The Lady Factor
"A recent survey by Times Mirror Center for the People showed 49 percent of women 30 to 49 rate Mr. Clinton very or mostly unfavorable," according to a recent story in The Sun.
Since very few of us ladies admit to being over 49, it appears to me that Bill Clinton is in real trouble.
Your April 13 editorial, "Grim Outlook for AIDS in Maryland," responsibly states the problem and cites education and prevention as being the best tools currently available to fight this deadly epidemic.
As troublesome as the cited statistics are, the fact remains they are real and show little chance of changing for the better. It should be remembered that individuals diagnosed with AIDS in 1992 more than likely were infected with HIV anywhere from two to 15 years ago.
And while education and prevention are the best tools we currently have, it must be remembered that society needs to reach a middle ground between permissive attitudes and strict denials if the initiatives are to have any long-lasting success.
Your editorial also serves a valuable purpose by pointing out the increasing number of heterosexuals infected with HIV. It is in direct contrast to a column recently run on your pages by Cal Thomas ("AIDS as a Behavior Problem," April 1), in which the author erroneously states AIDS is not "everyone's disease."
Nothing could be further from the truth. Although HIV disease and AIDS have disproportionately affected some communities in Maryland, it is everyone's disease. It does not discriminate; it doesn't know your age, your race, your gender or where you live.
No matter who you are or where you live, you can contract this deadly disease, if you put yourself at risk.
Nelson J. Sabatini
The writer is the Maryland health secretary.
Your editorial "The Blue Berets" (April 14) identified several nations as being "regular contributors" of troops for United Nations peace-keeping forces.
Unfortunately, your list of the countries to be lauded for their participation failed to include the Irish Republic, which is unrivaled in the regularity of its soldiers' involvement in U.N. operations in troubled areas of the world.
Twenty-six Irish soldiers died in the Congo and eight in Cyprus. Since 1978, when Irish troops assumed peacekeeping duties in South Lebanon, more than 30 Irish soldiers have been killed in that volatile region.
James J. Hennessey
Trials Must Be Fair, Not Perfect
On April 14, Damon Bowie, who had won a new trial from the Maryland Court of Appeals last September, was convicted a second time for the brutal murder of two restaurant employees in Prince George's County.
In an example of judicial nitpicking, Judge Robert Bell, writing for the Court of Appeals, had ordered the new trial for Bowie because, in the court's opinion, the trial judge erred by, among other things, (1) failing to ask prospective jurors if they would give more credibility to the testimony of police officers and (2) by instructing the jurors that the governor could commute death sentences. After reading the court's decision, it was not apparent to me that any of the "errors" cited by the court could have improperly influenced the jury.
U.S. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist once said that a criminal defendant is entitled to a fair trial but not a perfect trial. Apparently, the Maryland Court of Appeals disagrees. While there are times when criminal convictions must be overturned, the Bowie case is part of an endless string of cases where the court has frustrated law enforcement efforts.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court reversed Maryland's Court of Appeals three times because the latter went too far in protecting the rights of criminal defendants. This is most regrettable when we finally have a Supreme Court that is giving the state's greater latitude in the area of criminal procedure. Where is Wilson K. Barnes when we need him?
In November, Judge Bell will face the voters on a "yes" or "no" vote. The Maryland State Bar Association and others will urge us to vote for the sitting judges. But in 1986, California voters displayed some independence and rejected their state Supreme Court Chief Judge, Rose Bird, and two of her ultra-liberal associate judges. Maryland voters may want to consider following California's example.
John P. Greenspan
The writer is an attorney.
The basis for health care costs is a complex melange of physician services, technical procedures, constantly advancing scientific equipment and a burdensome bureaucracy. To understand some aspects of the increasing costs of medical care requires a sense of historical perspective. Consider for a moment the phenomenal revolution in medical care that has occurred in the past 30 years.
Prior to 1960, there were no:
* 911 numbers, paramedics, sophisticated emergency rooms, intensive care units, coronary care units, shock-trauma hospitals with helicopter transport, burn centers, sophisticated state-of-the-art neonatal units, catheterization centers;
JTC * Sonography techniques, coaxial tomography, magnetic resonance tests, fiber optics for flexible endoscopy studies of every orifice in the body, laser beams;
* Organ transplants, micro cardio-vascular surgery, angioplasty, genetic identification of specific diseases, revolutionary gene therapy, highly specific therapeutic drugs;
* Artificial knees, hips, etc. suitable for replacement therapy, arthroscopic surgery, lens implants, highly specific blood tests and vaccines, computers.
Those who say that the health and quality of life of Americans have not improved commensurate with the increased cost are members of the minority of Americans who have not benefited from any of the above. Patients demand and deserve the best that the best medical care in the world can provide but somebody has to pay for it.
Barnett Berman, M.D.
Only a Movie?
Now that we've had time to digest the fact that a movie about a cannibalistic maniac garnered the best picture award for 1991, I have just one question. Did anyone but me feel a bit queasy about the Academy Awards sweep of "Silence of the Lambs"?
While I generally enjoy the movies, I do not proclaim to be a film critic and my objections to "Silence" are based more on thematic and philosophical considerations than on the technical merits of the year's best picture. It occurs to me, in the year of David Duke and Jeffrey Dahmer, that the academy might have seen fit to restrain itself from its all-too-frequent glorification of violence and gore.
And while I really think that Billy Crystal is fast ascending to the ranks of one of America's all-time great comics, I could not help but cringe at his cannibalism jokes during the awards ceremony telecast and, in fact, at the media's almost insatiable appetite (no pun intended) for having best actor Anthony Hopkins repeat his line about "having an old friend for dinner."
What does this say about our culture? Why do I feel like a killjoy for bringing it up? Most of my own friends thought the movie was absolutely great. Have we become so numb with violence and gore on our streets, in our homes and on our screens that we don't stop to ask "what is all this doing to our minds, and to the minds of our young people?" Isn't it time we found another way to titillate ourselves?
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the film and its aftermath to me is the lionization of the antagonist, Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lechter. Media descriptions of him as "brilliant," or "a genius" worked to obscure or even ignore his most essential characteristics -- that of a sick, sinister and dangerous human being.
We allow ourselves to laugh at his "old friend for dinner" line, while claiming to abhor the real life sickness of Jeffrey Dahmer. I know "it's only a movie," but that is precisely my point. As long as we find a way to glorify or trivialize violence, we will prevent ourselves from working to eliminate it from our minds and our lives.
There may have been a time in history when vivid depictions of humankind's darkest dimensions served to shock us into the realization that we must always seek to create a balance between the psyche's positive and negative poles.
But after more than 2,000 years of wars and escalating domestic and drug-related violence, do we still not get it? And is art that simply titillates our basest fears, no matter how poignantly, worthy of our highest honors?
Am I the only one asking these questions?