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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Why harass adults for sex transactions?

Steve Chapman has it exactly right in his column about prostitution ("The real scandal is that it's illegal," Opinion

Commentary, March 17).

There would definitely be no space left in the country's jails if the anti-prostitution laws based on puritanism and hypocrisy were enforced against all practitioners of the sex trade (buyers and sellers alike).

But why should they be? Why should adult, consenting buyers and sellers of sex be harassed in this way by an overly controlling, Big Brother government?

As Mr. Chapman says, all the threat of enforcement of anti-prostitution laws does is drive the industry and practice underground and make government protection of valid public safety interests more difficult.

Surely there are some cases of sexual slavery in which women are forced to sell sex against their will. Minors need protection as well.

Those are legitimate areas of concern for those in the industry and government alike.

But driving the industry underground will not make it easier for our governments, at any level, to combat sexual slavery and protect minors, or to protect the health of the large number of people who are going to engage in commercial sex whether we like it or not.

Sexual activity, I contend, ought to be the business of only the consenting adults involved and their spouses.

Whether the practitioners are governors, U.S. senators or members of the clergy, it should be no one else's business.

Kenneth A. Stevens

Savage

Better sex education boosts teens' health

We must do more to prevent teens from contracting sexually transmitted infections, not just as a response to new data showing that one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection but because it is good medical practice ("Too many infections," editorial, March 13) .

Programs that help adolescents reduce their risk of such infections are also effective at decreasing teen pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies.

As a community, we have an obligation to help young women and men grow into healthy adults.

Offering teens comprehensive sex education supported by school-based health clinics that stay open in the summer months would be two steps in the right direction.

Dr. Catherine Cansino

Perry Hall

The writer is a fellow for Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

Trade with China fuels repression

The violence in Tibet is a reminder that there is indeed a heavy price for the seemingly cheap goods we buy from China. Our purchases fuel one of the world's most oppressive governments.

Although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Beijing to "release monks and others who have been detained solely for the peaceful expression of their views," her words alone are not enough ("Violent Tibet protests spreading in China," March 17).

We need to stop buying Chinese imports until they start buying our best export: democracy.

And what if the United States were to boycott this summer's Olympics in China?

Geoffrey Bond

Timonium

Late lobbyist set ethical standard

I was pleased to read C. Fraser Smith's well-deserved tribute to Jim Doyle, Maryland's No.1 all-time lobbyist ("A proud lobbyist and lawyer from Baltimore," Opinion

Commentary, March 16).

I grew up with Mr. Doyle, and later worked as a lobbyist at the same time he did, although clearly not at his level.

Mr. Doyle truly set the standard for the profession, although sadly it is a standard that is not followed by many other lobbyists.

He was always honest, credible, well-prepared and straightforward with legislators.

He exemplified the proper ethics many in this profession lack.

He will be sorely missed in Annapolis.

Jim Gentry

Towson

Art shouldn't block our access to park

I am very pleased to see that there will be an interactive exhibition by local artists in Mount Vernon Place ("Art finds way to park," March 18). However, as a resident of Mount Vernon, I think the gold chain-link fence blocking all access to the park is ill-advised.

As the artist himself acknowledged on his Web site, many people in the neighborhood use the park every day, particularly dog owners who have no other place to walk their dogs on grass nearby.

I walk home from work downtown, and am always pleased to see the park and the people in it.

I am excited to see the final art installations. But the chain-link fence project should be cut short.

Please open the fence and allow us access to our park.

Hugh Williams

Baltimore

Don't dip the flag to sacred symbols

The writer of the letter "Dipping flag just an etiquette issue" (March 19) argues that dipping the flag to the cross at the Naval Academy is about flag etiquette.

I would submit that dipping of the flag both denotes and connotes more than that.

Dipping or bowing is a sign of subservience, except when it is done by both parties involved.

Our flag should not bow to any religion.

Allan G. Scott

Towson

Linking slots, schools is unfair to teachers

It was outrageous but sadly predictable that state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller threatened teachers with the budget ax if they refused to fall into line and join his crusade to flood Maryland with slot machines ("Miller presses teachers for help on slots," March 14).

By accepting tens of thousands in campaign dollars from gambling interests, Mr. Miller has put himself in a position in which he is beholden to gambling industry insiders and their lobbyists.

But when he threatens teachers and schoolchildren in another bid to push the gambling agenda, he goes too far.

The obligation to provide our children a first-rate education is not only the state's highest constitutional priority but our highest budgetary priority. It should and must be the very first item funded in any state budget.

Mr. Miller apparently intends to put the wants of gambling lobbyists before the needs of schoolchildren, and Marylanders should be simply furious.

Aaron Meisner

Baltimore

The writer is president of StopSlotsMaryland.

It's sad to see that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has stooped to playing politics with the children of Maryland.

Perhaps someone should inform Mr. Miller that the future of our children is too important to be held hostage for an ill-conceived gambling referendum.

The schooling of our next generation is a responsibility shared by all citizens.

It's high time that politicians in Annapolis had the courage to propose that we support this together with fair and equitable taxation, as opposed to addicting people to gambling.

David Chipkin

Odenton

If we tie school funding to slots revenues, Marylanders will dodge an inconvenient moral issue and invite a parasitic industry to our state.

I think all of us need to reject slots in the coming referendum and demand that school funding be increased and protected.

Let us be the champions, not the enemies, of Maryland's public school children.

Cy Fishburn

Baltimore

In The Sun's article "Miller presses teachers for help on slots," state Comptroller Peter Franchot is quoted as saying, "Slots are forever; the budget problems we have are temporary."

The comptroller needs to catch up on his reading - especially the Governmental Accountability Office report released in January titled "State and Local Governments: Growing Fiscal Challenges Will Emerge during the Next 10 Years."

It projects that over the medium term, Medicaid costs will increase faster than revenues will grow.

Indeed, this is the consensus view among fiscal experts, and it matches trends over recent decades.

So even if the current deficit is eliminated by means other than slots, it won't be long until the state is again confronted by the need to cut Medicaid, cut other spending or raise revenues to prevent those cuts.

Roy T. Meyers

Catonsville

The writer is a professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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