LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Is death penalty worth the price?

If many people remain unconvinced that the death penalty is intrinsically evil, perhaps the results of the cost study of Maryland's death penalty by the Abell Foundation will convince them that the death penalty is not worthwhile ("Death penalty costs Md. more than life term," March 6).

I recently moved to Baltimore from out of state, and I am appalled by the number of murders and acts of violence reported daily.

Does anyone really believe that the fact that the state of Maryland has a death penalty is a deterrent to murder?

In our most thoughtful, truthful moments, I think most of us know that behavior is learned, and negative behavior is learned from having to live in a survival mode.

Wouldn't it make more sense if all that money now being poured into the sieve called the death penalty were directed toward changing some of the negative factors in society?

To creating good jobs for parents and young people - jobs that boost self-esteem can change family life?

To a better education for our children - one that includes peace studies?

To clean, safe neighborhoods where folks can share a little leisure time?

But these are an outsider's ideas.

I would like to suggest community organizing to find out from the people themselves what they need.

Together, we can make a difference. But let's put our efforts into bringing new life to Baltimore rather than taking life.

The death penalty does not contribute to creating a healthy society.

Sister Diane Bardol

Baltimore

The writer is executive director for the Murphy Initiative for Justice and Peace.

I think the study of the cost of the death penalty by the Urban Institute is seriously flawed because it fails to factor in the cost of human lives.

And what about the cost of a life when a prisoner serving a life sentence kills a guard or fellow inmate, or escapes and kills law enforcement officers and others?

If we eliminate the death penalty, a lifer could literally become a serial killer behind bars, knowing that no more severe penalty could be inflicted on him other than yet another meaningless life sentence.

Removing the death penalty would give more value to the life of a killer than to the lives of the innocent people he may go on to kill.

Loretta J. Willits

Dundalk

To all those who are in favor of using killing as a remedy to killing, I say that you cannot teach society not to hit by hitting.

You can't teach someone not to steal by stealing.

As Mother Teresa said, "Kindness has done more for humanity throughout time than all the zeal, eloquence and science" we've produced.

We teach our children by what we say and do.

Gary M. Nelson

Baltimore

Slicing up rights no path to equality

So it has come down to this? One person gets to determine what is on or "off the table" for our civil rights ("A new tack for gay rights," March 6)?

My children may get no legal parity because of a guy who can't decide whether he wants to praise the Lord or pass the legislation?

I just don't buy it. It's not that Sen. C. Anthony Muse's views aren't reprehensible - they are. I have sat in a Senate hearing room when he compared the quest for legal integrity for lesbians and gays to the slots dilemma, and recommended that both be put up for a vote.

But Mr. Muse isn't the only one who should get scrutiny for the current state of our affairs in Annapolis.

Legislators and lobbyists - gay and straight - who say that politics are incremental, and that you never get what you want without compromise, are facilitating his behavior but letting him take the fall.

You cannot slice a civil right into the sum of its parts. And my civil rights are not anyone's to give or take - only to restore or deny.

More than 15,000 gay and lesbian couples, more than 178,000 lesbian and gay adults and an untold number of children are disenfranchised by current Maryland law.

Fixing the problem does not require money or complex thinking. It simply requires that we treat everyone equally under the law.

Lisa M. Polyak

Baltimore

The writer was a plaintiff in Deane and Polyak v. Conaway, a lawsuit that sought to give lesbians and gays the right to marry in Maryland.

State can't redefine nature of marriage

"All men are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

So say our founding documents, and so believed our Founding Fathers, who understood it as "self-evident" that our rights derive from God, not from government.

Government, therefore, may not deprive us of or grant us any rights that nature and nature's God have not granted.

And nature and nature's God have ordained that marriage, which is the basis of the family, is a lifelong union between a man and a woman.

Government no more has the power to redefine marriage so that two or more people of the same sex may marry than it has to grant to men the right to bear children ("A new tack for gay rights," March 6).

What gays seek is to radically redefine marriage in their own image, not in the creator's image - a right that is not granted by nature and nature's God and therefore can never be granted by any government.

Joseph Melchor

Catonsville

Make civil unions available to all

The issue of marriage vs. civil unions seems very simple to me ("A new tack for gay rights," March 6).

All couples (gay, lesbian or straight) should be entitled to a civil union, with all the rights and protections of what we currently refer to as marriage.

Marriage should be an option for any couple, depending on the tenets of their religion.

If our nation is truly dedicated to the separation of church and state, this distinction between marriage and civil unions is an essential one.

Muriel Bullock Jones

Timonium

A green governor needs different car

The Chevrolet Suburban gobbles gas at an amazing 12 miles per gallon around town. Yet our supposedly green governor, Martin O'Malley, apparently has no qualms about cruising the town in this tank on wheels ("O'Malley: chauffeured in style," March 9).

Actions such as this belie the governor's verbal support for Maryland's Global Warming Solutions Act.

If Mr. O'Malley wishes to reduce carbon emissions, as his support for that bill suggests, he needs to change his transportation behaviors.

James Keck

Baltimore

Wow. The Chevy Suburban the governor is planning to buy looks like the biggest, meanest SUV on the road.

Doubtless it's a sweet ride. But it's not a hybrid.

The governor could easily demonstrate a commitment to the environment on the roads and at the pump.

Chevrolet also makes the Tahoe Hybrid SUV, which has been named the 2008 Green Car of the Year.

If the governor used that car, he could show loyalty to General Motors and demonstrate environmental leadership.

Susan Gillette

Baltimore

Budget woes imperil our access to care

The Sun's article "Md. revenue plunges" (March 7) notes that a $20 million reduction in Maryland's Medicaid budget is among the cuts proposed in response to declining state revenues.

At the same time, infant mortality in Maryland is on the rise, in part as a result of fewer women getting early prenatal care ("More babies frail, dying," March 7).

Furthermore, among the additional budget cuts under discussion in Annapolis is a $20 million cut in the medical malpractice insurance subsidies established to help keep doctors in specialties beset by excessive malpractice insurance premiums from leaving the state or leaving medical practice.

But Marylanders can be reassured that if they should have a bad medical outcome, there are ever-increasing numbers of personal-injury lawyers just a phone call away.

Dr. Mark Haas

Timonium

Put a smaller tax on all services

The writer of the letter "Tech tax helps meet state's fiscal needs" (March 8) hit the nail on the head when he noted that the tech tax "singled out just one sector to add to the list of services currently subject to the sales tax."

And therein lies the problem - either you tax or you don't tax. Choosing only one service industry to tax is a blatant violation of equality and fairness.

Why we do not put a much smaller tax on all services is a mystery to me.

Certainly, a smaller percentage of a larger pie would result in more funds to meet our fiscal needs.

Then, all the special-interest groups would be equally unhappy and our representatives would not have to bow to pressure from any group.

Edward Crook

Timonium

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