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updated 12/31/1990 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/31/1990 01:00AM

Readers were startled that 8-year-old Zachariah Toungate's innocuous rattail (PEOPLE, Dec. 10) had become cause for solitary confinement in his Bastrop, Texas, elementary school. They had words of encouragement for Zach and scorn for educators who, in their view, are being petty and cruel.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR
Years ago the public perception of Elizabeth Taylor was that of a much married actress with trivial problems. Studying her life and career for over 27 years, and with a collection of more than 20,000 photos, I knew she was much more than that. Thank you for sharing a rare insight into the real Elizabeth Taylor. About the cover: After all these years, she still takes my breath away.
Hannon Bell
Richmond Hill, Ont.

Because of Elizabeth Taylor's great courage in the fight against AIDS, we have all raised our consciousness so that maybe we can stop being afraid to help. We owe this great lady our love and respect.
Jonathon B. Furman
New York City

ZACHARIAH TOUNGATE
I am appalled to think Mina Elementary School has nothing better to do than to pick on an 8-year-old about a rattail, especially when the child's overall haircut is a butch. Hang in there, Zach!
Gigi Rock
Papillion, Nebr.

If an 8-year-old doesn't have to follow school rules, what will Zach's attitude and behavior be like as a teenager or an adult needing to live by the rules of society? Heaven help us!
Judy Noyed
St. Louis Park, Minn.

As a father of two boys, my first reaction to Zach's predicament was that we all have rules we have to follow, and 8 years old is as good a time as any to learn them. Then I thought about how stifled and docile we become by following sometimes ridiculous rules. If Zach is prepared to pay the price for his decision, he'll be proud of himself and be a better person for it. I'm behind you, Son. Let your hair grow, keep your grades up; you'll prove them wrong, and you'll outlive them too!
James M. Conley
Corpus Christi, Texas

Is this ponytail making Zach disruptive in class? Aggressive toward other kids? Is it making him flunk out of school? What point is this school trying to make?
Carla Fetterolf
Springfield, Pa.

What is being taught here? Conform or die? Be like everyone else or we'll stick you in a closet? Lord, protect us from so-called educators!
Joanne C. Wiley
Van Nuys, Calif.

RAMIRO and CARMEN RODRIGUEZ
The story about Veronica Rodriguez really makes my blood boil. Evidently the people still driving around without some kind of restraint on their children have never had a car accident. My husband and I had a wreck on the ice when my daughter was 9 days old. We were going to buy a car seat, and we weren't buckled either. We were only going 35 mph, but if the diaper bag and a blanket had not been on the floorboard when my daughter hit it, she too would be dead now. I feel really sorry for Veronica's parents. I can't imagine how hard it is to lose a child, but I think it would be worse to carry around the guilt of knowing that I could have prevented my child's death. I applaud the state of Florida for taking a stand for the children of their state.
Cheryl Gameson
Irving, Texas

As a mother of two, like Carmen Rodriguez, I have cradled my children in the car—out of their car seats. I have never met one mom who hasn't done the same. Mr. Rodriguez allegedly broke the law, but haven't we all? It would be nice to see the couple left alone and the charges against Mr. Rodriguez dropped.
K. Custy
Portland, Conn.

JEFFREY MACDONALD
If Jeff MacDonald gets another trial or, even worse, gets paroled, I will lose all faith in the legal system. He is a monster beyond compare—no punishment is severe enough for the crime he committed. The idea that the public may be forced to pay for a new trial is unthinkable.
Diane Finley
Aliso Viejo, Calif.

The only reason Dershowitz and Silverglate have taken on the MacDonald case is for the publicity it will generate for them. They don't have a prayer and they know it. As for MacDonald, "whose protestations of innocence were judged to be truthful by one polygraph examiner." this occurred 15 years after the murders. He doesn't mention the polygraph expert he hired in 1970, two months after the murders. Cleve Backster, this country's foremost examiner, found him to be lying on all counts and so testified in court in 1987. The evidence that convicted MacDonald is set in concrete; there is no way around it. The jury was out only six hours, and that included having lunch.
Alfred G. Kassab
Rockledge, Fla.

Kassab was the stepfather of MacDonald's late wife, Colette, for whose murder—and that of Kassab's two stepgranddaughters—MacDonald was convicted in 1979.—ED.

JOHN LENNON
The story on John and Yoko is the greatest love story written since Romeo and Juliet, and it ended in equal tragedy. My heart still aches for Yoko and Sean.
Peggy Pritchett
Fredericktown, Mo.

Imagine...Yoko not exploiting John Lennon's name or capitalizing on his talent. Imagine...Yoko halting her schemes to live vicariously, first through her husband and now, it appears, through her own son.
Vikki Jenkins
LaGrange, Ga.

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