Fear for ThoughtEditor: One specific sentence of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Fear for Thought

Editor: One specific sentence of your Jan. 23 editorial, "Leave Fear Out of the Classroom," took the words right out of my mouth. Your editorial referred to panic over terrorism, but I heard another chord when you wrote: "Are the odds greater than being struck by an alcohol-impaired motorist? We doubt it."

To enlarge on that thought, consider the 81 U.S. accidental fatalities in the Persian Gulf from Aug. 2 until Nov. 30 that made the headlines; compare that to the number of alcohol-related fatalities just on Maryland's roads alone, in 1990, which can be estimated at about 340.

Consider that when Desert Shield turned into Desert Storm, the fatality list and cruel talk of body-bags for the unfortunate who have served their country, are estimated at up to into the thousands, perhaps 20,000. Compare that to the 23,000 deaths in our nation every year -- due to alcohol-related vehicular crashes.

Fred Mott.

Towson.

Priestly Missions

Editor: The recent political speech by Bishop P. Francis Murphy proclaiming U.S. action in the Middle East to be immoral certainly made me wonder about what role the Catholic Church wishes to play in its members' lives.

Just three blocks from the site of that speech, my 83-year-old aunt lies in a nursing home where she has been for 11 years.

From age 16 to 72, this unmarried lady devoted her life to St. Martin's Church, where she played the organ and worked on the altar society and later to St. Agnes Church, where she was head of the altar society. It was normal for her to take priests' vestments home to launder and iron.

In the last 10 years of her stay at the care home, she has not been visited once by a priest. A Lutheran minister, who also has a wife and kids to care for, has visited her, and this has been a source of some solace to her.

The Catholic Church just three blocks away has usually been well-staffed with four priests and a deacon, but they cite some policy reason for not being able to visit this nursing home.

I have occasionally met priests in the expensive restaurant one block west of the nursing home. One might think they could skip dessert and visit the sick.

In a democracy, bishops have as much right as anyone to express their views, but the people also have a right to choose membership in churches which fill spiritual needs.

I expect the politicians I vote for to govern me, I expect church leaders to minister to those in need. As has happened throughout history, the Catholic Church seems to prefer governing to ministering.

Paul H. Belz.

Lutherville.

Penetrating Armor

Editor: In the Jan. 20 Sunday Sun, you say that the shaped-charge jet from a HEAT warhead "melts" through a tank's armor. This is a common misconception.

The penetration is due not to a high-temperature gas, but to the jet of solid metal, which can attain speeds beyond 20,000 miles per hour. The most commonly used jet material is copper, and as Von Holle and Trimble reported in The Journal of Applied Physics (June 1976), the average temperature of a copper jet is below the metal's melting point. These temperature measurements are supported by the commonly observed break-up of jets into jagged particles.

Michael B. Danish.

Aberdeen.

Killing the Goose

Editor: In the 1970s and 1980s inflation raised living costs 1,000 percent and more, carrying interest rates up to around 12 to 15 percent from a low of 4 to 5 percent, with unemployment at a constant low figure all during that time.

As living costs increased so did interest rates, providing sufficient revenue to meet the ever-increasing living cost. But now our government is waging constant war on high interest rates and is artificially lowering them with the false idea that it will aid our economy, and it would do so if living costs were lowered at the same time.

Lowering revenue for government, banks and corporations who employ workers certainly is not going to help our economy. It can be compared to killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Elmer Kessler.

Centreville.

No New Taxes

Editor: Are R. Robert Linowes and his tax commission out of touch or what? He reminds me of a traveler who spends a lot of time and effort doing railroad research. But when he arrives at the station with his reams of information, he finds the last train has gone and left him behind. Perhaps Mr. Linowes should re-route a little of that research effort into analyzing what the voters just said in the last election. They are fed up with government bungling and waste and the insatiable desire for more taxes. And they are particularly fed up with Maryland being on everybody's list of high tax states.

My guess is that the General Assembly has a little better feel for popular opinion and fiscal reality, particularly in these recessionary times.

Con Regester.

Lutherville.

Oken's Excuse

Editor: I have been following the Steven Oken case very closely. The one point that is constantly brought up is that Mr. Oken did the things he did because he was adopted.

Speaking as an adopted child, I would like to say that I would not consider doing any of the heinous crimes that Mr. Oken committed. I am so tired of people using this as an excuse.

My parents have always been up-front about my sister and myself being adopted. They have provided us with a very solid and loving base, which we are now passing on to our children. We are both very secure in their love, so much so that neither of us has any desire to find our "birth mothers."

We know who our parents are and who we are. I would hope that Mr. Oken's attorney can come up with a better excuse as to why he did the things he did.

Margie Odenheimer-Bokobza.

Baltimore.

Restrict Reporters in the Persian Gulf

Editor: As an American citizen, I am as desperate as any other for information about the war. I must, however, decry the attitudes of the news people, whatever their affiliation, that they must be privy to every nuance about everything which occurs in the theater of war, either prior to or concurrent with its taking place.

Although it is speculative, it is entirely possible, and I personally feel probable, that early reports by the various news agencies VTC aided and abetted the enemy by providing information on aircraft movements, anti-missile deployments, ground activities and a myriad of defensive measures taken by people and governments within the sphere of hostilities.

There are those who will espouse that, under the First Amendment, there is freedom of the press, and that this freedom enables them to be informed fully of every aspect of every operation, of every movement of every soldier, of every placement of every artillery battery, of every take-off of every aircraft, etc., etc.

This would not pose a problem if the news media people would use discretion in determining what they would announce and, more importantly, when.

Unfortunately, the White House, the State Department, the Department of Defense and the various armed forces of the United States cannot depend upon the members of the news media to be discreet in their reporting from the theater of war. Apparently, beating the competition to the story, otherwise known as the scoop, garnering higher ratings, therefore being able to demand premium rates for advertising slots and appearing to the public as the most tenacious group of news-seekers is vastly more important than the protection of the lives of those airmen, soldiers and sailors tasked with delivering the results for which the media clamor.

I firmly believe that, at the outset, the military representatives attempted to be as candid as they could, without jeopardizing future operations.

It became obvious, early on, that any information released to the media became known to the Iraqi high command almost immediately by virtue of the global transmission capabilities of those same news sources. I therefore support to the fullest the necessary and moderate restrictions which have been placed on the activities and movements of the vast number of reporters of whatever affiliation in the Persian Gulf theater of war.

Lloyd J. Shipp.

Baltimore.

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