No HelpThe Rodney King verdict certainly was a shock to...


May 15, 1992

No Help

The Rodney King verdict certainly was a shock to many. But what happened after it did not help anyone.

Ministers shown on television trying to calm the situation in fact were inflaming the situation even further. Many so-called local spokespersons did no better with their words that were laced with racist rhetoric. The news media certainly kept pouring gasoline on the fire.

It is time we as a people started looking at ourselves as Americans in what might not be the most ideal nation but certainly is the most preferred by all others in the world.

The figure of justice is pictured as blind. But we can see what we do. We should try to put this fragmented nation together.

Philip E. Cvach


Penal Alternative

Today we have a number of somewhat poorly related conditions in our society crying for solutions which if synchronized could result in much improvement in our country, at little to no additional expense, and do much toward solving racial and class tensions.

Everyone speaks of the peace dividend and acknowledges that there is no need for much of our present level of "preparedness." Yet when practicality comes to bear, closing military bases is fought by those whose economic status would suffer by the dismantling of these installations and by the massive unemployment which would result from the release of tens of thousands of our military to civilian life.

The recent riots have once again focused our attention on unemployment, lack of opportunity presented to much of our minority population, poor levels of education and job skills, failure of our ever-growing welfare system, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, lack of family units, etc.

The ever increasing number of the incarcerated and rate of recidivism has caused one group to cry "law and order" and another to point out the failure of our penal system to do anything but teach amateur criminals to become real professionals.

Could we not convert our unnecessary military camps to installations for housing those who have committed less horrendous crimes and who are considered salvageable?

Could we not use many of our present military to teach trades and other subjects deemed appropriate so that these people could be returned to society as useful citizens and eventually even as taxpayers? Could we not also employ others from the military as guards about these camps?

The infrastructure of our nation is decaying while we pay ever increasing taxes which are being wasted in unnecessary military expenditures and unproductive incarceration. Let us turn both in a positive direction so that there can truly be light at the end of the tunnel.

Marion Friedman


County AIDS

I read with interest the headline, "AIDS hits home in Baltimore's black congregations," May 10. Baltimore County, like Baltimore City, has had a disproportionate number of AIDS cases reported among blacks.

The county population is 13 percent black, and 34 percent of AIDS cases are among blacks. The county Health Department is continuously working on outreach to minority communities.

What the article did not mention is the dichotomy that churches face with the issue of condoms and safe sex. Churches, by the very backbone of their foundation, avoid preaching safe sex.

We need to work with reality. The first message can be sexual abstinence and marriage with fidelity. The second message must be sexual responsibility, with condoms, for those who are sexually active.

Randy S. Berger, M.D.


The writer is director of the AIDS division of the Baltimore County Health Department.

Time Waster

Nancy Grasmick, the state superintendent of schools, touts the Maryland School Performance Assessment Test (given statewide the week of May 11) as a "forward thinking" program that will put our state on the national map as a forerunner in educational reform.

I'm not sure where she has been the last few years, but obviously not in the classroom. As one of many teachers chosen to administer this test to a random group of students, I can assure you that this is no panacea for what ails our school systems.

In actuality, it is, indeed, a major time waster.

My regular 8th grade students, for example, were losing close to 13 hours of valuable instructional time that should have been spent studying the events leading up to World War I in our nation's history.

But what were they doing instead? As part of this so-called assessment, 22 students were sitting in groups before me examining the middle digit of their third finger for the presence or absence of "digital hairs".

This is, allegedly, part of an activity on hereditary traits. But can you imagine what it's like for a veteran teacher to have to stand in front of 22 adolescents (half of whom I don't know) and ask them to take a hand lens and study the hair follicles on their middle finger?

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