Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski accepted $4,000 from executives of Warner Brothers, the company that made Ice-T's "Cop Killer," the despicable rap song that advocates the killing of police officers.
I think she should return the money in protest against the company's irresponsibility.
Last month, 60 members of Congress signed a letter expressing "our deep sense of outrage" over Time-Warner's distribution of this vile record. Senator Mikulski was not among the signatories, who included 57 Republicans and 3 Democrats.
Police groups, citizens associations and Republican leaders have protested the Ice-T rap and urged a boycott of Time-Warner. The Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police paid to send a fellow officer, who was blinded by a gunman, to Beverly Hills to participate in the protest at the Time-Warner shareholder's meeting.
With Maryland police officers' lives on the line, Senator Mikulski should not show contempt for our police by accepting contributions from executives of this unethical company. At the least, she should donate the money to the widows and children of slain police officers.
Suzanne K. Peyser
If George Bush dumps Dan Quayle, as Karen Hosler suggests in The Sun (July 21), he will surely lose in November.
The Republicans are supposed to be conservative and the Democrats are supposed to be liberal. If you ask me, the only true conservative part of the Bush/Quayle '92 ticket is Mr. Quayle.
Ms. Hosler implies that many Republicans want Mr. Quayle out. This is simply not true.
Many of us remember that it was he who fought hard in Congress to have the Patriot missile funded in the first place. Many of us also realize -- unlike his boss -- he has never flip-flopped on abortion.
Also, Mr. Quayle was the one one to have enough guts to talk about family values, something that is very important and is what this country was founded upon.
I grant you that Mr. Quayle might not be the scholar that some of our previous vice presidents have been. What you may feel he lacks in intelligence, he makes up abundantly with integrity, common sense and morals. Those are probably three of the most important qualities someone needs to be president.
May I also remind you that Winston Churchill was not a scholar, yet he is considered by many to be one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.
Unfortunately, I am not old enough to vote in this upcoming election. If I were, and if Mr. Bush replaces Mr. Quayle, I wouldn't be voting. I'm sure that I wouldn't be alone!
Mary M. Shaffrey
Who Will Pay?
Asbestos was considered a useful product, and it had widespread application years ago. At that time, we were unaware of the dangers associated with asbestos. It does not seem fair to penalize business and industry today for what was not known many years ago.
The award of $11.3 million to just three people claiming to have asbestosis is outrageous. When some 8,500 others will try to follow suit, it will cost someone dearly.
Who is that someone?
Well, the companies will go out of business paying claims and will certainly lay off thousands of workers. Insurance companies that pay claims of such large magnitude will certainly raise the premiums on all businesses and individuals.
Therefore, thousands of average citizens indirectly will pay the bills and suffer the financial consequences and lose work opportunities.
Of course, many lawyers will make out like bandits.
The world today seems to be lacking common sense.
It is sad that Shahid Mahmud (letter, July 26) believes that a defense of India (against China) is necessarily an attack on Pakistan. His letter is filled with far too many inaccuracies and unsubstantiated allegations to pass unchallenged.
There can be no comparison between human rights in the world's largest democracy and those in China or Pakistan. Yes, there are certainly police excesses in India; where are there not? There are human rights violations in India, and I regret them.
At the same time, India has some of the most active human rights organizations in the world, a vociferous and diverse press and, perhaps most importantly, a vibrant participatory democracy.
While Mr. Mahmud no doubt has the Pakistani viewpoint on the wars between India and Pakistan or the war of 1962, when China invaded a completely unprepared India, this is almost certainly not the verdict of almost any unbiased historical account.
India does spend too much of its GNP on its military. Any amount would be too much. However, to put matters in perspective, defense was 19 percent of the budget in 1988; 30 percent of Pakistan's (much smaller) budget was spent on defense in the same year.
Unfortunately, China continues to be an unpredictable factor on India's eastern border while the U.S. government has indicted Pakistan for its . . . covert development of nuclear weapons. I do not feel that India has a viable alternative to a strong military.
It is ironic that the very next letter, by Sara Olcott, is in praise of the multicultural society in the south of India from whence she came.
Muslims in India play a vital part in every part of the nation's government, culture and daily life as do Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians. Until the same can be said of Pakistan, I would advise its adherents to put away their hate and work to the betterment of their own culture.
Seeing the Homeless as Individuals
A recent article by Peter Sabonis (Opinion * Commentary, July 8) effectively highlighted problematic aspects of the new urban anxiety over the active presence of the homeless in downtown areas.
With the creation of the Downtown Management District Authority and the business community's push to eliminate "persons causing anxiety" from the officially defined navel of Baltimore's rebirth, it would seem that fiscal year 1993 promises no upturn in fortune for those who conduct their business on street corners at 25 cents per hard-luck story.
Mr. Sabonis questions the propriety and potential effectiveness of urban relocation efforts targeting the panhandlers, vagrants, con-artists and crazies.
He also raises provocative questions concerning most efforts by private and public agencies, churches and concerned individuals to address the problems of poverty and homelessness.
Those efforts have done little or nothing to eliminate the problems addressed, and Mr. Sabonis indicates that our charity may be a means of assuaging our guilt while allowing us to ignore the largest political and economic tasks necessary for a true solution to those problems.
Conservative analysts of American poverty and homelessness do not turn a blind eye to the public policy sources for these problems. In fact, they tend to outdo their liberal counterparts in trying to establish linkage between large-scale governmental efforts to deal with various social ills and the actual social effects of those efforts.
Of course, they tend to discover an inverse, or perverse, relationship between stated intent and real world result. They would happily agree with Mr. Sabonis that "homelessness did not exist in its present form and scale 20 years ago", that is, before the dismal effects of federal anti-poverty and housing programs could be seen.
Service programs are filled with ostensible saints who feed off the suffering of clients, dynamic but emotionally unstable "advocates" work to build programmatic fiefdoms wherein control and dependency are the primary values.
The time has come to stop using the homeless as a collective stick with which to beat various dead horses, among them the notion of state responsibility for the solution of every social problem.
The "homeless" are not a generic mass. The homeless are individuals with specific histories in which they have themselves been participants.
They are shaped, as are we all, by the particulars of time and place, social setting and economic context. But they are not blocks of plastic; they do their share of shaping, as do scientists and bankers and attorneys .
We have reached a sad point when we seek to excuse all behavior by way of reference to the transpersonal. At least the Downtown Management District folks are talking about actually getting to know the panhandlers, so as to be able to make some effective distinction between need and scam, genuine hunger and craving for a fix.
From the facts of poverty and homelessness, it is a mistaken inference that denies either the scope of human choice or the possibility of a dignity transcendent of circumstances.
It is a disastrous public policy position that does the same.
Terrence S. Kenny