'Beach house blitz' failed to teach lesson on drunken 0...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 11, 1998

'Beach house blitz' failed to teach lesson on drunken 0) carousers

I don't know that I have ever read a more vacuous piece of reporting than "Beach house blitz" (Sept. 6). Two full pages were devoted to the glories and fun of heavy drinking and casual sex.

I kept reading, thinking there would be some lesson to redeem the piece, but only found more descriptions of young people -- many of them professionals -- drinking themselves to the brink of unconsciousness mixed in with sexist references to women.

What were the editors thinking? I cannot imagine why The Sun found this newsworthy or even of interest.

Perhaps the editors thought it was a humorous piece. It won't be so funny when someone dies of alcohol poisoning or kills someone while driving drunk, or when a woman is raped or finds herself pregnant after a night of drunken carousing.

What a terrible example of reporting and what an awful message to send to youth.

Diane Paul

Baltimore

On Labor Day weekend, when we are being reminded repeatedly to take special care on the highways, to avoid drinking and driving, to drink responsibly, and when typically many lives are lost in traffic accidents nationwide as a result of drunken driving, do we really need to see a two-page story about the wasted weekends of a group of young adults at their Dewey Beach rental house?

Countless parents are praying for the safety of their college-bound kids, warning them of the dangers of drinking to excess and hoping they will emulate sensible role models as they approach adulthood.

The Dewey Beach folks are certainly free to spend their weekends in whatever manner they wish, but I really fail to see any redeeming value in a newspaper article describing their escapades in sickening detail.

Was there a point I missed?

Pat Schwartz

Glen Arm

Rubbernecking gets a bad rap in traffic

I'm perplexed at why so-called highway rubbernecking continues to get a bad rap ("A pain in the rubberneck," Sept. 7 by Robert Guy Matthews).

Imagine this scenario: An "average" accident occurs on a high-traffic highway and, naturally, cars immediately upstream must slow down to avoid more collisions or to see if immediate help is needed.

The laws of fluid mechanics must be obeyed, so what traffic engineers call a "shock wave" is created. If traffic flow rate remains high enough, a severe slowdown will continue regardless of how many necks are twisted.

Even if everyone caught in the traffic jam were equipped with blinders to limit the view to the highway directly ahead, there would still be the identical jam.

Look at it another way: here you are, caught in the jam, cursing those supposed rubberneckers ahead, mumbling, "I don't want to look at any wreck, let's get going!"

But those behind you are cursing you as another rubbernecker, because you're doing just what everyone else is doing -- slowing down. So if you aren't a rubbernecker, and continue to not be one even as you approach and pass the accident, who is? By this logic, no one is.

Actually, Mr. Matthews sums it up neatly with one sentence in his report: "The whole thing is unavoidable once the first guy slows down."

Virtually the only time the rubberneck label can be used is when traffic is so light that a motorist coming upon an accident scene actually has the choice of slowing down or maintaining speed. But in that all-too-rare situation, who cares anyway? So blame traffic density, not the flexibility of our necks.

Nelson L. Hyman

Randallstown

Driver wants to circumvent Catonsville roundabout

These roundabouts the state is installing at various locations are the silliest thing I have ever seen.

I live in Catonsville, and workers are installing one on Wilkens Avenue at the entrance to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

I see that this thing is going to be an accident waiting to happen. I drive this road daily.

Should I avoid it now because I want to avoid an accident? And it really burns me up to know that my tax dollars are helping to pay for this.

Kenneth Lockhart

Catonsville

Choosing sweet lies over hard truths

It is contemptible that our president would take sexual advantage of an intern, regardless of her willingness or age. It is equally contemptible that he lied about it. He deserves whatever he gets.

However, the supposed outrage of the conservative right is troubling. These people are righteously indignant by the president's lack of morality, yet claim Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan among their heroes.

Have they forgotten that Jesse Helms championed racism and government-enforced segregation, something for which he never apologized?

Have they forgotten that Ronald Reagan turned informant on friends and colleagues during the McCarthy "red scare" era, ruining the lives and careers of hundreds of decent Americans? They even nominated Oliver North for national office.

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