Regarding Charles Krauthammer's editorial in the Jan. 16 edition of the Deseret News, "Since when has revenge fit definition of self-defense?" It is all too easy for those of us who have not been brutalized to facilely pass judgment on those who have. If they in hopelessness and desperation strike back, that is not necessarily to be equated with cold, calculated revenge.

Indeed, Lorena Bobbitt's act could reasonably be regarded as self-defense - though her husband was sleeping at the time of her action. He had, evidently, abused her repeatedly. What was to prevent his doing so again - unless it were decisive action on her part? Had she been given any hope that society would intervene on her behalf?Krauthammer suggests that she cut off her husband's "manhood." She did no such thing. Manhood does not reside in that organ per se. He had himself cut off his manhood when he set about - if we are to believe her report - to abuse her. She, you might say, disarmed him - took away one important weapon of abuse.

Delilah is not to be equated with her. She had no such crimes to lay on her overly doting husband. And Oedipus does not serve Krauthammer's purposes either. He did not in fact murder his father - not knowingly and not with any sense of parental injustice. Rather, he quarreled with - to him - a complete stranger and in the altercation slew that stranger - who turned out to be his father.

I do not pretend to know what actions should be taken in the two cases cited in the editorial. I do think it was cruel of the media to air Bobbitt's distraught and agonized testimony before a titillated TV audience. And I think it equally cruel of Krauthammer to all too facilely pass judgment on her action.

Norman Davis