Society must protect itself from destroyerThose who would...

the Forum

November 17, 1993

Society must protect itself from destroyer

Those who would rescue John Thanos from Maryland's gas chamber for fear of abdicating the moral high ground or practicing bad penology simply miss the point.

Thanos' condemnation is neither a reflexive act of blood revenge nor a measure aimed at deterring other sociopaths from committing heinous crimes.

Rather, the sentence represents a rational, singular act of societal self-defense, a "necessary evil" enforced as a last resort against a remorseless individual who enjoys murder and promises to murder again.

Recall that the state's last attempt to protect the public from John Thanos through incarceration was foiled by an unfortunate "administrative error" that loosed him on a two-week homicidal adventure. Enough is enough.

While the use of capital punishment ought never go unquestioned, outright rejection of the death penality at the real risk of public safety smacks of pure folly.

Defenders of human life who swoon at the thought of poor John Thanos inhaling the cyanide fumes should think about the lives held in the balance by keeping that wretched creature among us.

Is it right, just and moral to hold the threat of a proven homicidal predator over our heads merely to maintain a belief in an absolute? Will letting Thanos live help usher in the millennium?

Will we be better off spiritually and ethically when John Thanos robs someone else of life?

Clearly, there are times when the moral cost of execution shrinks in comparison to that of showing mercy and compassion for the condemned. John Thanos embodies such an instance.

Given past experience and the incorrigibility of the condemned, one might rightly call saving Thanos from the gas chamber an immoral act devoid of logical consistency. All killing isn't murder.

And deterrence? Let those policy wonks who proclaim the death penalty to be a poor preventive of future murders erect a penal system without escapes, unserved sentences, injudicious paroles, riots and administrative errors. John Thanos is too dangerous even for prison. Unfortunately, he must be removed from the midst of humanity.

Robert W. Warson Jr.

Timonium

The Walters

As a member of the Walters Art Gallery, I find the recent brouhaha over the selection of a director unfortunate.

I would have thought that the new director would be a very special person, considering the variety of art found there. It is indeed a unique museum and its considerable reputation should not be compromised.

Today's mentality demands that some new "expert" be brought in to oversee museums, symphonies, universities, etc.

Why is it that the people who know the situation best get passed over for some personality having little familiarity with a given situation?

What's wrong with Kate Sellers or some other Walters person? Instead, The Sun cites other names from around the country as possible new directors.

Michael P. Mezzatesta seemed a little too demanding in his statement, "I said I would not take the job unless they allowed me to do that [compile a contemporary collection]."

It seems silly to me for a place like the Walters to begin a program of acquiring contemporary art.

The museum should continue to do what it has done quite well over the years and not go off half-cocked in an area of questionable merit.

R. D. Bush

Columbia

Easy solution

"A pain in the ear" (article, Nov. 9) certainly merits some comment from an experienced parent who had two children with severe ear infections.

For parents who have had many a sleepless night with a crying child and then weeks and weeks of stronger and stronger medication, there is a solution. However, it is not a conventional medical cure paid for by your insurance carrier.

Diagnosed by a homeopathic doctor, the cause of my children's ear infections was an allergic reaction to the diphtheria immunization. The cure was a very simple three-week non-pharmaceutical treatment, after which neither of my children ever had ear infections again.

Let's take a look at the big picture. As stated in your article, the drug companies are developing "a vaccine to eradicate the most common pathogen that causes ear infections."

Are the drug companies looking for the cause of the ear infections or just another drug to cure the symptoms? Keep in mind there is no monetary reward if the cause is found.

Jolie McShane

Reisterstown

Underreporting drunk driving

Well, it happened again. A murderer used his weapon to kill a 10-year-old boy and received a lenient sentence.

Why wasn't this front page news? Because the murderer was a drunk driver and the weapon was his car.

On May 21, a drunk driver ran down Benjamin Merrell in front of his father and sister. The driver never stopped. He was so drunk he didn't even know he had hit anyone until the police came to his house and woke him up. He pleaded guilty to automobile manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

Instead of receiving this maximum penalty, the drunk driver received a four-year sentence with everything except nine months suspended. This nine months, which will probably be reduced further with "good time" credit, is to be served on work release.

Is this an appropriate punishment?

During sentencing, the judge said this was a very difficult decision for him to make. After all, the drunk driver has a full-time job and two children to support.

But why is this even taken into consideration? The driver didn't think about his children when he made the choice to drink and drive that night. And these kinds of things aren't taken into account when a murderer kills someone with a gun or knife.

When will this crime of drunk driving be taken seriously by the court system and the media? The murder of a 10-year-old boy with any weapon should be front-page news, not ignored or buried under the "accident" section.

Donna Becker

Towson

The writer is treasurer, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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