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Comparing CrimesAre we to believe that Jeffrey...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Comparing Crimes

Are we to believe that Jeffrey A. Hubbard equates carjacking with attempted theft of a vehicle? His March 20 letter suggests that police resources should be equally dedicated to his unfortunate situation as they were to a carjacking-kidnapping.

Kidnapping and carjacking are both very serious felonies. The police would be remiss not to devote every possible effort to apprehend the perpetrators in either case. Vehicle theft and other property crimes rightly take a back seat to violent crime.

Mr. Hubbard also complained about the reluctance of the police to hold suspects in his case, due to the lack of evidence. I applaud the action of the police, as the Constitution protects us from unreasonable search.

Mr. Hubbard suggests that a carjacking victim in West Baltimore would have been denied the same attention as the Roland Park residents. The fact is, the majority of police resources are expended in neighborhoods other than Roland Park.

I would like to see concrete proof that any police officer in Baltimore ever treated a victim as he suggests. I would suggest that police officers typically are empathetic toward victims in cases of violent crime.

Michael Horst

Baltimore

Utility Stock

The Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. proxy statement indicates that outside directors receive a pension benefit equal to 100 percent of their base compensation after just five years of service.

This contrasts with the employee pension benefit, which is 45 to 60 percent of compensation.

The company had to offer "early retirement" to employees in order to reduce expenses. The report to shareholders emphasizes cost awareness to keep the company competitively priced. The role of the outside director must be to protect both the shareholder and ultimately the consumer interest.

Have they accomplished this role? BGE underperformed the Dow Jones Utility Index for the past 5 years.

Joseph B. Herron

Timonium

English Only

What, again? The General Assembly has had several bills in the chute this session making English Maryland's official language.

This offensive waste of taxpayers' resources has been going on during every State House season since the mid-'80s. And somehow somebody with good sense has each year killed it.

Why is it back in 1995? Which of the part-time legislators collecting a full-time wage is re-doing this mischief?

Maybe there is a threat I'm not aware of. The Piscataway or the Lumbees could be insisting on information printed in their exotic languages at state government expense.

Perhaps the Ukrainians and Carpatho-Rusyns demand the right to plead their cases in court in their own tongue. Some school district, maybe, wants to replace its English literature classes with Latin and Greek classics.

In this era of adapting to the Republican Party's values, I don't understand these politicians' failure to see the best hope for maintaining English as the main mode of this society's communication in the market place. You don't know English? You can't work here till you do.

Imagine, English is everywhere becoming the language to learn, even in Uzbekistan, for Pete's sake. But here some few think it needs an official status to continue in its historic role.

!Matthew-Daniel Stremba

Baltimore

He Said, She Said

Whether it was done by design or by chance, the Mike Littwin column of March 6 and the Ellen Goodman column of March 7, both on the subject of Marcia Clark, make for what could be the best debate on a social issue The Sun has printed in quite a while. Nice work.

Richard Berman

Baltimore

Free for Adoption

A Sun article March 12 about a white woman's struggle to adopt three African-American children for whom she has been caring noted that leaders of the Maryland chapter of the NAACP, citing this case, criticized the way Social Services officials and the courts handle interracial adoptions.

They are asking Gov. Parris Glendening to investigate cases of interracial adoption.

At the same time, there are over 450 children in Maryland, the majority of whom are African-American, who are free for adoption but are waiting for adoptive homes.

Wouldn't it make more sense for the Maryland NAACP to work with its members to find homes for these children than to spend time investigating caring people who are willing to make a place in their home for a child?

After all, aren't we all fighting for the same thing, that all kids of all races have a permanent place to call home?

Susan P. Leviton

Baltimore

The writer is associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Good and Evil at Notre Dame

The reaction of a small but vocal group of parents, as noted in the March 21 article, "Notre Dame Prep parents protest explicit video," points to a much deeper precept: The moral values instilled by the families in their daughters are so weak, and the "traditional Christian values" themselves are so tenuous, that the values and morals can be seriously undermined by exposure to a one-hour video.

However, to prove the contrary, since this video has been shown for quite some time, one only has to look at the upstanding lives of the Notre Dame Prep graduates of the last 10 years. Come on, parents. Give the students some credit for maturity, tolerance and the ability of their beliefs to withstand this short display of explicit material.

The school has felt that the students can handle it, and rightly so.

ohn G. Packard

Baltimore

I must take issue with Michael Olesker's column "Why was porno at Notre Dame ignored for years?" Olesker has completely mischaracterized "Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography" as "a porno movie that disguises itself as a documentary."

