Causes of crimeHistory has shown us that punishment does...

the Forum

May 13, 1994

Causes of crime

History has shown us that punishment does not deter crime. Singapore has a low crime rate because its economy is comparatively healthy and its people are relatively prosperous.

Its harsh penal system and torture of prisoners with brine-soaked rattan canes is brutal and reprehensible.

Our economy is not healthy; we have no safety nets; one quarter of our children grow up in poverty. We have no affordable day care, health care or education opportunities that exist in so many other nations.

No working class American earning less than $25,000 per year can buy a house or live without fear every day that one devastating illness in the family will wipe the family out.

As long as we have more of our kids living in poverty than any other industrialized nation, we will have crime.

And no amount of flogging, "three strikes you're out," gassing, firing squads, hanging, lethal injection or electrocution will eliminate the rage, despair and sense of hopelessness from unending poverty that causes drugs and crime in the first place.

Eliminate poverty and we'll eliminate most crime. Punish, and we'll eliminate some symptoms but not the cause.

Gerald Ben Shargel


Partners bill

Well, it looks like the religious right has flexed its self-righteous, self-promoting muscle right here in old Charm City.

Once again, these people have decided that because I am gay and living with another individual of the same sex, I don't have the same rights as someone who is married, even though I have been in my current relationship for five years.

If my lover becomes sick, I am not allowed to be at his bedside because I am not immediate family. If I succumb to some illness, I cannot use his health insurance, so I take benefits from government-provided health care, for which we all pay dearly.

These "ministers," as they call themselves, should, it seems to me, be more concerned with the number of murders in the city, the number of young children who are abused, injured and killed in the line of gunfire, the number of young, poor, unmarried girls who continue to have children with no father around to help raise them or help economically.

No, these individuals would rather condemn me and others like me.

I know I was born the way I am. I have searched my mind and soul for many years to come up with one conclusion. My God made me the way I am. This is not a choice.

For those who say it is a choice, ponder this: Why would I choose to be someone who would have a choice of only 10 percent of the population as potential mates, who would be constantly teased and beat up as a child for being a "sissy," who could be easily discriminated against by my employer?.

No, this was not and is not a choice about lifestyle.

I remind the influential clergy this: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

W. Thomas Butler


Vilifying Bentley

Your paper's vilification of Helen Bentley for her vote against depriving honest citizens of a useful class of firearms is despicable.

Ms. Bentley is a clear thinking, patriotic representative of the people of her congressional district.

She understands that guns in this society are not the cause of urban violence.

The obvious causes are undisciplined inner-city youth, an ineffective law enforcement-criminal justice system, weak-willed politicians, a liberal, blame-society-first media and illegal drugs.

Representative Bentley trusts the honest people of Maryland, unlike The Baltimore Sun and the congressional gun grabbers who feel that depriving honest citizens of firearms will make the state a safer place.

She recognizes that the so called "assault weapons" are almost never used in crime. She understands that these firearms are legally used by honest people for hunting, target shooting and home defense.

So-called "assault weapons" scare crooks and some politicians that is the reason why the Second Amendment was put into the Constitution and perhaps why newspaper editors and liberal lawmakers want them banned.

Richard Lyons


Memorial to Marylanders who served

Although we as a nation will be celebrating Memorial Day on May 30, many Americans will be celebrating and remembering their loved ones the entire month.

I invite all Baltimoreans and Marylanders this entire month to visit a city and state memorial dedicated to all men and women who gave their lives and services to their nation in World War I and other wars.

This memorial building -- better known as the War Memorial Building -- located at Lexington and Gay streets, is an architectural gem of which Marylanders are proud. Dedicated on April 5, 1925, by Gov. Albert C. Ritchie and Mayor William F. Broening, at a cost of $1,100,000, the War memorial Building is truly a shrine.

This once seemingly unknown building -- designed as a place for all veterans, patriotic and civic organizations to meet and as a tribute to the citizens of Maryland who gave their lives and services to their country in World War I -- is a must for all citizens to visit.

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