Caned youth got treatment he deservedThe U.S. teen-ager...

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May 09, 1994

Caned youth got treatment he deserved

The U.S. teen-ager who spray-painted cars was punished with four lashes from a rattan cane in Singapore. His mother says he just doesn't understand why this is happening to him: He is very scared and is depressed.

First, she might explain to him that there are laws and when those laws are broken there is a price to pay.

Second, he wasn't scared when he disfigured the cars.

And third, perhaps he should realize that the owners of those cars were also depressed not only by what happened to their cars but also by the trouble it caused them.

I have lived in the new town of Columbia for nearly 20 years. It is not uncommon for teen-agers to get tanked up on alcohol and drugs and have "fun" breaking car windows with a beebee gun or hammer or some other object.

It has happened to me more than a half dozen times. The last time my car was two months old. It seems that they have more "fun" when they select a new car as their victim. There have been as many as a dozen cars vandalized at one time on my street.

The policewoman told us that she knew of a case in which hooligans broke windows on 30 cars during a single spree. They were caught, but probably received nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

The last window broken on my car cost me $900 -- and I lost a day's work getting it repaired.

I'm told that another favorite of these kids having a "good time" is to mutilate car tires with a knife. Throwing rocks or boulders at cars from an overpass is also considered a good way to pass the time of day. There are undoubtedly many other destructive ways that these kids get their kicks.

Is it any wonder that people in this country feel that Singapore's punishment is not uncalled for or too severe? Certainly the owners don't find vandalism as amusing, entertaining or exciting as the kids do.

I can only say that if I caught one of those hooligans breaking another window on my car, I would shoot him without the slightest hesitation. Of course, it isn't easy to catch them at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning.

Mel Reuber

Columbia

Simple solution

Everyone agrees our children are our most valuable asset.

But the people who control our educational system -- the politicians, professional educators and the unions -- can only propose the simple solution and throw more money at the many problems.

Congratulations to our state superintendent of schools, Nancy S. Grasmick, for having the courage to address one of our school systems' most controversial problems, teacher evaluation.

`Forrest F. Gesswein Jr.

Parkville

Social Security

Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., suggested that the age of getting full Social Security benefits should be raised to 67. It seems fair that as people live longer, they must work longer, too.

He also insists that taxes on Social Security benefits should be increased.

He forgets that since last year, many retirees are going to pay higher taxes on their benefits.

Representative Rostenkowski should use his political influence to take Social Security completely out of the federal budget.

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

The Chinese deserve democracy

The death of President Nixon reminded me that after more than 20 years, his policy of tolerating dictatorship in China has not been the great success the press is hailing it to be.

China is still a vastly isolated country whose citizens are ruled by a small group of brutal men who adamantly refuse to allow any democratic ideas to "infect" their country.

Only several years ago, these men massacred thousands of peaceful protesters on global television to protect their shaky regime from its inevitable demise.

Meanwhile, people from our country, some who have obvious financial interests in China, continue to preach that we must not let our desire for human rights get in the way of "free" trade.

These supporters of China contend that we cannot expect other countries to treat its citizens with the same rights and freedom that we now enjoy.

They say we should not use human rights as an issue when considering trade benefits to China and that we should not try to impose our democratic convictions on other countries.

In the past we went to war against those who imposed tyranny on others and then taught them the principles that made our country so great.

Like ancient Greece sowing the seeds of democracy among the nations they conquered, America turned mortal enemies such as Nazi Germany and imperialist Japan into models of how individual freedom and liberty can encourage financial and personal success for everyone.

Today it seems that we have forgotten that democracy is not for the faint-hearted. We are excusing ourselves from helping the opponents and prisoners of totalitarian governments at the very time when we should be proclaiming our desire to see that every man, woman and child on earth will one day live with the basic rights we all deserve as human beings.

Now is the time to try to help the citizens of China by simply denying them full trade status. Nixon's policy did not work, while sanctions against South Africa where clearly successful.

The people of China should have the freedom to decide in free elections how they want to live. We should not base our trade policy on economic considerations alone.

L We don't need China's blood money. We need justice in China.

Joe Otterbein

Baltimore

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