I feel compelled to respond to the opinions expressed by Christian Schlekat in the March 25 letter to the editor.
Capital punishment, as currently practiced in this country, is not a barbarous act. It is a laboriously considered, deliberately calculated, redundantly reviewed and painstakingly administered judgment of punishment. It is not rendered wantonly or indiscriminately.
It is extreme and final.
And yes, it is vengeful. And yes, the families of the victims are entitled to vengeance. Justice is a principle reserved for the victim and the accused.
Justice is served if the actual murderer is the accused and is judged guilty. The law is served if the state's prosecution of the case meets all the procedural and constitutional requirements of a fair trial.
Also, who but the family of the victim shall say what will allay its pain?
Lastly, the proliferation of criminal behavior has its roots in every social, religious and governmental institutional failure.
The criminal justice system is the last line of defense against social misconduct, whether moderate or extreme. And in extreme cases it has the authority and responsibility to act on behalf of the victim by exercising the victim's right to self-defense, even to the point of deadly force, i.e., capital punishment.
I would like to commend The Sun for publication of the story about David Bojanowski (March 8). The need for advanced directives or a living will has become as necessary as a last will and testament.
This became very apparent to me in 1985 when my husband was flown to Shock Trauma after being critically injured at work. Those of us who have experienced having someone close to us && in this kind of situation are profoundly aware of how quickly life can be taken.
Shortly after my husband's accident, my mother, who was fighting breast cancer, had a living will prepared. When she passed away, three years later, she was able to die with some dignity, at home, with those whom she loved near her. The decision regarding the use of life supports and resuscitation had already been made.
I hope that through sharing the experiences of David Bojanowski's family, your readers will be made aware that there is a way to protect your family from the need to consider discontinuing life support. Preparing a living will makes your desires known and subsequently avoids the expense and pain that accompanies that decision.
Can any person in The Sun's readership area foresee the time when the Orioles would cancel a ball game because it conflicted
with graduation ceremonies at UMAB?
Joseph J. Velky
Judge Roszel Thomsen, the man
The Sun's news article (March 12) and editorial (March 13) on Judge Roszel Thomsen well described his life as a civic leader and federal judge. I would like to add a few comments about Judge Thomsen, the person, from the perspective of someone who worked for him.
He was affable and friendly. He was gracious on every occasion, whether in the courtroom or on the street corner.
Judge Thomsen was a people person. When he wrote his judicial opinions he always emphasized the facts (i.e., what the people in the case did) that led him to his decision. He said the law follows the facts.
Finally, perhaps the best insight into Judge Thomsen, the person, was that incredible scene in the large courtroom on the fifth floor of the old federal court house on Calvert Street while the jury was out deliberating in the trial of the Catonsville Nine.
Judge Thomsen and Daniel Berrigan engaged in a dialogue about the evils of war and the dangers of civil disobedience, concluding with Berrigan's concern that the dialogue not blunt the point that the defendants' act of conscience was intended to symbolize.
Then Berrigan asked Judge Thomsen if the defendants could say the Lord's Prayer. Judge Thomsen asked Steve Sachs, the U.S. attorney, if the government had any objection, and Steve said that it would be welcome.
With Judge Thomsen's implicit approval, the defendants began to pray. Don Joseph, one of his law clerks, recalled "the scene, unprecedented before or after, just before the rendering of the obvious verdict of guilty, of an entire courtroom standing to say the Lord's Prayer."
Francis J. Gorman
Barn Fire Fund
We read with distress Dan Fesperman's article March 22 about the six Belleville area Amish farmers, whose barns have been destroyed by an unknown arsonist.
We called the County Observer and were told that donations can sent to:
Kish Valley National Bank
310 Main St.
Belleville, Pa. 17004
E9 Checks should be made out to "Barn Fire Relief Fund."
Dick and Nancy Dietz
Hold your hats, here we go again. That quadrennial funfest, the "presidential year," is upon us. The citizens of the republic will be exposed to an exercise that could serve as a plot for a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
We will see those who aspire to the highest office in the land engage not in a contest of principles but in the strife of interests -- and not always in a gentlemanly manner.
After months of political rhetoric, the body politic will select a leader for the next four years. The mantle of the presidency will fall upon the shoulders of the most popular, not necessarily the most qualified. "Politics," wrote John Galbraith, "consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."
J. Bernard Hihn
Save the Act
Peter Jay makes a fair case for weakening the Endangered Species Act to allow some people the opportunity to "play God" by deciding what to save and what to let perish (March 22). It's a role he seems to relish both on the farm and in print, as he implies that it's all right for thousands of species to become extinct every year, since we're familiar with less than 2 percent of the perhaps 100 million that exist anyway.
