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Instruction TimeEditor: An innocent victim? Maybe, Maybe...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Instruction Time

Editor: An innocent victim? Maybe, Maybe not. A star-struck 18-year-old is lured to the clutches of a ruthless rapist. The jury says he is guilty. Only the two of them know for sure.

The one good thing that evolved from all of this is that parents can use the situation to communicate to their children. The issue of date rape and avoiding compromising positions can be discussed. "Does no mean no?" can be discussed. What responsibility did the young lady have in the situation, or is she absolved of all responsibility?

Parents can ask their daughters if they would have gone to Mike Tyson's room and why or why not. Parents can talk with their sons about their respect or lack of respect for their female counterparts. Positive values can be communicated in a way that hopefully will result in a new generation that can avoid a messy situation such as the Tyson disaster.

Deborah Edmonds.

Baltimore.

Free His Choices

Editor: I would say the artistic community's reactions to criticism of the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center show that government-funded artists and their supporters cannot grasp the concept of freedom of choice. I would say that except that, given their vested interest in their kind of art continuing to receive tax dollars, I suspect that they refuse to understand freedom of choice.

To state that tax-supported art is art that relatively few want to see is to state the obvious. Any art form that pleases a large audience is self-supporting and guarantees freedom of choice.

Say what you will about the artistic merit of Michael Jackson, cable television or even 2 Live Crew, the fact remains that, if you chose to not attend their concerts, not subscribe to their services, or not buy their records, you were not forced to give them money.

Not so with Maryland Public Television, the Monet exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art, or the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center at Frederick. Whether you did not attend out of boredom with the stale, ignorance of the beautiful, or disgust with the offensive, you were still forced to pay through taxes. And if you don't think you were forced to pay, try not paying your taxes just once in your life.

The issue here is not pornography or offensiveness. If you think that you can withhold money for nude paintings of Norman Schwartzkopf but still get tax subsidies for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, you are indeed guilty of censorship.

The issue here is freedom of choice and the only way to guarantee your right to it is to demand that all art stop receiving tax support. Then either voluntarily support your favorite art in a free trade with the artist or let it die the death it deserves.

Every dollar that is taken away from you for art you do not want to see is another dollar you don't have for the art that you do want to see.

Government-funded artists are bureaucrats with brushes who want freedom from having to consider their audience at the expense of your freedom of choice. They are vampires drinking your blood. Let's drive a silver stake through their pretty red hearts.

James Michael Dial.

Eldersburg.

Shift the Priority

Editor: I saw in your paper of Jan. 30 that the state Board of Public Works approved a $7.2 million contract to design the expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center and a $2.3 million contract to supervise construction of the project.

I am in favor of a larger center, but not at this time when the state is in a financial crisis.

Let's use this money to help people in education, health and many other problems that face our citizens.

If the answer is that you can't transfer these funds, let the legislature change the rules.

Irvin Goodman.

Baltimore.

Foul Law

Editor: Virtually every national poll on the subject reveals that the majority of the American people believe abortion to be immoral.

Yet the same majority refuses to endorse legislation that would uphold this moral judgment. Thus we are witness to the triumph of irrelevant sloganeering. "A woman's right to choose" has somehow become more poignant than a baby's right to live.

I agree with your Jan. 26 editorial that it would be a shame if Maryland's November vote on the abortion law would result in an invasion of pro- and anti-abortion factions from all over the country. One would dare hope that the conscience of the Maryland voters will cause them to turn against this foul law so decisively that outside influences will deduce that a trip to Maryland will not be worth the effort.

Edward J. Veilleaux.

Hunt Valley.

No Cold Cutoffs

Editor: Your Jan. 15 article makes it appear that Delmarva Power is unconcerned about the possible danger to life and property by cutting off electricity in the cold weather. That's simply not true. Cutoffs are used by Delmarva Power only as a last resort.

In December 1991, Delmarva Power cut off only 67 of 122,000 Maryland customers. Fifty-one of those customers, out of 36 commercial and 31 residential accounts, were reconnected within a short time.

The Sun article blurred the difference between affidavits filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission and shut-off warnings sent to customers. An affidavit is never seen by the customer and does not provide an accurate gauge for comparing shut-off warnings sent by utilities to their customers.

To us, the article misrepresented the hard work which Delmarva Power customer-service representatives do to keep customers on our system. Every day, they use tools available to help customers who have difficulty paying their electric bills.

In addition, nine years ago, our company created the Good Neighbor Energy Fund, which has raised more than $1.7 million to help customers having trouble paying their bills. It is administered by the Salvation Army.

Jay E. Mason.

Salisbury.

The writer is manager of corporate relations for Delmarva Power.

Art Attack

Editor: News about Mayor Schmoke's plans to drop culture funding gave me an "art attack."

Even if Baltimore never reads, at least it can go to museums, concerts and theaters. Before we know it, the city will be throwing musicians, artists and actors to the "lions" in the new, extravagant coliseum in Camden Yards.

What price civilization?

Carol F. Rosenberg.

Baltimore.

Helmet Hindrance

Editor: In a recent letter, a race car driver stated that he never once considered driving without a helmet.

Does that mean that he wears one in his family car?

I bet not. Would he like to have one forced upon his head by his government?

As free-thinking adults, shouldn't our birthright be to make judgments concerning our safety?

Since the repeal of the adult helmet law in Maryland, fatalities per 10,000 registrations have dropped 15 percent, while accidents have plummeted 46 percent. Doesn't that tell us something?

I began riding 28 years ago, have logged many thousands of miles, and have learned to ride defensively. I have also taken the rider safety course, which I highly recommend.

Personally, I believe the wearing of a helmet compromises my safety:

* The helmet is uncomfortable, the weight quite taxing.

* Peripheral vision is greatly diminished.

* At times, temperatures within the helmet are unbelievable, your head perspires, you become lethargic.

Proponents of mandatory helmet legislation raise the question of huge costs owing to motorcycle head injuries. In reality, cycle health care costs (all injuries) amount to only one-tenth of one percent of total U.S. health care costs.

In truth, the major cause of head injuries is automobiles. At 95 trauma centers reporting, 1982 to 1986, autos accounted for 45.5 percent, falls 15 percent, assaults 13.7 percent, pedestrians 11.3 per cent, motorcyclists 9.5 percent and gunshots the remainder.

So, if we truly want to prevent injuries and lower costs, let's put the helmets where they'll do the most good, on auto drivers and pedestrians.

The late Malcon Forbes sums up the issue succinctly: "I support the American Motorcycle Association because I think the legislative assaults on motorcyclists are usually emotional, disproportionate and totally unfair, and they're instigated and implemented by people who know nothing about motorcycling, but have a prejudice. It's easy to curb the freedoms of others, when you see no immediate impact on your own."

Chuck Weigert.

Jarrettsville.

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