Billboards are killing our neighborhoodsWe hear no one...

the Forum

November 23, 1993

Billboards are killing our neighborhoods

We hear no one claiming a constitutional right to dump garbage on our streets and sidewalks, and indeed we have laws against littering. Why then do we have those who claim a constitutional right to display offensive materials -- liquor and cigarette ads -- on neighborhood billboards?

Would not the factor of being a "captive audience" balance the scale in favor of neighborhood associations objecting to materials displayed in their midst?

Homeowners and renters who have signed long-term leases cannot quickly move to get away from objectionable neighborhood conditions, nor should they have to.

It is, however, within their rights to band together to oppose outsiders who come into their areas for detrimental reasons.

Neighborhoods should also be able to claim "first rights" to places that existed long before billboards were dreamed up.

To erect a billboard is not tantamount to raising a sacred icon; when no longer considered profitable, they've been torn down with no noticeable loss to anyone.

We all lose, however, when neighborhoods die by virtue of a hundred insidious factors -- drugs, crime, alcoholism, neglect, apathy, etc. -- that slowly but effectively drain the vitality out of them.

Inasmuch as the welfare of its citizens should be a state's primary concern, it behooves that state to legitimately rule against factors which cause harm to those citizens.

The draining of public coffers in combating the evils of alcohol -- crime, mayhem, broken homes, spouse and child abuse, broken health -- is matched in the depletion of private purses.

How, then, can anyone argue in good conscience that the relatively meager profits earned by those billboards takes precedence?

Loretta J. Willits

Baltimore

Lerner and low

I am not one who believes, as columnist Dan Rodricks recently claimed, that it is necessary to take the "low road" to attempt to attain a goal evidenced by the 11th-hour support for Alfred Lerner over Leonard Weinglass in the race for an expansion pro football team.

Earlier and deserved sole support for the self-made native of Baltimore, which so easily could have been politically finessed through the use of the media, would have avoided the current situation by presenting Weinglass as the man of accomplishment that he is.

Not to undertake this strategy was to operate in a moral and intellectual vacuum. Weinglass got screwed through no fault of his own; shame on those who did it.

I should clarify here that I am neither a personal friend nor employee of Weinglass. Moreover, I cannot recall the last football game I watched, although I would love to see a team returned to Baltimore and obviously felt Weinglass should have been backed from the outset.

If boyhood escapades disqualified one from future societal contributions, few mortals would have led a life helpful to others, and how many among us can dare suggest that our lives have been as helpful to others as has Weinglass'?

Merry-Go-Round Enterprises has 1,000 stores and 14,000 employees. The company supports many of Baltimore's charitable and cultural activities.

Weinglass has spend his adult life building things, and while, in his own words, he does not possess a law degree or an MBA, he is a textbook example of the achievement of the "American dream" and certainly a more than appropriate owner of anything he can afford to buy.

Michael S. Frank

Millersville

Devoid of humor

Whether Wiley Hall likes it or not, the majority of people in this country are fed up with political correctness. He and others like him miss the point of Ted Danson appearing in blackface at the New York Friars Club and telling racial jokes about Whoopie Goldberg.

Although Danson and Goldberg are not my favorite entertainers, they are to be complimented for their attempt to defuse racial tension with humor.

Hall, as well as Terrie Jackson, Maxine Waters and Spike Jones, contribute to racial unrest with their racist remarks.

It is to their advantage to have division and strife; otherwise they would be out of a job.

Liberals just don't get it. They don't understand that laughter is therapeutic and that comedians through the years have used humor to bring about better understanding of ethnic groups. I dare you to revoke this experiment.

The next time you are talking to liberals, see if they laugh. If they do force a laugh, they get a painful expression on their face -- as if they had gas caught in the intestine.

Liberals are devoid of humor and attempt to keep others from enjoying it.

I have a suggestion. Instead of forcing people who have been accused of offending others to attend sensitivity seminars, send the offenders (minorities, radical feminists, homosexuals) to classes for desensitization.

Repeated exposure to such things as the sight of blood, heights and diseases results in immunization. It might just work for these overly sensitive groups too.

Joseph S. Ardinger

Ellicott City

Neglected veterans

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