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Redefined FamilyEditor: The Memorial Day issue of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Redefined Family

Editor: The Memorial Day issue of The Sun featured two connected commentaries. The matter at hand dealt not with remembering the war dead but with accounting for the peace-time casualties.

"Post-Marital Families," an editorial, and "Neighborhood Watches Children Slip Out of Control" by S.M. Khalid, focused on the reverberating aftershocks of the redefined family. "Family" translates to young women who continue to carelessly conceive, fathers in seed only and children who act out the results of an environment without boundaries and a home without a core. Baltimore, "The City That Reads," could now be known as "The City That Breeds."

We, the non-breeders, continue to passively sit on the taxpayer sidelines either "tish-tishing" or erroneously believing that all this does not really penetrate across the borders of our suburban enclaves. How wrong we are. In the interim, the educational system is in shambles, the prison system has become the next step after eighth grade and Baltimore City is becoming a battleground. The warriors get younger every year, as do the mothers.

We are stuck with myths about the sanctity of motherhood that no longer exist. What does exist is a problem long overdue for addressing. May I suggest that the education system, in conjunction with the hospital system, unite and use the school setting to teach young people the consequences of sexual carelessness. Birth control as a way of life is a far better alternative than birth as a way of death.

Clinics established in every middle and high school in the city are a positive and practical way to bring information and protective devices to children at risk of the perils of parenting. When the home relinquishes responsibility, outside agencies must assume the burden. Better this "burden" than the death of society as we think of it.

Betty Corwell.

Timonium.

No Muzzles

Editor: On May 31, you printed on the Opinion * Commentary page an article by a Sun writer -- Jerry Bembry -- which had absolutely terrifying implications.

Mr. Bembry was rebutting a previous article by Ken Hamblin, a Denver radio talk-show host who happens to be black, and who had the temerity to suggest that perhaps the social and economic evils that beset blacks today may not be solely the result of white racism.

What terrifies me, however, is Mr. Bembry's statement that newspapers should refuse to print articles like Ken Hamblin's, since they do not reinforce the black self-image as the historical victim.

The social problems afflicting this country today are enormous and deserve open and critical discussion. Muzzling opinion which does not support that held by the majority in the black community is not the answer.

George Deller.

Kingsville.

Deer Creek

Editor: Thanks for mentioning the upcoming July 9 Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention in your recent May 24 editorial. Only, it's Deer Creek, not Deep Creek as reported.

Our old-time and bluegrass music festivals began 20 years ago on the shores of Deer Creek in Harford County. Through the years the conventions have been held in six different area locations. Today they are hosted at the lovely Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster.

Walter Shook.

Baltimore. Editor: Your front-page article on the provocative Presbyterian sexuality report (June 2) is itself provocative, for it misrepresents the nature and intention of the report.

Your writer has culled from the 200-page document a handful of sensational statements, which are then listed completely out of context (e.g., that adolescent sexuality be determined "on the basis of mutuality and consent").

A careful reading of the Presbyterian report, "Keeping Body and Soul Together," will show that it does not "toss out" traditional norms, as your article suggests. Instead, the report uncovers and critiques the patriarchal structures of American culture in order that the church might hear the voices of the disenfranchised.

It is worth noting that the voices we hear in this report are broadly based in American society, and that critical questions are raised. Why is it, for example, that male competitiveness and violence have kept men from the friendship and intimacy they so desperately need? Why is it that gays and lesbians are closeted by the church, when gay and lesbian relationships can be as loving, just and enduring as the best of heterosexual relationships?

The Presbyterian report addresses these questions (and many more) in a sensitive and thoughtful manner. The writers of this document do not ask that we accept their conclusions. In fact, the 203rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will not be voting on any of the report's more specific recommendations, as your article suggest, until the church has studied the document for a two-year period.

The writers of the document ask simply that members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) engage in a careful study of issues of sexuality over the next two years. It seems a modest request for so pressing a topic.

Roger Joseph Gench.

Baltimore.

The writer is pastor of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Not Gagged

Editor: I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the May 18 article by Tom Bowman, "Navy blocks base official's testimony." The article contains some inaccuracies that I hope you will correct.

