No 'justice' for Mandela in South AfricaYour editorial...

the Forum

May 21, 1991

No 'justice' for Mandela in South Africa

Your editorial, "Clemency for Mandela" (May 15), implies a dangerous conception of "justice." You say, "Despite South Africa's discriminatory criminal justice system . . . even Mrs. Mandela's attorneys conceded she had received a fair trial."

As an aside, let it be noted that Mrs. Mandela herself has made no such concession. And what else could the lawyers do? Impolitic speech in South Africa is a crime.

If, as you say, discriminatory "justice" yielded a "fair" trial, then the distinction between the two concepts is obliterated. The confused conception of justice which emerges is not incompatible with legally constituted slavery, so long as it is consistently or fairly administered.

No! Justice must be conceived absolutely; and sit in judgment of fairness on a case-by-case basis. The South African judicial process deserves no more deference than that of any other fascist regime. Justice cannot be subordinated to provincial notions of fairness. Otherwise, there would have been no legitimate rejoinder to the Nazi defense at Nuremberg: "I was obeying duly constituted laws!"

Gregory Lewis



I think that Helen Alvare (Forum, May 15) deliberately distorts Sara Engram's column, and that reveals the true nature of the anti-abortion campaign.

Ms. Alvare says that Ms. Engram implies that unborn human beings . . . are not "human lives." Since their humanity is not open to dispute, she means that there is "less value in their lives."

This is like saying that because good steaks are very rare, you shouldn't order one well-done. The humanity of the fetus is not at issue; it's the individuality that matters.

It may be beyond dispute that a fetus would become a human, but many see it as a glorified organ of the mother. A fetus doesn't breathe, but relies on its mother's lungs for the breath of life.

If I were to descend to Ms. Alvare's level, I might ask if the Catholic bishops she represents have stopped beating their wives yet. Just as it is wrong for me to assume that they had started beating them, it is wrong for her to assume that Ms. Engram believes a new life begins at conception.

If Ms. Alvare were truly concerned about the ethical implications TC of people's policies, she would not make such assumptions which cast them in the worst light possible. This attack is political in nature, and the issue is control of women's lives.

Paul O'Brien

The writer is director of social concerns for the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.

More tolls needed

It seems neither the state nor county has the money or desire to pay the maintenance costs of the draw bridge at Kent Narrows. So instead of continuing the "War with the Shore," why not allow Queen Anne's County to erect toll facilities on Route 50 to generate the much-needed revenue? I'm sure a toll of 25 cents would generate a respectable cash flow.

But let's not forget the other rural counties in the state. Why not allow Washington County to generate a little extra revenue. Wouldn't a pair of toll bridges into Ocean City help pay some of the cost for beach replenishment programs?

Anyone who has traveled to the New Jersey shore, Florida or any other resort area will find tolls are not only accepted but welcomed. Why not here?

Timothy P. Aland


A safe bank

Ross Hetrick's article (Evening Sun, May 9) on the Bank o Baltimore's chief Harry L. Robinson tells it all. As a depositor, I believe this bank is the safest in Maryland. Come to the bank in Pikesville on check day or weekends and see elderly citizens in line. This bank came through the Depression with not a cent lost.

I will draw out all money and my IRA and so will others when we get Hale, Rasmussen and the Union Trust man in power for financial gains only. Let the depositors vote for whom they want.

Milton Goldberg


The home front

There has been much rejoicing over the homecoming of service men and women from the gulf. That is all well and good; but let us not forget we have a battlefield right here in the U.S. I am referring to the many social ills.

To begin with: The reign of terror and death not to mention the drug problem in our streets and cities has reached a crescendo. They are crippling our society and becoming a festering problem. Poverty is a moral and social disgrace. The poor are weeping in the playtime of the rich. One in five children in Maryland is chronically hungry; 11.5 million people in the U.S. live below the poverty level. With regard to education, if another country had done to its education what the U.S. has done to itself, it would have been looked upon as an act of war.

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