locke, Hume, Kant, etc. In his second lecture, Professor Stace explained the fallacies in the arguments of the philosopher discussed in his first. He then would introduce us to a new philosopher whom we were sure really had it all together. At his next lecture he told us what was wrong with the thinking of his previous subject and introduced us to the next, who now was the one who had it all together. This went on the whole semester. The main lesson I learned in the course was to try to think long and hard before reaching or jumping to a conclusion.

Tom Daubert '52

Melrose Park, Pa.


It is distressing to see that the appointment of Professor Peter Singer has aroused such acrimony among Princeton graduates.

As one who has spent most of his adult life as a teacher, I tremble at the thought that distinguished scholars who question established values-no matter how sacred-should be denied jobs in first-class universities. We would then have to rely on second-class universities to lead the search for a better understanding of this world and its inhabitants.

W. Phillips Davison '39

Washington, D.C.


Professor Peter Singer's argument about the moral necessity of trying to reduce absolute poverty, printed in the sidebar on page 19 of the January 26 issue, fails to address an important point: Do we really know how to reduce it? My observation is that efforts to divert resources to the impoverished, although they may temporarily improve the lot of a few individuals, in the long run frequently finance a larger but equally impoverished population. Is it indeed moral to abet the birth of additional persons whose destiny will be suffering? Before donating-as Professor Singer does-20 percent of one's income to famine relief, one has to be convinced that famine truly will be relieved, rather than spread to new victims.

John G. Fletcher *59

Livermore, Calif.

Pictured here are some of the two score undergraduates and alumni who participated in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on January 24. We are all deeply troubled that Princeton has given a platform to an obscure academic who argues that selective killing of those deemed less valuable to society at large is morally acceptable.

B. Paul Cotter, Jr. '59

Annandale, Va.


Frank Gray '42 and Elaine Boxer '95 are correct that the academy should be the one place where discourse is free and unencumbered. However, they seem to have missed the point that academia today is no longer such a place. Now, academia is ruled by political correctness (read policed conformity), moral relativism, and postmodern intellectuals. Many students refer to the academic environment of today as an "intellectual ghetto." How apt! Woe unto the student who dares to express any skepticism regarding any aspect of current social policy. Witness the "waterbuffalo" incident at the University of Pennsylvania a few years ago.

As I see it, Peter Singer serves a purpose at Princeton or anywhere in this Great America. Where else could someone like him survive? He needs us in order to exist and subsist, and we need him as a constant reminder of the dark side of life. But please, do not put him in charge of the "Camps"!

Ted Gagliano '47

Georgetown, S.C.


In connection with Steve Forbes '70's protest against the appointment of Peter Singer, the brave-sounding statement of the trustees that they shall always protect "the essential values of academic freedom" begs the hard questions.

There is no dispute that indeed such values should be protected. But, sadly, I fear that the trustees are willing to give these values only selective protection. Perhaps they would prove me wrong if they were to state they would support and protect the right of partisans who espouse views such as: People with black skins are genetically determined to be intellectually inferior to whites; females are demonstrably inferior to males-physically, emotionally, intellectually; Hitler was right-the Aryan race is superior, and when it has the power should benefit mankind by exterminating inferior races.

Of course those statements are loony and worse. But some of Singer's arguments are loony, too. Should parents really be given an evaluation four weeks after an infant's birth to determine whether the infant should be terminated? Is there really any connection between the way animals are treated in the U.S. now and the way slaves were treated before the Civil War? Do animals have the same rights as sentient beings? Are barnyard pigs really bored and unhappy? Extrapolating a bit: have oysters made a significant contribution to the learning of the western world? As a columnist friend of mine, referring to Singer's ideas, said recently, "Stop rolling your eyeballs."

While you are choosing your lunacy, remember that the holier the declaration, the more full of holes it is likely to be.

Walter Guzzardi '42

Charlottesville, Va.