Sorry, but it's not all right. It's a simplistic and fatalistic view that misses the whole point of the act. We can't know or even begin to imagine all that we're dooming to extinction through our human endeavors. In terms of an insect's ecological role or a plant's potential to control as yet unknown epidemics, we remain mostly ignorant of what some people are so willing to let disappear.
Sure, many species would naturally vanish with or without our interference, but we humans are destroying natural habitats at an alarming rate. In the meantime, our ignorance and limited resources will continue to force us to set priorities and make difficult choices based on our narrow view of the world. However, to stack the deck against endangered species by diluting the law with loopholes that will comfort only its detractors is bound to exact an immeasurable price. If we're going to err, let us do so on the side of protection. The alternative Mr. Jay proposes is irrevocable.
We must keep the Endangered Species Act strong and use it to do our intelligent best to protect and save what species and habitats we can from our own greed and ignorance.
David Owen Bell
Not Enough Women Writers
As an aspiring journalist and avid newspaper reader, I take special note of reporters' names as I read the news. I observed in my daily reading of The Sun that there seemed to be a preponderance of male-authored articles. So I did a survey of news articles, editorial commentaries and letters to the editor, comparing male and female authorship.
Here are the results of my week-long survey (March 13 through March 19):
The total number of applicable articles, commentaries and letters was 235. Men wrote 187 of these and women 48. That comes out to 79.6 percent male authorship against 20.4 percent female authorship.
The lowest percentage of female writers was in the editorial commentary category, 15 percent. Letters to the editor from women constituted only 22.4 percent of the total of 49.
Other observations were that there was only one female syndicated writer. Serious political commentary by women was rare. Female writers were often not published on the front page, and seldom did they author lead stories. In general, female-authored pieces were shorter in length than their male counterparts.
The questions raised by these statistics and observations are serious and complex, so I will not begin to ask them here. Besides, The Sun may already be aware of this apparent gender inequity and be in the process of correcting.
And lest this survey be interpreted as "Sun-bashing," the same pattern of authorship was cursorily observed in other newspapers.
Moreover, The Sun is to be commended for heightening public awareness of such related issues as sexual harassment, racial injustice and the importance of diversity in the political arena. Specifically, gender inequity in the television news media is pointed up in the article "Contrary Views" (March 20).
Yes, The Sun has been a leader in bringing to the fore such issues. And that's as it should be. Given the human tendency toward bias and subjectivity, the importance of equity and diversity cannot be overstated, particularly in the area of news coverage and presentation.
Now The Sun needs to take the lead and practice what it prints about gender equity and diversity.
M. J. Ashe
On my regular trips to the city's recycling dropoff center on Sisson Street, I have noticed a continuing problem in the way people leave their bottles, cans and paper.
Despite the very pleasant and helpful city workers there (at least on Saturdays) who help unload cars and direct visitors to the right container, some people are carelessly putting things in the wrong bins and thereby undermining their refuse, collect the recyclables and make a special trip to the recycling center then ruin everything by not paying attention once they get there?
Putting plastic bags and dirty pizza boxes in the paper bin isn't recycling, it just creates a mess for someone else to clean up. If the city can recycle only narrow-necked plastic bottles at this time, putting margarine tubs and plastic toys in the container isn't a responsible or environmentally sound thing to do.
One of the more obvious things to avoid is putting tin cans in the aluminum bins, and vice-versa. Tinned steel cans go to a different recycling plant than the aluminum cans; sending a mixture of the two different metals to a place that can only process one of them can cause the whole load to be rejected.
The same is true for glass. The glass factories which use recycled bottles must have the colors (green, brown and clear) kept separate. If we carelessly mix the colors at colors at the recycling center, we virtually guarantee that the glass saleable or recyclable.
The city could help by prominently displaying signs at the recycling centers telling people what is acceptable and what is not. But we all need to read the signs and labels already there and follow directions. The city and its citzens have done a lot to make Baltimore "The City that Recycles." Let's not turn it all back into garbage by being careless at the dropoff center.
Hillary Clinton, the wife of a candidate seeking the Democratic nominationfor president, has now come forth and given voters an insight as to the kind of first lady she would be.
Quoted in reference to the confrontation of candidates Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton in public debate,she said, Bill Clinton in public debate, she said, "Brown's remarks are typical of attacks men make on women who have careers, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas." Hillary has unfairly boxed all men into a stereotype and attitudinal conclusion which is neither accurate not fair.It is an unprovoked attack without truth and echoes the old worn-out theme of the radical, self-serving, minority feminist groups
Her reference to staying home, baking cookies and having teas even lowers her esteem and respect for those of us who chose raising a family and being a homemaker after an earlier business career.
If this is a sample of" bringing all people together"as epoused by Bill and Hillary Clinton in their quest for the White House, I'll have to say, Thanks, but no thanks".
I'll take a loving Barbara over an arrogant Hillary any time.
& Chrystal G. Gladfelder