Good Use of Taxes
I am married and currently working at home with our two young sons (ages 2 and 4 1/2 ).
My husband and I depend on public television and radio for music, information and entertainment and education.
Up to now, our children know only Big Bird, Barney and Mr. Rogers and are spared the violence and aggressive advertising of commercial television's Power Rangers, Gobots, X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
We listen to classical music and jazz throughout the day, not because we are "cultural elites," but because we all enjoy it and have no use for loud disc jockeys and commercials every two minutes.
We begin the morning with WJHU, listening to "Morning Edition" and end the day with "All Things Considered." The children love Maryland Public Television's "Barney" (what little child doesn't?), "Sesame Street" and "The Magic Schoolbus."
Our 4-year old is writing now, because the kids on "Ghostwriter" are so cool. Charles and I watch "McNeill-Lehrer," "The McLaughlin Group," "Firing Line" and documentaries by Ken Burns.
Given the critical role that public television and radio play in our lives, we are deeply distressed to learn that the new leadership of Congress has proposed to eliminate taxpayer support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, asserting that it "eats taxpayer money," is "run by elitists" and "duplicates what is found on cable."
Well, given our family's choice to live on one income for the sake of our children, we cannot afford cable television and find that the assumption that everyone has cable is elitist.
Quality and depth in programming are not for "cultural elites." We hope that they bring up the standard for everyone, including commercial TV and radio. It is an excellent use of taxpayer money.
Karen Wright Marsh
Julia Child, in an interview with David Zurawik printed in The Sun Jan. 5, says, "I think I was fortunate to be the one who started cooking on television."
Ms. Child is suffering under, as the Great Durante used to say, a mis-pre-hap-pre-hension.
Women, and maybe even some men I didn't know about, were cooking on television in Baltimore and elsewhere at least 10 years before Ms. Child made her debut in 1961.
It's not a grievous error, but I thought latter day watchers should know about an hour cooking program presented daily for several years in the late '40s and early '50s that was conducted by various Mary Landises (the late Anita Conboy Jaffee chief among them).
Ann Mar of WMAR-TV cooked on television when Julia Child was barely out of her courses at Cordon Bleu. I don't know if Penny Chase or Sylvia Scott cooked on their local programs, but they surely had guests who did.
Julia Child wasn't even the first to cook on a national hookup. Arlene Francis' "Home" program on NBC (least noted of three programs created by Spike Weaver, the others being "Today" and "Tonight") regularly included cooking.
As Marie Antoinette's hatmaker is said to have said, "There is nothing new except what is forgotten."
Robert J. Jones
I read Julius Angelucci's vitriolic, vacuous and myopic letter (Jan. 10) of reaction to my Dec. 28 letter germane to my work and involvement in helping formulate the National Council on History Standards in support of President Clinton's "Goals 2000."
Two points flow from Mr. Angelucci's letter of response to my letter: (1) It is clear that he has neither seen nor read the National Council on History Standards; (2) his fulminating about what he RTC calls my "educationalese gobbledegook" depicts his ignorance of history and the social science including what purports to be "traditional history."
It is a total absurdity to "surmise" or to postulate, as Mr. Angelucci's does, that "white-male bashing has become a popular sport among liberals as depicted in movies, TV sitcoms and TV commercials."
There is no "white-male bashing" or "denigration" of any ethnic-racial group in the national council's history standards.
In his closing, Mr. Angelucci is moved to pontificate: "Our country was framed by people, not ethnic groups." The elemental reality is that our nation was formed by a multiplicity of ethnic, racial and religious groups in support of "E Pluribus Unum."
Samuel L. Banks
It seems to me that the casino gambling industry has learned a lesson from the major sports industry: divide and conquer.
The sports owners pit city vs. city; the casinos pit state vs. state. The result is the same; the rest of us pay the financial and social cost.
The way to get this under control is to get cities to agree to freeze out the teams until they get reasonable. The way to head off the casino industry ruling our state is to join with neighboring states and phase out this pestilence. It won't be easy, it might not even be safe.
Teaching Morality in Public Schools
John D. Schiavone states his opinion (letter, Jan. 8) that "there is no way that you can teach 'morals,' outside of some philosophical context that speaks to where man fits into this universe . . ." and that "the context is either framed by religious belief or by secular humanism, the 'non-religious religion' to which the public school system necessarily pays homage."
He says, "What good is achieved in teaching children 'about' morality unless you can also give them reasons to behave morally that transcend their own perceived self-interest?"
This assumes that human beings will not behave morally unless they are threatened with punishment by an angry "god."
The mature person should not need the fear of punishment to make him behave morally. I know that there are many people who behave morally without being religious, and, contrastingly, many people who behave immorally but still profess to be religious, as they have been trained.
Religion can be a very effective means of control, if you can't have police everywhere, you can have an omniscient god everywhere.
I, as probably Mr. Schiavone does, believe that we should teach children the right thing to do. However, I believe that we should teach them to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
A society can have a generally accepted moral standard without having religions to back it up.
We have learned, through psychology, that behavior is more consistent when it responds to positive reinforcement rather than negative (punishment).
Therefore, whenever possible, we should not hold punishment over people's heads. We should teach by example, and start off praising for correct behavior.
We shouldn't need to justify morality, but if we have to, we could use a positive statement of "the golden rule," to treat others as you would be treated.
Granted, children and immature people who have not developed a conscience may not be able to understand the difference between right and wrong, and may have to be threatened by some sort of punishment, as well as being praised for doing well.
But, punishment should be the responsibility of other people, of the society that holds that moral standard. We do not have crime, AIDS, abuse, war, illegal drugs, etc. because we have separation of church and state, or "godless schools."
It's because too many people are having children who shouldn't be, and because children are not taught, by schools, friends or families, to do the right thing.
According to John D. Schiavone, "There is no way that you can teach 'morals' outside of some philosophical context that speaks to where man fits into this universe."
In fact, in order to merely keep control in the classroom, the schools do teach morality based on the philosophical principle that we need to get along fairly and peaceably with our fellow humans in whichever corner of the "universe" we find ourselves.
Also, the demonstrable benefit of the group does transcend perceived self-interest.
Although these principles do not constitute the entirety of a religiously based system of morality, neither do they conflict with the religion in which I believe, and for this reason I am able, as a religious person, to send my daughter to public school.
Thomas S. Amrhein
Off His Throne
I would like to comment on television interviews ex-Gov. William Donald Schaefer gave.
His comments about The Baltimore Sun reporters not giving him a fair chance is ludicrous. The Sun simply reported the news about him.
Mr. Schaefer has shown time and again that anyone who would dare disagree with him would be on the receiving end of one of his childish temper tantrums. The Sun just chose to ignore his threats.
Mr. Schaefer never understood that during most of his time in the Governor's mansion, less than half of Marylanders supported him.
I, for one, am glad to see this autocrat off his throne and into the real world again.
Maybe now he will look around and see that he wasn't god after all.
Lawrence F. Snair III