The postcard was signed Mark Sassoon. It said, "Dear Mr. Gold, I protest the way the Iranians are being treated by the American public. It's not only inhumane, it's stupid!!!

"Being guests of this fair country, the Iranians deserve far better treatment than they have been getting. Let us not ignore them. They have rights, too. Please print this."

Rights? Americans now being held captive in Iran might find that interesting.

I phoned Mark Sassoon and asked him precisely what kind of "treatment" he was protesting. What had we done to the Iranians that he considered improper?

He replied that the Iraninas had broken no laws and had done nothing for which they should have been put in jail. They had merely exercised their right of free speech, and they should not have been arrested for that.

He charged that the police had "overreacted" and that our government was not justified in threatening to deport the Iranians.

I pointed out to him that nobody was arrested merely for speaking.If there had been no violence and no breach of the peace, nobody would have been arrested. And if those arrested had identified themselves, as the law requires, it would not have been necessary to remind them that refusal to cooperate could result in deportation.

He countered that those under arrest had changed their minds and had given their names. I replied that, as we spoke, The Washington Post's information was that about 80 of the 172 men had given names, but none of the names had as yet been authenticated. There was no indication that any of the 20 women had given their names.

I asked Mark how he felt about our diplomats being held captive for so many months in Iran, and he said, quite mildly, that he didn't really approve of that. But he didn't dwell on the matter, nor was he emphatic about it. His interest seemed centered on our threat to send the Iranians home, not on the Iranian refusal to send our people home.

I didn't bother to inform him that the Post had learned about a meeting that was held before the violent demonstaration that led to the mass arrest. In that meeting, it was decided which demonstrators would engage in provocative actions aimed at getting themselves arrested and which would fade quietly into the background when trouble broke out.

If you wish, you can assume that those with valid immigration papers were the ones assigned to provoke arrests. You can also assume that those who are here illegally, and are therefore subject to deportation, were told to stay out of trouble. I would not quarrel with such assumptions.

However, inasmuch as public protests have become so popular, I would like to enunciate a few of my own.

I protest the alacrity with which some of us criticize the United States government for everything it does or refrains from doing. I protest the allegations by the Iranian government that we subjected the demonstrators to torture or harsh, brutal or illegal treatment of any kind. I protest against cynical manipulation of American public opinion by a group of aliens who take orders from their homeland and follow them like trained seals. I protest against phony media events -- rehearsed and carefully orchestrated performances staged expressly to attract the attention of American newsmen, who record and publicize them with great solemnity. And I protest with all my might the cynicism that has poisoned our attitude toward our own government.

There! I said it, and I'm glad. However, I do not intend to hit a cop over the head with my protest poster, and I don't expect to be arrested for merely spouting off some steam.

However, if I am arrested, I won't give my right name. I'll grow a beard and pass myself off as a student. PERSONAL NOTE

"Now Md. Resident": If you want my help in getting that car moved, you'll have to tell me who you are. Why are you afraid to sign your name to an abandoned auto report? You're not running from the immigration people, are you? WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

A headline this week warned "TV Strike May Bring Many Reruns This Summer." What was the excuse last summer and the summer before that? THE MALE ANIMAL

F. Lowell Haas of Alexandria says the dispute over ERA reminds him of the controversy that arose when it was proposed to admit women to Dartmouth after it had been an all-male school for 200 years.

Haas says countless letters were written to Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, and the best of them was the shortest. It said:

"Women are not equal to men. Men are not equal to women. They stick out in different places. I hope this continues."