When you ring the bell, pray no one shootsTraveling...

the Forum

June 04, 1993

When you ring the bell, pray no one shoots

Traveling salesmen, beware the state of Louisiana! A recent court decision there puts anyone ringing a doorbell in serious jeopardy.

At trial, a Louisiana court failed to convict Rodney Peirs for manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Japanese exchange student who mistakenly came to his door.

It is truly amazing that any jury could acquit a man who so obviously threw any logic he may have possessed out the window in a case where the facts were undisputed.

Granted, we have to rely on our sometimes flawed criminal justice system. Yet I am still baffled that the Louisiana jury could show such flagrant disregard for the facts.

No matter how poorly they may have been presented, no matter how convincing the defense attorney may have been, facts are facts.

Perhaps if Yoshi Hattori had broken into the man's home, the shooting might have been justified. If Yoshi had been brandishing a large weapon instead of a camera, the shooting may have been justified.

This injustice reveals a much deeper problem in both the courts and in the society that allows them to function in such a negligent manner.

At times like these, I am embarrassed to call myself an American. Thank God I don't also have to call myself a traveling salesman.

Bradford A. Cox


Preparing pupils

Jean Sisk's May 14 letter, "School wrecking`," provides us with an example of how people react to change, especially in education.

The tone of the letter, which indicts not only the superintendent and Board of Education of Baltimore County but also the entire central staff, is an illustration of the emotional aspect of change. All of the facts are not stated, some statements are false and the main issue goes unaddressed.

Sisk's attack on the administrative staff is particularly unfair. Many of these people are industrious, knowledgeable educators committed to serving the children of our county.

Innovation is tricky when it comes to education. People welcome cordless phones, VCRs and laptops into their lives, but something strange happens when educators suggest that changes in the workplace be paralleled by changes in education. People find comfort in seeing schools that resemble those they attended themselves.

They even assume that familiar model will best serve the children of today. This is a dangerous notion. The current educational leadership in Baltimore County is exploring ways to prepare our children for the future, not the 1960s. Literate members of society are not surprised by many of the changes presently advocated.

As a parent, I want my children to be lifelong learners. I want them to learn how to learn. Many of the recommended changes will serve that end.

In many cases they parallel educational practices of other school districts across the nation as well other countries. Results show that these are changes worth attempting.

Many of the changes were on the drawing board long before Dr. Robert Dubel retired. So let's keep our perspective.

Cooperation among parents, school personnel and other community members can exist when all parties are informed. Only then can reflection and discussion follow.

And those are the same skills we want our children to acquire if they are to creatively solve the problems of tomorrow.

Anne Werps

Perry Hall

Drug questions require answers

With all due respect for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's role in government, I personally challenge him to debate decriminalization of drugs at any time or place.

In order to know that he has made an effort to become familiar with the consequences of drug legalization, I ask that he provide the press with answers to at least three of the following questions which will qualify him to debate this issue.

1. Identify the drugs that will be legalized. Cocaine, heroin, PCP, marijuana, all?

2. At what age level should the distributing authority be permitted to make hard drugs available to the user? Age 14, 16, 18 or 21?

3. Who would be responsible for distribution? Local government, state, federal, private sector?

4. Would legally authorized drug abusers be insured by government to indemnify those whom they injure during accidents or the commission of violence while under the influence of sanctioned drugs?

5. How would the huge black market that follows be controlled?

6. Assuming a distribution system has been established and all other problems have been reasonably resolved, who would decide as to the tolerance levels for drug addicts and who will pay for their medicalization and treatments and all other societal problems that can be anticipated with legislation?

7. Will there be a limit as to how much of any drug an individual may receive?

Knowledgeable people who have fought the drug war for many years and have seen it operate worldwide know that legalization has not worked in any of the countries it has been attempted, such as Holland or Great Britain.

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