'Did Susan Reimer write that column on...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

'Did Susan Reimer write that column on the president's trial?'

You must not have noticed that someone other than Susan Reimer submitted the piece entitled, "End this impeachment process now, hear me?" (Jan.19). That must explain her position, which seems at odds with her other writings.

In other columns, she struggles with the conflicting roles of nurturing mother and disciplinarian. She wants her children to be responsible, and yet to be shielded from premature adult decisions. So how could she write such a petulant, cynical piece that reeks of permissiveness?

We parents should be outraged by our president's sexual irresponsibility. When my daughter was in middle school, she found out that some of the girls were being asked to engage in the kind of behavior that the president says stops short of sex. Their boyfriends were making the same argument that the president lamely makes to our country.

Or perhaps we should say it the other way around. The president makes the same argument as some seventh-grade boys.

The astonishing thing to me is that we are buying it, that we are allowing him to make a legal defense of his word play, that we look lightly on his crime as "lying only about sex."

I wish that my daughter had not made her discovery, because it stole some of her innocence. I wish her friends had not succumbed, because it stole some of their self-respect. There is a connection between the behavior we wink at in our leaders (or we tolerate because we tire of hearing about it) and the behavior of our children in such a climate of hypocrisy.

Even Mr. Clinton's Democratic supporters understand at least this much and share my outrage at his behavior. I commend the House managers who have acted with moral courage in pressing the unpopular case that the president not only committed such disgraceful acts, but also broke the law.

Karen Michener

Columbia

Events demand bold action by Indian government

I am saddened by recent events in India ("Violence mars Republic Day in India," Jan. 27). Brutal attacks on Christians, other religious minorities and women are not actions that India and decent Indians stand for. India has always been a secular nation, and must remain so. It has been a haven for many religions, races and cultures. The inner beauty of India lies in its diversity. It is a country that gave birth to many, many religions and religious philosophies, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. Christianity and Islam have flourished in India many centuries.

The attacks on Christians, culminating in the murder of the Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, is a crime against humanity and contrary to the basic secular philosophy of India.

It is time that India took bold steps to stem this violence and the mindless attacks on minorities. Let the government state in no uncertain terms that India is, has been, is, and always will be a secular nation -- not a Hindu country or a religion-based autocracy -- that welcomes all religions.

The government must also declare in no uncertain terms that attacks on religious minorities and others will be considered federal crimes, punishable by the highest penalty under India's laws.

Pradeep Ganguly

Rockville

'Brazenly cynical' column on suits against gun makers

In response to George Will's Opinion Commentary column ("Suing is no remedy," Jan. 24): In opposing the litigation by cities such as New Orleans against gun manufacturers, Mr. Will argues that guns serve as a prophylactic against crime. He further states that only 200 children die annually "by gun accident." Obviously, this statistic does not include innocent bystanders, suicide or murder victims.

Mr. Will also assaults anti-tobacco litigation while asserting that ". . . governments also profit from the early deaths of smokers who do not collect [social] benefits."

Consider the brazen cynicism of a man who asserts that governments profit from the early demise of its citizens while he extols the social good of weapons manufacturers, and the freedom to bear arms.

Kirk Fairfield

Towson

Harkin should look at plight of hog farmers in Iowa

Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, has been aggressive in his defense of President Clinton during the Senate trial. It's unfortunate that the senator is nowhere near that assertive and vociferous in protecting the interests of his constituents, the hog farmers in his home state of Iowa who are rapidly going broke because of suspiciously-depressed hog prices.

Sen. Harkin's should shift his energies from defending his pal in the White House to conducting a hard-nosed inquiry into possible collusion by the big pork cartels, which may be responsible for a virtual state of emergency among hundreds of small hog farmers.

John Fuller

Perry Hall

Don't underestimate value of etiquette training

In response to the letter, "Aren't parents responsible for teaching manners?" (Jan. 26), I must say I am puzzled.

Any parent who recognizes the need for formal etiquette training as well as the training received in the home is to be applauded. Parents who enroll their children in the Stillmeadow classes simply recognize that formal training in the social graces is as valuable to their children's character development as music, dance or other outside activities in which children receive instruction.

There are benefits to a group environment that cannot be replicated in the home, such as overcoming shyness and having discussions with their peers. Not to mention that the children in these classes seem to be having fun learning about etiquette together.

I feel that the author of the letter is being not only unfair but more than a bit presumptuous to assess the amount of "quality time" others are spending with their children based solely on the fact that they enroll them in an etiquette course.

Lezlie Carter

Davidsonville

The writer is founder of the Stillmeadow School of Etiquette.

Two readers' views on refusing to age gracefully

I object strenuously to Richard O'Mara's article ("Refusal to age gracefully," Jan. 23). I wish he could try to sit all day in a rocking chair and do nothing of value to the community just because he had aged. There is no faster way to become depressed than to stop being active and contributing to society. Ask him to look at volunteer organizations and see how many senior citizens are involved. The younger generations are busy making a living and bringing up children. We need for seniors to continue with an active lifestyle and not to vegetate.

Harry Wolf

Baltimore

As a baby boomer, I would like to add a few things that Richard O'Mara overlooked.

Ours is a generation born after World War II, living with the threat of nuclear destruction most of our lives. We watched the country tear itself apart in the Sixties with Vietnam, race riots and political assassinations.

We saw the only president in history to resign from office in the Seventies and the trauma surrounding that event. The Eighties introduced us to a virus called AIDS, and the Nineties have shown us that chemical and biological threats are every bit as real as the mushroom clouds we used to practice hiding from under our desks at school.

During our careers, we have been downsized, right-sized and outplaced.

We have watched while medical science has shown us that organs can be transplanted and lives prolonged while only years earlier death would have been certain.

We have marveled at the accomplishments of technology and space exploration. It was truly a thrill seeing one of our early heroes, John Glenn, return to space. Talk about refusing to age gracefully.

Boomers truly enjoy life. We are used to doing things, going places, questioning, striving and achieving. Get used to those facts and accept you will be hearing about us for a long time.

We want to spend whatever time remaining enjoying life rather than getting ready to die. It wasn't long ago that when you were 50 you accepted limitations and prepared to retire and die. (The O'Mara vision of life.) We reject that vision.

Barry Tollenger

Pasadena

Pub Date: 2/01/99

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