Racism article only told part of the storyI am writing in...

SATURDAY MAIL BOX

December 28, 1996

Racism article only told part of the story

I am writing in response to the Dec. 15 article by Ronnie Greene,''Noose raises symbolism of racial divide.'' I, as well as the training participants, agreed to allow Mr. Greene to observe a class because of our desire to show that the Baltimore County Fire Department has adopted pro-active measures to combat intolerance and bigotry. But the positive aspects of the training program were not reported.

Here are some examples of the positives: Since the inception of Fair Practices Training (in the spring of 1996 and preceding the noose incident), more than 200 departmental members have been trained. The program is viewed to be both beneficial and needed by many attendees.

The goal of the training program is the fair and equitable treatment of all members. Training participants are taught relevant Equal Employment Opportunity laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to recognize stereotypes, biases and sexual harassment. Members are informed that they can be held accountable for their actions.

The exclusion of (or the unwillingness to report) the positive does not provide the objectivity desired by many. Reporting a question (for example, ''Is this a prevailing belief in the Fire Department?'') as a statement also misrepresents reality.

Furthermore, the article creates the perception that all white males are racists and that they are the only people required to attend the classes. Most of the training sessions are attended by women and black males.

We only ask for fair and balanced reporting. The purpose of this training program is to bridge communication gaps; to foster an appreciation of all fire department members. The association of the training program with a ''racial divide'' does not serve that end.

John C. Parham

Towson

The writer is fair practices administrator for the Baltimore County Fire Department.

Symbolism of bridge fire

The accidental fire set by a destitute homeless man attempting to stay warm under a Jones Falls Expressway bridge ended up shutting down shopping activities in several nearby upscale shopping districts. It is a richly symbolic portent of what will occur on a larger scale once the so-called welfare reform is fully implemented.

People who are excluded will not simply disappear. Instead their exclusion will come back to haunt in a thousand unexpected ways the society which consigned them to the margins.

Curtis Price

Baltimore

Governor's zeal against gambling

I wish to begin this letter by stating unequivocally that I am not in favor of casino gambling in Maryland. As a former resident New Jersey, I can state that casinos add nothing to the economy, and often have an undesired effect on the community.

My wife and I have applauded Gov. Parris Glendening's strong stand against the casino interests who have lobbied hard in the state.

However, I was a bit taken aback at the hypocrisy of the governor's position in letting the state authorization for charity gambling in several counties in Maryland lapse. While it is possible that these games are not as pristine in their operation as one might wish, they are raising at least some money for charity. The governor, in his zeal to ''protect'' the citizens of Maryland may be doing them a disservice.

In addition, it strikes me as ironic that a governor whose lottery agency has just introduced several new games, including a multi-state Lotto, to boost sagging revenues would take such a firm stand against other forms of organized gambling. Lottery revenues have been dropping over the last year, and that gap will have to be made up by cuts to state government.

What evil will Governor Glendening shield us from next? Perhaps the bingo halls should watch their backs.

Michael G. Thompson

Baltimore

Gay couples are as stable as others

In her Dec. 17 column, Mona Charen says there are ''prudential reasons to resist the legitimization of homosexuality,'' including ''disease'' and ''instability of homosexual unions.`

To set the record straight: The same diseases that affect homosexuals affect heterosexuals. While AIDS, in the United States at least, has struck far more gay than heterosexual men, it has afflicted far fewer gay than heterosexual women.

There is no evidence that same-sex relationships are inherently less stable than opposite-sex ones. If it's true that gay people, on average, stay with partners for shorter periods than heterosexuals do, it's because they don't receive the societal support offered to heterosexual couples and are not allowed to legally marry.

My experience does not support the notion that gay relationships are short-lived. My boyfriend and I just celebrated ten years together, and the gay couples we know have been together as long as the heterosexual couples we know.

Ronald Hube

Baltimore

Nothing funny in memory loss

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