Drug PropagandaThroughout the course of the past year, I...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 22, 1994

Drug Propaganda

Throughout the course of the past year, I have been following the letters -- both pro and con -- to your editor regarding the legalization or medicalization of illegal drugs. During this time I have noticed a disturbing trend that I think is important for you to address.

While the letters you receive in favor of legalization seem to come from a diverse and well-educated cross section of the citizens of the Baltimore area, the letters against legalization come almost exclusively from people who make their living, in one way or another, by perpetuating the "war on drugs."

In fact, the job titles of these people suggest that were we to end the "war on drugs" tomorrow, they would be looking for a new job.

Let's take as an example a recent letter writer, the "manager of the Baltimore County Police Department Drug Reduction Initiative."

If we stopped the senseless spiral of drugs/crime/prison and made the "drug problem" a health problem (which it is) instead of a criminal problem (which it is not), then suddenly this man is out of a job.

How will he feed his children or put a roof over their heads? In fact, the careers of almost all of the anti-legalization letter writers are as wrapped up in the "drug problem" as the users and dealers they so vehemently oppose.

Perhaps you should think of screening out letters from writers with jobs that dictate their opinions. I am sure that were you deluged with letters from manufacturers of expanding bullets claiming how safe and useful they are, you would put them in their proper place -- the trash can.

Try to consider how big an ax your letter writer has to grind before you print, because there is a huge difference between opinion and propaganda.

William Smith

Baltimore

Sad Firing

AIDS is one of the leading health problems in Baltimore and is the leading cause of the death in the city's black community.

The firing of Dr. John Lewis, who has provided leadership in this area, and his replacement by a family planning physician are of great concern because, at this time, Baltimore cannot afford to sacrifice experience and knowledge on this issue to political and personal expediency.

Dr. Lewis brought millions of dollars for AIDS prevention and treatment to the city; envisioned and championed an often unpopular needle exchange program that would address two of the city's major problems -- AIDS and substance abuse; and he developed a successful model innovative program for reaching high-risk populations.

Additionally, under Dr. Lewis, Baltimore has avoided the rise in tuberculosis that has been observed in other large cities in the nation.

While Dr. Peter Beilensen's inexperience has long been a concern of those in the public health field, Dr. Lewis' skills and commitment offered an important balance in the areas of AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis control.

Whether because of Dr. Beilensen's inexperience or because of his lack of concern about the black community (also evidenced by his promotion of Norplant to black children), Dr. Lewis' firing is another example of Dr. Beilensen's inability to understand and address Baltimore's complex health issues.

Sadly, once again, politics and personality have been given priority over the health and welfare of the citizens in this city, with citizens to experience the negative consequences.

Irma C. Reeder

Baltimore

Sensationalism

I will be the first to concede, as a practicing Roman Catholic, that the church hierarchy has not been completely forthright in addressing the occurrence of child and sexual abuse in our schools and parishes.

I do believe, however, that steps are being taken to improve the investigation and resolution of these troubling issues by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. These actions must continue expeditiously, yes, but judiciously as well.

Articles such as that written by Jay Apperson Jan. 8, however, only serve to inflame the general public's impression of these alleged transgressions and therefore deleteriously affect the process of their investigation.

It appears that horrid things occurred at the Catholic Community Middle School, and I feel tremendous distress for those who are victimized. But it is unconscionable that Mr. Apperson would so readily tarnish the name of the school principal involved in the Merzbacher case, based on the recollections of one student from 20 years ago.

This smacks of sensational journalism and is a discredit to your newspaper, and this community.

I urge The Baltimore Sun to live up to its creed, "Light for All," and report facts rather than innuendo, and to remain objective in its treatment of such emotionally and morally charged incidents.

Kathleen M. Naughton

Baltimore

Smokers' Rights

Our autocratic Maryland governor has added to his repertoire: Now he makes cruel jokes. Actually he orders others to make them.

Starting in November, on the governor's order, smoking was prohibited at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, "except in designated smoking areas."

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