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The death penalty: a deterrent to killing,...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The death penalty: a deterrent to killing, or an atrocity?

I was shocked to read The Sun's editorial calling on Gov. Parris N. Glendening to reconsider his position on capital punishment CA halt to executions is in order for Maryland," May 15).

I felt the editorial was particularly inappropriate and untimely in view of the record-break-ing pace of killings in Baltimore this year, despite Mayor Martin O'Malley's aggressive initiatives to stem the slaughter.

I also disagree with TheSun's conten-tion that the death penalty is no deterrent to murder.

What greater deterrent can there be for would-be, murderers than the knowledge that, if they are caught, convicted and sentenced to death, they will forfeit their life?

And, in an age of sophisticated crime detection technology and medical advances that are unlocking the mysteries of DNA, murder suspects are given every opportunity to prove their innocence.

Law-abiding taxpayers should not have to bear the lifetime burden of feeding and caring for the most contemptible members of society.

Albert E. Denny, Baltimore

The Sun is to commended for its stand against capital punishment. The death penalty is arbitrary, capricious, premeditated and cannot be made fair.

In continuing to use the death penalty, the United States stands virtually alone among civilized countries. And, to our shame, this country also stands alone in executing children.

The United States is also the only country where the electric chair, which kills slowly and painfully, is still in use.

Of the 17 people on Maryland's death row, 13 are African-American and all are from poverty.

These facts speak volumes.

Gerald Ben Shatgel, Reisterstown

Government, not business, exercises coercive control

The Sun's usually accurate reporter Lyle Denniston made a serious if seemingly small slip in his report on Microsoft's proposed remedy for its alleged antitrust violations ("Microsoft offers plan for remedy," May 11).

"Under its proposal, Microsoft would not be allowed to force other software companies or computer manufacturers to give up competing systems," he wrote.

One of the worst injustices of our ugly antitrust laws is that they equate voluntary private action with the coercive actions of governments.

The Microsoft case illustrates this clearly. Millions of computer purchasers made choices, uncoerced by any gun or threat, and hundreds.of companies and manufacturers chose to accept the terms of a business negotiation.

There is here no shred of force here --no more than when anyone insists on a condition on any transaction between consenting parties.

It is one of Marxism's legacies that people regard a businessman who produces something they want as someone who forces them to accept certain terms. But one could as easily argue that the consumer forces the businessman to produce what he or she wants.

It is rather the government, with its array of police power, taxing authority and enforcement agencies which introduces force into the affairs of men.

John L. Pattillo, Lutherville

Bush's judgment on guns isn't very reassuring

Texas Gov. George W. Bush recently said, in response to questions about possible National Rifle Association (NRA) influence on a Bush presidency, that he would "make judgments based upon how I think America can be a safer place" Clinton, Bush, Gore vie on gun safety, May 13).

As governor of Texas, Mr. Bush signed bills that made it legal to carry concealed weapons andiimited suits against firearms manufacturers.

If this is not a sign of NRA influence, then the governor's judgment is downright perverse.

We need to let the him know that Americans will no longer tolerate such a lack of judgment in our leaders.

William Jenkins, Bel Air

Palestinian rioters Show little interest in peace

After reading The Sun's front page on the rioting of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, I wonder how long the Israeli government and the United States will believe that the Palestinians desire peace ("West Bank, Gaza erupt," May 16).

It is particularly ironic that, in response to "frustration over stalled negotiations" (peace negotiations of course), Palestinians rioted and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces. This is hardly a gesture of peace.

How can the Israeli government and public view the Palestinians and their leaders, in particular chairman Yasser Arafat, as people who desire peace when this is their response?

The Israeli public is forced to live in constant fear of mass terrorism and death from these peaceful people.

It is time for the Israelis to maintain the land that is theirs -- and not give in to such violent threats.

Benjamin Insel, Pikesville

Women can still sue abusers -- in state courts

I was very disappointed in the headline and lead paragraph of The Sun's article about the Supreme Court's decision on the Violence Against Women Act ("Women can't sue rapists, court ys, " May 16).

The decision did not mean, as the headline implied, that victims of rape may not sue their attackers. The decision merely means that such suits cannot be brought in federal court.

In fact, the court's opinion supports the proposition that state court suits are the appropriate remedy for women who are victims of rape. But neither the headline nor the lead paragraph of the article mentioned this fact.

This important right of Maryland women should have been prominently mentioned.

Joel L. Simon, Reisterstown

An economic boom rooted in sand?

With a trade deficit of $268 billion for 1999, we must realize that the United States no longer produces anything, but is stealing from the rest of the world to survive ("U.S. deficit set record in Feb.," April 20).

This so-called economic boom of ours is rooted in debt that will lead to our own destruction-- and the world's.

When the crunch comes, we won't be able to eat our worthless dollars or information to survive.

Euchlich McKenna, Reisterstown

Cheaper prescription drugs can shortchange beneficiaries

While I don't agree with her politics, I must commend Betsy McCaughey for her column warning of the dangers of government bureaucrats determining which drugs will be provided patients ("Seniors must be wary of false claims in Rx drug bill," Opinion M-7 Commentary, May 15).

All but unnoticed, except by those affected, this year the cutbacks Ms. McCaughey predicted have affected me and my wife.

One of my entitlements as a military retiree is having my family's prescriptions filled at the pharmacies of military medical facilities.

Yet, when I took in prescriptions for Lipitor and for Norvasc, I was told those drugs were no longer available because of budgetary considerations.

Lipitor had kept my wife's cholesterol level at acceptable levels for more than a year, but the substitutes recommended by the Department of Defense's bureaucrats provided no control.

This disgraceful episode should provide a warning to seniors and others who look to government to provide their medicines: When some bean-counter objects to the cost of first-quality drugs, beneficiaries could wind up with obsolete artd ineffective substitutes. We did.

Chuck Frainie, Woodlawn

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