Union heroes of the Baltimore port contractI was in Hong...


November 21, 1996

Union heroes of the Baltimore port contract

I was in Hong Kong when I received news that the contract between Baltimore International Longshoremen's Association and management was ratified and included the termination of the guaranteed annual income clause.

The news was conveyed to me with a great deal of delight by my former colleague whose operations extend throughout the Far East. His comment was that now Baltimore could return to


On my return I was told that the heroes of the agreement were Willis Schonowski, president, and Ralph Judy, vice president, of Local 333.

These two gentlemen put their careers on the line in convincing the rank and file that the future of the port was at stake. Without them, Baltimore's future as a major gateway would have been put in jeopardy.

M. Sigmund Shapiro


L The writer is chairman of the Private Sector Port Committee.

Corporate censors threaten basic rights

Two disturbing items Nov. 15, the letter of Georgia Corso and the column of Cal Thomas, applauded efforts of stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Blockbuster to ''clean up'' the CDs and videos they stock by editing or altering ''objectionable'' lyrics, artwork or footage.

People who yearn for the mythic good old days and blame an imagined collapse of society on pop culture, expect the government or big business to step in and fix things at the price of losing our basic human rights.

These people show an astonishing lack of common sense and a galling lack of respect for something America truly values, freedom of speech. These people, not White Zombie or Oliver Stone, are the real threat to our children.

Their laughable assertion that society's ills are caused by rock and rap music and films with violent or sexual content has been dispelled so often that I will not even bother to address it.

What I will address is how the actions of these large retailers constitute censorship in its worst form.

The problem is not just that there are people unfortunate enough live where a Wal-Mart or Blockbuster is the only CD or video store within hundreds of miles.

There is an even more insidious problem that has the potential to affect us all. That is the growing plight of movie and record producers who, as a matter of economic survival, must seek the editorial approval of Blockbuster, Wal-Mart of Kmart before a movie or CD even gets released.

Ultimately, this will force musicians to write songs and directors to make movies that they know will please the moral and aesthetic whims of a few corporate bigwigs.

At a time when the government and the mainstream media have repeatedly shown their inclination to mislead and misinform, we increasingly rely on artists to tell us what is going on in the world.

We should therefore be terrified by a situation where corporate giants play such a large role in the distribution, as well as creation, of artistic product in this country.

Nancy E. Greenfeld


Must stem tide of sex, vulgarity

I was greatly disappointed with Michael Olesker's Nov. 17 column ("Bans can't stop tide of sex, vulgarity"). If I understand him correctly, we are to simply accept the mass of ''crude, violent, racist, sexist, blasphemous and pornographic'' material coming at us from every direction because trying to stop it just ''can't work.'' If we took his argument to other social problems, such as violence, drug abuse or illiteracy, where would we be?

It is precisely this kind of passive acceptance and lack of moral outrage that is causing the deterioration of society today.

On the contrary, I applaud the efforts of Wal-Mart, Blockbuster Video, Kmart and even Baltimore City for taking their responsibilities seriously in trying to promote positive values. In a small way, at least, they are taking a stand within their spheres of influence.

Perhaps they've learned something that Mr. Olesker has yet to learn.

While we may not be able to control what others do out there, we can and must put our own house in order, control our own behavior/consumerism, and model responsible decision-making in our own homes (and our newspaper columns).

Encouraging readers to throw their hands up in defeat and accept this ''new reality'' is, in my opinion, a grave misuse of journalistic privilege. I think Mr. Olesker should spend less time searching the aisles of Wal-Mart for ''vulgar and blasphemous'' music and more time at home, monitoring the viewing habits of his youngest child.

I believe there is no motive more noble than that of protecting our children. We must let them know we care enough about them and their future to be outraged, to be incensed and to do something about it.

Stacy C. O'Conor


No air bags, thank you

Thanks to Susan Reimer for her column on air bags. You mentioned many of my recent thoughts and concerns. I have long questioned how safe they are for adults if they can kill children. (There are many children taller than me.)

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