Less SmokeEven with exemptions from the compromise...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Less Smoke

Even with exemptions from the compromise bill announced March 28, Maryland has taken a giant step toward safer work places free of involuntary exposure to second hand smoke. Gov. Parris Glendening came out smelling like a rose. He demonstrated real leadership by taking a position that was not politically easy -- because it was the right thing to do.

We know the governor got the best deal he could from this General Assembly, which threatened a veto override.

Marylanders are upset with legislators, primarily because they insisted on including restaurants among the list of exemptions to the smoking regulation. Most Marylanders feel that smoking should not be allowed at all in restaurants, and the record is crystal clear that there is no negative economic impact whatsoever in places where restaurants and bars have gone 100 percent smoke free.

Hundreds of cities and counties, and even whole states (California, Utah, and soon Vermont) have implemented 100 percent smoke free ordinances which include restaurants. Wild predictions of economic calamity made by the tobacco industry have never materialized.

We still have a long way to go to allow thousands of Maryland workers in the food service industry the same basic protections already enjoyed in all judicial and executive facilities.

Joseph Adams, M.D.

Towson

The writer represents Smoke Free Maryland.

Save Constitution

There is nothing wrong with the U.S. Constitution that a dose of respectful adherence would not cure.

Federal power has indeed become oppressive. But the fault lies with the federal officials who have over-stepped constitutional limitations and with state leaders and the people who have let it happen.

Let's fix what needs fixing, and leave the Constitution alone.

Danger is lurking in the new proposal designed to create an official Conference of the States. This is a deceitful approach to organizing a constitutional convention (con-con).

There has never been a con-con in the life of the present Constitution, because no one wanted to open up the Constitution for full-scale change or elimination. This is exactly what a con-con is empowered to do.

History shows that the Articles of Confederation were abandoned at a con-con called as a conference of the states. Supposedly, delegates assembled merely to amend the articles.

Rather, that did not happen. Those delegates present in 1787 scrapped the Articles and gave us a whole new Constitution. This is the most nearly perfect document for government in all of history.

Important to note, there are forces in our nation seeking to legalize the many unconstitutional federal usurpations of power already burdening the states and the people.

They have tried for several years to get the state legislatures to call for a con-con under Article V of the Constitution. State legislatures have refused to be pressured into that trap.

The conference of the states is seen by its promoters as a way to skirt the present Constitution's intentionally difficult requirement for a con-con. The organizers aim to persuade 26 state legislatures to pass resolutions of participation calling for the conference.

This is exactly the route taken in 1787 that amounted to a con-con. If this back-door con-con approach is successful, unconstitutional federal power will be made legal through numerous amendments to the Constitution, or even by creating an entirely new supreme law of the land.

The scheme is the handiwork of Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt and a quasi-official organization, the Council of State Governments, both past supporters of a con-con. Their plans must be blocked in state legislatures . . .

Douglas J. Knox

Taneytown

Some Democracy

The letter by Shahid Mahmud, "Plight of the Islamic Movement," March 27, is seriously flawed.

The writer bemoans the lack of democracy in Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. What he fails to point out is that he would substitute that with the "democracy" of Iran.

Have we so soon forgotten how the "terrible" conditions of Iran under the shah were improved under the democracy which followed?

Marion Friedman

Baltimore

Abortion Costs

Restricting Medicaid funding for most abortions makes the procedure more dangerous and expensive for those women still able to exercise their right to choose.

The Sun's March 16 article on the vote on this issue in the House of Delegates reported without rebuttal Delegate Nancy Jacobs' inaccurate claim that the state cannot prove that limiting Medicaid funding for most abortions results in second trimester abortions. The facts are otherwise, as was stated during the floor debate.

The most recent data show that 28 percent of all Medicaid-funded abortions were performed on an inpatient basis in hospitals, compared to less than 10 percent of non-Medicaid abortions.

Second trimester abortions are far more expensive and dangerous than first trimester abortions. Therefore, they must be performed in hospitals on an inpatient basis which involves higher costs than those for outpatients at either hospitals or clinics.

The explanation for this is simple: Under the state's restrictive policy, it takes many women until the second trimester to meet the requirements and qualify for Medicaid funding for their abortions.

Inpatient hospital abortions cost the state an average of $2,200, more than double the $995 cost for outpatient hospital abortions. Outpatient clinic abortions cost the state $300.

Samuel I. Rosenberg

Annapolis

The writer represents the 42nd Legislative District of Baltimore City in the General Assembly.

AIDS and Gangsta Rap

The recent death of 31-year-old N.W.A. gangsta rapper Eric Wright, while unfortunate, hopefully will help teen-agers understand the reality of AIDS.

Perhaps Wright's death will be the first AIDS-related death to have such an impact on youth. Wright, as teens know, was not homosexual.

Magic Johnson, on the other hand, while also heterosexual, has not shown any complications with his condition. He still may be seen as invincible to many teens -- despite his constant effort to educate them.

Before his death, Wright left a message for his homeboys (and I hope he also meant homegirls) saying, "I've learned in the last week that this thing is real and it doesn't discriminate. It affects everyone."

And I hope these words will be heard by the many teens who are "tuned in to" to the gangsta rap genre.

Sharon Perry

Baltimore

J. D. Considine is right (March 28): rapper Eazy-E did not get what he deserved when he died of AIDS. No one deserves AIDS: It is a disease, not a punishment.

However, the article did little to explore the links between the misogyny of gangsta-rap and Eazy-E's infection. In fact, it concluded that Eazy-E's death had nothing to do with the excesses of gangsta rap.

Eazy-E was right, his lyrics do reflect reality -- a reality in which women are seen primarily as sex objects, afforded little respect and available to those who can pay or have a certain status, as Eazy-E had. This is clearly seen and promoted in gangsta-rap lyrics and videos.

If AIDS is teaching us anything, it is the urgent need for respectful, caring and protected sex. But why would you protect your partners if you did not fundamentally respect her/them?

Eazy-E was probably the victim of his own unprotected sexual behavior, but there is no telling how many women he infected. Especially since it is much easier for an infected man to infect a woman than the other way round.

If we are to truly honor the memory of a man who in the end wanted to warn "all my homeboys and their kin" about "what's real when it comes to AIDS," the gangsta-rap industry should carefully examine the links between the way it portrays and treats women and the over-all impact on our health, well-being and community.

Perhaps the industry should take the next brave step of not just reflecting an ugly reality, but challenging it.

Sia Nowrojee

Baltimore

No Guts

It takes guts to make cuts, not a constitutional amendment to hide behind.

John M. Raines

Glen Burnie

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