I exuberantly concur with Josephine Harrison '73 who agrees "with those who would like to hear no more about Peter Singer," though I suspect that the letter volume will inevitably decrease while our disgust with Princeton will not. For me the worst part about this affair, other than Singer and his views, is that no matter how strongly we alumni-even if we numbered in the tens of thousands-feel, our position can have no possible impact. Once tenured, and apparently Singer was catapulted into that rarefied honor without years of Princeton faculty peer consideration, his position is more or less (like an incumbent congressman) guaranteed for life.

My grandfather ('13), my father ('39), and Princeton forebears back to Ebeneezer Hazard (Class of 1770) would be aghast at Singer's positions and Princeton's acquiescence in them by honoring him . . . but would they have felt as strongly as I do in rejecting their beloved institution for abandoning even a semblance of its founding, and enduring, principles?

Keith Hazard '62

Spotsylvania, Va.

Perhaps much of the opposition to Peter Singer's views is based on a defense of religious viewpoints, rather than simply a direct evaluation of his views in themselves, which are consistent with a tendency to reject religious dogma. I applaud Singer's approach in detaching morality from religion, and those who disagree with him because they disagree with his axioms (there is no immortal soul that begins at conception, etc.), should admit that his reasoning has consistency when his axioms are accepted as such (and that there is no way to prove without question which axioms are indeed correct, thus all axioms must be respected equally). This is fundamentally a religious dispute, not an academic one.

From the tiny excerpt from Practical Ethics printed on page 19 of the January 26 issue, it seems to me that Singer may be oversimplifying things. Utilitarianism encounters many paradoxes having to do with the interplay between individual and collective action (for example, the path-through-the-lawn issue that Princeton itself has dealt with on an ongoing basis, as individuals innocuously take the most direct route from point to point, and thus in aggregate cut dirt paths through the grass on campus-a bad result that builds up only in volume, while the individual effect is only marginal-eventually the university must simply pave them over and establish officially what was created informally). I don't see in this excerpt that Singer addresses these sorts of difficulties (how does an individual ensure that a contribution to a collective organization is of significant utility compared to the individual value given up).

His arguments for helping others are more convincing from a collective standpoint (as a society we ought to help other societies in need) than from an individual standpoint, where the causal relationships are much less clear.

Furthermore, there is the issue of how one helps those in need (the teach-a-man-to-fish issue, as a superior long-term solution compared to simply feeding a man repeatedly). If repeatedly helping a man in need has the unfortunate effect of building up a dependency on the help itself, rather than providing the tools for that man to subsequently provide for himself, one may in fact be harming that man in the long term (when you run out of excess resources, the man still cannot sustain himself, but you can no longer do so either). So, how one helps makes a difference, and methods that empower the needy rather than merely sustaining them are clearly superior. If one merely sustains them, one is doing a disservice from a purely utilitarian viewpoint, because it does not maximize the value that could have been gained from one's contribution. That is, waste is ethically wrong from a utilitarian point of view, when it has material effects such as this (one could have provided the means for indefinite self-provision, but instead provided a finite sustenance only, doomed to termination at some point anyway-a mere delaying of the inevitable).

Finally, I am reassured that Singer provides for a wide range of viewpoints in his courses, not simply feeding his own views to his students dogmatically. This is the essence of academic inquiry, and he honors those principles well by asking his students to think for themselves, rather than feeding them his opinions as gospel. I think that religious people need not worry about Singer-he is giving them a chance to clarify their own thoughts by challenging them with his own. It is only with this sort of truth-seeking that we can fruitfully understand the world we live in.

Daniel Krimm '78

Yonkers, N.Y.

Professor Singer admits, "I've never claimed that I live my life perfectly in accordance with those [altruist] principles." However, short of becoming monks with vows of abject poverty, no one could possibly live in such accordance. The only result of these principles is thus to induce permanent guilt for the fact of being a human being. One would expect a professor of philosophy who claims to be an atheist, and who says that "traditional religions like Christianity would not be likely to come up with the same views that I hold," to recognize his own view as identical to the hoariest legacy of religion. This is a "gadfly"?