Pornographic films, to the best of my knowledge, are meant to titillate. And while there are pornographic scenes within the film, titillating is the last adjective that could be used to describe the documentary.

In fact, it has quite the opposite effect. I believe that most who see the film would agree that it exposes the depravity of pornography and the incredibly sad lives of women in the porn industry.

Olesker asks, "Did none of the young ladies find anything objectionable about the film, or were they just shy about mentioning it?"

What is objectionable about the film is its unfortunate reality, not the documentation of it. The purpose of the film is to oppose pornography and show that it does have negative effects. And that is the very point in showing it.

That point is still clear to me some eight years after I saw it as a senior at Notre Dame.

Olesker has taken the viewing of the film completely out of context. The film is viewed as part of a class that covers an array of social issues. Violence against women is only one of the many important subjects covered in the class.

Other topics include homelessness and prejudice. Perhaps more importantly, the class requires each student to volunteer in the community. Is Michael Olesker against having these young women feed the homeless because it might reveal a rough side " of life?

It is ludicrous to think, as Olesker contends, that Notre Dame advocates the "flip side" of repression.

Notre Dame's mission is to educate women in the Catholic tradition. Education involves providing information. Sometimes the content of that information is not always agreeable. The concentration camps in World War II were offensive to decent human beings, but it is important that we know about their existence.

The reality of hard core pornography is very troublesome. But exposure to it in this context serves only to strengthen arguments against it. As such, knowledge is our greatest protection -- ignorance is not bliss.

I agree with Michael Olesker that it is unfortunate that our society is becoming increasingly anesthetized to issues. However, education can be the tool to galvanize people into action. Even more importantly, knowledge can help us prevent societal problems.

The most upsetting thing about Olesker's column is that it

adulterates the wonderful job that Notre Dame has done in providing a well rounded, conscientious, Catholic education to thousands of young women.

I commend my alma mater for its courage in addressing such a difficult subject.

Mikella Gallagher

New York

Cardinal William Keeler has made a great mistake in forbidding the showing of the video which displays eight minutes of nude and graphic scenes to high school seniors regarding violence against women.

First and foremost, the video was not only discussed at meetings among the religion department and administration prior to the proposed date, but was also to be viewed with "parental permission only."

At the bottom of this permission slip was a clear statement made by the administration that it could be contacted in case of any questions.

If the small number of parents who objected to the movie really cared, they could have refused to permit their senior to watch it. Education begins at home. Parents should be ready to teach their children the good as well as the bad in this world.

Although we would all like to believe that violence against women is a rare occurrence, the simple truth is "that it just ain't so."

Thousands of women are abused each and every year and chances being what they are, many of the young ladies at Notre Dame will face such abuse in their future. What better way to help protect a child but by instruction, as opposed to ignorance?

Notre Dame, Sister Helen Marie, Sister Ellis, Sister Marion and the rest of the administration deserve a real thanks from all of us.

Their love and kindness to thousands of young women over the years have proven that ignorance is not bliss.

They have adhered to the Catholic doctrine and instilled in their students the Christian values and principles that permit us to hope for a better future, a future in which indeed "We Shall Overcome."

Dawn M. Auffarth

Timonium

The video referred to is not on sex. It is a documentary about the pornography industry, and the content is appalling as the cardinal says, but not because of sex.

What is appalling are the attitudes toward women that are exposed, attitudes that pervade our culture and support a multi-million dollar pornography industry; attitudes that lead to the objectification, domination and exploitation of women; attitudes that teach our husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons to find women portrayed in chains and as fodder for meat grinders titillating.

One of the Notre Dame parents commented on the news that he sent his daughter there to be protected.

I am the mother of a 17-year-old daughter. In my heart I, too, wish I could protect her from ugliness and pain, but to do so would keep her forever a child.

I want her to be educated. "Protection" should not be the mission of any educational institution. Education is about opening eyes, not closing them.

Ignorance may be bliss, but it also makes you vulnerable and easily exploited.

These same young women whom well-meaning parents seek to protect will vote in the next election. They will help choose representatives who will make policy about domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment.

These same young women will go away to college, where they will date young men who place the pictures from pornographic magazines on the wall. These same young women may sit in my office and agonize after being date-raped.

When your eyes are opened, what you see may be disturbing, even appalling. What you see may make you angry -- angry at pain, at the lack of humanity, at injustice. But knowledge is power, and informed anger can move people to change the world.

Sally N. Wall

Lutherville

The writer is chairperson of the psychology department at the College of Notre Dame.

