Monday, April 22, 1996
Unanimity on olestra? Fat chance

BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be careful when you open your voice mail. You might, without warning, be bowled over by a wave of olestra.

''Olestra is safe. You are unsafe.'' - Art McCracken, Dent.

''They've probably used an industrial-strength version of this stuff in secret at restaurants for years. And nobody's died from it yet.'' - John Carr, Hyde Park.

''You worry too much. We've all got to die sometime.'' - Pat James, Finneytown.

Thanks for those comforting words. I feel much better.

My discomfort came out in a recent column about olestra and the tug of war between Procter & Gamble Co. and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They're fighting over the wording for the fat substitute's warning label.

The FDA likes: ''May cause abdominal cramping and loose stools.''

P&G prefers: ''May cause intestinal discomfort or a laxative effect.''

My view: Quit splitting hairs, P&G. That raised a few more.

''Anybody who eats that fake fat is a real fathead.'' - Al Klein, Westwood.

''Anybody who eats a bag of potato chips made from olestra deserves to have anal leakage.'' - T.J. Barnes, North College Hill.

''You'll probably be run out of town. But I want to congratulate you on writing an article against P&G. I thought they had the papers and everybody else bought off in this town.'' - Audrey True, Hamilton.

''Corporate marketing reeks with deception and slippery prose. Warning labels are made up with microscopic print. As a P&G shareholder, I would not touch olestra wearing a flak suit. Surely they will tell us olestra will enhance our sex life.'' - Richard Berghamer, Westwood.

''Your warning label column mentioned the sign of the skull and crossbones,'' said Al Albert, Hyde Park. ''I haven't seen them for years. What happened? Where did they go? Even though they're not used, I'm pretty sure we still can't drink the cleaning fluids under the kitchen sink.''

Can the judge

Judge William Morrissey recently let a sickly grandfather go free on shock probation. Gramps was in jail for rape. His victims were his grandchildren.

The judge's actions did not sit too well with Bill Jackson of West Chester.

''This judge is a worse criminal than that grandpa,'' said Mr. Jackson. ''Grandpa is sick. He has an excuse for what he did. It's not much of one. But he does have an excuse. The judge doesn't. Before he retires at the end of the year, he should be removed from the bench.''

Jack Ankenbauer called from Oakley to express ''disbelief over what this judge did. These rapists are as bad as murderers. Yet they are treated so lightly. These judges' views don't reflect the views of society. I don't know anyone outside of the judicial system who would argue on behalf of these molesters.''

Meet Nora Evans of Pleasant Ridge. She objected to my description of Gramps as ''human garbage.''

''I don't think any of us have the right to call another human being 'human garbage,' '' she said. ''What he did was wrong, immoral, illegal. But he is sick. He needs help. Just like a lot of the rest of us do. I was offended that a reporter with the education I'm sure you need for your job can call another human being 'human garbage.' ''

Molester bill update

In Columbus, lawmakers are still mulling over Senate Bill 276, which calls for the registration of sexually violent offenders.

If it becomes law, child molesters - when they leave jail - would have to register with the police. The offenders also would have their whereabouts reported to schools and neighbors in the community where they settle.

Mike Suver, aide to state Sen. Bruce Johnson, R-Columbus, Judiciary Committee chairman, says the bill's next hearing is Wednesday.

After that, plans call for it to be merged with House Bill 180 - another piece of legislation on child molesters. The combined version, Mr. Suver reports, ''should stand a good chance of passing before the Senate breaks for the summer.''

To take a stand on passage of the bill, write: Sen. Bruce Johnson, Chairman, Judiciary Committee, Statehouse, Room 137, Columbus 43215.

Cliff Radel's column appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.