I would like to thank Brian Hackett for adopting the ideology of our president by imposing his religious values on those who possess different beliefs. Hackett fails to understand that there is no such thing as universal morals.

In his Oct. 11 article “Supporting women means opposing abortion,” he states that according to “God’s word” abortion is immoral. In coming to this conclusion, Hackett interprets the Bible from a literalist perspective. It is important to note that according to the text of the Bible, women are considered as subordinates to men. Furthermore, the Bible has even been used to condone the practice of slavery. According to Hackett’s interpretation, these outrageous practices would be moral.

However, Hackett needs to learn that America is not a theocracy. As the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The Framers of the Constitution envisioned a democractic government founded on the principle of separation of church and state. Religion can play no part in a government based on the rule of law.

Mr. Hackett is unwilling to acknowledge that not all Americans are Christians, and I am deeply offended by his assertion that policy initiatives should be decided based on his personal religious beliefs.

It is exactly this type of behavior that the First Amendment was intended to prevent. I urge Hackett to allow me to practice my religion without demeaning it. I completely respect your right to disagree with my political and religious views, but please at least respect them. In the United States, the Constitution is superior to a single person’s interpretation of the Bible.

Steve Morris

Are you serious, Brian Hackett? You make deeply flawed arguments in your Oct. 11 opinion piece, “Supporting women means opposing abortion.” I will address two of them. The first is that scientific and religion-based evidence indicate that a human life begins at conception. Your empirical claims are that a human heartbeat can be detected within 18 days, that brain waves are present within six weeks and that all organs are present within eight weeks. Your piece cites one Web site, godandscience.com. Let’s check some other sources.

The National Right to Life Committee gives the times as 22 days, six weeks and eight weeks, respectively. Education for Choice claims the heartbeat is present after 14 weeks. I sense bias in each source.

Webmd.com says there is usually a heartbeat after four weeks of development (six weeks of pregnancy), and all organs are present after 10 weeks of development (12 weeks of pregnancy). There is quite a range here, but most sources agree that fetuses become viable after around 22 weeks of development. That is, the fetus is completely dependent on its mother for at least the first 22 weeks.

After offering this questionable timeline, you conclude that there are stages of development, and hence life, starting from conception. You add that without conception, there are no stages, and therefore no life. You should consider other factors necessary for development to commence, such as the decision of two individuals to have unprotected sex or even begin dating in the first place.

You can push back “the beginning” further and further by the same argument, but the argument was invalid from the start. Simply stating that human life requires conception in no way implies that conception is the beginning of a human life.

Your religion-based argument is also flawed. Your one quote, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalms 139:13), suggests only that life begins in the womb; it says nothing of conception. I can just as easily quote Genesis 2:7: “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

However, maybe we cannot know exactly how God begins a life: “As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Ecclesiastes 11:5). As an atheist, I am particularly unconvinced by biblical arguments, but even the religious should look skeptically on any claim that the Bible, or any holy book, should decide this issue for us.

You have therefore failed to show that life begins at conception, and there remain very good reasons – scientific, religious and otherwise – for believing that life begins well after conception. To suggest that all abortions, even those during early pregnancy, should be considered murder is wholly unfounded.

I will conclude by responding to one of the worst of your secondary arguments – that the pro-life movement supports women because abortion hurts women. It may be true that abortion is not a “cure-all” solution to a problem and that abortion can cause harm to women (although you do not make a strong case for this). But surely we have the right to automobiles, sporting events and exams, even though they can cause physical harm and psychological distress. To suggest that individuals lack a right to something on the grounds that it could harm them is absurd.

I can only hope that you and others will learn from this critique and come to see the flaws in your arguments. Only as we come together to acknowledge the importance of individual rights will America be able to live up to its creed.

Information from – ncrtl.org, efc.org.uk, webmd.com

Mike Richman

As I read Brian Hackett’s op-ed in last week’s issue of The Signal, I was repulsed by his use of the Christian Bible to justify his anti-abortion position. Mr. Hackett conveniently forgets that not every American is a Christian. None of our founding documents – the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence – mentions Christianity or Jesus Christ. The Establishment Clause of the Constitution forbids the government from establishing any official religion, and the First Amendment guarantees our freedom of religious expression. This is only fair to the approximately 20 percent of Americans who are nonreligious or belong to other religions. Christians are free to believe what they wish, but it is wrong for them to impose their morals on others.

Even if we are to take the Bible as a legal authority, it is full of inconsistencies. In his attack on legal abortion, Mr. Hackett somewhat confusingly includes the biblical story of the “Slaughter of the Innocents,” in which mass infanticide takes place. He finds it “extremely shocking” that the Bible could condone any form of murder. How long has he been reading this book? It is full of atrocities, including not only murder, but also genocide.

