Just when you think you have seen it all, along comes Colman McCarthy with an ad hominem attack on one of the bright, shining lights of our time, Father Ted Hesburgh {"Theodore Hesburgh, Marlboro Man," op-ed May 19}. What gall, what arrogance McCarthy must possess to sit at his desk and impugn the motives of a man who has spent his entire life educating and helping people. What was Father Hesburgh's mortal sin? According to McCarthy he had the audacity to appear in a Philip Morris ad extolling the virtues of Bill of Rights.

Nowhere in the ad does Father Hesburgh advise his readers to go out and purchase a carton of Marlboros or Virginia Slims, but our final arbiter of morals, McCarthy, cannot bear to see a tobacco company do something good or possibly even altruistic. McCarthy shows no racial, gender or religious bias in his column; he also attacks Benjamin Hooks, Charlton Heston and Judith Jamison. I do find it curious that he neglects to attack another participant in the Bill of Rights campaign, Everett Alvarez, the Navy flier held captive by the North Vietnamese for 8 1/2 years. Of all the people who will ever see the Philip Morris campaign, Alvarez undoubtedly has the greatest appreciation for the Bill of Rights. He would probably be the first person to defend McCathy's right to print whatever drivel furthers his idea of what we should read in this country.

While the Bill of Rights guarantees McCarthy the right to say what he wants, I do think he owes Father Hesburgh an apology. When McCarthy has contributed to our society one one-hundredth of what Father Hesburgh has, then he can cast aspersions. -- Paul C. Bergson