Crab WarsChivalry may be dead. Apparently chutzpah...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Crab Wars

Chivalry may be dead. Apparently chutzpah isn't.

Pity the poor struggling artist, Jackie Leatherbury Douglass, whose precious creation, a stained-glass crab, commissioned and paid for by Anne Arundel County, is being abused by its ham-fisted owners without so much as a phone call requesting her consultation (July 22).

After contractually committing to build the crab at a price she herself established, Ms. Leatherbury Douglass decided in mid-construction that she had sold herself short. Rather than fulfill her obligations, she chose to hold the crab hostage until the county upped the ante from $12,500 to $20,000.

The sculpture was the centerpiece of a carefully timed and orchestrated economic development marketing campaign which was to be paid for by previously committed private contributions. Rather than create a furor, the county knuckled under, supplementing the contract with its own funds. Perhaps Cal Ripken could take a page from Ms. Leatherbury Douglass' book on negotiating techniques.

Were Da Vinci alive today, would he have retained eternal rights to the Mona Lisa, advising the Louvre as to the proper way to frame it and the correct place to display it? I think not.

Jackie Leatherbury Douglass sold her baby a long time ago. Let her current owners determine her fate, unless of course Ms. Leatherbury Douglass would like to buy her back at current market rates. In this age of fiscal crisis, the county would probably welcome the money.

Jeffrey H. Koenig

Gambrills

The writer is Anne Arundel County's former director of economic development, who supervised the campaign involving the stained-glass crab.

Absurd Analogy

In response to Dr. Neil Solomon's column, "In Defense of the Governor's 'Gag' Order," in The Sun (July 23), I take exception to several assertions he made.

Dr. Solomon likens the state of Maryland to a major corporation and the governor to its president and chief executive officer. This is an absurd and ridiculous analogy.

To begin with, we as citizens of this state are not stockholders. We are, for the most part, hard-working, law-abiding, taxpaying individuals who abhor tyranny.

If the stockholders do not like how the corporation is being run, they can either fire the CEO or they can sell their shares of stock. We can't sell our "shares" in the state, nor can we fire the governor.

Mr. Schaefer is a lame duck governor who is no longer accountable to the people of this state who elected him. If he were a CEO, he would have been removed from that position by angry stockholders for running a great corporation (Maryland) into near bankruptcy.

Edward Neil Hershon

Owings Mills

History Returns to Yugoslavia

William Pfaff's latest assessment of the Yugoslav crisis ("603 Years After the Battle of Kosovo Field," Aug. 3) is charged with passion and indignation. It lacks only one thing, accuracy.

According to Mr. Pfaff, the entire order of Europe is threatened by the specter and example of Serbian aggression, and he offers us Munich as an analogy. I don't agree.

Eastern Europe was never a part of the "Western" order of things. It was handed over to Stalin and the Communists in 1945, and they kept that entire part of the continent under an iron-fisted rule for decades. Nationalist sentiments were unnaturally repressed, with resentment building steadily beneath the surface.

When Communist rule collapsed, these inter-ethnic hatreds soon ZTC exploded throughout Eastern Europe. Also, let us not forget that in the case of Yugoslavia, the dictatorship of Tito was eagerly bankrolled by the West for decades.

In a very important sense, what is taking place now in Yugoslavia is the natural force of history re-asserting itself.

As for an analogy, I'll offer you two.

The first is the early days of independent India, as it violently split into Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. Incompetent, rival native elites allowed the situation to degenerate into local, communal warfare.

Once this started, it was nearly impossible to stop. Casualties soared into the millions. And the British, as the former colonial power, couldn't get out soon enough.

The second analogy is our own American Civil War. Recall such (( unpleasant instances as Grant's starvation of Vicksburg, the inhumanity of Southern and Northern prison camps, Sheridan's rape of the Shenandoah and of course Sherman's destruction of the heartland of three Southern states.

No, the Yugoslav situation does not threaten the Western order of things, nor does it threaten Europe unless, of course, foreign powers intercede and expand the conflict.

It should be viewed as violent civil war, entry into which must be avoided at all costs. One can be certain that an attempted international rescue of Sarajevo, with attendant air strikes, would not accomplish anything except to further enrage the Serb forces.

It would be as if the European powers in 1864 had threatened Sherman and Grant, ordering them to lift their inhumane sieges of Atlanta and Petersburg.

Drage Vukcevich

Catonsville

Potential Humans

Dr. Karen A. Korzick, in her letter of July 18 on abortion, states that "While there have been no scientific studies to prove when a fetus becomes viable or self-aware with displays of complex behavior that indicate cognition, obstetricians can observe such behavior with ultra-sound early in fetal life."

Dr. Korzick is apparently unaware that cognition is an intellectual process involving neural structures which even neonates are not equipped to handle. Though at about the beginning of the third trimester recognizable human cerebral activity begins intermittently, it requires months for a newborn baby to develop the individual neural networks that indicate "personhood."

Birth itself is not the beginning of personhood since there is little difference between the fetus the day before it is born and the day after.

It should be noted that if "ensoulment" occurs at conception there are scads of souls going down the drain every day since most fertilized eggs -- zygotes -- are lost during menstrual flow.

According to Carl Sagan (Parade magazine, April 22, 1990), the Jewish Talmud teaches that the fetus is not a person and has no rights. In fact, the Catholic church was not concerned about abortion until around 1869. It would seem that abortion as murder was not revealed as part of God's law until relatively recently.

The abortion question centers upon what our moral obligations are to a developing organism that is only potentially human.

Charles C. Worthington

Royal Oak, Md.

Chill Out, Guys

You had to love your two columnists, Michael Olesker and Roger Simon, as they both took heavy swipes at the U.S. Olympic basketball team in their July 5 columns for, of all things, playing well.

Apparently these two detractors believe there is some great shame in having at long last sent our best athletes to this event.

One must presume that they both enjoyed the high fives thrown by a variety of foreign teams fielding documented professional players as they relished defeating our college kids in the last five consecutive outings.

This is, of course, of little surprise when one considers the media's track record on such matters.

Can we ever forget how the media took to its collective hearts that darling little gymnast Nadia Comanesci? Never mind that she was spawned and sponsored by one of the most repressive states in modern history or that she, like so many other "amateurs" from similar arenas, was totally subsidized cradle to grave to be her country's champion.

A principal focus of such champions, not by the way, was to hand the United States as many defeats as possible. What better way to tout their political systems?

The Russian hockey team, the former East German swimmers, the Cuban boxers, the list goes on ad nauseam. State-produced automatons that regularly pounded our athletes, and walked off with the gold.

So Messrs. Olesker and Simon have a problem with the fact that America this year came to the table in a position of strength. We understand. That's an unacceptable position for most media pundits, no matter what the issue.

Chill out, guys. I hope you enjoyed the finest who ever played the game, and maybe, just maybe, even the fact that they were representing the United States while dazzling the world.

Jeff Rank

Gambrills

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