In Genesis 6:7, the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air.” Why would a deity who values life destroy nearly all living things on Earth? Why would he kill every innocent firstborn son of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:29) and encourage or commit genocide against Sodom, Gomorrah, Amman and Midian (Genesis 19:24-25, Deuteronomy 2:33-36, Numbers 31:1-35)? According to one estimate, 2,270,365 people are murdered by God and his servants in the Bible. This makes it a bit difficult to take the commandment against murder seriously.

Information from – skepticsannotatedbible.com, dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/08/how-many-has-god-killed.html

Eric Berg

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1 Timothy 2:11-15).

Please excuse me for what I’m about to say, since apparently a woman should lack thought and opinion, according to the biblical verse above. If we’re living through the Bible, let’s remember it was written in its entirety in a time of extreme sexism, racism and homo-negativity. And just so we’re all on the same page: God did not write the Bible, and unfortunately, neither did Jesus. The Bible was written exclusively by men, and while the book has several important lessons, if you so choose to put your faith in it, it is a severely antiquated source for modern issues.

And that’s only if you believe in the Bible and Christianity. Yes, America was founded on the belief that all should pursue life, liberty and happiness, but it was also based on freedom of religion. So, please, keep your god out of my government, and as far away as possible from my reproductive rights. The religious argument in the abortion debate is nothing short of ludicrous.

In response to Brian Hackett’s article, may I correct the terminology used quite frequently throughout the article? I would like to be referred to as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion.” I am pro-choice based on the mere fact that I feel women should have the right to choose when to be a parent and of how many children. I am not forcing any woman to terminate her child, nor am I forcing any woman to carry to term, for the sole reason that I do not know her experience – who am I to impose my beliefs on her?

The key word “choice” also includes adoption, safe sex, abstinence, parenting, birth control, etc. Once these choices are accessible, then the woman can decide which best fits her situation.

On the topic of misconception revolving around terminology, who can claim to be “pro-life” when there is a whole history of violence and killing in the name of that term alone? Want to talk about murder? OK, let’s talk about the “pro-life” record: Dr. David Gunn (1993); James H. Barrett, Dr. John Bayard Britten, Leanne Nichols, and Shannon Lowney (1994); Dr. Barnett Sleplan and Officer Robert Sanderson (1998). These are only people directly killed by “pro-lifers,” not the numerous other injuries caused by the 33 arsons, nine bombs, three shootings and 19 acid incidents that have occurred just in the past nine years at different health clinics all over the nation.

Let’s talk realistically. More than one-third of all women in the United States will have an abortion by the time they are 45. Every year, 6.4 million women become pregnant, 54 percent of those being unintended pregnancies. Thirteen to 14 thousand women in the United States will have an abortion because they have become pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

According to a study in 2002, 86.7 percent of abortions occurred in less than 12 weeks, when the fetus is severely underdeveloped and not capable of thought or feeling. Here is another fact to ponder: 13 percent of all abortions in the United States are women who classify themselves as “born-again” or Evangelical Christians. Twenty-seven percent of abortion patients are Catholic.

So where do the elitist men who are trying to subordinate women fit in . besides the Signal Opinions section, of course? Understand this pure, simple, biological truth: there is a 100 percent chance that, as a male, you will never become pregnant. So to claim to understand the mentality and psyche of a pregnant woman is pure bullshit.

There is another entire issue about classism, financial responsibilities and health issues that go hand-in-hand when dealing with the issue of abortion.

So yes, let’s rally around the idea of supporting women, but one must not mix up the terms support and suppress.

Kari Osmond and

Melissa Zachok

Brian Hackett claims that by opposing abortion, he is therefore supporting women. I tend to disagree.

First let me start off by saying that just because a woman is pro-choice, it doesn’t mean that she is going to run to the Planned Parenthood in Trenton and terminate her pregnancy.

Being pro-choice does give her many options. She could either: carry the pregnancy to term and keep her baby, carry the pregnancy to term and then put the baby up for adoption, or have an abortion. However, when young women decide to hide their pregnancies from friends and family, the newborn often winds up in the dumpster or the streets, leaving the mother in a dangerous physical state. Wouldn’t it have been a bit safer to abort the pregnancy nine months earlier in a doctor’s office than dangerously give birth alone and then just get rid of the child? I realize that this may seem extreme but, sadly, it happens every day in the United States.

Perhaps we should define the word “pro-choice.” “Pro-choice” is defined by the American Heritage dictionary as “favoring or supporting the legal right of women to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy to term.” Nowhere in that definition does it mention religion, slaughter or men and their personal choice regarding abortion.

