Time to heal the wounds of VietnamThe...


Time to heal the wounds of Vietnam

The Vietnam War returns once more to tear us apart, this time in the debate over whether Bill Clinton should appear at the Wall on Memorial Day. I find it ironic that those who felt they were fighting 25 years ago to defend American values and freedoms are now prepared to limit the free speech and right to peaceful assembly of the president.

As one who strongly opposed the war years ago, my wish now is for communication and mutual respect.

I think I am able to understand the outrage of men and women who were willing to sacrifice precious life itself while looking over their shoulders at the war protests going on back home.

Can they not understand the dilemma faced by those of us who concluded that our country had careened into an unjust and unjustifiable war? What do you do when you deeply believe that your country is making a tragic mistake?

Now, decades later, the foliage creeps back into the devastated jungles of Southeast Asia. Americans make emotional journeys to Vietnam to look in the eyes of former enemies. The stolid people of that luckless global crossroad watch as yet another wave of foreign intervention subsides, as they have watched and waited so many times over the centuries. Perhaps in Vietnam has come a quiet moment to reflect, recover and turn toward the future. Certainly, we need such a moment in our own nation.

Adine Panitch

Hunt Valley

Appropriate advice

I found Dan Rodricks' column (May 15) to be a blatant distortion of the role of an attorney zealously representing a client. In this case, the client is not just the Department of Corrections, but the citizens of the State of Maryland. The action taken by Assistant Attorney General Joan L. Bossmann in instructing witnesses to contact the attorney general's office is not only proper, it is required under the Department of Corrections policy and Maryland's policy whenever the state is involved in litigation. Furthermore, the lawyers' Code of Professional Responsibility clearly permits the action taken by Ms. Bossmann.

I am equally shocked by Attorney General J. Joseph Curran's comments. They are inappropriate and show a clear intention by Attorney General Curran to run for governor.

I suggest that Mr. Curran represent the people of Maryland, and not curry favor with a few labor unions in order to win the governorship. His comments call into question his competency to perform as attorney general, let alone as governor.

Mark S. Henckel


No tooth fairy

In Ken Wood's letter May 20, he complained that as a college student from an upper-middle-class family he had to have a tooth pulled because he did not have $1,000 for a root canal and cap, and because he cannot afford dental insurance.

In this day and age, all families, despite their economic status, know that their young adult offspring need financial help for far longer than in the past. The terrible economic situation in our country mandates this.

Couldn't Mr. Wood's upper-middle-class family have provided him the $1,000 needed to save his tooth? I and my middle-income husband would have done so for one of our adult children.

It angers me greatly that Mr. Wood blames society in general for his lack of dental insurance and the loss of his tooth. College students from upper middle-class families are not truly in need.

President Clinton's attitude that taxpayers must pick up the tab for everyone must stop. Parents of young adult children need to realize they and they alone are responsible for caring for their young.

Marcia R. Conrad


Schmoke's shame

Shame on Mayor Schmoke.

I was shocked and disappointed to read of his signing the executive order stiffening the residency requirements of city government employees.

It is an unbelievable decision, in my opinion, that only creates another wall around our city, a city which is, or should be, screaming for a broader metropolitan base.

Your fine editorial, "Regionalism in Reverse," effectively sums up the terrible error Mayor Schmoke made in this executive action. One thing that I believe everyone can agree on is that we don't need any more walls around our city.

I resent the fact that the mayor took this matter totally out of the hands of the City Council's normal procedures (no public hearings, etc.). I also find the mayor's office comment justifying this action a fallacy.

Baltimore is obviously not Chicago in many ways, but pertinent to this issue is the fact that, other than St. Louis, Baltimore is the only city in the nation that is not in a county.

This has caused Baltimore to be a victim of its own independence because of limited regionalism (resulting in different tax rates, schools, police and fire departments just six miles from City Hall).

Yes, Maryland is made up of 23 counties and Baltimore, but isn't it about time for us all to work harder for our state to be thought of as having 23 counties with Baltimore City?

The mayor should rescind this order. Unity is what we need in our state, not separation.

William H. C. Wilson


What is the legislative stake in sodomy laws?

I would like to respond to the commentary written by Mike Royko, "U.S. problems far worse than those facing gays" (April 30). Mr. Royko comments on education, economics, poverty, housing, gangs, juvenile courts, child abuse, teen-age mothers, illegal aliens and inner city schools. I agree, these are problems.

Mr. Royko says that the problems he listed are far worse than those of gays and lesbians. The difference between the problems he identifies and those facing the gay and lesbian community is that he has listed problems in which the plaintiff has legal recourse.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is unacceptable. Equality under the law, fair housing, discrimination in employment, serving in the military and domestic partnerships are just as important as other social issues.

The denial of civil rights based on an antiquated system of public morality is an appalling abuse of power. Our sexual mores as a nation have undergone significant change, and anti-sodomy laws have lost touch with contemporary community standards.

Mr. Royko says that "state sodomy laws are about as sternly enforced as laws forbidding married couples the bedroom acrobatics of their choice." I would like to correct his statement. It should read that state sodomy laws are randomly enforced, and married couples have their choice of bedroom acrobatics. No one prosecutes married couples out of fear and ignorance.

Hardwick vs. Bowers, a case in which the police entered a private individual's home and found two men in bed, is just such an example. Although these men were engaged in a non-commercial, consensual, private, adult sexual activity, they were jailed on sodomy charges.

The constitutional issue is whether persons are permitted privacy in their homes. Had this been a heterosexual married or unmarried couple, the police would not have arrested them on charges of sodomy. Hardwick vs. Bowers demonstrates that there is no constitutional right to privacy amongst persons of the same gender.

What are the legislative interests at stake here? Morality? If the issue is morality, then legislatures should do something about deplorable public housing, juvenile delinquency and child abuse, to name only a few problems.

Perhaps the legislature is interested in controlling disruptive or anti-social behavior that is threatening public order? In this case, the legislature should focus their efforts on gangs, not consenting adults.

Hardwick vs. Bowers . . . is a travesty of justice. The legislature has no compelling interest in prosecuting this case, unless you consider fear and ignorance a compelling interest. Under the anti-sodomy laws, homosexuals do not qualify for civil rights.

The March on Washington demanded civil rights for gay, lesbian and bisexual persons. While at the march, I saw a little girl holding a sign that said, "If I am gay, does that make me less valuable than a non-gay child?"

According to Mr. Royko, this child should be concerned with dTC education, economics, poverty, housing, gangs, juvenile courts, child abuse, teen-age mothers, illegal aliens and inner city schools.

Wouldn't it be nice if that child could put her focus on those issues instead of on her value as an individual? If she had equal protection under the law, she could focus her energy elsewhere.

I wonder what Mr. Royko said when blacks were protesting for their civil rights? I can't imagine that it would be any different from his previous statements.

Louis A. Blank


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