Mall shoppers leave Bill of Rights at homeOne key fact...

the Forum

October 29, 1991

Mall shoppers leave Bill of Rights at home

One key fact must be added to your editorial "Towson goes uptown" (Oct. 17) in praise of the turning of shopping malls "into the nation's new town squares."

Town squares, village greens, the Boston Commons and the Washington D.C. Mall are public property. Shopping malls are private property. They are owned and controlled by commercial interests quite legitimately for profit.

Essential to a democracy is the First Amendment right of citizens peaceably to assemble for redress of wrongs. It means that we can march, demonstrate, leaflet, hold silent vigils, carry banners and mount a "soap box" on public streets, squares and malls for partisan positions and causes.

Just don't try it in the modern shopping mall - "the new town square" - which draws the masses within its tinseled ambience. The Columbia Mall management explained as they called the police to evict us silent protesters to the Vietnam war years ago, "We can't permit any activity here which detracts from business." They won't even put up one community bulletin board locked under glass for citizen events and concerns. So much for new town squares - unless we demand a change.

Dick Rodes


Saving our cities

Incursions on the standard of living of low- and middle-income Americans have been slow but steady over the last couple of decades.

Too many of us behave as though there is no crisis - so long as I, my family, my job can somehow evade the ax.

In the nation or in Maryland, what strong voice is calling for a progressive income tax to tax the rich enough to avoid cutbacks?

Nationally - what strong voice is demanding that this "richest nation on Earth" set new priorities - end our hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, joblessness, poverty, violence and drug addiction before spending one tax dollar more on the military/industrial complex, bailing out the S&Ls and banks or paying off the national debt - usury to the rich?

Waiting for responsible leadership to appear and save us is like waiting for Godot, or waiting for Leftie. We had better do it for ourselves.

For starters, we could have our mayor and City Council, in our solidly united interests, declare all-out war on the federally orchestrated infringements, cutbacks and labor take-backs - by pledging the entire resources of our city government to inform, educate and mobilize through our school system, community organizations and trade union locals to recruit the entire city to march on Washington April 11.

A. Robert Kaufman


Unique situation

The Thomas hearings were proof of a great lack of objectivity among both Democrats and Republicans.

The majority of the Democratic senators were more than willing to believe Anita Hill's testimony. Republican senators were only too willing to question Miss Hill's testimony with the hope of finding something - anything - that might indicate she was lying.

Either Hill or Thomas could have been telling the truth, but one of them had to have been lying. Unfortunately, we may never know which one.

There is no reason why, because there were doubts in this particular case, other women bringing such charges will face similar treatment in the future. This was a unique situation.

Edith Boggs

Bel Air

Charity at home

President Bush once again showed how much he cares about the working American. Not much. He vetoed the extension of unemployment benefits. His veto was, as usual, sustained. This means 3 million out-of-work Americans, who have depleted their 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, will have nowhere to turn. The extension of 20 extra weeks would have helped pay the bills.

Although the $6.3 billion price tag would raise the deficit and break the budget agreement between the Congress and the White House, in the case of the 3 million out-of-work Americans, it would have been worth it. What I do not understand is how this president is willing to spend billions to bail out the S&Ls - and we dare not forget that Neil Bush was part of the S&L mess. Further, he has helped the Kurds in Turkey, not to mention Bangladesh. I remind the president that charity begins at home.

John A. Micklos


Sacred cow

Members of Congress have to run for re-election at regular LTC intervals. A president can only serve two terms. I don't think it is fair - in a democracy - to permit lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. Under our present system, a jurist who has unlimited tenure on the bench becomes a sacred cow who is not accountable to the public sector.

Joseph Lerner



I object to the idea that Judge Clarence Thomas should have been presumed innocent until proven guilty. Would the Senate's rejecting him have been a criminal conviction?

The Constitution specifies that Supreme Court appointments are to be made by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Clarence Thomas' charge of a "high-tech lynching" is the most pathetic thing I've heard.

The Senate should consider things that a jury in a criminal trial may not. Does anyone believe that if Judge Thomas had stonewalled President Bush on abortion the way he stiffed the Judiciary Committee, he would have been nominated?

Paul O'Brien


Freedom to pray

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear another prayer in public schools case this session. Already, presumably, each student and teacher may pray silently or vocally, by oneself or with others, inside or outside a schoolroom, at any time before class, without anyone imposing it and with everyone tolerating it, hence constitutionally.

To institutionalize a time when there is supposed to be prayer would be officious, for there now can be "the free exercise" of prayer. It would also - even with nonsectarian prayer - be an act "respecting an establishment of religion."

We must maintain the integrity of a liberty which assures religious freedom.

R.D. Reese


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