The lives of Sarajevo's brave and beleaguered people are almost too tragic for us to bear.
It is hard to believe that a few years ago the city hosted the Winter Olympics and presented itself to the world as a cosmopolitan city with a centuries-old cultural heritage, where Christians and Muslims, Serbs and Bosnians lived and worked together.
The siege has continued despite diplomatic efforts to end it. We have allowed this horror to continue for too long. It is past time. We must do what is necessary to free Sarajevo.
Americans rightly ask why this is any of our business. Under far less dire circumstances, but with far greater risks of war, the U.S. saved the people of Berlin from the stranglehold of the Soviets.
That was a proud time for America. We were proud because it was the morally right thing to do. The same moral imperative now requires us to save Sarajevo.
On June 14, The Baltimore Sun saw fit to run a full page pro-smoking advertisement which implied that "life-style police" are controlling "many aspects of our daily lives."
The ad was paid for by the "The National Smokers Alliance" (N.S.A.), a name which suggests an alliance of ordinary concerned citizens. What your unwary readers should know is that the N.S.A. was created and largely funded by Philip Morris.
N.S.A. won't say how much funding it gets from the tobacco giant. That's a secret.
Tobacco companies need to hide behind front groups like this because the public increasingly sees them as unsavory and without credibility. (Remember "Nicotine is not addicting," and, "We don't market to children"?)
The ad uses the standard tobacco industry tactic of trying to equate smoking with relatively harmless pleasures like drinking coffee and eating red meat. The difference, of course, is that no one would ever dream of banning coffee (the thought is ludicrous). For that matter, no one has ever suggested banning smoking in private, where it does not expose others to harm.
The fact is tobacco alone is the greatest public health problem of our time. Twenty percent of the civilized world will die of preventable smoking related illness.
Using their phenomenal wealth and power, the tobacco companies hope they can sway public opinion by purchasing full-page ads. I prefer to believe that citizens will think for themselves.
'Rodney A. Johnson, M.D.
CIA and KGB
Murder will out, as the CIA is finding. "CIA" -- sort of close to the Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti, and we've seen what happened to them.
W. K. Lester
Bring Music Back
WJHU's decision to carry National Public Radio talk shows instead of Bill Spencer's music show during the morning is a loss, not a gain, to listeners in the Baltimore area.
WAMU in Washington was already accessible to most of this area. I personally have never had any difficulty in tuning in to WAMU either from home or from my car radio.
Granted that NPR is under attack from the current Congress and right-wing extremists and needs all the encouragement it can get right now.
However, dropping popular classical music shows in order to duplicate a service that is already available does not seem the way to go about it.
Juanita B. Millican
Reading into the Cloverleaf-Bally Deal
I respectfully suggest you read some of the current and back issues of trade publications before making any further pronouncements on the Cloverleaf-Bally harness-track deal. Had you done so, you would have noted:
1. Thoroughbred track owner Joe DeFrancis' statement in the Daily Racing Form of May 19 -- "If you can't beat them, join them. If you can't keep them out of your marketplace, then you've got to participate in it, control as much of it as possible, and make sure that an appropriate percentage is dedicated to purses."
The deal with Bally's will give the harness horsemen 50 percent of the proceeds from the casino gambling. Mr. DeFrancis couldn't have cut a better deal.
If there is a thoroughbred horseman who does not believe Mr. DeFrancis has been actively pursuing casino interests, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell him.
2. The article in Horseman & Fair World of May 10, "Remember Prairie Meadows? Slots Revitalize Iowa Track." This track, which was ready to go belly-up, is now expected to "show a profit of $3.35 million this year."
With Delaware tracks going to slots this year (Delaware Park has already caused a serious decline in the simulcasting handle at Poor Jimmy's OTB in Cecil County) and Pennsylvania considering gaming, marrying casino gaming to horse racing is necessary for the survival of Maryland horse racing. It's a bitter pill to swallow and chokes all who love the sport, but swallow we must if we're to remain alive and healthy . . .
Your editorial cartoon on racing and casinos was very amusing. Any publicity is better than none.
And while on the subject of publicity, why is it that the Maryland trotter, S.J.'s Photo, is being written up in the European newspapers but no mention is made of his exploits in his home state?
He won the Finlandia, in Helsinki, came in second to Copiad in the Oslo Grand Prix and was due to race in the Elitlopp. You write articles on Maryland thoroughbreds racing in other states, but do not even mention this home-grown standardbred racing against the best international trotters in prestigious race events.
If you must become involved with the racing industry, it would be in your best interest to read the trade publications before making pronouncements on the editorial page.
Obscenity and the Constitution
Peter Jay's columns routinely identify him as "a writer and a farmer." As his June 8 column, "Rats' Feet on Broken Glass" clearly proves, one thing he isn't is a lawyer.
I imagine that a conservative such as Mr. Jay, especially in today's political climate, takes great pride in not being a lawyer. However, in law as in other fields, it occasionally helps if one researches before one writes.
I certainly wouldn't write about farming without talking to an experienced individual such as Mr. Jay. And he, in turn, should not pontificate about obscenity law without a little basic research on the First Amendment in the courts.
If Mr. Jay had done his homework, he would have known (and should have written) that the Supreme Court has routinely held obscene communications to be outside of the Constitution's protection of free speech.
Even beyond this, the court, in its Miller v. California decision, established a basic definition for obscenity that has guided communities, legislatures and law enforcement officials for over two decades.
It is therefore simply not true that, as Mr. Jay writes, "obscenity laws are unconstitutional." Then again, it certainly isn't true that the entertainment industry or anyone else is "in full panicky retreat" in the wake of Sen. Robert Dole's ignorant attack on popular culture.
(Does anyone believe that a violent movie like "True Lies" is family-friendly just because its star is a Republican? Or care about rap artists who haven't recorded in years?)
On the contrary, members of the entertainment industry, among many others, have weighed in with their opposition to Mr. Dole's speech.
I could go on to discuss the hypocrisy of a senator criticizing movies he hasn't read and music he hasn't heard. I could also point out that many conservatives who like to link Hollywood with crime don't like to link talk radio with Oklahoma City.
For now, it is enough to make this simple request of Mr. Jay: He can be as conservative as he wants. It's a free country. I don't want to suppress his voice, and I feel certain that he does not want to suppress mine. But, for the sake of The Sun's readers and the sake of the truth, he should get his facts straight. And, like the good senator, he should look and listen a little more.
Stephen R. Rourke
The writer is a lawyer.