Paul C. Bergson {Free for All, May 26} takes on Colman McCarthy for having the audacity to criticize Father Ted Hesburgh for appearing in a Philip Morris ad praising the Bill of Rights. Bergson lambastes McCarthy for not being willing to give the tobacco company due credit for doing something good.

What Bergson neglects to tell Post readers is that he has been in the employ of R. J. Reynolds (from July '79 to July '88) and now heads a lobbying organization. Who are his clients now?

We believe that McCarthy is correct. An industry whose product kills 1,000 people per day must be held accountable. No amount of patriotic publicity can mitigate this culpability.

McCarthy has dedicated his career to championing the truth. We salute him for his fine work.

Richard Reis

MaryRuth Reis

'S' Apostrophe 'S' ...

Congratulations! You have discovered that Strunk was right all along when he told us to write "Charles's friend," not "Charles' friend." (In fact, as your copy editors must know, that's the first item in E. B. White's version of Strunk's "little book," "The Elements of Style."

Now if you can help your writers and copy editors remember that "under way" is (are?) two words and stop using "convince" when they mean "persuade" (as in "convince the president to . . ."), we can all bring new appreciation to your continuing struggle for literacy.

A. M. Hattal

... And Nag, Nag, Nag

Is there any purpose to all this grammatical nagging in your letters to the editor? I think so, but only when there is a lesson imparted. In your May 19 edition {Free for All}, two letters were useful in explaining the proper use of various words.

The letter from Carol Kalish, however, was a useless "nagging," which seemed merely to be an attempt to showboat. Kalish complained about Jonathan Yardley's use of the objective form of a pronoun as a predicate nominative when he wrote "if ever there was a pygmy among giants, it was me." Kalish took four sentences to make her complaint, and she never got around to explaining the correction; that is, Yardley should have used "I" instead of "me."

I find it ironic that Kalish, in her eagerness to show off her knowledge, did not observe Yardley's failure to use the subjunctive mood. The sentence should have read "if ever there were a pygmy among giants, it was I."

Let's all realize that, first of all, no one is perfect, and second, that when we correct others we should do it in a kinder and gentler way so that we can learn from our mistakes.

William Fogarty

Heathcliff Didn't Say, 'Yo, Cat!'

In his review of "The Bear Flag" {Style, May 23}, MacDonald Harris says: "And I can't believe that a woman named Catherine was called Cathy in the 1840s; I may be wrong, but she is more commonly called Cat, and that has a better ring."

Fie, Harris! Did Emily Bronte publish in vain in 1847? Did Heathcliff call "Cat!" when he tried to summon his beloved Cathy? No Cathy in the 1840s? The Yorkshire moors, nay, all of literate England, recoil in horror at the suggestion. And if the ghost of Emily Bronte should return to haunt you, you shall have had your just desserts.

Beatrice Naftalin

Stop Blaming Israel

The double standard applied by the media to coverage of Israel, as opposed to the rest of the Middle East, has always been appalling, but its hypocrisy reached new heights with The Post's coverage of the latest trouble in the region. When a deranged Israeli ex-convict opened fire on Arab workers in a Tel Aviv suburb, The Post's front-page headline of its lead story declared "Israeli Guns Down Palestinians" {May 21}. Eight days later, when a radical Palestinian group planted a bomb that exploded in a Jewish shopping plaza in Jerusalem, The Post found a small, left-hand column on page A17 for a story titled "Bomb Kills 1, Injures 9 in Jerusalem." Please.

This flagrant double standard as applied to Israel is not limited to coverage of Israel vis-a`-vis its neighbors. When 43 innocent civilians were massacred by government troops in India last week, the story didn't even make The Post's front section. Indeed, the double standard is not restricted to The Post or even to the news media. When seven Israelis were killed on a bus by a deranged Egyptian last year and when a lunatic forced a Jerusalem bus off the road last July, the U.N. Security Council didn't convene; President Bush and Secretary Baker did not accuse Egyptian or Arab policies of catalyzing the tragedy; and Yasser Arafat and the entire Arab League -- except Egypt -- remained silent, except those who called these acts heroic.

Unlike the story of the deranged Israeli, those stories don't make the front page. They don't foster Post editorials or Evans and Novak columns implying that they are the predictable result of government intransigence. They don't set the U.N. in motion. Why? Because they cannot be blamed on Israel.

Jeff Schwaber