My children and I joined thousands of others in marching in support of animals' rights. Like many others in that large and diverse crowd, we wished to demonstrate our support for three specific pieces of legislation now pending in Congress.

I was therefore disappointed to find that your paper's report on the march and rally {Metro, June 11} highlighted the behavior of one or two odd people and the crowd's reaction to Christopher Reeve's brief remarks. Nowhere did you discuss the pending anti-cruelty bills that so many of us support: a bill that would outlaw Lethal Dose 50 tests, in which large numbers of animals are agonizingly poisoned to establish the danger levels of various consumer products; a bill to prohibit hunting and trapping in wildlife sanctuaries; and a bill to protect veal calves from spending their lives chained by the neck in small wooden crates.

I'm afraid that your article implicitly invited readers to dismiss Sunday's demonstrators as extremist oddballs, though I think many readers who are not animal rights activists would nevertheless agree with the intent of the bills in Congress -- if they only knew of their existence. But how does one find out about legislative issues if the newspapers don't report on them? -- Tina Bryan

You made your biases clear in your coverage of the March for the Animals. By choosing to focus on a ridiculous "cat fight" and the booing of actor Christopher Reeve, you fostered the notion that animal rights activists are either sentimental fools or frothing-at-the-mouth extremists.

Thousands of diverse people were in attendance on the Mall, and they heard many moving speeches, including ones by Neal Barnard of the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine and your own Colman McCarthy. The statements you quoted and the incidents you described were in no way representative of the march or of the animal rights movement.

Animal rights activists are not saying that we must save rats at the expense of babies. We are saying that all life is worthy of respect. We are saying that we must be careful whenever we propose a hierarchy of beings; such hierarchical thinking is responsible for the oppression not only of animals, but of women, gays and lesbians, people of color and other people who now or in the past have been deemed less worthy than those who had -- and have -- the power to rob them of their freedom, their dignity and often their lives.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan said that animal rights supporters are on "the wrong side of morality." But since when has morality or ethics ever been a priority in the worlds of science and commerce? Self-defined progress and profit motivate many of the enterprises in these fields. Yes, many have benefited from the discovery of a cure for polio; on the other hand, many were crippled by their mothers' use of thalidomide during pregnancy, a drug tested by scientists on animals and deemed safe for humans by some. We have also had our lives altered dramatically by the development of chemical and technological weaponry. The advancement of science is not intrinsically virtuous.

Until scientists and government and business leaders recognize that in choosing to use animals to further their own ends they are making an ethical decision with serious repercussions, and until they recognize that their hierarchal way of thinking is dangerous, then I and other animal rights activists will keep on marching -- down their streets and to the doors of their labs, businesses and offices. Accusations, bad press and biased journalism will not impede our progress or silence our voices. -- Lisa Dittrich

I was disappointed in your coverage of the animal rights rally on the Mall. You allowed Louis Sullivan (someone I usually admire) to label the demonstrators "terrorists." I am a college-educated mother of two who opposes only unnecessary and senseless uses of animals in research. I'd like to think Sullivan would oppose such experiments as well.

-- Ann May

No one should accuse your paper of taking a tabloid approach to covering the March for the Animals. The tabloids are more objective. Your headline, though, about the crowd booing Christopher "Superman" Reeve did bring them to mind. If your reporter had stayed at the rally, he would also have heard the round of applause that followed Reeve's talk.

He might even have learned that the event was about a lot more than banning animal experimentation. This multifaceted movement tackles many topics, from ending irresponsible breeding in "puppy mills" to curtailing the dead-animal-coat industry and killing for sport.

Next time, why not try interviewing some of the march's organizers? Present both sides of the issue, and leave the sensationalism to the rags.

-- Bonnie Nelle Duncan