Fetal Alcohol Risk
Editor: Whatever possessed TRB (Michael Kinsley, ordinarily a most sensible man) to write such a mischievous column as that which appeared May 16 ("Pregnancy and Alcohol Revisited")?
After considering masses of data in innumerable studies produced over a period of many years by highly qualified medical researchers, in 1980 Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop came to the conclusion that "women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects."
There cannot be the slightest doubt that alcohol -- and only alcohol -- produces in the newborn infant a particular group of abnormalities collectively known as "fetal alcohol syndrome" which is a leading cause of mental retardation.
I am sure that not even Nick the Greek could quantify the risk of the occurrence of these birth defects, given the varying inputs of maternal alcohol consumption (whatever the reliability of such data) but risk there is, and over the lifetime of such a child $1 million could easily be spent in the direct costs of his or her therapeutic and other special needs.
If grown men and women have varying abilities in dealing with alcohol, what can you expect of a developing fetus?
Lorraine M. Sheehan.
The writer is president of the Association for Retarded Citizens
Why More Area Codes
Editor: I am responding to a letter May 15 concerning C&P; Telephone Company's plans to introduce the new 410 area code in Maryland.
In reality, our primary goals were to minimize cost and customer impact and maximize the growth potential of the telephone number supply. Let me elaborate:
1. Cost. The change of an area code requires modifications to such business customers' systems as private branch exchanges, Centrex systems, pagers and mobile/cellular telephones.
There are fewer mobile/cellular telephones, large business communications systems and pagers in the Baltimore Metropolitan area than in the Maryland portion of the Washington Metropolitan Exchange Area (WMEA). That means fewer customers will need to modify their equipment.
2. Customer impact. In addition, all customers in the WMEA, who just eight months ago adapted to a change in local calling, would not have to adjust to a third major dialing change in six years.
The decision regarding the boundary between the two area codes ensured that the fewest number of municipalities and counties are split. No major cities are divided. Several cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, have multiple area codes. We have avoided such an arrangement, while nearly equal numbers of customers are in each area code.
3. Maximum growth. The plan provides for the largest growth in )) supply of telephone numbers, and will enable us to meet our customer's telecommunications needs into the next century.
Although some customers' area code will change beginning in November of this year, there are many items that will not change -- including rates and local calling areas.
Although dialing of the new area code is not required until Nov. 1, 1992, customers should not wait to adjust. Starting Nov. 1 of this year, customers can and should use the new code when dialing into the area served by the 410 code.
The writer is manager of public and employee information at C&P; Telephone Co.
Editor: Let's stop bashing Dan Quayle. After all, he is probably a blameless young man guilty of nothing more than accepting a prize offered him by a cynical presidential candidate.
Against the advice of his advisers, President Bush chose Quayle as a running mate so that he would not be overshadowed as he has often been in his long climb to the highest office.
Bush chose Quayle in order to retain the support of the ultra-conservative right wing of his party. And he will hang on to him in 1992 rather than admit the dangerous mistake he made.
By choosing Quayle, he put our whole country at risk, as was vividly confirmed very recently when Bush fell ill. Don't bash the
blameless Quayle. Bash Bush, the real culprit.
What's a Poor Policeman to Do?
Editor: The recent riots in Washington were triggered by a policewoman shooting a Hispanic allegedly after he continued to advance on her with a knife after warnings to stop. This sort of thing happens frequently, often causing severe criticism of the police by members of the group to which the violator or victim belonged.
I understand that the victim's seemingly irrational behavior and his large support stem from the group's feeling, usually correct, of being neglected and discriminated against. I can understand, in part, the group's feelings and actions, including those of the victim.
But I can't understand what they expect the police to do. When a policeman's orders, which he believes to be legitimate, are not obeyed, he has to keep going. And if the victim continues to refuse, the policeman has to persuade him, by force if necessary.
If the victim comes at the policeman with a weapon and refuses to stop, the policeman must warn him, if possible, then shoot. I see no other action possible for the police. The policeman certainly cannot say, "Since you refuse to obey me, we will have the drop the whole thing," unless he finds that he has made a mistake.
This is not the only way these things can start. The policeman may ask the victim to stop or try to arrest him, believing that this is his responsibility. In the ensuing confusion, the policeman comes to physical violence against the victim, who claims, "I didn't do a thing."
I would venture to say that in many such cases, the victim uses verbal violence which hurts just as much psychologically as physical violence does physically. After being goaded and called many harsh things, the policeman loses control and resorts to physical violence. In this case, the policeman is less rational and more at fault than in the first example, but I don't know why our society doesn't recognize that verbal violence is just as bad as physical.
I judge that, in the first case, the victim's action is irrational and the policeman's rational. I also realize that irrationality is a part of life. The whole thing stems from society's treatment of the
victim's group, and it may be that the victim's final actions are a desire for death as a demonstration, or proof of his courage and contempt for authority.
I would like to have one of the intellectuals of the victim's group say what the policeman should do. As far as I can see, his behavior is utterly rational and consistent. As far as I can see, he can do no other.
Editor: Howard County residents like Diane M. Fohl (letter, May 18) and others who act as if Columbia and Ellicott City is their very own Disneyland need to wake up and read the papers. "We don't want crime in our backyards," Ms. Fohl said. Well, it's been there for quite some time, and Disneyland residents can't blame residents of other counties for it all.
I think it's ironic that also in the same Saturday Sun was a headline, "Howard County Officer Faces Drug Trafficking Charges." Residents should blame it on the greed of developers who have grossly contributed to the Howard County overgrowth problem.
Ms. Fohl wants Howard County public parks limited to Howard County residents. Should county roads be restricted to residents, too? How about county libraries, museums, recycling centers? If I'm eating in a Howard County restaurant and choking, should I get back to my own county before I call 911 and get emergency service? All of those services are included in county taxes too.
I, too, am appalled by the rape at Centennial Park. Four persons could not adequately supervise 39, but that doesn't mean such outings should be done away with, or that it would not have happened if it had been a group from a Howard County rehabilitation center.
I think Howard County Judge James B. Dudley said it best: (in the same May 18 Sun) "We have been going along with a rural mind-set and now we have metropolitan kinds of problems."