Editor: The politicians of Washington are taking turns announcing that Clarence Thomas' earlier marijuana smoking is "inconsequential." I agree, but cannot help wonder how many people have spent time, or are currently serving time, in prison for similarly inconsequential behavior.
This latest example of double talk from Washington lawmakers illustrates again how the politically influential will take care of their own. Those, in whose interest they were elected to serve, rarely carry such favors. And as long as we (those who elect and those who never bother) don't demand a higher standard of values from these people, what the politicians return is a dishonesty that we are responsible for establishing.
Hugh T. Skelton.
Not a Queen
Editor: In the hysteria over a Senate committee voting $20 million to partly fund a marine center for the Inner Harbor, another blow was struck against Queen Isabella of Spain.
Stan Heuisler labeled Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., an "Isabella of the project." Queen Isabella is remembered as one of the noble defenders of Christianity, its values and culture, and as inspiration for Spain's "Golden Age" of global exploration.
Mikulski is no Isabella. Mikulski turned her back on signing the congressional amicus brief for Irish freedom fighter Joseph P. Doherty. She voted against the Persian Gulf war, but then became one of George Bush's biggest cheerleaders. While whining about the homeless in Baltimore, Mikulski gives her tacit approval to Israel's brutal occupation policies that contribute to the homelessness of the Palestinian people.
What Heuisler didn't dare say about the planned marine center is how much is it going to cost to get into it. If the admission charge is comparable to the exorbitant entry price for the National Aquarium, then only the fat cat lobbyists that attended Mikulski's recent $500 a ticket fund raiser will be able to go. The less privileged need not apply
Editor: The following is a response to a letter in your July 6 edition, titled "Tax Guns."
Richard Lelonek in his letter was under the belief that firearms and ammunition are currently subject only to the 5 percent sales tax.
He is in error.
All firearms and ammunition along with related items are subject to an additional excise tax which is not added to other consumer goods. This additional tax money is funneled to wildlife agencies and various fish and game conservation departments to fund studies on wildlife, habitat restoration and a multitude of conservation programs.
These programs benefit not only game animals, but all of our wildlife.
Max R.R. Schulte.
Editor: I feel so sorry for those poor overworked and underpaid state workers.
They now face working for 4 1/2 hours more than they ever did.
I never worked less than 40 or 48 hours per week. There are millions of people who do the same and they are glad to have a job.
These state people should be ashamed of themselves and glad they don't have to depend on unemployment checks.
So, people, "quit cherbeefin" and act your age.
N. H. Buchar.
Editor: Automobile design engineers and manufacturers should be required to install a windshield wiper switch which would also turn on the headlights, but not vice versa.
During some recent thunderstorms, people have been driving around in almost total darkness without their headlights on. No doubt, the driver can see other cars, but other drivers have difficulty seeing the car with no headlights on.
Carl L. Smith.
Editor: How come the state and city are having layoffs and reducing services due to budget deficits?
State legislators recently approved $850,000, and the city $425,000, to cover initial design fees for expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center. No wonder there are deficits. This money should have been used where needed, not for this foolishness.
#Thomas W. Millenburg Jr.
Editor: Your July 2 article left a wrong impression regarding the Wellness Communities planned for Baltimore and Annapolis.
It is a fact that we rely heavily on community leaders on our board for generous time and financial support.
It is also a fact that for a Wellness Community to open in Baltimore it will take financial commitments beyond the resources of just our board members. To open the Wellness Community here we will need to raise $200,000.
The 10 Wellness Communities now operating throughout the country offer free psycho-social services to adult cancer patients and their families in a non-institutional atmosphere.
The concept is not an alternative to medical treatment, it is ancillary.
Charlotte S. Wright.
Editor: I am constantly amazed and saddened at the attitude of many U.S. citizens toward Native Americans ("Let Custer Stand", The Sun, July 7).
The movies and historians have always portrayed them as barbarous savages. Until "Dances With Wolves," we never were shown their own point of view. Our peace-loving government signed (and broke) meaningless treaties, patronized, callously slaughtered and harassed a once-proud people into voiceless, dependent submission.
It is a shame that far outstrips the treatment accorded Japanese-Americans during World War II, whose relatively short detention cannot compare with the life-long, dead-end existence Native Americans on their arid bleak reservations.
Oh yes, by all means glorify Custer who graduated at the bottom of his West Point class and was only enforcing U.S. laws against "outlaws."
But tell me, who were the real outlaws -- those who spoke with "forked tongue" or those who trusted the "Great White Father?"
Dolores B. Scott.
No Women at Virginia Military Institute
Editor: As an Army officer and a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, I would like to take issue with the arguments presented by Rebecca Guth in her June 29 letter to the editor.
The Virginia Military Institute provides a collegiate environment that reaches far beyond the realm of education. Its unique "esprit de corps," the unmatched strictness of the honor code, and the success of the class system are simply scratches on the surface of the "VMI experience."
What Judge Kiser referred to as "educational diversity" in his ruling extends well past textbooks and notepads. The education and military training offered at VMI are available at Norwich University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, colleges and universities with ROTC programs, and the federal services academies; but the VMI experience is not offered at these schools. If VMI admitted women, all aspects of that experience would be fundamentally altered.
Ms. Guth, as a newly commissioned second lieutenant, is about to find out that the standards for men and women in the military are, in fact, very different. There is a separate set of physical fitness standards, a separate set of uniform standards, and a separate set of appearance standards, to name a few. Female soldiers do not attend most basic training with their male counterparts and do not serve in the majority of combat specialties in the armed forces.
VMI is different from a service academy.
I know because I turned down my appointment to a service academy in order to attend VMI. After experiencing college life, I returned to VMI since it was exactly what I needed from college: a strict, rigorous, all-male, military and educational environment. By admitting women to VMI, one would sacrifice diversity over equality and rob someone like myself of the opportunity to attend an all-male military school.
VMI does not educate its students in the "archaic belief" that men are better soldiers than women nor do they have any problems working with their female subordinates, counterparts, and superiors in the military.
Finally, VMI's mission is not that of a "military preparatory program," but one of training the "citizen soldier," an individual capable of being a leader in both the military and the civilian sectors.
There is a place in our society for single-sex colleges like Hollins College, Mary Baldwin and VMI. Studies have shown that "single-gender education at the undergraduate level is beneficial both males and females." Both sexes were shown to become more academically involved and showed marked increases in intellectual self-esteem.
Even witnesses for the government conceded that there was a place in higher education for single-sex schools. Upon cross-examination, the director of the office of institutional research at West Point (a West Point graduate), admitted that women were having a high degree of difficulty at West Point.
The plebe system had been virtually abolished; sexual harassment of both sexes had become a growing concern; and a number of accommodations had been made to the physical training program and the honor system.
Where is equality when egalitarianism is pushed to the point of making it unfair to another gender? The answer is that there is none. Leave VMI alone, and let it continue to be a source of pride and inspiration, where young men "may be whatever you resolve to be."
John M. Powers Jr.