Stand by Your Man

I hope that David Maraniss has a better grasp of Texas politics than he does of country music.

In his column "Letter From Texas" {Sept. 18}, he referred to the "old Patsy Cline hit, 'Stand by Your Man.' " Please inform him and the editor who reviewed his column that Patsy Cline died in 1963, about five years before that song was introduced by Tammy Wynette, for whom it became a No. 1 hit.

I shall inform you the minute I determine any other errors in the story. Until then, stand by your man (but check his "facts"). -- Roger Foster Know-It-All

Once again Jonathan Yardley fulminated against scholars who investigate popular culture {"Funny Business in Academia," Style, Sept. 24}. How he hates it when we scholars refuse to keep in our place, which is presumably the realm of the dead, literally or figuratively.

As usual Yardley quoted out of context and in other ways distorted a legitimate inquiry into the role of the popular arts and entertainments. Comic strips need to be examined as refracted images -- i.e., as socially constructed representations of reality expressing our beliefs, expectations, fears and other cognitive orientations and as influences that, in part at least, acculturate us to society's norms.

As a student of popular culture, I am often interviewed by journalists who are more alert than Yardley to its significance. But since Yardley seems to believe that he knows all there is to know about the subject from his superficial observations, in the future I will refer all such calls to his office. -- Lawrence E. Mintz First Place

A lovely example of subconscious media arrogance and self-promotion appeared in your Sept. 15 story about the response to a call to the fire department of a shopping center explosion {Metro}. The story said: "Reporters, firefighters and police" rushed to the scene. What priorities.

Unlike firemen and police who assist in threats to individual and public safety, reporters in such circumstances can do little or nothing useful other than keeping out of the way. -- Stephen D. Cohen No Joke

Your printing of the Sept. 18 "Far Side" comic showed bad taste in light of the recent story about the attack by three dogs on a mother and her 3-year-old child.

A comic showing a bunch of dogs plotting to attack an approaching child is thoughtless and unfunny, especially when your Metro section had a follow-up story on a gruesome dog attack in Rockville. Shame on you.

-- Craig L. Wallin Take It Seriously

I am troubled by the placement of the article "Violence Against Women Escalates" {Metro, Sept. 22}. Certainly the story merited a more prominent position than the bottom part of a Metro page, beneath a story about "snakebusters." I can't help wondering whether your paper would have given this story bigger play if the women raped had been white and from more affluent neighborhoods.

Additionally, a reported comment by D.C. Police Capt. Wyndell C. Watkins attributed the increase in the number of rapes to drug abuse by women. This essentially blames the victim and distances your readers from these women. Hate crimes by men against women, all women, deserve the most serious attention and coverage your paper can muster.

-- Anne R. Bullen 'Peace?' Oh, Please

It is amazing that even with the mind-boggling changes in alliances in the Middle East today, your Sept. 23 editorial still talked about Israel exchanging land for "peace," whatever "peace" is in the Middle East. Perhaps it's the Iranian-Iraqi "peace" entered into some four years before their eight-year war, or perhaps it's the latest arrangement between Saddam Hussein and his Iranian counterpart.

As to whatever it is that Israel "promised in U.N. Resolution 242" -- the resolution says nothing about an Israeli promise; it deals with "states concerned" and says not a word about negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian people. Try not to forget it. -- Jacob Seidenberg Unclear, Uncalled for

Amid my pleasure in reading "Daring to Differ in Tanzania" {Foreign Journal, Sept. 10}, I was shocked to find that James Mapalala lives in a "lethargic land." Did Neil Henry mean Tanzania was geologically "lethargic" (hard to imagine with that rift valley and volcanoes), politically "lethargic" (probably not as he goes on to describe the ambitious measures the government took against Mapalala) or culturally "lethargic"? It's hard to imagine why or how offensive and unclear writing was included in an article about the activism of an amazing person. -- Sherry Smith