In regard to Professor Singer's position that "If, then, allowing someone to die is not intrinsically different from killing someone, it would seem that we are all murderers"-the modern philosopher's weasel words, "if" and "it would seem," must beguile him into thinking that he has avoided "the sense that you know the answers." Does he think that we will join him in this subterfuge?

It is clear that he is committed to this "answer," which equates a negative with a positive, which assesses one person's moral stature by the standard of what other people have not done, which negates the very concepts of good and evil by charging us all with intrinsic unavoidable immorality since we cannot live up to this code. These affronts to logic and reason are, of course, religiously consistent with the irrational philosophic trends of the last two centuries.

It would be a real talisman that the university's prattle about "academic freedom" meant something, if they were to hire a philosophy professor who advocated objectivism. Now there would be a radical approach to "challenging society." Alas, "academic freedom" has been a tawdry hypocrisy for a long time, and it is unlikely to change anytime soon.

John L. Pattillo '68

Lutherville, Md.


I regretfully draw the line. I would not want my grandchildren to attend a school where Peter Singer's philosophy is promulgated. And when he says "Religion has a major impact-basically in stopping people from thinking," he really loses me, although he backs off to the extent of saying that "this is not true of every religion." Princeton, for example, has a strong Presbyterian heritage (or I thought it did), and I shudder to think how some of its founding fathers would react to Professor Singer espousing his overall philosophy on campus. And how will he grade his students?

I can remember having an economics professor in my student days at Princeton who virtually forced us to accept his socialist thinking when it came to right and wrong answers on his exams (so much for teaching us to think for ourselves). What will be Professor Singer's approach?

Bill Marquardt '53

Scottsdale, Ariz.


Before we implement Dr. Singer's recommendations for severely disabled children, we should consider the latest international statistics on AIDS.

The statistics reveal the grossly disproportionate incidence of that disease in the poorest countries of Africa. Ever more frequently, newborns of infected mothers are afflicted. Under any definition of "severely disabled," these children will be included, particularly in light of the absence of any hope for medication, which is either too expensive or simply unavailable in their countries. Do the demographics of these children who are eligible for the Singer Solution remind you of another group-the death row population in the United States, perhaps, disproportionately poor people of color?

David R. Murchison '70

Daphne, Ala.


In my 50 years as a regular reader of paw, I don't believe I've ever been so stunned as I was on reading Professor Singer's statement that "Religion has a major impact-basically in stopping people from thinking." How, I wonder, did a person of such monumental ignorance ever get appointed to our faculty? Perhaps a medical leave of absence would help.

James G. McCulloh '56 *65

Carolina Beach, N.C.


Peter Singer complains that Americans slight their responsibilities to others, noting that in granting foreign aid, "the U.S. is at the absolute bottom of economically developed countries in terms of what it gives as a percentage of gross national product."     Even if that statement is correct, and I'm not persuaded it is, the charge the U.S. ignores its responsibilities is utterly false.  Shortly after World War II, the U.S. reluctantly but steadfastly assumed the enormous burden of protecting Western Europe from the Soviet threat.  It met the Communist challenge in the Korean peninsula.  Wisely or not, it tackled another widely perceived threat, in Vietnam.  In the Gulf War, it protected Kuwait and the oil supplies on which much of the world depends.  Even within Europe itself, it was, by default, the country that halted the slaughter in the Balkans.

And for half a century, it shielded much of the world by maintaining a large military establishment, at huge cost both in financial expenditures and in lives inevitably lost in operating dangerous high-tech weaponry. If all that isn't meeting responsibilities, what is? Not all foreign aid consists of capital grants to leaders of small nations all too prone to fritter away the money.

Henry F. Myers '51

Williamsburg, Va.


Most readers have probably heard quite enough about Peter Singer, but I enjoyed your interview, and it tempted me to write this non-teeth-gnashing comment.

It is exciting that Princeton has brought Professor Singer into the faculty. The controversy he has generated proves the correctness of the decision. No one could reasonably dispute that his thoughts provoke. For example, he argues that it may be murder for the affluent to decline to help the poor, but not for a parent to kill a severely disabled infant. We may agree or disagree, but it certainly makes us think.

