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Joseph N. Bell

THE BELL CURVE --

June 21, 2001

pursued. That's commendable, too, but I think we could do better. Look up

"tolerance." Webster defines it as "the disposition to tolerate beliefs,

practices or habits differing from one's own." Then look up "tolerate,"

which is defined as "to bear up under, to endure; to allow or permit by

not preventing." So tolerance is enduring and permitting beliefs that

differ from our own.

I'd like to carry that goal a step further. I tolerate tedious movies,

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conversational bores, $10-million outfielders who don't hit with men on

base and people who try to improve me without being asked. That seems to

fall short of the goal Tolerance Day was shooting for. If I was pressed

for a substitute for tolerance, the best word I can come up with is

respect. I can debate ideas and people I respect -- and draw from them --

a whole lot better than those I just tolerate. Without question, this is

a character flaw on my part, but I think the distinction is worth

considering.

* * *

Finally, we have the canonization of Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport

Beach), who a few weeks ago -- when his constituents were struggling with

rolling energy blackouts -- voted against price caps to rein in soaring

energy prices. It's a matter of great curiosity to me how blithefully and

uncritically he sails through such votes. But the real paradox is the

tender treatment he receives in Newport-Mesa in light of his refusal to

take a substantial position or play an active role in helping to resolve

the most exacerbating and divisive local dispute in many years: the El

Toro airport.

His disappearance on El Toro seems to be OK with the Newport Beach

City Council. Councilman Gary Proctor told the Pilot recently: "We're not

at a point where it would be appropriate for him to wade in."

Councilwoman Norma Glover added that she is briefing Cox because "It's

very important that he know what's happening."

If he ever picked up a local newspaper, it would be pretty clear to

him that what's happening is that we're getting smashed by the South

County people and their Great Park while Cox dithers on about private

ownership of an airport he doesn't support. The only criticism I've heard

from local officials came from Newport Beach Councilman John Heffernan

who said: "Cox is right in the middle of this issue and district and has

no opinion. When is the last time he has spoken out on it?"

At least Cox has been consistent in avoiding the issue. When a local

delegation went to Washington recently to talk up the airport, Costa Mesa

Councilman Chris Steel -- a member of the group, as well as a constituent

of Cox -- said he was unable to pin down an appointment with Cox to

discuss El Toro's future. I think this failure to connect had a great

deal more to do with Cox's political concerns than Steel's image problems

back home.

So with that thought, I'll flee the country. My next dispatch will be

from the Normandy beachhead after I get home. My main concern at the

moment is whether to risk my vacation peace of mind by following the

Angels in the international Herald Tribune.

* JOSEPH N. BELL is a resident of Santa Ana Heights. His column

appears Thursdays.

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