Who will lead the fight against crime?
Let's give George Buntin, director, and the Baltimore NAACP credit for raising the issue of martial law as a possible solution to violence in Baltimore's high-crime neighborhoods.
If it were feasible or legal it probably would deter some violent criminals, although it would do nothing to get at the roots of the problem.
Part of what the NAACP and others at the July 29 meeting on crime were saying is that we are in a desperate situation for which urgent measures are needed. Yet we get no sense of urgency from those in positions of power who might be able to do something about the problem.
The situation is similar to the economic situation in the big cities. In Washington, Baltimore, New York and other cities you literally have to step over the bodies of the homeless.
Yet President Bush never seriously addresses issues of poverty. Where does he live? Does he never step outside onto Pennsylvania Avenue? Incredibly, he's actually running again for office.
In Baltimore and the District of Columbia we read of children murdered by stray bullets. Yet here, as on the national level, our ++ mayor and police chief conduct "business as usual."
If asked, they tell us they're "working on it." But I never hear a level of interest commensurate to the problems at hand. Maybe these leaders have convened a committee to study the problems and I just haven't heard about it.
Mayor Schmoke points to a lack of money as the main reason he can't do more. If so, shouldn't his main job as mayor be to raise the money, to convene an emergency panel of Baltimore's wealthiest citizens and corporations and start to address the violence? Couldn't the City Council pass stricter gun control legislation? They have a voice in this, too; where are they?
When our leaders are so dull they don't even seem able to see what is happening, what are "we the people" to do?
I note with interest recent fiscal events in California. The state government there, apparently unable to construct its own budget or pay its own bills, has issued registered warrants -- essentially IOUs -- to state employees in lieu of paychecks.
It appears that the socialist malaise that eventually brought an end to the Soviet Union is beginning to affect us. For years, the state's employees pretended to work; now, the state government is pretending to pay them.
Your editorial "Destination: Baltimore County?" (July 30) did not make sense. I doubt Baltimore County hotel owners are counting on revenues from visitors to Annapolis, Washington, Philadelphia, Gettysburg and Lancaster County.
All governments are short on revenue. Why not spend the money saved on boosting non-existent tourism on repairing schools?
The county government would be wise to pass up this "golden opportunity" to subsidize tourism in other jurisdictions.
Forest F. Gesswein Jr.
As some justification, I suppose, for being allowed to remain in office, Dan Quayle has become the United States monitor of family values.
However, when he expresses his views in this regard, confusion reigns. He has vigorously opposed women's right to reproductive freedom, standing on a campaign platform which, if approved at the Republican convention next month, will call for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.
Yet, the first newsworthy highlight of his family values campaign was his criticism of Murphy Brown for having a baby without the benefit of a partnership with the baby's father.
This was disturbing not only because it caused constituents to ++ wonder if Mr. Quayle realizes that Murphy Brown is a make-believe television character, but also because it implied that she would have been acting more responsibly by not carrying the pregnancy to term.
Now Mr. Quayle has further clouded the issue with his announcement that he would support his daughter if she should, as an adult, choose to have an abortion.
Under other circumstances, I would respect this statement as an appropriate response of a parent facing one of the most painful and difficult circumstances that he would experience with his child. But to hear this coming from one who has long opposed abortion for "the other person" is sickening -- and frightening, considering the power that Mr. Quayle holds as vice president of the United States.
To further confuse us, Marilyn Quayle has come behind her husband to proclaim of her daughter, "If she becomes pregnant, she'll take the child to term." This comes from a woman who didn't carry one of her own pregnancies to full term, but had her labor induced two weeks early so that she could take the bar examination. Was this really in the best interest of the child?
I guess things may not always be as completely clear as the Quayles would have us believe. Mr. Quayle can stand behind the podium and declare how the people should behave when faced with a pregnancy, but when it comes down to a personal decision regarding one's own family members, we hear a different story.
I am reminded of a not-so-funny joke I heard: What are the three situations in which a conservative approves of abortion?
In the case of rape, incest, and me.
Signing vs. speech
While I was gratified to learn that James E. Tucker, the new head of the Maryland School for the Deaf, wants to set up offices around the state to teach hearing parents and their deaf babies about deafness, I take exception to his comment that "hearing parents don't know sign language or anything about deafness."
Fortunately, this view is not shared by all. At a recent convention of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, parents of hearing-impaired children from around the world gathered to share experiences and learn how their children can be successful in the mainstream.
Knowing how to sign is not essential for every parent of a profoundly hearing-impaired child. Hearing-impaired babies can be successful orally if given the opportunity to learn to speak as opposed to learning to sign.
As the School for the Deaf changes leadership, it might consider giving children an opportunity to develop speech in a non-signing atmosphere.
Having the Maryland School for the Deaf, which advocates signing, be responsible for all deaf children would deprive parents of the opportunity to choose between an oral approach to communication as opposed to a signing one.
Parents should be given equal access to either program without the pressure of choosing the signing approach to communication.
Benjamin J. Dubin
The writer is president of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf of Maryland, Inc.