Editor: Peter Jay's Aug. 12 column was disconcerting in its apparent support for death sentences and prisoner-killings, yet interesting in that it actually advocated scrapping this barbaric savagery.
For example, it asks why not follow the Europeans and abolish the death penalty, if offenders who kill policemen are not killed, and if courts like New Jersey's supreme court keep overturning death sentences?
To the question on what do you have to do to be executed (since Eric Tirado was not sentenced to death for killing State Trooper ++ Theodore Wolf), I found myself answering that there are no good reasons to kill to show that killing is wrong.
The discussion about the line drawn at different places by different people points out the arbitrariness of the penalty. My nine years' study of death-sentencing has shown me that who gets it is a throw of the judicial dice among the poor, mentally deficient and, most often, minorities.
The General Accounting Office issued a report in March 1990 that concluded there are "racial disparities in the charging, sentencing, and imposition of the death penalty." Even the Rehnquist court ruled that racial prejudice in death-sentencing was "an inevitable part of the criminal-justice process."
The comment that not using the penalty when it is on the books "encourages contempt for the process of criminal justice" is sophomoric. Anyone who has studied this penalty in depth can only have a great contempt for our judicial system because of its unfairness and injustice. As already noted these sentences are ruled by racism, prejudice against the poor and weak and arbitrariness. Added to these is the penalty's appeal to hate, revenge and malevolence.
We are all capable of agreeing that someone may deserve to be killed by appeals to these emotions. However, in our civilized and religious-moral society, reason, wisdom, understanding, awareness and mercy are expected to judge offenders and prescribe punishments. When our dark side prevails, as in the death penalty, we end up acting like the offender, only worse, for the malice and terror are more premeditated.
With each prisoner-killing, don't we all become a little less civilized, less human? The renowned concentration camp survivor Elie Weisel said: "Death must be opposed, not served. There is no reason in the world for people to impose death on others. When we do, we do something to ourselves."
I am grateful to the jurors in the Tirado case for they taught us about goodness, the value of human life, and that working to end pain and suffering is more important than working for violence and death. I wish more people would do the same.
William P. Menza.
No Value Seen
Editor or: I have a complaint that I would like to verbalize to my cohorts in the field of nursing (registered and licensed practical). I received my annual renewal paperwork for continued licensure from the Maryland Board of Nursing and was amazed to see that our fee for renewal is a whopping 100 percent above last year.
This amount is exorbitant in and of itself, but to further reflect, we as a nursing community receive absolutely nothing for this fee except for the "privilege" of practicing nursing in a highly demanding, consistently understaffed and chronically stressful field of nursing. And that only in this state. I would like to know why this fee is increasingly climbing on a yearly basis and what do we as nurses in the state of Maryland receive in return for this exorbitant amount.
Editor: In response to your Aug. 31 editorial, "SAT Decline," I want to say that the problem with American education does not lie with the schools.
Yes, schools can and must always improve. But after being a teacher for 17 years, I can assure you that no students will ever master any required material until they are required to spend the necessary time -- for a high school student it is three hours to four hours a night -- learning what was presented in school during the day.
The real problem with American education is in the American home. Parents must insure that students do their homework if Scholastic Achievement Test scores are to improve.
Joan I. Senyk.
America Needs More Parties
Editor: As supporters of the cause, I and my wife joined the marchers on Solidarity Day, August 31, to raise our voices in opposition to tyranny here in America. Democracy is winning more in the old communist countries than here in our land-of-the-free.
I came home that evening tired but glad I was able to join in the march with my fellow unionists and other progressives to demand that our government begin to govern as a true democracy and not as a greedy and inhumane corporation.
There appear to be two possibilities toward redirecting America back to the basics of democracy. One is the creation of a third political party (not the infamous Labor Party of LaRouche) to give people a clear choice with progressive leadership. It is obvious -- that the Democratic Party is failing the people and the Republican Party has been lost for decades. People need to be given the opportunity to vote "for" someone rather than "against" someone. Our regressive politicians need to be replaced with individuals who are more interested in doing their jobs than voting for re-election.
There also needs to be a nationwide strike of all workers to let the economic club know that change is coming and fair laws are going to be enacted and enforced.
President Ronald Reagan abused the law when he fired the air traffic controllers in 1981. He said they broke their promise not to strike -- he said nothing about his broken promises to them and the rest of the country.
And the American corporations took the ball and are still running amok at the expense of the American worker. (This one-day strike would not be an economic strike so legally the employers could not hire permanent replacement workers).
Other free countries permit and protect the workers' rights to strike. Even the formerly communist countries have been staging effective labor strikes. But the Reagan/Bush mentality supports the massive strikes of Poland's Solidarity shipyard union, then the same logic corrupts itself when it dares to deny this same right to Americans
The American people need to get organized. We must accept our responsibilities as well as demand our rights. There is so much which must be done. We're not only living on an empty dream but the dream is false.
Doug J. Schmenner.
The Name Game
Editor: Baseball, an American game, is always begun with the playing of the national anthem. Athletic teams were among the first to put American flag decals on their uniforms during Operation Desert Storm. Patriotism is a strong factor in all American sports, and especially in baseball, one of the most popular sports with enough hash marks of service to outshine anyone. All sports stadiums display the American flag.
In this spirit, it demeans Americans, Baltimoreans and Washingtonians to go watch their favorite team, the Orioles, in a place named after a railroad yard, or the name of their team. The railroad barons in many people's minds are associated with the response of Cornelius Vanderbilt when asked if amenities would be provided his New York Central's customers: "The public be damned."
The stadium where the Orioles play should recognize the fallen who have made our freedom possible. Memorial or Purple Heart or some similar connotation of the sacrifice made should eternally grace the stadium's nameplate. We are sure those who will never see another ball game would approve of the open display of such sentiment.
The new stadium can have plaques or seat sections or whatever to recognize lesser values to the Orioles, the community and sports in general -- but the stadium should be a memorial to those who gave us their most precious gift.