Funny Sense of Humor

David Mills was most considerate to warn me that my constitutional right to sing about the joys of raping and torturing had been yanked by a Florida judge {Show, June 17}. But somehow I feel that a band making millions describing brutality and violence toward, and sexual torture and perverted slavery of, "bitches" is short on "serious literary, artistic and political value."

I was also confused by Mills's assertion that the "comic vulgarity" of 2 Live Crew was to be taken as a joke even though it simultaneously was a profound expression of black culture -- not too flattering an analysis of black culture and a terrifying idea for women. Since 1974, assaults on women have increased 48 percent and the incidences of rape have quadrupled. Is that a basis for a comedy routine?

If 2 Live Crew were a white band reaping huge profits by singing about the base nature of blacks and the pleasure of sexually torturing them, would the black community (or white, for that matter) defend this "cultural expression" and be up in arms over any "racist" attempt to curb its distribution?

-- Laurie Brousseau It Takes One to Know One

Bruce Maccabee, chairman of The Fund for UFO Research, questions why stage magicians are members of the National Capital Area Skeptics. He doubts the integrity of "men who make their living by tricking the public" {Free for All, June 16}.

I see the irony: a magician who exposes con games is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

But Maccabee's zest for the droll clouds his understanding. The magicians who help NCAS test unusual scientific claims are not just liars, but professional liars, so skilled that they can sniff out other liars with comparative ease. It may come as a shock to Maccabee, but there are other liars in the world, and most do not advertise their work as honestly as magicians.

Prudent scientists realize that academic training does not equip them to detect trickery. Less self-assured than Maccabee, they recall how often intelligent, well-intentioned observers have wasted years on "phenomena" that later proved to be parlor tricks.

So NCAS puts professional liars to good use, knowing that in the real world if you suspect the kettle is black, it pays to ask the pot. -- Teller The writer is half of the magic act, Penn & Teller. Accentuate the Average

The article about the AIDS conference in San Francisco {front page, June 25} included a few paragraphs about the city's Gay Pride Day celebration. In them, reporters Michael Specter and Malcolm Gladwell pointed out that cross-dressed people and lesbians on motorcycles participated in the parade -- for the umpteenth time, your paper myopically focused on a few fringe members of the gay community.

Marching in the parade were politicians, political and AIDS-service organizations and social and business groups. But your emphasis on the fringe made the gay community seem sexually confused and feminine, thus contributing to anti-gay discrimination and anti-gay violence.

The public is entitled to a representative description of what happened. Leave the shameful stereotyping to the bigots.

-- Robert Teir Schizoid

It has been said that "a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged." James J. Kilpatrick's article "Yes, Do Save Those Owls" {op-ed, June 12} showed me that his own mugging didn't keep him from joining forces with those who would mug tens of thousands of Pacific Northwesterners trying to earn a living in the timber industry.

I guess when one is comfortably installed on the East Coast, one can lose sight of the fact that the reason our government holds a stable contract with the people it governs is that the people in general feel the laws to be just. Laws that ignore human consideration -- like the Endangered Species Act -- threaten this contract.

Kilpatrick didn't miss the mark, though, when he called himself a "conservative member of the hot-tub crowd." Some of us have recognized his schizophrenic disregard for working men and women caught in the cross-hairs of urban environmentalism for a long time.

-- Don Young The writer is a Republican representative from Alaska. How Convenient

Maralee Schwartz's article "Strict Abortion Law Voted in Louisiana" {front page, June 15} recycled the tiresome contention of abortion supporters that antiabortion men are oppressors of women. She wrote, "the decision ... on a woman's reproductive rights was made by an almost all-male legislature," implying that these men had no right to take a position on an operation that some women say affects only their bodies. What state legislature isn't predominantly male? You don't hear abortion supporters raising this point, however, when male legislators vote for abortion rights.

-- Diane P. Britton