No SolomonIt's hard to believe in moral progress when one...


August 23, 1993

No Solomon

It's hard to believe in moral progress when one looks at what is happening to that unfortunate little girl, Jessica, now returned to her biological parents.

Three thousand years ago, King Solomon regarded the willingness to tear a child apart as proof of a parent's unsuitability to have custody of the child.

Now, the courts are ripping a two-and-a-half-year-old child from the only parents she has known, giving her to the people who are willing to do this to her.

That the new parents are biologically the source of the child's life is not trivial. The genetic connection counts. But after two-and-a-half years of loving care, a child is a great deal more than its genes.

When the biological parents initiated their suit -- when Jessica was but a few weeks old -- the situation was rather different. Had our justice system, in its Solomonic wisdom, quickly resolved to take the child from those who were expecting to adopt her, the decision might have been sound.

But the court system dallied, and the biological parents persisted, for over two years. By acting, in a case involving the custody of an infant, as if time changed nothing, the system revealed its incompetence to decide the destiny of a child.

Time could be ignored, indeed, only because it was not the evolving needs of the child but the static rights of the two sets of parents that were considered germane. Any court or any parent more concerned with a parent's rights than with a child's needs should be kept away from children.

Does anyone in this situation escape censure? Maybe the would-be adoptive parents, but we cannot be sure what was uppermost for them.

SG Their pursuit of their desire to have the child was arguably consis

John Overmyer tent and compatible with the child's interests. So, unlike in Solomon's case, they have never had to voluntarily sacrifice themselves to show true parental love.

Andrew Bard Schmookler

Broadway, Va.

Don't Fan Flames

With great dismay, I continue to read your series of articles concerning the recent collision of a commercial tugboat and a sailing craft in the Baltimore harbor.

Knowing the tugboat captain to be a man of considerable ability, integrity and conscience, I, and many others, find it almost impossible to accept the factual scenario and inferences drawn by your reporter.

You can certainly understand, as protectors of the public's good, that there is good and sound reason for the parties in any potentially protracted dispute to limit their comments and statements to the appropriate professional investigators and forums. This is being done.

As your article suggests, there are many factors to consider in assessing blame. All might be better served by permitting the investigation to proceed without fanning the flames.

Stephen Suser


On the MARC

In response to Susan Murphy's letter, Aug. 11, berating MARC train service, I would like to offer a different perspective. As a train commuter for over 18 years, the last 14 on the Penn Line, I have seen services and facilities improve dramatically.

New stations (BWI), new station buildings (Odenton), raised platforms (Seabrook, Bowie), increased parking (in 1979, Odenton was a small dirt lot in the woods) and additional train service at midday and late evening are just the most obvious examples.

Ms. Murphy's complaint concerning the 5:05 evening train (a new express train added recently to satisfy the needs of commuters from BWI and Odenton) is justified.

The fact is, every time the schedule is modified or new trains are added to accommodate rider input, it takes a while to shake down the new schedule. I've seen this occur many times, and on-time performance always improves.

But the concern about on-time performance is a red herring. What really has everyone chatting in the morning, and what apparently prompted Ms. Murphy's outburst, is the proposed fare increase.

Nobody wants the cost of train commuting to rise. Nor do I. But let's face facts.

The fares have not changed for more than five years. Ridership has exploded as an ever-increasing number of intelligent commuters recognize the many benefits of train travel, thus placing enormous pressure on MARC to provide sufficient capacity, i.e. even more parking, trains, etc. It amazes me that fares haven't increased earlier.

I applaud Ms. Murphy's intention to get involved by attending one of the five scheduled public hearings to state her concerns.

She should also contact a member of the MARC Commuter Advisory Committee, which is made up of train commuters like herself. If she doesn't know their names, she can ask at the new MARC information booth at Union Station. She might also write to the Director of MARC Train Services, 300 W. Lexington St., Baltimore, MD. 21201-3415.

I did that and received an immediate response. Sound like a faceless, unresponsive, out-of-control utility? I don't think so.

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