The Sept. 7 letter from William M. Smith, "Barricades and Crime in Guilford," contained a harmful stereotype about rape.
Speaking of crimes committed in wealthy neighborhoods, the writer stated that "the vast majority of violent crime (burglary, rape, murder) is committed not by people who live [in wealthy neighborhoods] but by outsiders from the poor neighborhoods."
This statement perpetuates the harmful and incorrect stereotype that most rapes are committed by strangers from the poor side of town.
In reality, most victims of sexually assault know their attacker. People tend to know and associate with people from similar socio-economic backgrounds; the rapes that occur in wealthy neighborhoods are usually committed by other residents from wealthy neighborhoods.
This incorrect stereotype only helps perpetuate classism and racism. It also keeps us from focusing on the real problem: the majority of women who are raped, are raped by the men they know.
It is difficult to take issue with the main thesis of Margaret Kim's Opinion * Commentary article, Sept 6, "In Defense of a Little Compassion."
We certainly need more compassion in this world. Nevertheless, I do believe Ms. Kim was wrong in her excessive criticism of Focus on the Family.
I have followed James Dobson and his organization with interest for a number of years, and I have never known Dr. Dobson to demonstrate anything less than sincere care and compassion for all human beings.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for all who call themselves Christians.
I am sure that Ms. Kim is aware of the government funded campaign to promote the use of condoms as an AIDS preventive.
In their casual treatment of sexually intimacy, many of these condom ads are extremely offensive to many of us.
On the other hand, comparatively little public money has been used to promote chastity as a viable, and infinitely safer, alternative.
I believe that the Focus in the Family ad was attempting to bring balance to this discussion and point out that there is a better way.
As for the different estimates of the effectiveness of condoms in preventing AIDS (69 percent vs. 100 percent), I think the difference is easily explained by the ways these estimates were derived.
To assume that sexually active teens and young adults will always use condoms in the same way the uninfected couples in the New England Journal of Medicine study used them would require a real leap of faith.
I therefore believe that Focus on the Family's 69 percent effectiveness estimate is probably much closer to the mark.
Anyway, I thank Ms. Kim for her well-reasoned thoughts on this subject.
dwin S. Jordan
Rights for Dogs
In response to Geoffrey Felding's Opinion * Commentary piece Sept. 2 and his concerns over dogs at Lake Roland:
I have lived in Baltimore City since 1968, in West, Central, and now East Baltimore in a condominium in Canton. I have been a dog owner all of those 26 years.
One of my greatest pleasures, among many of life in the city, has been meeting other dog owners on a daily basis while the dogs chased frisbees, caught balls and communicated with each other, as we did.
The joy in play and exercise makes dogs better citizens and companions. We learned the importance of picking up after them and kept them from harming flowers and to respect small children.
When does a pleasure become a right? The quality of life in the city connected to the ritual of dog walking is being eroded, narrowed and denied.
Recently the waterfront park in Canton where I live, and chose to live there because of it, went the way of so many public green areas where dogs can exercise.
In the guise of protecting the Korean War Memorial from romping dogs when the real vandals are those who come in the night and chip out the letters with chisels, comes yet another spate of "No Dogs Allowed" signs.
I pay almost $200 a week in combined city and state taxes. I pick up after my dog. I believe all dog owners should and that this is the enforceable issue. Dogs and their owners together have a right to enjoy public spaces.
I believe that in the growing numbers of places where dogs are not allowed there should be areas designated for dogs so it is clear where they can be exercised without harassment.
Smokers have this right, and while it narrows their options and demeans them, everyone's "rights" are retained.
Shirley Landon Lupton
I found KAL's Sept. 4 cartoon ridiculing religious leaders, including Pope John Paul, who disagreed with those proposing negative solutions at the Cairo population conference, to be offensive and selective in its indignation.
Why, for example, was there no Orthodox Jewish rabbi pictured with leaders opposing abortion and sterilization?
And how can the once-Christian West impose its hedonistic "morality" on developing nations when most of its nations are experiencing family-life crises and no longer having the 2.1 birth rate needed for survival?
