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To the editor:

I'm stunned at the lack of professionalism that was displayed in Justin Hayford's May 19 convoluted attempt to criticize press coverage of the Oklahoma bombing ("Exploding Myths").

Most appalling was Hayford's blatant disregard for the facts: twice in the piece he actually depletes the number of deaths in an attempt to prove his point. In the lead graph he states the bomb killed "more than 100 people." The number of people killed in the bombing was 166--a lot closer to 200 than 100 if you feel the need (as he obviously did) to round it off to the nearest hundred. Then Hayford tries to make the point that more children die from abuse than in bombings, and again gives a depleted casualty number: "A dozen horribly unfortunate children may have been victims." Again, the number of children that were killed was 19! There's really no excuse for such sloppy "reporting" and deliberately skipping over facts in an attempt to trivialize this disaster (and the lack of fact checking by the Reader's editors, for that matter) by quoting numbers from a totally unrelated survey on abuse.

He goes on to attempt to make a number of points, including comparing the bombing with discrimination suffered by gays and minorities (?) and even suggesting that a racist conspiracy exists by newspaper editors to crop African-American victims out of news photos (again, what?). He throws a few FBI crime statistics around in a lame attempt to validate his statement that small towns have just as much crime as big cities, while admitting such statistics are incomplete when it comes to reporting crime. He then tries to use rape statistics to prove that women weren't given their due as victims of the bombing (?), jumping from race to rape and making absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I don't know how Hayford can write "Perhaps now they [white men] know what it feels like to be a target in their own country." He must not have been watching the same news I was, because I saw men, women and children of all races, ages and [most likely] sexual persuasions, and rescuers who were also as varied. Opinion is one thing (and, by the way, why wasn't this run as a letter to the editor?), but I'm really surprised the Reader would run such a misguided and mistake-ridden piece in the guise of intelligent criticism.

R.B. Smith

Chicago

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