Four cheers for Peter Crane {''Arrest Me, Officer, I'm Writing!'' Outlook, Jan. 6} -- the extra cheer for his going the extra mile to challenge the ridiculous, outrageous new law that prohibits federal government employees from writing or speaking on any subject, even those subjects that involve no conflict of interest with their work. He put himself and his job on the line and risked a $10,000 fine by writing his article in defiance of Congress' mean-spirited ban on any ''speech, article or appearance'' by federal workers.

I've served in the federal government and, along with many others, enjoyed the freedom now vengefully denied to our former colleagues.

Congress was entitled to its pay raise. But to spitefully impose such a patently unfair, senseless and unjustifiable penalty because it had to relinquish its traditional honoraria demeans the Congress itself. Employees who act in a play or write about physical fitness clearly exert no influence on legislation, and the payment they receive for such activities hardly compares to that of the lawmakers, who make legislation.

The least we can do is to support Mr. Crane's courageous stand by expressing our outrage and disgust at those devious, self-serving, holier-than-thou guardians of morality in Congress who voted to restrict lower-paid employees from legitimate free-lance work unrelated to their jobs while those same members piously attempted to portray themselves as poverty-stricken paragons of virtue embattled against an ungrateful nation.