LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Mental illness isn't linked to violence

The Sun's article "Hospitals face intrusion of violent world into facilities" (July 17) highlighted a violent event that took place in the Howard County General Hospital's Emergency Department. The article suggests a link between violent incidents and people with mental illness, despite the fact that there are no indications that those involved in the violence are or were mentally ill.

As a forensic psychiatrist and former director of the psychiatric emergency service at University of Maryland Medical System, I recognize that one must always be concerned about the risk posed by individuals with cognitive, mood or psychotic disorders, especially in an emergency setting where little may be known about the patient.

However, in my experience, individuals who are actively using controlled substances, whether mentally ill or not, are far more likely to pose a threat of violence than are those who are not using such substances. And mental illness alone poses relatively little risk over and above the risk posed by the general population.

My experience is largely borne out in the psychiatric research literature.

This does not mean that one should not always be on his or her guard. While violence is rare in an emergency room, it does happen and people working in such settings must remain vigilant at all times.

But the best solution to this problem is prevention -- which can almost always be accomplished by ensuring that staff take detailed histories from patients and, most importantly, that people are treated with respect -- a commodity often missing in a busy emergency department.

Dr. Erik Roskes

Sykesville

Kane gives Bush too much credit

Gregory Kane suggests that President Bush should be given more credit for what he's done for African-Americans ("NAACP ought to give Bush some credit," July 19).

As an example, he cites a New York Times article indicating that "homeownership among black Americans was less than 43 percent before 1995, rose to 49.7 percent in 2004, and dipped only a wee bit to 48.8 percent in 2005."

It seemed odd to use figures that begin in 1995, when the president took office in 2001. So I looked up the data on the Web.

Sure enough, in 2001, black home ownership was 47.7 percent. This means that more than three-quarters of the improvement Mr. Kane attributes to the president took place before he became president.

After 2001, the figures, according to the U.S. Census Bureau are 47.4 percent for 2002, 48.1 for 2003, 49.1 for 2004, and 48.2 for 2005

Thus, during the president's term there has been hardly any further improvement in the percentage of black home ownership.

Put another way, the "wee" decline in 2005 wiped out most of the "improvement" during the president's term.

Mr. Kane should select his facts more critically.

Could it be that he is as biased in favor of the president as he says the NAACP is against him?

Joseph B. Margolick

Baltimore

It's right to fight razing Rochambeau

I'd like to commend Baltimore Heritage Inc. and its attorney, John Murphy, for their continued attempt to save the Rochambeau ("Groups fight for Rochambeau," July 22).

Not only does it look like the Archdiocese of Baltimore will demolish another part of Baltimore's vanishing history but the church would not be putting the land and property at its very best and highest use.

Why not renovate the building as short-term living units for those who travel to Baltimore to study, vacation and be near the historic Basilica?

The top floor could be gutted and completely opened up as an observatory and information center to enhance the destination.

Besides, why would anybody want to put a prayer garden on this noisy, well-traveled corner?

Robert H. Paul

Baltimore

Lebanese casualties win little concern

As an American citizen, I am also confused about this new conflict between Israel and Lebanon ("New conflict in Mideast confounds U.S. and Israel," July 23).

And I am beginning to feel very uncomfortable concerning the imbalance in our treatment of the issues that are important to Israelis and those critical to Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world.

What I see in the news is the destruction of the infrastructure of a whole country (Lebanon) instead of the punishment of the extremists in that country.

Yet nobody seems to care about the many Lebanese civilians killed, as if some dead human beings were less important than others.

And politicians in both parties talk as if the interests of our country were identical with those of Israel.

If war is hell, as a general once said, why do we, as human beings, still continue supporting war to deal with human conflicts?

Jaime Lievano

Baltimore

This time let Israel finish its enemies

The writer of "U.S. inaction adds fuel to Mideast fire" (letters, July 18) is absolutely correct when he observes that "in previous instances, when war broke out between Israel and its neighbors, or when Israel felt compelled to launch retaliatory invasions, the United States and other world powers sought to contain the conflict through cease-fires and negotiations."

This has happened over and over again. Indeed, whenever Israel has begun to achieve success in confronting the forces of hatred and violence, the international community has put a stop to it.

Isn't it time to stop this useless cycle?

Should we once again ask Israel to cease operations while giving it worthless international "guarantees" of peace that allow the terrorists and their supporters to rearm?

How many lives have to be lost before we let Israel take care of the problem once and for all?

Andrew Goldfinger

Baltimore

Perhaps war dead would prefer past

The comment by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that she has "no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante" makes one wonder if the hundreds of men, women and children consumed in the latest slaughter might be interested in a return to the earlier status quo -- that is, being alive?

Mark Laughlin

Baltimore

Rugby is the game for genteel ruffians

As an alumnus of Rugby School, where the game was invented, I was pleased to read Karen Blum's article on women's rugby ("Tough enough," July 21). However, she managed to get the celebrated quotation the wrong way around.

The phrase she uses to describe rugby, "A gentleman's game played by ruffians" is actually the traditional description of the subtlety and refinement of soccer, which in Britain is favored mainly by the working classes.

As a game of brute force taught in elite prep schools, rugby is the opposite: "a game for ruffians played by gentlemen."

Or, in this case, by ladies.

Roger Brunyate

Baltimore

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