Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Courts still overlook domestic violence

It's important to see the two murders described in "Tales of domestic turmoil mark 2 Baltimore County shootings" (Sept. 18) in the context of the larger issue of domestic-violence homicides in Baltimore County and across the nation.

According to the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, in 2006, 12 people in Baltimore County were killed as a result of domestic violence. Those 12 victims represented just 17 percent of the state's death toll from domestic violence in 2006.

And the two murders reported in last week's article bring to four the number of domestic-violence-related homicides in Baltimore County The Sun has reported in the last two months ("Man faces murder charge in ex-girlfriend's shooting," July 31, and "Police charge man in woman's fatal stabbing," Aug. 8).

All too often, people think of domestic violence as a private matter and harangue the victim about why she or he didn't leave an abusive situation. But in both last week's shootings, the victims had left their abusers but were pursued and attacked.

While protective orders can be helpful for victims of abuse, the civil court that grants such orders has no power to keep victims safe by putting abusers in jail, the way a criminal court can.

Often victims seek protective orders in a civil court because the courts do not take the crime of domestic violence seriously. Domestic-violence cases rarely get prosecuted and, when they are prosecuted, abusers often serve little or no jail time and are sometimes merely sent to therapy.

Until the criminal justice system takes domestic violence seriously and puts abusers away, the victims will constantly be in danger, even after they leave their abusers.

Marie Lilly

Towson

The writer is a community educator for TurnAround Inc., a nonprofit group that aids victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

It's time to close Rosewood Center

As a person with a disability who is living in the community, I am appalled that other disabled people must live under the conditions at Rosewood Center described in The Sun's article "State health center faulted" (Sept. 14).

In light of the most recent report regarding the continued inhumane and unsafe conditions at the Rosewood Center, Gov. Martin O'Malley and his administration need to stop playing games and close down Rosewood Center once and for all.

The residents of Rosewood deserve to live out in the community, where they can become viable members of society. They need to have their rights protected as well as their bodies.

Maryland has the potential to be a great state. But that will only happen if we treat each other with dignity and give everyone access to the opportunities they need to grow and learn.

Aileen O'Hare

Montgomery Village

The writer is a member of The ARC of Montgomery County.

Establish limits for use of Tasers

A Sun headline reads "Taser video sparks free-speech debate" (Sept. 19). That video should also spark a debate about police methods.

A Taser is a potentially lethal weapon, not a labor-saving device. Its only legitimate use is to avoid worse violence: i.e., gunfire. It should never be used to help arrest an unarmed person, especially when several officers are engaged in the task.

The incident at the University of Florida clearly would not have justified police use of a firearm. Using a Taser in such a circumstance is an abuse of the victim's civil rights.

Last November, a student at the University of California at Los Angeles was "Tased" several times in an incident even more outrageous than the one in Florida.

We need to establish rigorous national standards for the use of these torturous devices.

Paul Romney

Baltimore

God has ordained limits on marriage

Both sides in the gay marriage debate have it wrong, dangerously wrong ("A civil right," editorial, Sept. 19).

Both sides seem to believe our elected representatives can define marriage. But this is not true.

God almighty, the God of the Bible, has defined, forever, marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

What God has decreed can never be changed - period, end of discussion.

John Lofton

Laurel

Senate filibusters demean democracy

Last week The Sun reported that majorities in the U.S. Senate had voted for bills that would have placed a limit on how often soldiers could be sent to Iraq ("Senate anti-war effort fails," Sept. 20), allow military detainees to challenge their detention in federal court ("Senate rejects detainee legislation," Sept. 20) and give the District of Columbia one voting member of the House of Representatives ("Measure to give D.C. a vote in Congress fails in Senate," Sept. 19).

All these bills were defeated despite majority support because Republicans had promised to filibuster them, and the bills' supporters lacked the 60 votes required to cut off debate and force a final vote.

The routine requirement of a super-majority to pass a bill in the Senate is anti-democratic.

As long as the Senate remains so closely divided, the filibuster will continue to allow the defeat of the majority by the minority - a spectacle likely to increase public cynicism about the state of our democracy.

John Anderson

Baltimore

Cleaner cars can be a boost for industry

The ruling by a federal judge in Vermont backing tougher standards for vehicle emissions underscores our growing awareness of the harmful greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere ("A boost for clean cars," editorial, Sept. 14).

And now the automakers have a golden opportunity before them, should they choose to perceive it as such: By embracing green strategies, they can not only become leaders in fuel-efficient automobiles but also revitalize an industry overwhelmed by financial difficulties and mounting layoffs.

By addressing vehicle emission standards and building more fuel-efficient cars, U.S. automakers could repair their image and their bottom line.

In this way, meeting environmental concerns and increasing revenues really can go hand in hand.

Maryanne Nobile

Gwynn Oak

Fresh food just one of Israel's wonders

As someone who travels frequently to Israel and keeps extensive logs of my trips for friends and family, I always seem to be mentioning the food. And Stephen G. Henderson's article and the fantastic photos that ran with it really captured the marvel of the freshness of the food everywhere in Israel ("Israel's bounty," Sept. 19).

When Israeli visitors try to re-create Israeli salads here, they always complain that our vegetables don't have just the right taste.

With its temperate climate and great produce and cheeses, figs and oils, Israel really is a wonderful place.

Terry M. Rubenstein

Baltimore

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