Northern District Photo Evokes MemoriesEditor...


December 29, 1990

Northern District Photo Evokes Memories

Editor: ''Remember,'' my father said to me, ''the policeman on the beat is your friend.''

His words came back to me when a photo of a familiar Victorian building caught my eye in The Sun recently. The 92-year-old Northern District police station is to be replaced.

In the late '20s I was a lower former at Gilman School. One fall day a message was brought to me from the headmaster's office. That in itself was cause for alarm, but the message changed alarm to panic. I was directed to report to the Northern District police station. There was no explanation.

I pondered my criminal record. There was a playground infraction -- and I was on report for shooting paper wads with a rubber band. But surely these offenses were not worth the notice of the Northern District police station. Besides, Gilman was pretty good at dealing with its own offenders.

In a ferment I endured the rest of my classes, and in the afternoon walked to the Keswick Road police station, pushed open the heavy door, entered and looked around. To the left was a platform with a high desk, from behind which a stern, blue-uniformed officer gazed on my insignificance.

''Well, son?''

I stated my name and waited, poor wretch that I was, to hear my crimes proclaimed and my doom pronounced.

The officer smiled, reached down behind the desk and produced a box of colored pencils on which I had scrawled my name and ''Gilman School.'' He handed them to me over the desk.

4 ''Take better care of them next time,'' he said.

An enormous wave of relief and gratitude surged over me. Dad had been right, as always: the police were my friends.

Even so, it was days before I could muster the courage to shoot another paper wad.

lex Armstrong.


HIV Risk

Editor: There has been much over-reaction regarding the unfortunate surgeon who died of AIDS. Due to massive public pressure (or is it panic?), there is now a flurry of activity in Annapolis concerning legislation to require the forced testing of physicians (and presumably all health care workers) for HIV exposure.

Before this backlash-type legislation is made law, the public should consider the following.

The populace is constantly exposed to persons infected with the HIV virus. A random sample of 2,000 people will likely yield at least two who are HIV positive. This means in our daily lives we exchange money, share cabs, buy clothes and eat food prepared by or served by individuals who are HIV positive. This is not meant to be a sensationalistic statement, but it is meant to place things in proper perspective.

To date there is only one case that is suspicious for the HIV virus being passed from doctor to patient. This transmission is not a surprise, for there are case reports of the hepatitis virus (a more easily transmitted virus) being passed from doctor to patient. But it does tell us that doctor-patient transmission will involve very few persons, likely less than five in the country per year.

But who would argue with legislation that would try to prevent any transmission of this deadly virus? Again, things need to be placed in proper perspective.

In the general population there are thousands (or is it tens of thousands?) of newly acquired HIV infections per year. These are happening the old-fashioned way, sex and drugs. From drug addicts to prostitutes to singles bars (heterosexual and homosexual), the populace has made no real attempt to control the spread of this disease.

This is why it is so hard for the medical community to accept the above-mentioned legislation. We are not a risk (even if HIV positive) to the community.

It is my feeling that society has two choices.

The first, do nothing. Consider HIV exposure as an acceptable risk and proceed with life.

The second, and the more rational, is to treat HIV as any other sexual/infectious disease, and proceed with widespread testing and education in accordance with known principles.

Above all, the legislature must not pass a hurried, simplistic law because of pressure brought by an uninformed and scared public.

Jeremy Weiner, M.D.



Public Subsidy

Editor: In reference to President Bush's recent initiative to limit the terms of members of Congress, I respectfully submit that a constitutional amendment is neither possible nor necessary.

In the first place, the Congress must initiate any amendment to the United States Constitution. Who in his right mind would believe that the Congress would vote to limit its own tenure in office? That would be like asking the Congress to vote itself a pay cut. Unthinkable.

There are other, simpler ways to accomplish the same objective.

For starters, outlaw cash contributions in any form from political action committees. Further, eliminate or severely restrict the free postage privilege accorded to incumbents. (There is already a law on the books that prohibits members of Congress from using the franking privilege to campaign, which they do anyway by sending out blatantly self-serving ''constituent newsletters.'')

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