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Cross BurningAn editorial in The Sun April...

Cross Burning

An editorial in The Sun April 12 discussed a bill passed during this legislative session which restores criminal penalties for cross burning. The Sun's description of the final bill was inaccurate and compounds the confusion which already surrounds this important issue.

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The Sun erroneously stated, "This legislation requires property owner consent and advance notice to fire departments before one burns any 'objects.'"

To the contrary, that requirement was part of a separate provision which was deleted from the bill reported out of the House Judiciary Committee.

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The deleted provision was a misguided attempt to correct the old cross-burning law, which was rightly held unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals last summer.

The final bill makes it a violation of Maryland's ethnic intimidation law to "burn or attempt to burn any object on the real or personal property of a person because of the person's race, color, religious beliefs, or national origin."

As The Sun correctly noted, this bill, if signed into law, should have the same effect as the old cross-burning law intended but without the old law's deficiencies.

The Court of Appeals' decision overturning the old cross-burning law was front page news. Yet the legislature's effort to restore it was apparently so lacking in news value that it wasn't even mentioned in The Sun's lengthy recap of this "do nothing" session.

This is too bad. Serious news coverage of this bill could have provided one of those rare opportunities to engage in reasoned discussion of two of the most critical issues of our time: the importance of a strong First Amendment and the living legacies of racism and bigotry which continue to divide us just when we need most to come together in common cause.

Robert D. Purvis

Baltimore

The writer is co-director of the Center for the Applied Study of Ethnoviolence.

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Patterson High

Roger Kuhn's article, "State School Seizure Plan: Governor and Board Shift Blame" (Perspective, April 17), earned my praise and appreciation.

It is an excellent summary of the facts which I presented repeatedly as principal of Patterson High School during my 12-year tenure, which ended with a promotion to headquarters last June. Even the staff's suggested changes are familiar . . .

Requiring the entire staff to reapply for their positions implies that no one was doing the job right. This is simply not true.

Patterson is a good school, and during my administration I

experienced the kind of team effort from staff that made Patterson the leader among zoned schools as reflected in statistics regarding test scores, dropout rates, etc.

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Why don't we make reconstitution complete by having students and parents reapply also? This will allow for an individual evaluation of pupil as well as staff performance and, perhaps, more appropriate placement.

We must accept the fact that a school mirrors the community it serves because it is populated by the diverse elements residing there.

This is as true of Patterson today as it was 30 years ago. Faculty changes will not cure the ills of society.

The proposed process for Patterson will likely weed out a few poor performing staff members, and, as history shows, they will be transferred to other schools, not fired.

What happened to the concept of providing assistance to weaker professionals so that their skills could be used more effectively?

A5 Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

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Frank Z. Thomas

Baltimore

The writer is executive assistant to the deputy superintendent of schools.

Bully of the Aegean

In regards to his April 16 article on Greece, I'd like to extend an invitation to Sun staff writer Will Englund to accompany me on a boat ride in the Aegean Sea to see who is really the bully in that part of the world.

In December, I took a small boat to the island of Agathonese, south of Samos, to deliver mail and cargo. On the return trip to my home island of Lipsos, we were confronted by two large Turkish torpedo boats.

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I wish Mr. Englund could have been next to my cousin and me as the Turks came roaring down on us with cannon and 50-caliber machine guns swiveling on turrets to keep us in their sights. This happened at least eight miles in Greek waters, a clear border violation.

Mr. Englund should get out of Athens, go to the islands and see who is really posturing and threatening.

Nicholas Glyphis

Baltimore

Abortion Holocaust

As someone who lost a number of relatives to the Holocaust, I am amazed at the attitude expressed by Sanford Teplitzky's April 17 letter.

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Is he really so unaware of how a murderous campaign against whole peoples began with a general denigration of the intrinsic value of human life? The history of the mass murders in Germany began with the promotion of euthanasia of the sick and the old, and progressed to the abortion of the children of those deemed "racially inferior."

Doesn't this sound eerily like what has been happening in the Maryland legislature the past several years, with the promotion of a policy of death for those who don't meet our standards?

Does Mr. Teplitzky not see that the social and economic $H pressures against non-Aryan peoples by the Nazis to abort children is exactly the same kind of pressures the Maryland legislature was asked to impose upon the poor of our state?

Denying to poor women assistance to raise their children, and instead offering them only money to kill those children, is not humane. Rather, it mocks all that is just and decent. What almost came to pass in our state this year was not "welfare reform," but a grave injustice. Richard Dowling (letter, April 6) was right, and Mr. Teplitzky, unfortunately, was wrong.

The analogy was all too apt. It is not the analogy that was misplaced, but the sense of decency of those who supported the welfare cap and the expansion of abortion funding.

Diane Bodner

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Bowie

Cyr Advocate

Gordon Cyr's Symphony No. 2, "In Memoriam Diane Peacock Jezic," deserves an advocate.

While Stephen Wigler's characterizations of works and performances have garnered him some respect as a critic in this community, I believe that he has seriously missed the mark in Gordon Cyr's case.

This is all the more inexplicable to me, since the reasons I think Mr. Cyr's work is outstanding are precisely those which attentive ears cannot fail to grasp -- although the really interesting thing is that what they grasp may be quite different among different listeners. This characteristic speaks to the deep intelligence of Mr. Cyr's work, which does not "sound like." Nowhere, in any of the movements, did I involuntarily say to myself, "Oh, that's like" some other composer.

What struck me about the piece is that it forced me to listen to it -- not to something it resembles.

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Gerald L. Phillips

Baltimore

Friendly Fire

It is indeed a tragedy that American lives are lost through "friendly fire." Sloppiness in the military may at times explain such acts, but can be understood when there is fighting in a hot war in which action must be integrated in a confined and fluid tactical zone.

In a state of relative peaceful times when there has been no active fighting, it is really disturbing to me.

Is our technology so far advanced that the thought process is left so far behind tha any targets, whether foreign or otherwise, are to be destroyed by the push of a button?

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Is there no such a thing as restraint and cautious reconnaissance that would allow time for a clearer picture of a situation to emerge?

I personally feel it is time for the military to answer such questions and place its role in a proper perspective.

Otto C. Beyer

Ellicott City


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