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Using the newspaper as an educational tool...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Using the newspaper as an educational tool is becoming difficult

This country's moral fiber is completely shredded. Violence in schools. Teachers molesting students. Drug-addicted parents neglecting and abusing their children. Honesty, integrity and justice are no longer something that we can depend on or believe in. The American public needs truth. The American public needs to know that children are respected and honored. The American public needs to know that family values and issues are a priority and major consideration in the process of the dissemination of news.

The newspaper was used to teach my brothers, sisters and me to read. I am positive this was not a unique experience. I'm not positive that this would be an accepted form of education for our children in this day and age.

How difficult it has become to find a news story that can serve as an educational tool and that reflects The Sun's awareness of the number of children who are in its audience and its community responsibility.

I imagine they speak more loudly and more flamboyantly than the average citizen, but we the people, as parents and grandparents, are concerned with the genuine lack of respect and honesty in the dissemination of news. We are concerned with media hype and the Hollywood-celebrity status of journalists/reporters, which demands embellishment of the facts to make the news newsworthy. We the people believe in freedom of the press, but we also believe, firmly, the press should be responsible to us. When the press infringes on our rights as grandparents, parents, educators and individuals to have a responsible, respectable news format to share with our families, our "freedom of press" is violated.

Deborah Russell, Lutherville

A city's history helps to define its uniqueness

Is the city of Baltimore to become a generic dot on the map?

The powers that be have put the City Life Museums up for sale. Carroll Mansion is part of that complex. Charles Carroll of Carrollton lived there. Along with being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, he played a significant role in the influence that Baltimore had in a developing young country.

Landmarks and historic homes define a city's uniqueness.

I'm a Baltimore tour guide. The mansion and the Shot Tower were places to take tourists. Believe it or not, visitors to our city are interested in its history. There is more to Bawlmer than sporting events and the Inner Harbor's attractions.

Jo Ann Cricchi, Catonsville

More readers react to Peirce column

Is Neal R. Peirce surprised that his desk is "awash with letters from inmates in prisons," after he, in one inmate's words, reported their viewpoint ("Poignant letters from American jails," Feb. 2)? In case he has forgotten, these inmates have a lot of idle time on their hands. They deserve it. Of course they will write to someone who seems to favor softening their sentences and giving them amenities.

These inmates knew very well that they were breaking the law by "possessing and/or selling" illegal drugs, no matter how small the quantity. It is the small quantities of drugs daily infused into the bodies of hordes of addicts that fuel the very violence that Mr. Peirce agrees is abhorrent.

Also, let's not forget the innocent victims of crime. Some of them have not written because they are too traumatized, are hospitalized and are comatose. Many have been brutally slain, gunned down by those in pursuit of the small quantities of drugs sold by the people with whom Mr. Peirce sympathizes. I wonder how poignant might a letter be from beyond the grave?

Thomas A. Coplin, Baltimore

Neil R. Peirce's Opinion Commentary article should serve to awaken American consciousness and conscience about our abominable prison system. Is it puritanical righteousness or is it racism which makes people call for more prisons rather than for true prison reform? Both attitudes are probably involved.

And what about a court of justice thatincarcerates a mother of small children for 25 years for possession of a small amount of drugs? The United States stomps about the globe, wagging its finger at governments with human rights violations. Where are our own human rights laws in our often absurd judicial system and in the hell holes of our prisons?

Mr. Peirce's article leaves me heavy-hearted, but I'm glad it was printed and only hope it will serve to touch the hearts and minds of those who can initiate badly needed change.

Elke Straub, Baltimore

How does U.S. policy impact the people of Iraq?

Included in our foreign policy is the destabilization of the government of Iraq for the stated purpose of ridding us of Saddam Hussein. While many argue the merits of toppling Iraq's leader, there is an unwillingness to discuss the impact of our policy on the Iraqi people.

Destabilization was the policy of foreign powers in Lebanon and that country's destruction. It has been the policy of foreign powers in numerous instances of genocide since World War II.

Destabilization, if we are honest about its meaning, is civil war and the killing of people, innocent and otherwise. It means the compounding of our pernicious policies, which have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people in that country and has earned the hatred of even its lowliest, most politically detached citizens.

Wanted: a single politician, college president, business leader who will stand up and call our policy what it is -- evil.

Herm Schmidt, Bradshaw

The worst thief is someone who steals the truth

My father and grandfather always instilled in me that a liar is the worst thief of all because he steals the truth. This is certainly true of our president, who should be thrown out of office and kept out of any other office.

My grandfather, a U.S. congressman from Maryland, also said: "Never go into politics because it will break your heart."

John T. Coady, St. Michaels

Imagine all the ways to spend $105.5 million

Imagine the possibilities if a corporation decided to spend $105.5 million to name a homeless shelter instead of a stadium. The shelter could be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and services such as health care, job counseling and literacy classes could be expanded.

With more than $100 million to play with, think of how many abandoned homes could be made livable again. Men, women and children all over the city would experience improved quality of life. They would have a place to live, a job to go to, a sense of self-worth, and maybe even be able to afford a football game once in a while.

Kate Pipkin, Baltimore

Harkin deserves credit as family farm supporter

As a native of Baltimore who lived in Iowa for seven years, I must take issue with the letter writer's assault on Sen. Tom Harkin ("Harkin should look at plight of hog farmers in Iowa," Feb. 1). While I support Mr. Harkin's recent procedural positions during the Senate trial, I am writing about his long-term record of support for both family farmers and the environment.

Mr. Harkin has worked steadfastly for Iowa family farmers (and their counterparts all over the nation) since before Monica Lewinsky was a toddler. To imply that just because he has been highly visible during the trial he has been neglecting his constituents is simply unfair.

In the last session of Congress, Mr. Harkin introduced legislation, the Animal Agriculture Reform Act, which would treat factory farms (including hog farms) like the industrial operations they really are. These large animal factories produce more than their fair share of pollution, while unfairly competing with genuine family farmers.

Mr. Harkin's legislation would help family farmers and protect our natural resources, such as our own Chesapeake Bay. We're all sick of the Senate trial, but let's give credit where it's due.

Jay Sherman, Baltimore

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 2/08/99

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