The analytical problem with criticism I have seen is primarily that it declines to accept, even arguendo, Professor Singer's nonreligious, utilitarian perspective. Thus, Professor Singer's position and that of his critics pass like ships in the night. It is interesting to explore the disabled infant thesis on Professor Singer's own terms.

As a starting point, I am struck by the absence of a bright line barrier, rooted in logic, past which killing one's infant would no longer be justifiable. In saying this, I do not merely criticize Professor Singer's shift from a 28-day boundary to "the need to look at it on a case-by-case basis given the seriousness of the problems and balance that against the age of the child." There are certainly problems of subjectivity, emotion, and even concerning who ultimately would make the decision (the parents? courts?)

Far more important, the fuzziness of the barrier substantially undermines the logic of the position itself because of the inherent difficulty in distinguishing among disabilities when evaluated from a strictly utilitarian perspective. For example, it is not only hypothetical to assume that a child born into extreme poverty, having low intelligence (e.g., because a mother has been into drugs or alcohol), is likely to lead an anguished life and is likely to be costly to society. While this hypothetical is not identical with that of the severely disabled infant, it is not a simple task to argue that the differences are meaningful.

In general, if Professor Singer's disabled infant argument were enacted into law, I wonder whether the courts enforcing that law and later legislatures that consider extensions of the law would be able and willing to hold that killing infants must be restricted to the exact rationale advanced by Professor Singer. If not, it would seem that Professor Singer must either concede that his theory is not meant to be taken realistically or he must be prepared to defend a considerably broader range of infanticide.

Arnold K. Mytelka '58

Chatham, N.J.


The controversy in your pages about the appointment of Professor Peter Singer has led me to return once again to the work of a professor I cherished as an undergraduate, Walter Kaufmann. In the preface to The Faith of A Heretic he writes, "Of faith and morals, one cannot speak for long without hurting feelings." He writes at length of both, however, determined to write a book based "on the will to be honest." I commend his high standard to current readers.

The appointment of Peter Singer is, I believe, in accord with Princeton's highest principles. He is a model of devotion to truth, requiring consideration of differing views and arguments, and of compassion, contributing to significant charities at a rate matched by few if any of his detractors. He brings both qualities to consideration of issues of moral choice that most of us would prefer to ignore as steadily and rapidly evolving technology makes allocation of finite resources ever more difficult. It is precisely those qualities of honesty and compassion, when they are modeled by teachers and absorbed by students, that lead to fulfillment of the motto "Princeton in the Nation's Service."

Clark McK. Simms '53

Copake Falls, N.Y.


As a veterinarian for the past 25 years, I have had the privilege to be able to relieve tremendous suffering of both animals and their owners (care providers). I love God's creations, and marvel at their emotions, complexities, capacities, and abilities to give all of themselves for their keepers. But I cannot equate them with Man. God gave us dominion over the animals, a dominion which did not give us the right to mistreat them nor harm them without reason. But, rather, a dominion to be good shepherds over them, to be good stewards of His creations. We should comport ourselves in such a way as to treat them as humanely as possible, but always remembering that they were created to serve humanity, and not the reverse.

I am not against free speech, nor am I against Princeton's right as a great university to expose its students to many different points of view and systems of value. But I feel that it is Princeton's responsibility to its students, its founders, and to the world at large, to gently guide those malleable minds towards what is best in Man, and not what is his most base.

Sadly, until Princeton rescinds its unqualified support of Mr. Singer and his teachings, until Princeton no longer provides him with a pulpit from which to preach his theories, and until Princeton once again embraces those values upon which she was founded, I cannot allow my sons to study in her halls or my donations to help build them.

Al Smith '66

Charlottesville, Va.

Ode to Peter

Yesterday I squashed a bug, clearly less human than me./Little could I foresee to the year 2333 as knowledge evolved in buggery/ and social orgs. and intellects decree, bugs to be more brilliant than thee. /Yet, in that year with bio-efficacy a bug squashed me!!!!!/ So much for intellectual anarchy, teacup's tempest, and serendipity.

William W. McCandless '56

Stockton, N.J.

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