Gag rule limits the freedom of speechWhy hasn't there been...

the Forum

December 05, 1991

Gag rule limits the freedom of speech

Why hasn't there been more hue and cry from the American public? The government's "gag rule" has limited our freedom of speech, our access to full and complete medical information, and it is manipulating the minds of a vulnerable sector of our society.

Abortion is not the issue. The issue is whether health officials at clinics that receive any federal aid are allowed to privately discuss, or even mention, the legal medical options.

What would you think of a foreign government that imposed restrictions on what its people could say in private? Further, what if that government's edicts violated the beliefs of the majority of its people, the majority of elected officials and the majority of the medical profession? Does it sound like a democracy or a primitive dictatorship?

On Nov. 19 George Bush vetoed legislation that would have given family planning professionals the freedom to speak without censorship. By doing so he created the above scenario.

The American women who need it most the poor, the desperate and the least educated will now be denied important medical information because of his veto. This is not what our forefathers had in mind.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

NWBC is not PHCC

The Northwest Baltimore Corporation (NWBC) is a non-profit organization which serves as an umbrella for numerous neighborhood associations, institutions, merchants' organizations and coalitions in the northwest sector of Baltimore city. NWBC has a 23-year history of providing valuable services to the community it serves.

Twice during the past year, NWBC has been mistaken for the Park Heights Community Corporation (PHCC).

This was largely due to two articles in The Evening Sun whic referred to the Park Heights Community Corporation as "a northwest Baltimore corporation." It is easy to see how some people might be confused by such language.

While we regret the troubles which caused the PHCC to be closed, we do not wish to be confused with PHCC in the minds of Baltimoreans.

Marianna Donisi-McCann

The writer is executive director of the Northwest Baltimore

Council.

The perpetual crisis

Morale among the firefighters of the city Fire Department has hit an all-time low.

Although we all were trained at the fire academy with four-man crews, for most of the past year every firefighter went to work not knowing whether he would work with a crew of four men or three, because there is a budget crisis.

Last July the firefighters were denied a 6 percent raise that was voted on by our membership and ratified. We were told that this was necessary because there is a budget crisis. Then last September the health-care packages were presented: The Blue Cross plan that was available for no charge five years ago now costs members and their families approximately $100 per month. We assumed this was necessary because there is a budget crisis.

The cuts the Fire Department has had to endure are perplexing, but our real troubles lie ahead. The two Fire Department unions have now reached an agreement with the city that will pit the young against the old to reach ratification. We were informed that this was necessary because there is a budget crisis.

Stephen S. Barnaba

Baltimore

The writer is a member of Engine Company 56.

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Cold War winners

Your Nov. 25 editorial, "The winner: no one" is right on the nose when it concludes that neither the American people nor the Soviet peoples won the Cold War.

Easily added among Cold War losers were the populations of Greece, Guatemala, Iran, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, East Taiwan, Cuba, Granada, Angola, Congo, Namibia, Iraq, Chile, Argentina, the Republic of China, Korea, Indonesia and, one could argue, several other nations in Eastern and Western Europe and elsewhere.

But there were, indisputably, winners, too.

The two-bit (and somewhat more expensive) tyrants, from Chile to Romania to Cambodia, could not have reigned or continued in bloody power without the Cold War.

The military-industrial complex is responsible for a $3.5 trillion national debt. The interest payment alone in fiscal year 1992 will be larger than the entire federal budget in any year prior to 1975.

That $3.5 trillion debt is owed almost exclusively to huge financial institutions owned primarily by one-half of a percent of our population, those who own more wealth than 90 percent of all the rest of us put together.

Don't tell me there were no winners in the Cold War!

A. Robert Kaufman

Baltimore

For gun control

In his letter (Forum, Oct. 28), Richard Lyons says he does not believe that gun laws are a cure for the tragedy that occurred in Killeen, Texas. Lyons is more concerned about "anti-gun politicians (calling) for the disarming of . . . honest citizens" than murder victims.

He blames the criminal justice system. Just eliminate plea-bargaining, liberal parole and prison shortages, he says. Really?

The United States jails more people than any other country in the world. Most will be released. Then what? How about the suicides, accidental killings, injuries and shootings by kids with guns?

Texas has few gun control laws. Its prisons are full. Private firearms ownership is among the highest in the nation. If prisons and gun ownership were the answer, Texas should have the country's lowest violent crime rate and be our safest state. It does not and it is not; Killeen is in Texas.

As proof that the National Rifle Association was "slandered" by The Evening Sun, Lyons simple-mindedly spouts "guns do not kill people people kill people." Actually, "people with guns kill people," but Lyons and the NRA, having lost touch with reality, work hard to make it easy for nearly everyone to get a gun.

A.J. Pierce

Owings Mills

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