The Baltimore Sun

Clothesline Project gives victims a voice

Glenn Sacks' column "'UM right to deny protesters a forum to publicly name alleged rapists" (Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 15) contained misinformation about the Clothesline Project and failed to accurately portray the reality of sexual assault survivors who report the crimes against them.

The Clothesline Project is not, as Mr. Sacks suggests, a project that encourages women "to rage at the patriarchy" and therefore unintentionally encourages "young women to make spurious accusations."

It is a visual display of T-shirts that carry the stories of survivors of domestic violence, rape, incest and other crimes of violence against women.

The purpose of the Clothesline Project is to bear witness on behalf of the survivors, to help with the healing process for survivors and their loved ones and to document and raise society's awareness of violence against women.

The power of the Clothesline Project lies in its grassroots approach, which allows us to break the silence about the violence in our community.

Even if the statistics that Mr. Sacks cites are correct - that 40 percent to 60 percent of reported rape allegations are false - that would still leave many women's lives forever changed for the worse by sexual assaults.

But according to the U.S. Department of Justice, false allegations of sexual assault occur at the same rate as false allegations of other violent crimes, at just 2 percent of charges.

And just because there is a low conviction rate for alleged sexual offenders does not mean those crimes did not occur.

Survivors often change their mind because they are embarrassed or ashamed.

In Baltimore, witness intimidation is a huge problem, and the accuser's life may be in danger if she cooperates with the prosecution and testifies.

I urge the University of Maryland, College Park to take sexual assault on campus seriously and not to sweep allegations of rape and sexual assault under the rug.

Victims have a right to have their experiences validated by the university. And sex offenders and rapists need to be held accountable for their actions.

Erin Boguski


The writer is a member of the board of the Baltimore chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Naming the accused unfair to innocent

Thank you for printing Glenn Sacks' column "UM right to deny protesters a forum to publicly name alleged rapists" (Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 15). It is mind-blowing that radical feminists are attacking the University of Maryland, College Park for not sponsoring a forum to name alleged rapists on campus.

What about the accused who are innocent?

Every month, we read of another man cleared by DNA after years of imprisonment on a false rape charge.

And they are just the tip of the iceberg. Even without a conviction, false accusations can destroy a person emotionally and in every other way.

The social science studies about false rape claims cited by Mr. Sacks are much more reliable than data based on crime reports, which reflect only the number of sexual assault charges proved to be false.

While not every recanted sexual assault charge is a false claim, not every non-recanted charge is a true one.

The problem of false charges of sexual abuse is very real. It's just not politically correct to talk about it.

Marc E. Angelucci

Los Angeles

The writer is president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Coalition of Free Men.

Wrong time to raise genocide question

Does Congress have nothing to do but rehash something that happened almost 100 years ago ("Armenia genocide resolution falters," Oct. 17)? With taxpayers' money?

Genocide has happened throughout the ages, and many peoples have been its victim. But during the massacres of the Armenians, Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire.

In the 1920s, Kemal Ataturk modernized Turkey, and it has become a friend of the United States.

We need that friendship in today's war on terror. So why bring up this genocide issue now?

Clara Geher

Owings Mills

Trashing old TVs will be huge mess

Kudos to Mike Himowitz for writing several columns regarding the law that will require everyone in the country to convert to digital TV by early 2009 ("Digital TV switch to generate ad blitz," Oct. 18).

In addition to the fact that this law places needless financial burden on families, it will also create an environmental nightmare.

What will happen to the millions upon millions of analog TVs that become useless?

Can our current landfills safely accommodate them? And don't these TVs contain chemical elements that, if not dealt with properly, could easily contaminate our drinking water and the bay?

Has Congress developed a plan to protect the environment from the impact of this law? And if so, what is that plan and how much will it cost us in time, money and manpower?

Yvonne Bender


Magnolias multiply right in the city

Bigleaf magnolias have already been happily naturalized in Baltimore at the Cylburn Arboretum ("Howard Co. tree grows into spotlight," Oct. 13). They're all over the place on some of the trails.

Given that Cylburn is an arboretum, I assume that the original magnolia population was intentionally introduced there. But the trees have definitely taken off on their own.

This native tree deserves to be planted more in Maryland. Its flowers are truly spectacular.

Kenneth Sander

York, Pa.

Raising awareness of dogs, disabilities

I raise Labrador retrievers to be guide dogs, and it was wonderful to read about others who raise dogs ("Caution: Dogs at work," Oct. 16).

It seems that people with disabilities are sometimes shunned by society because they are different.

But since I've started raising dogs, I've tried to raise awareness about people with disabilities to get rid of the prejudices.

It is wonderful to see an article in a major newspaper about the work that goes into raising these dogs. And I hope it will help show that people with disabilities are approachable and no different from the rest of us.

Laura Levitt

Owings Mills

The writer is a senior at the McDonogh School.

Where would critics cut state budget?

The writer of the letter "Public can't afford state spending spree" (Oct. 15) complained about the level of state spending and stated that spending should be cut.

But I think it's way past time for the cut-spending crowd to put up or shut up.

How much longer are we, the citizens of Maryland, going to have to wait to have the schools, roads and bridges that have been neglected for years upgraded and repaired?

Advocates of spending cuts should tell us what spending they would cut and how much.

If you can't do that, just pay your taxes so we can get on with state business.

Ed Weglein


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