Do We Need It?
Editor: I read with interest the letter from John W. Dillon, vice president of the C&P Telephone Co., Dec. 10.
I appreciate his company's concern that citizens of Maryland have access to the very finest available services which will devolve from the installation of fiber optic network technology.
There will, indeed, be a plethora of such services. However, the cost of installation of such a network runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and after reading his letter, I started to consider whether we truly need such a munificent offering from C&P. Do we really need all these useful technological marvels, and who indeed is willing to pay for them in the first place?
Is Mr. Dillon's interest the public welfare, or some other less altruistic goal?
Hyman S. Lesser.
Editor: It would seem that sex education has left the classrooms of America and entered our family rooms, whether we like it or not.
As if the televised Clarence Thomas hearings were not bad enough, the live television broadcast of the William Kennedy Smith trial in Palm Beach, Fla., subjected us to the graphic and lurid step by step recounting of the alleged rape. It was not only sordid and shameful, but very embarrassing to watch with one's children. The scenes could not be avoided even on network news because they all showed sound bites excerpting the most "juicy" parts of this unsavory affair.
Is it really necessary to inflict this genre of television reporting on the average American? Have we as a society really degenerated into voyeurs and oglers, lip-smacking gossip-mongers enjoying the public description of sex acts in excruciating detail? It is what free speech and ''right to know'' means in America in the 1990s?
I believe that the overwhelming majority of ordinary Americans would much rather not have such live broadcasts in their living rooms. I, for one, feel demeaned and insulted that the networks ** assume that I am interested in trash like this. I cannot see how justice is enhanced by live telecasts of sensational trials like these. These live proceedings, and those of the Clarence Thomas hearings, are merely electronic versions of grocery store tabloids, only more titillating.
We are surely the laughing stock of the world because of our preoccupation with sensational, yet insignificant, matters such as these. Is there hope for decency and common sense yet? It is about time that those of us who feel this way make their objections and feelings clearly known to the networks.
Just Too Much
Editor: I am responding to Regina Steinberg's letter regarding Spring Grove State Hospital.
It is a perfect illustration of how we can kill people with kindness.
Her vision for people with psychiatric disabilities is a vision without hope. Even as she has watched what the institutions have produced and is witnessing their current decay, she advocates for more hospitals to store more people. It's an absolutely stunning conclusion.
But she shouldn't be criticized. Her suggested solution to the deteriorating hospitals is based on her beliefs about people with psychiatric disabilities. As long as she views people as "clients needing constant care," "poor souls" and "hapless souls" whose best chance at a good life is drawing a winning Bingo card during today's activity period, then indeed one can understand why building more hospital wards -- where "they are familiar with everything" -- looks like the right answer.
But we who work in community programs with people who have psychiatric disabilities do not share her beliefs. We do not view our job as "heroic." Indeed, it's more like a privilege to be in the position to help people live in real homes, get real jobs and form real relationships. Our shared vision for people with mental illness is not filled with endless days and Bingo cards, but with paychecks, mortgage payments and all the other rights and responsibilities of full citizenship.
Louis H. Van Hollen.
The writer is executive director of Archway Station Inc.
Editor: Most Americans would agree that the 1980s were the years of outrageous spending, sky-high interest rates, and overall exploitative times.
With so many problems everyone wants to blame someone or something, and that isn't fair.
We find ourselves trying to find solutions to extreme problems that affect all of us to no avail. There are many problems that need to be addressed, and if we want to be the great country that we once were we had better get started.