However, it does state that a woman has a choice to make – a choice about her own body, her own physical condition and her own mental state, which really should not affect a man. Perhaps you will look down on her as a “murderer,” and your own personal ethics will come into play. Honestly though, who are you to say what a woman can and cannot do to her own body?

Women own their bodies, and with that ownership there are certain choices she has. I do not mean to be rash, but men really cannot have an active say in abortion, because they will never choose to have one or not. In short, if you don’t have a vagina, your opinion should not really matter.

If you engage in sex, you should be prepared for the consequences that go along with it. Women need to take an active role in their reproductive health in order to prevent pregnancy in the first place.

If you or your boyfriend do not have a condom, it’s very simple: don’t have sex. However, if you choose to take the risk of unprotected sex, you should be ready to make a difficult choice. In no way am I condoning abortion as a permissible form of birth control, but as a last resort, it is necessary for some women.

In essence, I believe that every woman is pro-choice. Why? You have the choice to follow through with the pregnancy, and you also have the choice not to. Whether you like it or not, all women have a choice.

Morally, I wouldn’t go so far as to call a woman who has had an abortion a murderer. That is extreme. Neither you nor I can fathom what goes through a woman’s mind when she is pregnant and alone. The mix of emotions is there, and I can see why many women regret turning toward abortion. At the time however, it may have been the only plausible choice.

If you would like to support women, consider taking a look at some of the organizations at the College that actually advocate women’s rights instead of stating that since you oppose abortion, you are thus supporting women.

Michelle Jarmicki

Ewing author

responds to Oates

Highly acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates, who also teaches creative writing at Princeton University, seems to have stumbled upon a very non-creative way to find ideas for her fiction and character development.

Fiction: Oates’ short story, “Landfill,” published in the Oct. 9 issue of The New Yorker, is about a 19-year-old Michigan State University freshman named Hector Campos Jr., whose body is found in a landfill in April after he has been missing for almost a month.

Fact: This past April, the body of a 19-year-old freshman at the College, John Fiocco Jr., was found in a landfill about a month after his disappearance. Coincidence?

When you consider the College is roughly 15 minutes from Princeton and the story was on the front page of local papers for months, it’s kind of difficult to think so. The coincidences continue.

Both the fictional Campos Jr. and the real Fiocco Jr. were named after their fathers, had a penchant for drinking and were athletic. Their cause of death is unknown but it is suspected that after a night of drinking they plunged to their death down a garbage chute and into a dumpster.

They were both reported missing by their roommates in March and their bodies found almost a month later in a landfill. I count at least 10 exact similarities between the two.

Oates is baffled and does not understand why her fictional story set in Michigan could be objected to by anyone close to the Fiocco Jr. incident, and hopes that her story is not viewed as a literal translation of the actual event.

Despite extensive local media coverage and even the national attention the case received, she contends that other than reading an article about it in the New York Times some months ago, she is only vaguely familiar with its particulars.

Oates does claim she drew from incidents at other colleges as the basis for “Landfill.” One such incident is the sexual allegations brought up against the Duke University lacrosse team earlier this year.

However, I find it ironic she could draw on something that took place over 400 miles away but is not very familiar with a drama that unfolded only 10 miles from her.

I love the art of literature and it pains me to see it treated with such disrespect. Has it really been reduced to this technique Oates employs?

I certainly hope she does not instruct her students to use a similar approach. If such creativity is deemed acceptable, then what next – lip-synched operas and computer generated ballet?

It is my contention that if “Landfill” is creative license in use, the license be revoked and the driver suspended.

This is a woman who is on the short list to receive the Nobel Prize in literature, ladies and gentlemen.

I can only hope all those ballots marked in favor of her receiving it are thrown down a garbage chute and never found. She should not receive a thing, but give the Fiocco family her deepest apologies and the money she made from the publication of the story and all subsequent rights to it.

Roman Griffen,

Ewing, N.J.

Bigots on a

newspaper staff?

I have a simple question dealing with the comic entitled “Arabs on a Plane” in the Oct. 11 edition of The Signal: Who the hell has the audacity to put something that egregious and blatantly racist in our school newspaper?

I am not normally moved to actually complain about things I disagree with, but this has crossed the line. This newspaper is representative of our student body and the College as a whole, and it’s completely unacceptable and inappropriate.

While we as American citizens have a right to free speech, refuse like this doesn’t deserve to be printed.

Aside from the fact that it’s a shitty joke about snakes on a plane, of course. How do you expect anyone of Arab descent to react to this? They’re depicted hijacking a plane and biting people, for God’s sake.

Zach Goldstein