updated 07/06/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/06/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Phil and Brynn Hartman
I am stunned and saddened by the deaths of Phil Hartman and his wife. Confirmed reports that Brynn was legally drunk and had used cocaine the evening of the murder-suicide only compound this senseless tragedy. Hartman's innate ability to transform himself into so many different personalities and make us laugh was truly a rare gift. My heart is breaking for the Hartmans' friends, families and especially the two children who must now endure a lifetime without their parents.
Susan Arbaugh, Toledo, Ohio

It is obvious that despite what appeared to be a privileged life, Brynn Hartman was plagued by inner demons. It is sad that in a moment of impulsive rage her actions left two children orphaned, but who really knows what goes on in the mind of another? Perhaps Brynn Hartman deserves our pity, not our anger.
Pamela Wakely, Lombard, Ill.

With her many changes in name and physical appearance, plus her drug and alcohol problems, Brynn Hartman was a troubled woman. While I understand not wanting to portray her as Satan, here in Buffalo the term "wonderful mother," used by friends to describe her, does not apply to someone who kills their children's father, leaves them alone in the middle of the night, then leaves them alone forever.
Laura Cabibi, Lackawanna, N.Y.

The murder-suicide of Phil and Brynn Hartman only proves that no one, at any level of society, is immune to irrational violence.
Elisabeth Hawrylkiewicz, Indianapolis

Phil and Brynn Hartman would still be alive if there hadn't been a gun in the household. Maybe they had a gun for "protection," but so many times the gun does not end up protecting the family, but instead is used to kill a loved one or a stranger either in a time of rage or by accident.
Tony Newman, New York City

While we may never know why Brynn Hartman took Phil's life and then her own, our hearts are broken.
BeBe Miller, Beaumont, Texas

Amanda Lemon
I admire Amanda Lemon for raising a baby and keeping her grades as high as she has. I have a 14-month-old son, a husband and a mom to help me, and sometimes I can't even get a shower every day, much less do some homework! Shame on the National Honor Society for excluding her. Do they really think smart kids don't have sex?
Karen Radanovich, Fairview Park, Ohio

Twenty-two years ago I was thrilled to become a member of the National Honor Society chapter at my high school. After reading the article on Amanda Lemon and the Xenia High School decision to revoke her membership, I'd like to know where I can turn mine in. This young lady has taken one of the toughest situations life can hand you and has chosen to stand up to it. Our society seems to see only the bad in our youth. Let's give credit where it is due for a change. Amanda is as honorable as they come.
T. Quick, Verona, Va.

This story was like déjà vu for me. In 1987, as a single parent at 17, I sat with my classmates as students were inducted into the National Honor Society. Though I had a 4.0 GPA in all advanced-placement courses, had been a nationally recognized scholar and first-chair flute in the State of Maine High School Wind Ensemble, my name was not called. When I asked my guidance counselor why, I was told the reason should be obvious—I had a child. I wish I had had the nerve to stand up to my school, but I had been embarrassed by the pregnancy and totally humiliated at the lack of recognition for my scholastic abilities. That humiliation stayed with me for years. I now have three beautiful daughters, am happily married, have gone to college and gross over $60,000 a year as a business analyst. I wish Miss Lemon well; keep up the good work, it's worth it!
Belinda S. Goodrich, Chandler, Ariz.

I cannot believe Amanda Lemon says she tries to "excel, no matter what life hands you." Life didn't hand her a child. Having sex handed her a child. It is a choice that disqualifies her from the Honor Society. Next time, choose the long-term not the instant gratification!
Sharon Rich, East Hartford, Conn.

Amanda, due to her gender, has revealed her sexual activity via childbirth, something her male peers can escape. Guess the old double standard still exists.
M. Mares, Clear Lake Shores, Texas

Amanda Lemon represents a vast and growing segment of our society that refuses to accept all consequences of their actions. She is not being discriminated against; she simply violated the conditions of membership to the Honor Society. Shut up and raise your child, please.
Scott Shupp, Winfield, Ill.

Why didn't Xenia High School just have Amanda Lemon pose for her yearbook wearing a scarlet letter?
Betsy Modlin, Plymouth, N.C.

I support Martin Sheen 1,000 percent for his tough decision to have Charlie arrested for violating his probation. Fourteen years ago, I stood before a judge with my 15-year-old son for the umpteenth time because of choices he made while practicing his drug addiction, and the judge looked at me and said, "What do you want me to do?" I told the judge, "I don't know. I can't watch him destroying himself anymore." So the judge sentenced him to a correctional institution. Three years later, while under the influence of marijuana, my son was a passenger in a car involved in a high-speed chase by the police, got scared and jumped out, dying from a broken neck. One of the symptoms of alcoholism and drug addiction is denial, and it kills. My prayers continue for the Sheens, especially Charlie. I don't pray for him to get sober; I pray he hits bottom before it is too late.
Mary Casebeer, Kauai, Hawaii

I wish every child in the world, of whatever age, had a father that cares as much as Martin Sheen has shown his son he does.
Roberta Johnson, El Cajon, Calif.

Robert Cosby
While I am sure most people in Alabama welcomed the Jesus video, some of us non-Christians were highly offended by this mass mailing of Robert Cosby's. He should have used the money to sponsor programs to help better the education of our children, who year after year place in the bottom 5 percent of academic scoring. I am sure Jesus would agree with that!
D.J. Garrett, Birmingham, Ala.

Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy is just another example of a man behaving badly. How nice that his girlfriend is "full of life, worth millions and 20 years younger." She didn't spend the last 28 years supporting a husband and raising a family. It seems that fame did go to Mr. Clancy's head. It's a shame that his family has to pay the price of his selfishness.
Kimberly Zook, Syracuse

Michelle Hicks
I read your article on the Pilates exercise method. It sounded fascinating and I was interested. Then the cost was revealed. At $60 to $70 an hour, this is a method created by the rich and famous for the rich and famous.
Allyson Golob, Culver City, Calif.

Jo-Ellan Dimitrius
Ms. Dimitrius is the best example—well, maybe after Johnnie Cochran—of what's so wrong with our justice system. Her statement "All I do is even the playing field" is laughable. What she does is manipulate the playing field. Wouldn't it be fairer if citizens who came for jury duty were assigned an ID number, and the judge pulled enough numbers to fill the need for actual jurors and alternates? The jurors would serve without exception. No excuses. Oh, wait, then the lawyers couldn't spend endless hours asking the same repetitive questions, which would diminish their outrageous hourly fees. And, of course, Ms. Dimitrius would be out of a job. I pray I live to see that day!
Dan Morin, West Hollywood, Calif.

How exciting. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius has written a book. I just hope that if her husband or one of her children is ever murdered in cold blood, there will be someone around to "even the playing field" for their killer.
Scott Andrew, Chandler, Ariz.

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