Did you actually pay a freelance writer for that nonsense headlined "Revealed! White Male Linked to S&L Debacle" {Outlook, Aug. 5}? While the headline writer clearly had tongue in cheek, the article appeared straight -- straight, stupid and perhaps a bit inflammatory.

Granted, some readers may have held the "SUGOB" Institute up to a mirror, and some may have been exposed to enough statistics to recognize Dr. Kighsquare, but did it occur to anyone at your paper that some readers might take the article seriously? Did anyone question the wisdom or responsibility of running such a piece at a time when racial tensions are increasing in the city?

I wonder how often that column will be quoted seriously in high school papers -- perhaps, even in college papers -- during the coming scholastic year, and how many faculty members will accept the reference at face value.

-- Edmund L. Castillo 'Beauty' and the Beasts

The full-page ad for your "send a kid to camp" program asked readers to contribute money so that 1,100 kids can "spend two glorious weeks at nearby camps" hooking fish, among other things.

How can you call the desensitization of kids to the killing of sentient and defenseless animals part of opening "a whole new and beautiful world" to them?

Do you plan to teach them to spear frogs and hunt deer next year? Better to keep the kids at home.

-- Mike Handley Mixed-Up Miracles

For the second time in as many weeks your paper has allowed the theological doctrine of the Immaculate Conception to be confused with that of the virgin birth {"The Man With All the Answers," Magazine, July 29 and "Democrats Making a Moot Point," Outlook, Aug. 5}. It appears that Office of Management and Budget director Richard Darman is responsible for both misuses. That, however, does not excuse the editors from correcting the incorrect metaphor.

In both instances, Darman wanted to express the idea of spontaneous generation, as in the phrase, "taxes as if appearing by magic." The correct metaphor would be that of the virgin birth, which holds that God begat Jesus in the womb of Mary with no assistance from any man. In contrast, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which was cited, asserts that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother without the stain of original sin.

-- Mark Sajbel RIP

The Style article "The Prosecutors Who Didn't Rest" {Aug. 1} contained personal details about Ricky Robertson and Judy Retchin that were lacking in newsworthiness and reflected a last-ditch attempt to generate a story where none existed.

Barton Gellman's preoccupation with matters of little importance -- phone-machine greetings, favorite pizza parlors, housemates and prior dashiki wear -- escaped me. His musings about Retchin's personality were offensive.

This piece was particularly troubling because it violated the privacy of two devoted and talented public servants who had not thrust themselves willingly into the limelight. It also placed your paper in the category of tabloids, which reveal intimate details of private lives in the quest to sell newspapers and increase advertising revenues.

The article's appearance on the date of closing arguments seemed calculated to distract the lawyers from their responsibilities and had the potential of inflicting needless pain. Retchin and Richardson could perhaps "rest" if not badgered by a gossipy press.

-- Nancy L. Kantrowitz Case in Point

What was the point of leaving the face blank while the rest of the figure in your graphic ruled out two out of the six major mayoral candidates {July 29} -- the candidates who are women? Was this intended to illustrate the "lingering stereotypes" discussed on Page B1 of the same issue? -- Katie Mark Two Wrongs

I don't like the IRA or what it does, but to blame violence in Northern Ireland on one side and not mention atrocities committed by the other does truth a disservice {"The IRA: Not Soldiers, Not Patriots," op-ed, Aug. 4}.

Ian Gow's death was appalling, but is it any more appalling than the shooting of Sinn Fein's Sean Keenan by a Loyalist hit squad? The blast that caught a nun along with three policemen was as mindless as the British plastic bullet that killed the innocent 15-year-old Seamus Duffy.

British soldiers do not qualify as a "peace-keeping force," because they side with loyal Protestants. The Irish Catholic minority, however law-abiding, can have little hope of justice. The British should turn over management of Ulster to a neutral third party until a permanent solution can be found. Until that happy day, I'd like to see both sides of the Ireland issue in your pages, so I could judge for myself who is the terrorist and who occupies the moral high ground. -- Ellen Wilds