Concluding her Nov. 14 ombudsman column discussing coverage of the homosexual rape and murder of a 13-year-old boy in Arkansas, E. R. Shipp writes: "That Jesse Dirkhising's death has not done so [sparked public expressions of outrage that themselves became news] to date is hardly the fault of The Washington Post."

Yet the same piece begins with this sentence: "By the time Matthew Shepard died on Oct. 12, 1998, . . . his story had spread around the world."

It is disingenuous for the ombudsman of one of the premier newspapers in the United States to disclaim the influence of its own reporting on which stories "spread around the world" and spark "public outrage."

--Mark W. Linder

Nothing I have seen heretofore illustrates your paper's liberal bias more than E. R. Shipp's column trying to justify your ignoring the Jesse Dirkhising murder.

To say that "Arkansas authorities have not characterized the Dirkhising death as a hate crime" is disingenuous, since crimes committed against those not in some protected class are rarely called hate crimes by the police. (Until recently the toppling of headstones in Jewish cemeteries in my area was routinely called a prank and not a hate crime.)

But even worse is equating anyone who disagrees with your paper's policy on this issue with right-wing bigots--"the David Dukes, Joseph Farahs and Tim Grahams of the world"--rather than allowing for an honest disagreement as to whether your paper did the right thing by treating the stories differently.

--Edward Friedman