Too many prisoners? Ask Americans who now...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Too many prisoners? Ask Americans who now feel safer

I would like to respond to the Opinion Commentary article by Neal Peirce "Poignant letters from American jails" (Feb. 2). Mr. Peirce states that "we have made our streets safer" but he is disturbed that we have placed too many criminals in prison. What does Mr. Pierce advocate? That we return to a system of rehabilitation and lenient sentences?

I am sure Mr. Peirce and his feel-good attitudes toward criminals are welcome in liberal, out-of-touch circles. However, why doesn't Mr. Pierce ask the good citizens of cities such as New York, where the crime rate has fallen drastically over the past five years, if they would welcome the return of criminals who have committed "minor" offenses.

Perhaps Mr. Peirce can even purchase a home in one of these communities after some of his "rehabilitated" friends from jail are released. Maybe after his house is burglarized or he is robbed simply walking out of his house, he will realize that his sympathy for criminals is extremely naive.

Victor Creel, Baltimore

'Shadow of Clinton' column praised, panned

Bravo to Susan Reimer ("We scare ourselves with shadow of Clinton," Feb. 2) for articulating so well what many of us believe. "The baying hounds of the House of Representatives and the pompous, self-important senators" are totally oblivious that they are there, in those offices, as servants of the people -- not "masters."

As for the media, "their handmaidens in television and newspapers" -- Ms. Reimer has that take right as well. On and on, we see their arrogant, overeducated and overpaid lackeys pontificating into the night on this or that talk show, or call-in show, trying to convince us (voters with common sense) that Clinton must go. Trying, as Reimer observes, to "punish us" for not sharing their phony and supercilious "outrage."

Ms. Reimer's attitude and take is the most mature and enlightening I have seen anywhere in the media -- electronic or other, for some time. She ought to be heartily commended.

Philip A. Stahl, Columbia

Susan Reimer's Feb. 2 column was a breath of fresh air in the foul smelling stench being generated by independent counsel Kenneth Starr and his vituperative supporters in the Senate. Her remarks are full of practical common sense, something that seems to be woefully lacking in Washington.

Alphonse Chapanis, Towson

As much as we may deplore some of the political and media antics in this impeachment, there is much more at stake than a sexual escapade and cover-up.

Susan Reimer and other Sun writers and editors should read the Wall Street Journal's stark and historical account of President Clinton's crimes going all the way back to Arkansas. Many of these have been investigated by the special prosecutor, and may yet be the subject of criminal actions against Mr. Clinton after he leaves the presidency (probably two years from now).

However, Ms. Reimer and her children are involved in this matter simply because it involves the rule of law in our beloved nation. Perjury and obstruction are impeachable offenses, regardless of what Mr. Clinton's defenders may claim.

I would not want to grow old and have my children grow up in a country that has abandoned the rules of law. Mr. Clinton will no doubt "beat the rap" because of unwillingness of Democrats to vote against him. But he clearly deserves impeachment and removal, and our government would be derelict if it did not pursue it.

Franklin W. Littleton, Baltimore

Bad textbooks make learning more difficult

Amen to Marego Athans' and Gary Cohn's article ("It's in the book, and it's wrong," Jan. 31) on mistake-riddled textbooks. Major publishers persistently produce textbooks that look good on the surface, full of colorful, eye-catching illustrations, but fail to provide students with accurate, useful information.

However, the authors mistakenly state that Baltimore City schools almost spent "millions on unsuitable books" last year. While this may be true about the non-phonics-related reading series mentioned in the article, Baltimore did indeed spend a small fortune on other unsuitable books, particularly in the areas of high school algebra and geometry. The geometry and algebra textbooks are filled with errors and poor presentation of material. Yet teachers are required to use these faulty books in our classes.

Teresa Palomar, Baltimore

The writer teaches at Western High School.

I glanced at your cover story about school textbooks and am glad that someone is reporting on this issue.

Sadly, public school textbooks are woefully deficient -- full or fluff and hype yet lacking in substance and the fundamentals of the subject matter.

The educators cry that more money will solve the problems in public schools and then they turn around and make sweetheart deals with these textbook companies for grossly overpriced, illogical, unclear and often inaccurate classroom material.

Walter T. Kuebler, Baltimore

Rawlings should take a look at GOP presidential lineup

If Del. Howard P. Rawings thinks the announced list of candidates for mayor of Baltimore is frightening, he should look at the list of Republican candidates for president. There's Dan Quayle, the chicken hawk who can't spell; George W. Bush, the shrub, and Elizabeth Dole, the frozen mannequin. That's a Halloween horror line-up. Mr. Rawlings should turn his attention to preventing any of these mindless minions from becoming our next president.

Kay Dellinger, Baltimore

Beware the Word Police -- they're everywhere

George Orwell gave us the Thought Police. However, since we are well past 1984, we have to be extra careful not to fall afoul of the Word Police.

David Howard, an aide to the newly elected mayor of Washington, D.C., Anthony Williams, was forced from his post because he used the word "niggardly" in a sentence. Other officials took this as a racial slur and were aghast at his usage.

While it is true that some experts decry the use of the word because it may be misinterpreted as a racial slur, actually the term niggardly has nothing to do with, nor is it derived from, the dreaded "N" word (so loved by rappers and comedians).

To borrow a famous line from the movie "Cool Hand Luke," "What we have here is a failure to communicate." Perhaps Mr. Howard was a little negligent in his usage. After all, there are so many sensibilities one must take into consideration these days what with PC and Word Police afoot.

S. Gregory Edwards, Baltimore

Letter writer recalls time that never existed

"Conservatives," it is said, "live in a past that never was." A recent letter writer (Jan. 29) brought this slogan to mind with her statement: "In the past, as long as homosexuals stayed 'in the closet,' no one was uncomfortable. The don't ask, don't tell policy seemed to work well for all."

Not having to deal with open members of sexual minorities may have been comfortable for some self-deluding straight people; but living as an outlaw, having one's deepest desires and closest relationships treated as a shameful secret, being subject to losing one's job or housing if the "secret" were discovered has never, I can assure you, "worked well" for anyone.

It is only with the arrogance of the privileged and ignorant that someone who would prefer to see others live this way can state, "I truly sympathize with the plight of homosexuals."

Janet Goldstein, Baltimore

Who's paying the tab for Lewinsky's hotel?

Are taxpayers paying for the lavish style of Monica Lewinsky's stay at Washington's Mayflower Hotel?

Thomas W. Millenburg Jr., Parkville

Pub Date: 2/07/99

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