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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Disabled drivers applaud crackdown

I have one response to the crackdown described in the article "Sweep hits handicap-tag abuse" (Sept. 20) - what took so long?

As a result of higher fines, most people seem to have gotten the message about illegally parking in disabled parking spaces without a handicap plate or hangtag. So the most rampant abuse of the system today is people using hangtags that belong to other people.

The crackdown the article described resulted in the confiscation of 14 placards. Imagine the number forfeited if a crackdown were conducted statewide?

As a disabled driver, I've had to change the hours when I go to the grocery store or mall because all the disabled parking spaces are usually occupied on evenings and weekends.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has not made the world entirely accessible - many obstacles still remain.

But what infuriates the disabled is that the lazy, unethical people who abuse the hangtags are creating another obstacle for the disabled to endure.

Deborah Meyers

Columbia

Racism still festers in so many spheres

As The Sun's editorial "Time-warped justice" (Sept. 21) suggested, "The specter of black men and boys being treated more harshly than their white peers by the criminal justice system in a historical pattern that persists to this day is why this case deserves the nation's collective attention - and condemnation."

But the question is: Why has it taken so long for mainstream media outlets to bring this incident to the public's attention?

Racism, white supremacy and discrimination are engrained in every fiber of this nation. Unless this disease is eradicated from our education, employment, finance, health care and criminal justice systems, it will continue to fester until it ultimately destroys this nation.

Olatunji Mwamba

Baltimore

Anger over 'Jena 6' appears misplaced

Surely, a noose hung on a tree limb might be interpreted as a hateful racial act.

The adolescents who allegedly hung that noose in Jena, La., should be disciplined and should make amends to those offended by such a hateful act.

But for six adolescent African-Americans to beat up one white adolescent is an offense in a different category ("Thousands rally for 'six,'" Sept. 21).

Such an attack is called assault, and it is a crime.

So I'm having some trouble understanding the rage for "justice" expressed by the black community.

Hateful actions must be responded to by the community, but the justice system must also respond to an assault.

And where is the rage over black-on-black crime?

Let's get our priorities straight.

Jeannette Ollodart Marx

Towson

America should show love for Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is, at best, a loose cannon and, at worst, a very dangerous man ("Iran's president tries to defuse tensions," Sept. 24). But most Americans profess to be Christians, and Jesus taught the importance of loving our enemies.

Would it have been so terrible to have allowed Mr. Ahmadinejad to lay that wreath at Ground Zero?

Better yet, would it have been so terrible to have treated him as a person who, if not honorable, is human - and therefore worthy of our love?

Who knows? It is even conceivable he might have been changed, however minimally, by such a response.

Unfortunately, we will never know. What we do know is that by rejecting his request, we have moved one small additional step toward war.

And that is very sad.

Stanley L. Rodbell

Columbia

Insulting leader shamed Columbia

During his introduction of his guest speaker, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger shamed his university, all U.S. academic communities and American traditions of respect and civility by insulting the president of Iran ("Iranian president gets hot reception," Sept. 25).

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by contrast, showed patience and dignity in sitting politely and taking in all the insults thrown at him.

Indeed, in his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad showed more respect for the university's traditions, faculty and students than Columbia University's president did.

A. Montazer

Reisterstown

Gay neighbors really aren't that different

In light of the recent marriage ruling that firmly cements gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people as second-class citizens, I have a question for those applauding this decision: Do you really expect those people to disappear or skulk away into the shadows ("Decision stuns plaintiffs," Sept. 19)?

If so, please don't be so naive. We are going to continue doing what we have always done, living our lives much the way you do. We'll get up in the morning and go to work or to school or to church.

You may not realize it, but we are your neighbors, your relatives and your friends.

We might even be that nice person in the car who lets you merge into traffic, or the person who holds the door for you at the restaurant.

And yes, we take our families "downy ocean, hon'" for long weekends in Ocean City in the summer.

So you see, maybe we all have a little more in common than you thought; maybe we really aren't so different after all.

Shannon Lowe

Parkville

Separate church, state roles in unions

How did the government get in the business of defining marriage ("Decision stuns plaintiffs," Sept. 19)? That's church business. For the protection of the church, let's adhere to the notion that the church and the state should remain separate.

The government needs to license civil unions (for a fee large enough to deter impulsive unions).

Those licensed unions should afford those involved all the rights that those in any other kind of domestic union enjoy.

Then, with license in hand, couples could go to their chosen religious institution to request that their union be recognized as a marriage by whichever God they choose.

In this way, we can take this non-issue out of the purview of political debate and let those running for office focus on issues that concern us all.

Ben Cohen

Owings Mills

Public transit proves to be better choice

As a loyal transit user, I was delighted to hear that public transit served Michael Dresser well when he was unable to drive ("Public transit is not a bad backup," Sept. 17). I was particularly pleased that his light rail trip was pleasurable.

I decided a decade ago that I wasn't going to live anywhere in the Baltimore metropolitan area unless it was served by light rail.

Mr. Dresser's account illustrates why transit activists wish to see every community well served by public transit.

Indeed, I've decided to make the car my backup.

Transit has proved to be more enjoyable, healthy and convenient and less expensive.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.

Baltimore

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