Being one of the supposedly psychologically defective advocates of animal rights whom Marion L. Polli cited by name {Free for All, Oct. 3}, I feel entitled to respond. She and others rushed to the defense of hunters in an attempt to justify a "sport" that is as malevolent as her letter. Polli lists half a dozen incidents and communications that she considers examples of the insanity of animal advocates, implying with each item that caring about any species other than Homo sapiens is simply ridiculous.

To the writer and like-thinking people I respond with a statement borrowed from Susan George, author of "Feeding the Few" and other books examining world hunger: "If we make no enemies, we should question the worth of our work." Animal rights activists, carry on!

Christine Jackson

The Casualties at Antietam

An article Sept. 28 related that 23,000 soldiers were killed at the battle of Antietam, which took place on Sept. 17, 1862. Although the story was correct in reporting the battle of Antietam as the ''bloodiest day of the Civil War,'' it was incorrect in stating that 23,000 soldiers were killed during the battle. The battle produced 23,000 casualties, which include killed, wounded and missing. According to Shelby Foote, the best reference available to me, 5,000 soldiers on both sides were killed that day, although more died later as a result of wounds.

Aside from the bloodshed, the battle of Antietam is noted for its strategic importance, although tactically it ended as a stalemate. Gen. Lee's invasion of the North was thwarted, enabling President Lincoln to claim a victory, which in turn gave him the political strength to issue the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862.

This event made the war a war to end slavery as well as a war to preserve the Union. It effectively isolated the Confederacy from any chance of recognition by the European states, and as such doomed the Confederacy to defeat.

Burt H. Liebowitz

'Fed Bashing'

On the front page Oct. 3, there appeared an article by James R. Dickenson that begins with the line: "It may be the end of civilization as many in Washington have known it." We soon learn that this flip comment refers to a ruling within the federal government that employees may not accept gifts of any sort, including meals, from persons in the private sector. The implication is clear: that hordes of federal employees have been selling out daily for the price of a meal or a pair of Redskins tickets. Shame on you for allowing such a slanted comment to appear in -- let alone open -- such a report. I grew up in Washington and have been a federal employee for 15 years. Sure, I've encountered losers and liars and the occasional drifter in federal service, but by and large what I see every day are dedicated, hard-working, talented individuals who, incidentally, do not need to be reminded of what does and does not constitute ethical behavior and who would never dream of accepting gifts or services from people hoping to buy their support. With a presidential election coming up, we now have a solid year of fed bashing to face. We do not need our home-town newspaper leading the attack.

Karen Morehouse

Keep 'Zippy'

I am writing in response to Jane Geuder's letter asking the return of the comic strip "Luann" and denouncing the humor of "Zippy" {Free for All, Oct. 3}. I resent her generalization that "people read comics that are simple, to the point and familiar." As a Post comics reader, I deliberately stay away from such comics. I am sure there are many other comics readers who do the same.

Furthermore, I fail to see how "Zippy" has ever been irrelevant or inhumane. It deals with real-life situations, such as foreign policy, middle age and social attitudes, in a delightfully offbeat way. I also fail to see how the word "pimp" can be construed as vulgar; such things are part of life. Geuder's censorious attitude toward what she deems indecent is greatly disturbing.

My friends and co-workers all enjoy "Zippy" as a refreshingly humorous way to start their day. I certainly hope The Post will not consider replacing it with such a repetitive, colorless strip as "Luann."

Christopher Paradise

Please! Continue to run "Zippy"! I find it creative and it makes me smile. There's nothing wrong, in my opinion, with a thinking person's comic strip.

I had no objection to "Luann." Sometimes it was humorous, sometimes not, just like most of the rest of the strips. I do, however, take objection to people such as Geuder who attempt to make judgment calls for the rest of us.

Different people read different comics for different reasons. That, I think, is what makes at least some of the strips on those three pages appeal to almost everyone. There are those who might say "B.C." gets a little stale when the best Hart can do to get his characters involved is come up with some fortune cookie quotes or read a pun dictionary. Some might argue that Guisewite's immutable format for "Cathy" is: yak ad nauseam, sweat, point finger, tell dull punch line. There are even those who might feel that Charles Schulz got burned out a long time ago. (Such heresy!)

So what! Those strips certainly appeal to some, and those to whom they don't appeal don't have to read them. It doesn't make them bad people.

It seems to me that the relatively new crop of "funny page" cartoonists such as Watterson ("Calvin and Hobbes"), Johnston ("For Better or For Worse"), Breathed ("Bloom County"), MacNelly ("Shoe"), Larson ("The Far Side") and, yes, Griffith ("Zippy") all add an interesting mix -- clever, innovative and, at times, iconoclastic.

Keep up the variety. Just because I don't find the "soap opera" strips interesting doesn't mean I think others shouldn't.

Thomas J. Breagy