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A letter on the editorial page of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A letter on the editorial page of June 13, "Ignorant Views," failed to identify the writer, Dr. Bruce A. Hershfield. He is president of the Maryland Psychiatric Society.

The Sun regrets the error.

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Ignorant Views

Editor: Roger Simon's May 31 column in The Sun concludes, "1. Psychiatrists are the craziest people on earth. 2. And if their children are even crazier, I never want to eat dinner with them."

This fills me with sadness.

He bases these conclusions on his memories of a dinner-time conversation with one psychiatrist. He admits his only previous acquaintance with a psychiatrist was with one "who didn't seem significantly crazy, but she was just starting out in the profession and still had time to grow."

Since the 18th and 19th centuries, men and women of decency and compassion, including thousands of psychiatrists, have tried decrease the stigma attached to mental illnesses and to encourage people to cast off their fears and prejudices in order to ask for help. In the last 40 years in particular, psychiatry has made great strides toward understanding mental disorders and relieving the immense suffering they cause.

People die -- unnecessarily -- and their families suffer tragically when they share these ignorant and harmful views.

Bruce A. Hershfield, M.D.

Baltimore.

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Gender Realism

Editor: In "Puritanism, Fascism and the University," William Pfaff goes on a tirade against what is now popularly known as "political correctness."

I agree that in some universities free speech has been suppressed in a misguided attempt to force progressive virtues upon students. This is wrong and deserves a tirade.

However, Mr. Pfaff missed the point. There is such a thing as using inoffensive language. If we can use language which includes different groups and avoids offending them, why shouldn't we?

This does not necessitate constantly alternating "mankind" and womankind" usage, as in the example Mr. Pfaff gives. Of course that would be tiresome. But how about using "humanity," "humankind," "person," "individual," and "one?" All sentences can be converted to inclusive language.

As a university student, I myself have been consciously trying to do it. I know I feel offended by statements (intended to be "general") which use only "he" or "himself." This does not make me a raging feminist but simply someone who recognizes herself as a woman and not a man.

Mr. Pfaff says this practice is "as old as language." The fact that a practice is old does not render it good or necessary. If part of the population finds it offensive and it is easily eliminated, it seems silly and nostalgic not to do so.

Sharon A. Nelson.

Phoenix.

Testing Mania

Editor: The new Maryland School Performance Tests were given to all 3rd, 5th and 8th grade students from May 14 to May 24. It required nine hours of direct testing -- three hours for math and six hours for reading and writing.

The Maryland State Department of Education must carefully re-examine the amount of instructional time that is lost and the time of year that the test is given.

For nine days, the instructional program of every elementary and middle school in Maryland was turned upside down. Schools were purchasing compasses, protractors, calculators and an assortment of other supplies required by the test.

Teachers were fighting their way through testing manuals daily. Students were faced with a testing format and content for which they had not been prepared. Add to this state of confusion and high anxiety the fact that the temperature was near or above 90 degrees and the humidity was equally high every day.

Teachers and students were in a very difficult situation, thanks to the poor planning by the State Department of Education.

The testing mania is alive and well in many Maryland schools. For example, in Baltimore County, in addition to the nine hours of the Maryland School Performance Test, eighth grade students spent more than three hours taking the Differential Aptitude Test (DAT), and more than five on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS).

Testing is necessary to evaluate learning. Too much testing, however, destroys the desire to learn.

The State Department of Education and the local school systems need to get a handle on the testing program that is out of control in Maryland schools.

The General Education Diploma (GED) test takes only eight hours. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) takes only two-and-one-half hours. Why should the Maryland School Performance Test take nine hours, with science and social studies yet to be added?

Too much time and money are being spent on testing. More time and money need to be spent on learning.

Ray Hoffman.

Baltimore.

Holocaust: Past and Present

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Editor: While it is understandable that the Jewish community would be upset by the desecration of the Holocaust Memorial by homeless people, there is a need for insight into the scope and causes of the problem.

Homelessness has increased locally and nationally due to complex economic factors, unproductive legislation and an entrenched social class system. Regionally, the causes are similar, coupled with the overdevelopment of the downtown-Inner Harbor area.

We see far more willingness to build shops, parks and parking lots which bring tourism and middle-class people downtown, and far less committment to improve the lives of poor and homeless people. Federal, state and local governments all bear a responsibility for this neglect.

I find a great similarity in the insane devastation of the Holocaust, which squandered millions of innocent lives, and the injustice of poverty and homelessness, which cost the lives of millions of innocent Americans.

I do not think either of these evils can be tolerated.

It is our responsibility to see the parallels and connections that exist here and to do something about the situation.

The slow, painful death of the poor should not be an option in a country as rich in resources as ours.

The Jewish community should put its outrage and anger to good use. It should advocate services and housing for the homeless rather than requesting more fences, buckets and mops.

We must not let the Holocaust repeat itself, in any way, shape or form.

Lauren Siegel.

Baltimore.

Cargo

Editor: Apologists for the port of Baltimore continue to blame the cost of steaming up the bay as a primary cause of the port's hard time. That is a factor, but it can be overcome.

An ancient cliche says that ships follow cargo. We seem to have forgotten that fact. For many years, the Maryland Port Administration has been wooing shipping lines and forgeting about the shippers and consignees of the goods. To make matters worse, the MPA closed its sales offices in Brussels and Tokyo that had always been available to solicit cargo at the recommendation of port interests here. This effectively cut off our traditional markets.

The MPA seemed to forget that it is still cheaper to use Baltimore from our traditional trade territory -- the Midwest. Notwithstanding deregulation, truck rates are substantially lower to Baltimore from, say, Chicago than to any other East Coast port. This is also true with respect to rail rates, although port ancillary charges are higher here than in Norfolk.

The proof of this statement is borne out by some of the major lines serving Baltimore indirectly. Import cargo carrying a Baltimore bill of lading is off-loaded at Norfolk and barged here. Export cargo is accepted at Baltimore, and barged, at vessel's expense, to Norfolk.

The lines operating in that fashion freely admit that they are barging more import traffic to Baltimore and more export traffic from Baltimore than the reverse. It is obvious that, if the MPA renewed its efforts to attract cargo owners, the vessels might find it cheaper to call Baltimore than to transship the cargo.

# M. Sigmund Shapiro.

Baltimore.

The writer is president of Samuel Shapiro & Co.

Dirty Word?

Editor: All my adult life -- I'm now a mere 87 -- I have volunteered in this city. Some might even have called me "a do-gooder."

Richard Reeves' June 4 commentary "A Thousand Points of Darkness" in The Sun is right. Today, volunteerism is a dirty word. The federal government needs to put its hand in its pocket to help care for the unemployed and the homeless of our day.

Peggy E. Waxter.

Baltimore.

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