Scholarship Program Fills Real Needs

The financial struggle by Maryland's middle-class families to send their sons and daughters on to higher education is a continuing problem that The Sun chose to ignore in its March 21 editorial on Senate scholarship reform. When seeking scholarships through the state's general program, families too often find their children rejected by rigid formulas of income as well as narrow application.

The family's gross income might have been a bit too high. It doesn't matter if the father may have been disabled or died or the mother had suffered a serious illness.

Family disruptions, a long hospitalization, a separation, a divorce that may have drained away funds don't count either. Neither do pressures of trying to educate more than one child at a time.

The number-crunching guardian of the scholarship formula, that exacting computer, recognizes none of this. It has zero understanding.

Also left out of general scholarships are those working-class young men and women who need a job to go to school part-time. We should encourage those willing to take seven years to graduate, not exclude them. Part-timers are out, as are those who seek careers in technical and skilled fields. So are adults trying to return to school and most graduate students.

The Senate's scholarship program has tried to fill these real human needs. It has flexibility. When run right and well, it has done just that with care and sensitivity. It recognizes that education is a treasure for all individuals, not just full-time undergraduates.

It has an important fairness element, for it distributes scholarships evenly across the state. No corner of the state is overlooked. Every segment of Maryland's diverse population is encouraged to continue on the education track vital to our future.

We believe that a group of concerned neighborhood citizens, in Baltimore or the Eastern Shore or elsewhere, are better judges of our young people than a distant computer.

The Sun might examine some of the countless success stories over the years. It chooses instead to criticize "abuses" in the past.

Yes, there have been abuses. But how many and how long ago? And how do these compare to families helped toward their educational goals when no other aid was available?

If we considered only past abuses in any public or private program or in any institution, we could shut them all down. Our task is to make things right today and tomorrow and not punish ourselves for any indiscretions of the past.

It is easy to charge, as The Sun does, that senators receive "high dividends" for scholarships granted. But for every scholarship that has been granted in the past, some 10 or more applicants are rejected. The political rewards are dubious at best. Sending out batches of sorry letters is no political plus. Senators do lose elections no matter how many scholarships they have awarded.

They why continue the program in any form? The number of applicants who need help and don't fit the exacting criteria of the brightest or the neediest, generally those in the lower middle class and those in some financial family stress, have provided the impetus to continue that program under different guidelines.

Senate Bill 855 reforms the system. Rather than the senator, it provides for a local committee, with a majority of concerned local school officials, to make scholarship decisions.

A minority of four out of nine members would be appointed by the senator. It is our attempt to introduce understanding and not mere numbers into the equation.

For those senators who so desire, all choices can be handed over to the State Scholarship Administration for distribution to residents of their district.

The Free State Community Scholarship Program is no "cynical ** charade" but a serious reform to meet past criticism.

We worked with every Senate committee. We cut the political cord. We reached consensus. We found a bipartisan agreement with a strong majority of Democrats and Republicans backing it. That's a miracle to me. It deserves approval.

As to the unnecessary slur that education is none of our business, I remind you that Article 42 of Maryland's Declaration of Rights directs the legislature to promote "a judicious system of general education."

I take that directive to mean we should help all of our sons and daughters, particularly those who don't fit the bureaucratic guidelines because of family situations. The education of our children is everybody's business.

We in Maryland should note that some 19 or 20 states, competitors of ours, award many more, often many times more, the number of scholarships that we award.

We are in no position to give up helping all our children, particularly those in some family adversity, to obtain a better education a better life.

Clarence W. Blount

Baltimore

The writer is the State Senator from Baltimore's 41st District.

Special District

Based on a report on another possible special tax/benefits district in Baltimore (this one for the "midtown" area), the reader may be left with the impression that there is grass roots support in favor of this tax scheme. The vote in Charles Village last fall is cited as demonstrating citizens' approval.

This is bending the truth, for two reasons.

First, out of 7,590 ballots mailed to Charles Village residents and property owners, only 1,578 (21 percent) were actually filled out, mailed back in and counted, 1,033 voting for and 545 against.

The majority of the ballots (79 percent) were either returned as undelivered by the Post Office or were unaccounted for. Only one-fifth of the voters actually responded.

Second, the proponents were supported by a $30,000 grant from City Hall. This largess in public money was used to promote the plan in Charles Village by purchasing 500 lawn signs, 16,000 brochures, 10,000 leaflets, 4,000 "community ideas" questionnaires, etc.

It also paid the fees for three consultants, plus part of the salary for the director of Greater Homewood Community Corporation.

With City Hall's money stacking the cards against opponents of the project, each vote for the tax/benefits district cost Baltimore taxpayers about $30.

If the playing field is level, I think less people can be persuaded to support such a measure.

Grenville B. Whitman

Baltimore

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