Multipronged attack is needed to mount a real war on...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 23, 1998

Multipronged attack is needed to mount a real war on drugs

Jill Jonnes briefly reviews three books in "To make narcotics legal defies history and science" (Oct. 11) about the problem of drug abuse and states her opposition to the legalization of drugs advocated by many who believe we have lost the "war on drugs."

As with all complex problems, no simple answers exist, and honesty compels many of us working in the field to say: What we are doing just isn't working.

There really isn't a war on drugs. A war would involve law enforcement, education and treatment. I haven't seen the public will to provide all three of these elements with the money or manpower needed to be effective.

No single modality will help everyone. We need a wide range of treatments and the necessary follow-up.

Educational programs for young people and adults have to be reviewed carefully; some have proven more harmful than helpful.

And the size of this nation and its coastline makes it impossible to prevent all drugs from coming in.

Drug courts can be very helpful, although they deal only with those who are arrested and can be brought into court -- that is only a fraction of those using and abusing drugs.

Baltimore cannot afford to provide 50,000 treatment slots.

A very wise man once said, "People take drugs for only two reasons, to feel better or not to feel so bad."

I'm afraid that unless we look at underlying conditions and deal with them and find better and healthier ways to help people feel better or not so bad, we'll have this scourge with us for many years to come.

Frederick J. Hanna

Baltimore

Clinton piece judged to be clear, sane -- or misleading

Thanks to Daniel Berger.

His Opinion Commentary piece "Making an example of the U.S. president" (Oct. 20) is the first clear, concise, sane and historically accurate piece of journalism I have read concerning the Clinton affair. It deserves national syndication.

Barbara Katz

Baltimore

I am outraged by Daniel Berger's misleading representation of the central issue in the Clinton crisis.

The issues are these: Did the president lie or distort the truth under oath, and did he attempt to influence others to do likewise?

Why he may have lied is irrelevant, especially since no issue of national security was involved.

Mr. Berger indicts various elements of our culture for offensive sleaze, including Newt Gingrich, "Baywatch," Howard Stern and Jerry Springer. Does Mr. Berger imagine that President Clinton's acts are helping to reverse the societal trend he deplores?

Bob Heaton

Cockeysville

Country needs to be saved from the Republican party

The column by Bob Herbert is 100 percent accurate ("A cry for voters to save the country from GOP policies," Oct. 15).

The Republican agenda has always been to help billionaires.

The agenda is against clean air and water and against minimum-wage increases, which help get people off of welfare.

Rocco Rotondo

Jr. Baltimore

Special education emerged where regular classes failed

Special education bleeds money from city public schools, according to The Sun's recent "Lost Learning" series (Sept. 20-22). Too many children receive special education.

A few basic points seem to have been overlooked, however. First, children are referred by regular educators; they are not recruited by special education. Second, they are referred because regular education fails them.

Ideas being floated to shrink special education might improve the bottom line, but not teaching or learning. The fact that regular education continues to fail its own students, who presumably are easier to teach, underscores the point.

Michael S. Rosenberg's commentary ("Special education: Improve staff . . ." Oct. 9) concludes that various policies and procedures have not been implemented. I agree. But, perhaps inadvertently, the otherwise excellent article conveys the impression that teachers are to blame for school failure; "startling" and "shocking" data about teachers are adduced.

Isn't it equally important to ask who hires the legions of unqualified personnel? Nowhere in the commentary can I locate the word "administrator," although these are the folks who do the implementing.

Marc P. Jacobs

Baltimore

Article highlighted shame of destroying our history

A note to commend you for the article "History goes up in flames" (Oct. 8). While I serve at the Cathedral of Our Mary the Queen in the city, my home is Cecil County, not far from the Ford Mansion which, senselessly, was razed recently.

Thank you for the decision to put the story on the front page. By doing so, the issue of preserving historic sites in Maryland is brought home to our citizens and legislature. It is a burning issue in both the literal and figurative sense of the word.

What seems so deplorable about the destruction of the Ford Mansion, built in the 18th century is that no one is taking responsibility for the deed -- not the North East Fire Department, not the Cecil County Health Department, not MIE Properties Inc. of Baltimore, which bought the property.

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