Blacks ServeEditor: The Rev. Jesse Jackson has...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Blacks Serve

Editor: The Rev. Jesse Jackson has put forth another of his silly arguments. He believes that racial quotas should be observed at the Kuwaiti front line. He wants no over-representation by blacks, claiming that blacks are already over-represented within the armed services.

What he seems to overlook is that the race ratio within the armed services is determined by volunteerism and has nothing to do with race.

As a percentage of the population, Hispanics are more represented than blacks in the military. If anyone should be demanding quotas, it is they. However, they are silent.

Since the end of the draft, only the best are allowed to serve in the defense of our country and her interests. As a member of the black community, I am proud that we are so well represented in our armed forces.

C. James Troy Jr.

Baltimore.

In the Middle

Editor: Charles Havens' letter (Jan. 30) contains something intriguing. Mr. Havens has pointed the way to reducing gun-related carnage in Maryland. It's called -- are you ready for this? -- compromise.

His plea to all parties participating in the persistent polemic commonly called the "gun control debate" is refreshing. You may wonder about his view of the Constitution; I did. You may wonder what his definition of permissible "individual weapon(s) -- of all types" would be; I did. But there is no wondering about his suggestions concerning licensing, tests for proficiency and liability insurance. They are fertile grounds for exploration by those genuinely seeking discovery.

I am a gun owner, hunter and shooter. I am also a police official who supports reasonable firearms legislation. I have a vested interest in the rights of those who legitimately purchase, own and use firearms, as well as those of the general public seeking protection from the carnage produced by the criminals and by non-criminal abuse and misuse of firearms. As an unreconstructed centrist, I read Mr. Havens' letter as a plea to find a common ground through compromise -- the real strength of our republic.

The central point of that common ground should be the saving of lives. At the edges are the key concessions that both sides want: a right to purchase and own firearms for sport and self-defense and the ability of the state to regulate firearms sales and ownership in order to keep guns out of the wrong hands. All rights are tempered. So, too, is the police power of the state. Democracy has always involved the delicate balancing of individual and societal needs. Common sense has always provided the fulcrum -- the center. Mr. Havens is correct: Let us stop arguing. Let us all take a step or two towards the middle. We'll find it a seldom explored territory filled with promise.

. J. Supenski.

Towson.

The writer is a colonel in the Baltimore County Police Department.

From Plodding to Terrible

Editor: If H. L. Mencken scorned "the heavy plodding of [John] Owens and his editorial writers," what would he have said about the writer of the editorial (Jan. 30) re the opening of the final Mencken manuscripts? Not "plodding," of course, but just plain terrible. The opening sentence, "Though he passed away in 1956 . . .," would have evoked the wrath of that abhorrer of euphemisms; and when he reached the phrase "preferred for the objects of his scathing criticism . . ." he certainly would have marched down to The Sun's editorial room and annihilated the perpetrator.

Whatever HLM thought of the editorial page during the tenure of Mr. Owens, Philip Wagner and Frederic Nelson, all were polished writers. Unfortunately, such is not always the case at present. It is ironic that an editorial concerning one of The Sun's greater journalists should have been turned over to a person so deficient in understanding proper English usage.

Mary W. Griepenkerl.

Baltimore.

Yellow Ribbon

Editor: Can't find yellow ribbon?

Recycle the yellow plastic bag The Sun is delivered in. It makes a great, weatherproof yellow bow.

Elaine D. Antkowiak

Baltimore

Abused Women

Editor: I am writing in response to the article in the Maryland section, Jan. 15, concerning five abused women in prison. These women should not be locked up.

I have been on the receiving end of male physical abuse, and I understand some of the various psychological factors that can come into play to drive a woman to kill her abuser.

I loved this man, and I thought the abuse would end any time. Of course, he was always terribly sorry for his actions. Then it would happen again.

Low self-esteem plays a large part in a woman not leaving a destructive situation.

It is a waste for these women to be incarcerated. Furthermore, they did nothing to warrant incarceration.

They were hit, not once or twice but repeatedly, until finally they struck back with the same level of force that had been dealt them.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer should do as Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste has done, which was to pardon 25 battered women. It was the right thing to do.

I certainly hope the governor of Maryland sees fit to do the same, and lets those women get on with their lives.

Anne Cheston Morris.

Annapolis.

Rx for PACs: Don't Restrict Doctors' Choices

Editor: I read with interest the article by C. Fraser Smith on the lobbying activities going on in Annapolis. As a concerned citizen and a health-care professional, I certainly must applaud the legislature's attempt to limit campaign spending and control unethical behavior by lobbyists or political action committees.

I must, however, take extreme exception to Mr. Smith's description of Gerard Evans' action in opposition to Del. William Clark's legislation in the last session.

The Medical-Chirurgical Society, through its lobbyist Mr. Evans, supported a full open-disclosure bill that would ask, in fact mandate, that physicians notify patients when they were being referred to a facility in which the physician had a financial interest. This parallels federal legislature introduced by Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark.

The Clark bill was bad law. It prevented a physician from referring any patient to any facility in which the physician or any family member had any financial interest whatsoever.

In many communities this would prevent a patient from going to get an X-ray, have laboratory studies done or go to a pharmacy, as frequently family members of physicians are involved in other health-care trades.

This bad law further would have restricted physicians' groups from pooling their resources and investing in expensive technology such as magnetic resonance imaging machines and computer tomography scanners, which hospitals frequently cannot afford.

Physicians would be prohibited from referring patients to these testing centers even if they notified the patients that they had financial interests in the venture.

As a result, yes, through the efforts of the Med-Chi lobbyist, but, more importantly, because it was bad law, Delegate Clark's legislation was killed.

The fact that the physicians of Maryland successfully worked to remove from office an individual who consistently opposed any health-care issues raised by physicians and supported any doctor-bashing legislation around should surprise no one. That Mr. Evans personally contributed money to the political action committee and to Mr. Clark's opponent's campaign certainly is not shocking. That's called American democratic politics.

The Maryland Academy of Family Physicians had two members running for office, Dels. Arris Allen and Rosemary Bonsack, both of whom were elected. We certainly contributed money to their campaigns. Does this not make sense?

Please stay with the issues at hand. Educate and enlighten your readership regarding the power of political action committees, the power of lobbyists and investigate the sometimes unholy relationships between lobbyists and certain legislators. But do not make spurious statements about entire professional groups or classes of people, as this is yellow journalism and demagoguery at best.

%Joseph W. Zebley III, M.D.

Towson.

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