Letters: Chinese History, Todd Akin, Phyllis Diller

Audie Cornish and Melissa Block read emails from listeners about Chinese history, Representative Todd Akin, and Phyllis Diller.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Time now for your comments and some corrections. On Monday, we got some modern Chinese history wrong. We described a phrase used famously by Chairman Mao, let 100 flowers bloom, as launching the cultural revolution. But Mao's 100 flowers campaign, a brief period of openness in China, occurred one decade before the brutal crackdown of the Cultural Revolution.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And many of you felt we should have done a better job correcting controversial statements made by Missouri Republican Todd Akin. To remind you, Akin said that pregnancy resulting from rape is, quote, "really rare if it's a legitimate rape. The female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

BLOCK: Well, we explored in an interview where that false notion came from, but Dolly Lipman(ph) of Charleston, South Carolina was not impressed. She writes: Why did you bring in a reporter from Mother Jones to comment on this? Why not a medical professional who could give accurate statements refuting what the representative said?

CORNISH: And Rose Shnyer(ph), a medical doctor from Austin, Texas, writes that political reaction to Akin's comments misses an important point. She says, until Americans of all ages gain a better understanding of biology, chemistry, math and physics, political discourse of all types will continue to be based on ignorance, fear, superstition and demagoguery.

BLOCK: Finally, another correction, this time about the great state of Ohio and one of its native daughters.

PHYLLIS DILLER: So then she absolutely insisted I try on this certain dress. She said, madam, this dress is so sexy, it'll give your husband ideas. I said, why? Does a brain come with it?

BLOCK: That, of course, is Phyllis Diller, who died on Monday at the age of 95 and Melissa Pollack(ph) from none other than my hometown, Chatham, New York, was one of many who caught an inexcusable error in our obituary of the comedy queen.

CORNISH: Pollack writes, Phyllis Diller was born in Lima - like the bean - Ohio, not Lima - like the capital of Peru. But she adds, it was a thorough and moving remembrance of the life of the incomparable Phyllis Diller.

DILLER: So then I bought one of those girdles with the magic fingers. Wouldn't you know, the one I got had arthritis.

BLOCK: You can send us your thoughts about our coverage at NPR.org. Click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: This is NPR.

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