In your editorial of March 20, you neglected to mention the hypocrisy of those who accuse Americans critical of Singapore for using caning as a form of punishment of being "ethnocentric." Harsh punishments, it seems, are just an expression of "Asian" or "Eastern" values, as opposed to Western values. Commentators of a conservative bent who apply a single standard to every country on Earth and would not hesitate to call for drastic measures against Singapore if Lee Kuan Yew had decided a more left-wing, socialistic society was more in keeping with "Eastern" values are saying that, after all, we might be the ones who can learn a thing or two about crime prevention from Singapore.

Since caning is a British colonial legacy, why not learn from the source, the British colonizers of a few hundred years ago? The British were beating people (including their own schoolchildren) with canes for hundreds of years, and it must have been thought necessary at the time for the preservation of British and "Western" values. But people evolve and change and (hopefully) do away with cruel and inappropriate punishments without in any way abandoning their histories and cultures. Americans who find caning cruel and repulsive, especially when applied to a teenager for a trivial offense, have every right to criticize Singapore, and let us hope they make a difference.

Pat Montoya

Library Specialist

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