Eject baseball fans who shout ethnic slursI made my first...

the Forum

April 24, 1992

Eject baseball fans who shout ethnic slurs

I made my first trip to Oriole Park last Monday night with my wife and father-in-law and we loved everything about the evening with one exception:

In the midst of enjoying a great game in a friendly ballpark, one obnoxious nearby fan who was loudly berating every batter who came to the plate let loose with a string of ethnic slurs at the top of his voice when Leo Gomez came up to bat.

I was embarrassed, particularly since my wife and father-in-law share Gomez' Puerto Rican heritage. I was also concerned about the effect of such language on the many young kids seated nearby and hoped their parents would later explain that slurs can hurt.

Here's my suggestion to make attending a game at Camden Yards even better than it already is: Screaming racist or ethnic slurs should be an offense for which the fan can be thrown out of the game. Players and coaches are ejected for saying less harmful things. And moviegoers can be shown the door for merely talking above a whisper.

Loud fans, like it or not, have always been a part of baseball, and we all put up with it. But draw the line at language that divides people by color, ethnic origin or religion. At this game, Hispanics, who have made great contributions to American baseball, were the targets. Another day, it will be someone else. In the end, baseball is demeaned.

LTC As for Leo Gomez, our rude neighbor was, like us, in the nosebleed seats, so I'm sure he couldn't hear the diatribe. But if he had, his best retort was in his performance, which was superb.

Jim Kennedy

Washington, D.C.

Bad for the Chesapeake

Someone ought to enlighten Thomas Walker, the Godly balloon launcher (article, April 20), that the only thing he is accomplishing by sending Mickey Mouse balloons aloft is the endangerment of many species of aquatic life in the Chesapeake who are apt to swallow or become entangled in the balloons when they burst and fall to earth.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Walker chose polyurethane balloons, which are worse than regular balloons because they are non-biodegradable. I see quite a few of these when I go hiking in Maryland's woods. In that environment they are merely unsightly. In the Chesapeake, they can be deadly.

He should please find some other, less harmful way to appease his Christian urge.

Greg Gibson

Glen Burnie There are 46,000 Guatemalan refugees living in harsh poverty and isolation in southern Mexico -- truly unwanted exiles. The refugees either must become Mexican citizens and undergo a difficult resettlement, or return to Guatemala, from which they fled a decade ago. Some 60,000 Guatamalans have been killed by that country's "security forces," mostly with American guns.

An interfaith network has accepted the refugees' urgent request to accompany them when they reclaim their lands later this year. This will be an immense, complicated, expensive and perilous undertaking.

Will the U.S. government lend support to this urgent humanitarian effort, or will it continue merely to arm, train, feed and otherwise support the Guatemalan "security forces" that have made war against their own people?

I. H. Desser


Yes, I Got Trounced: Here's Why

Your reporter said I was trounced in the 1990 election. That is true. But may I add some perspective?

I spent only $2,600 after signing up on the very last day, chiefly to forestall a Lyndon LaRouche cultist from gaining the Democratic nomination by default. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley collected $781,008 over two years and spent $730,852. She had previously spent $782,796 to trounce Del. Joe Bartenfelder, who spent $65,023.

In the 1990 congressional election, only seven incumbents who sought re-election were defeated. My 26 percent share of the vote exceeded the share gained by 90 other challengers, including that of Ralph Waite, the well-known actor from "The Waltons." Only a handful got over 45 percent of the vote. Time after time, the really open elections are only in congressional districts where incumbents are not seeking re-election.

Most of the incumbent advantage comes from having the money to pay for full-time campaign staff, mail and phone costs for collecting more donations and blanket media advertising. In addition, they have a great deal of taxpayer-funded publicity.

But much of the advantage stems from newspaper coverage which concentrates on campaign activities and strengths rather than on the candidates' positions on important public issues. Challengers are given labels like "token," "underfinanced" and "little known" -- incumbents are called "strong," "popular" and "well-financed."

Incumbents' names are in the headlines, even on articles about challengers, whose names are in the small print.

Articles about challengers give more paragraphs to incumbents

than to the challenger. One editor even told me that I had no real stake in the race -- the incumbent's career was at stake! Meanwhile, editorials regularly bleat about voter apathy and the mess in Congress, which is a product of the corrupt incumbent protection system.

The overwhelming return of incumbents will continue unless Suzanne Grover newspapers do a better job of dealing with differences on issues among candidates and give the voters fair but truthful analysis of voting records and legislative histories of incumbents.

Stop telling voters what they already know -- that incumbents have all of the money, power and media access to get reelected. Otherwise, the only way the situation might change is for voters to take a leap of faith and vote almost blindly for the challenger.

Ronald P. Bowers


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