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No Free RideIt was interesting to read...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

No Free Ride

It was interesting to read opposing letters by Greg Belcher and Benjamin Lipsitz in the May 15 edition concerning the Bollinger decision in a recent rape case. While both letters contain flaws in logic, there is more to disagree with Mr. Lipsitz.

Mr. Lipsitz argues that disagreement with a court's decision by the public to the point of bringing or attempting to bring sanctions against a jurist should not be countenanced. Maybe so; maybe not. On the other hand, the Bill of Rights' guarantee of free speech and our historical right to seek redress weighs more heavily in support of the public outcry now being displayed.

The role of the courts, beginning with the authority given to them by state and federal constitutions, was at one time applying the law to the case at hand. Since the beginning of the Warren Court, all of our courts have taken on the role of being both jurists and legislators. This is not the way the system is supposed to work. The courts are supposed to interpret the law and apply the law to the case at hand, voiding the law only if it is found to be in conflict with the constitution.

When courts deign to ignore the law and apply personal philosophies, be they sexist or otherwise, then it is open season for criticism and in severe cases more toward avenues now being taken by those disturbed with the rape sentence.

Perhaps the time has come when the population must be as vigilant with the work of our courts as they have been with their elected legislative and executive portions of their government. Perhaps, too, the day of the "free ride" is over.

Unfortunately, the Bollinger case is not an isolated one. There have been others in other courts equally open to question. A good example is Michael Olesker's column May 11, wherein he reported on a court's dismissal of a case because of the jurist's disagreement with the choice of words (neither foul nor irreverent) by a witness in the presentation of testimony.

Richard L. Lelonek

Baltimore

Doesn't Cut It

It is time someone says it loud and clear, concerning my people, the black people, on the subject of the responsibility, accountability and respectability toward other people's property by our black children. "Just taking a joy ride" in someone else's car at 1 a.m. or 3 a.m. just doesn't cut it.

Simmont Donta Thomas, by poor choice, was the cause of his untimely death. How many times had he gone out, unknown to his parents, to go joy-riding in a stolen car, without getting caught? This time was different.

Being from the old school of child rearing, my first response upon hearing news of the Thomas youth's death was, "what in the world was a 14-year-old child doing out at that hour?" Then my next response was, "the policeman didn't have to shoot him in the back!"

Parents, if we don't return to parenting our children by instilling Christian values and virtues, along with abusing their behinds with switches (as we used to do in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and part of the 1960s, we are not only going to lose this generation of male children to the streets, but we will be losing them to untimely and sad deaths.

While blacks are marching seeking justice for Simmont Donta Thomas and his parents, we also had better carry banners encouraging parents to go back to raising their children. Because I declare if this child had been home where he was supposed to be, in bed, this wouldn't have happened. Our kids must be taught to be responsible for their actions: poor choices can bring about untimely deaths.

Delores C. McWilliams

Baltimore

Gender Roles

In the May 1 Sun, a story appeared about my sister, Lisa Nowak, and the effect of the elimination of the exclusion of women from flying Navy combat missions. Reporter Ann LoLordo noted that my father is a computer consultant and my mother raised three daughters.

While this is technically true, it mis-characterizes the family responsibilities assumed by my parents. My father also raised three daughters and, additionally, my mother works as a microbiologist.

This omission is critical because it perpetuates the myth that men are bread winners and women raise children.

More important, this omission demonstrates that Ms. LoLordo completely failed to comprehend my sister's main message:

The effect of the new military policy on women and family is no different than the effect has always been on men in combat and family.

Marisa C. Caputo

Baltimore

Be a Teacher

In Teri Hagberg's letter (May 15), she complains that while the average teacher's salary in Maryland is $40,000 a year, her husband, who is an engineer with 20 years experience, is lucky to make that much.

I would like to suggest a solution to her problem. Her husband could become a teacher.

Maryland, I believe, currently has a program for retraining college graduates as teachers and there is a severe shortage of math teachers.

In a short time, her husband would be making more money and at the same time have a much easier job. In addition to this, as an engineering graduate, he would probably advance quickly in a system that has so many less qualified individuals.

William A. Boyle

Baltimore

Homophobia

I was appalled by the homophobic behavior of many members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during hearings on gays and lesbians in the military.

Why are people so afraid of homosexuality?

Why is it assumed that homosexuals attack others and cannot control their emotions? Abhorrent, aberrant behavior appears among all people without regard to race, gender or religion. How do we explain rape, incest, domestic violence, murder?

Is the military ready to say that it is unable to educate its members once it knows the identity of those already serving with honor in its service?

Marion P. Decker

Baltimore

Beer and Dope

Your May 12 story regarding the "resurgence of marijuana" quotes Baltimore County official Mike Gimbel as blaming marijuana for the tragic train accident in Chase in 1987.

Reading the quote in the paper, one would think Mr. Gimbel was unaware of the role played by beer consumption in that accident. The fact remains that marijuana was not the only drug used that night but the average reader wouldn't know that by reading the article.

This terrible accident is frequently cited as justification for the continued prohibition of marijuana, but is never used to assault alcohol consumption. Maybe the Baltimore County Office of Substance Abuse doesn't believe that alcohol is the most dangerous addictive (or non-addictive) drug around.

There are plenty of real experts around who do.

Michael Klapp

Baltimore

Preventing Lead Poisoning in Children

In an editorial profiling recently ratified state legislation affecting children, the Coalition Against Childhood Lead Poisoning noticed The Sun's failure to acknowledge the enactment of House Bill 306, the Lead Paint Abatement Accreditation Bill.

The enactment of H.B. 306, which is a major step in the prevention of childhood lead poisoning, enables 400 Baltimore City housing units to be made lead-safe through a $5.7 million federal grant.

The bill authorizes the training and certification of inspectors, trainers and, most importantly, supervisors and contractors who perform lead paint abatement (reduction of lead hazards) services.

It is estimated that 30 percent of lead paint poisonings occur as a result of untrained workers inadvertently contaminating children and pregrant women through the improper handling of lead. Lead dust is the main source of lead poisoning and is generated whenever lead- painted surfaces are disturbed, typically through repairs or renovation.

Approximately 80 percent of Baltimore's housing stock was built prior to 1950 when lead paint was popularly used. Establishing standards for accreditation, training and job performance will greatly reduce the incidence of polluting the environment and lead poisoning children.

Failure to comply with state regulations may result in the revocation of a worker's certification.

Lead is a powerful toxin which attacks a child's developing brain and nervous system and results in medical and special education costs which far exceed the cost of abatement. The provision of lead-safe housing coupled with yearly childhood blood lead testing and proper lead management are cost efficient and humane approaches in the

Crystal Hensen elimination of childhood lead poisoning.

Vickie Kowan

Baltimore

The writer is director of the Coalition Against Childhood Lead Poisoning.

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