Call Out the National Guard
I was put in jail one Tuesday night. This prison has no distinct walls, bars or guard towers, yet its existence is as real as any state penitentiary. I am now serving a life sentence of fear, anger and frustration. You see, on this particular Tuesday night, while walking home from synagogue services commemorating the Jewish New Year, I was held up at gun point and relieved of some of my possessions.
The attack was particularly brazen, occurring in the evening hours on a well traveled, well lighted street. The attack seemed very well planned. One man stood lookout by the street, while the other approached and carefully took pains to make sure that he remained behind me at all times. An arm and a gun were all that I could see or feel. Following the attack, I made my way to a friend's house and dialed 911. The Baltimore police responded swiftly and in a very professional manner.
Since the attack, I have begun to analyze the overall situation and have come to some sharp conclusions. Having since spoken to many others in the neighborhood, it has become increasingly clear that crime has increased dramatically in our section of Northwest Baltimore, and that our community appears to have been targeted for repeated offenses. A once safe neighborhood has become afflicted with armed assaults as well as thefts of automobiles and personal goods. Unfortunately, many of us seem to feel that this is an unfortunate outgrowth of urban crime and that we are powerless to stop this wave of violence.
I have tried to search for solutions to this worsening problem and have concluded that the time to act drastically is upon us. The police do an admirable job, and they have been extremely helpful with regards to my experience, but it is apparent that they have become out-manned. However, we do have the National Guard stationed around Maryland to help protect the citizenry in case of war or other emergency situations. Make no mistake, this is war and the guard should be called into action.
Lest we forget, crime has been creeping up to such an extent that car thefts are now regarded as simply a nuisance to live with. Armed assaults are down-played if no injuries occur. This is wrong. It is a result of the numbing of our collective consciousness to the worsening crime epidemic.
To those who would argue that calling out the guard to help clean up the streets would be an infringement of our rights, I have this response: My civil liberties have already been infringed upon. I am no longer able to walk streets safely at night. My children cannot ride their bikes unsupervised for fear that they will fall prey to thieves who have already stolen bicycles from neighborhood kids while they were out for a ride.
Dozens of neighbors have lost countless hours of work, unable to travel when cars are routinely stolen night after night. Our freedoms have been reduced. The only people who appear to have retained their sense of civil liberty in this city are the thieves, murderers and drug abusers. They roam at will, harassing and inflicting damage on others. I suggest that cleaning up the streets with the guard would only serve to reduce the liberty of criminals while enabling the law-abiding citizens to regain some their lost freedoms.
These measures would indeed be drastic and would necessitate a show of fortitude and "guts" from our city and state administrations. My question is: Do our leaders really have the stomach to attack these problems head on, right now, or will they continue to play election-year politics and offer us Band-aid solutions to crime that have not worked? I fear that this is our last chance before all neighborhoods in Baltimore City, in all sections of town, are lost for good. Soon, all of us will live in "jail."
As a registered voter for 36 years, the primary election in Maryland was a disgrace to our political system.
The advertisements concentrated mostly on attacking opponents rather than stressing the issues and the attributes of the candidates.
I voted at Rosewood Center. This was a fiasco, to say the least. There were no signs on Rosewood Lane to indicate where the polling place was. Once I found it, there again were no signs and I asked someone who directed me to the second floor of the canteen. All of this was at 6:55 a.m.
When I reached the top of the stairs, there were a few people in line. Within several minutes there were 15 people in line. We looked into the polling place, the registrars were all seated and there were supervisors walking around in front of the registrars laughing, joking and talking to the registrars.
They were all watching their watches. However, the supervisors and the registrars could not agree as to exactly what time it was.
When I was finally ushered to a machine, the curtains didn't close. The same thing happened with another machine. After several minutes, a few of the supervisors came over and determined that the polling machine's metal clip, which apparently has to be broken to make the machines serviceable, had not been broken. It is obvious that this polling center was totally unprepared for the task of the day.
What a terrible example of government inefficiency. I can hardly wait until they take over the health care program.
Jerome P. Reichmister