Robert Waxman, technical director at Naval Electronic Systems Engineering Activity (NESEA) at St. Inigoes, Md., was asked by a local citizens' council if he would represent them before the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (DBCRC) hearing in Philadelphia on May 24. Mr. Waxman properly asked his command if such an appearance would be appropriate.

Following a review of the situation by Navy lawyers, Mr. Waxman was advised that if a government employee were to appear as a representative of other parties before any department, agency or civil commission in connection with any matter in which the United States is a party and has a direct and substantial interest, it could be perceived to be in violation of a federal law, which has been in effect for many years, intended to prevent conflict of interest situations. Mr. Waxman understands the situation and, based upon this advice, withdrew from consideration.

Mr. Waxman was advised at the same time that the situation would be different if he were called to appear by the DBCRC as a private citizen. To date, he has not been asked. At no time was Mr. Waxman "gagged" or "blocked" from appearing before the DBCRC. We simply cautioned him that if he were to testify as a representative of another entity, i.e., the St. Mary's County Technology Council, or if he were to act as agent or attorney for anyone before the DBCRC, he could be in jeopardy of violating the law mentioned above.

My public affairs officer thought he had made that distinction clear to Mr. Bowman in their conversation of May 15, but the article blurs the issue and leaves the reader with the impression that the Navy totally precluded Mr. Waxman from appearing before the DBCRC. In fact, the distinction was explored in some depth, and my spokesman felt satisfied that the issue was understood. I regret that this misimpression has been left with your readership.

The announcement on April 12 by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney contained a long list of Department of Defense installations to be closed or realigned. Sixteen of those activities, including NESEA, report to this command. The closure and realignment process is arduous and complex, and we are doing our best to minimize the problems of job loss and relocation of our people.

!Rear Adm. R. H. Ailes.

Washington.

The writer commands the Space and Naval Warfare System Command.

Hopkins Art

Editor: The decision announced recently by Johns Hopkins University to eliminate its Department of University Collections on June 30 speaks more clearly of insensitivity to the benefits of public access to fine art than of great fiscal responsibility.

John and Alice Garrett's intent in their request of Evergreen and its collections to the university was to share these treasures with "lovers of music, art and beautiful things."

Susan Tripp, Frances Lloyd and the staff deserve better treatment after their dedicated efforts to honor that wish.

Sarah B. Hanson.

Fork.

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Responsibility

Editor: The May 28 Opinion * Commentary essay, "Please Don't Feed the Blacks" by Ken Hamblin, went straight to an extremely important point -- a point that so many liberal do-gooders and coastal-state politicians will dismiss or ignore.

It is a devastating shame that our inner-city blacks are the only "immigrant" group that is not integrated into our society while more recent immigrants of color, the Hispanics and the Asians, very quickly work to make the melting pot concept a reality.

A few black leaders have spearheaded the move to eliminate the artificial barriers to assimilation. Thank heaven they have succeeded. What we need now, however, is not another Martin Luther King Jr. or another Jesse Jackson, but someone or some group to effectively rally the urban blacks to do more for themselves and on their own -- demanding less and doing more.

We cannot and should not keep throwing programs and money at a problem only the blacks themselves can solve. Mr. Hamblin has had the courage to put the blame where it really belongs. George Will's May 30 column reaches the same conclusion, that "today's underclass poverty stems less from an absence of an opportunity in society than from the inability or reluctance of individuals to seize it." Amen.

ohn L. Lalley.

Baltimore.

Opulent Park

Editor: Both my husband and I are absolutely appalled by the wasteful opulence of Quiet Waters Park.

We visited Anne Arundel County's newest park last month and were astonished by the expensive buildings, landscaping and equipment, which are superfluous to the enjoyment of an already beautiful natural site.

When you visit a park to enjoy nature, do you need a $1 million visitor center with gourmet restaurant, $700 benches to sit on and $15,000 arbors to walk under?

Do any of the visitors who compliment the former county executive, O. James Lighthizer, realize that taxpayers built and support this extravagant $18 million facility?

Do they realize how many poor people today don't even have homes to live in or adequate food, clothing and medical care, and that necessary increases in social service department budgets were denied because of lack of funds?

Where are our values?

Anne V. Weikart.

Pasadena.

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