In response to Roland Hirsch's letter on the Jerry Falwell/Hustler magazine issue {Dec. 11}, I would like to point something out. The First Amendment was not designed to protect the psyches of those "attracted to public service" by censoring material, gross or otherwise, that condemns their characters or, as in the case of the Hustler "ad," simply lampoons them. It is designed to protect such material.

The First Amendment is designedto protect the entire nation from people such as Mr. Hirsch and Rev. Falwell, who would enjoy censoring all that they dislike in the name of "morality," and from people such as myself, who would take great pleasure in seeing Mr. Falwell and his cohorts pulled off the airwaves and out of the papers. The First Amendment is designed to let everyone have his say on equal ground.

Needless to say, there are risks involved, as there are risks involved in any sort of freedom. Overzealous journalists could, for the sake of a hot story, dig up and print material that is damaging to the country. A candidate's character could be brought into question and his campaign ruined on the basis of an exaggerated expose' on something in the past. But the other side of the coin -- the side of censorship -- is a far worse alternative.

My greatest fear about the "moral" right wing is that, in the name of the fight against our enemies, it will turn this country into a new model of our enemies' tactics. Unless the issue concerns classified material related to military security, any kind of censorship is nothing but oppression and tyranny.

JAMES WOLF Gaithersburg

In "Why Protect Hustler?" {editorial, Dec. 6} The Post states that political satire is a vehicle for the "criticism" of public officials. In fact, it has become an accepted form of criticism. And if public officials have concerns about how they're portrayed, they can receive a libel judgment if they are able to prove actual malice (the tough standard from Times v. Sullivan).

While political satire may be a vehicle for criticism of public officials, I believe it's time for a new standard that differentiates between public officials and public figures.

Public officials expect such satire. It's implied when they campaign for their positions. But public figures do not expect it. An injustice was done when the actual malice standard was subsequently extended to public figures (taking the place of the less rigid negligence standard).

Yes, as The Post writes, "those who publish and write for newspapers have an interest . . . in protecting themselves from harassing, even crippling litigation." People thrust in the loosely defined public-figure category have an interest in protecting themselves from harassment as well.

The appalling treatment of Rev. Falwell in the Hustler parody is an example of cruel satire; it should not be allowed against public figures. As the Supreme Court considers the Falwell/Hustler case, let it consider a more just libel standard for a public figure's recourse.

DEAN F. RIDINGS Herndon