My nephew was killed in the Persian Gulf war. After some chitchat on the telephone with a "friend," she asked me how I was, and I told her what had happened.

A strong opponent of the war, she called his death senseless and said that the government was hiding from us the true number of casualties, which she believed to be much higher than reported.Three times she tried to tell me that I had no idea how disturbed she was by the war, that she couldn't watch the news, that America was wrong, etc.

I told her that she and I had some fundamental disagreements about the merits of this war. She kept forcing the issue, so the fourth time, in an attempt to stop the pain she was inflicting on me, I told her, "I don't care what you think," to which she said, "I think you are very insensitive to say that." We ended the call shortly thereafter.

I feel now that I don't ever want to speak to this insensitive clod again. Am I being too hard on her?

Obviously she is disturbed by the war, but on the other hand, I don't need to have someone force down my throat the opinion that it was all a big conspiracy and that my nephew died in vain.

How do I explain to our mutual friends that I really want nothing to do with her, without compromising her friendships with them? This hurts.

GENTLE READER - As Miss Manners understands it, this lady believes you are insensitive for taking your nephew's death personally rather than politically.

And no doubt she considers that this stance makes her a great humanitarian.

Miss Manners, whose mission it is in life to soften antagonisms to keep them from festering and spreading, finds that she has even less tolerance than you for someone who - no matter what her politics - would use a friend's bereavement as a platform to air her views. The point she was pressing would have resulted, had she convinced you, in increasing your suffering. What a charming way to treat any human tragedy, much less that of a friend.

By all means cut her off. A friend is someone you believe you could count on if you needed her, and you can no longer have such an illusion about this person.

It is considerate of you not to wish to prejudice her other friendships, and Miss Manners agrees that you should not discuss the matter with others. All you need to say, should an occasion arise in which you might be expected to socialize with her, is a quiet "I don't care to meet her" to the hostess, adding "It's not something I care to discuss," if pressed for details.

She will then be asked, and may, if she wishes, tell her version of the story.

DEAR MISS MANNERS - I'm a teacher. Every year I love a new group of students, and the number is growing. I want to buy them gifts for their graduation and weddings, but as you know, teachers' salaries will not permit a lot of generosity.

I'm torn. Shall I try to buy for everyone? There's no way! Shall I send to those who send invitations? Then what will the others think? I also have to confess that when I do send a gift, I doubt that the students appreciate it, as the gifts are so insignificant.

GENTLE READER - Never one to discourage generosity, Miss Manners is nevertheless troubled with the idea that you should buy graduation presents for your own students. This is sort of like expecting the obstetrician to give the parents a baby present.

You provided the greatest gift, which is education. Surely gratitude should run in the other direction.

This principle would not, however, apply to weddings, even if the courtship was carried on in the classroom while you were lecturing. Rather than giving any students graduation presents, you can limit yourself to giving wedding presents to those for whom you most particularly care.

The best present a teacher can give a former student is a book, with a flattering inscription indicating why that particular book was chosen for that particular person. (Miss Manners specifies "flattering" because this is no time to say, "Here - try again and see if you can get it.")

The book can be quite inexpensive - secondhand or paperback. The valuable part is the inscription. Any student who would measure a pres-ent by its cash value rather than its emotional worth would not be worthy of your esteem.

In a dilemma about giving or receiving presents? Help is available in Miss Manners' "Present-Giving" pamphlet. Send $1.50 to Miss Manners, in care of the Deseret News, P.O. Box 91428, Cleveland, OH 44101-3428.