Jefferson-Hemings liaison nothing like president's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 08, 1998

Jefferson-Hemings liaison nothing like president's affair

The recent coverage of the Thomas Jefferson paternity matter and its correlation to the Clinton investigation is both Jefferson disturbing and perplexing.

First of all, the timing of the DNA testing results just before the election is not coincidental. Those who claim otherwise are being disingenuous at best and Clintonian at worst. Second, the comparison between Jefferson's liaison with his slave, Sally Hemings, and President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky is not only an affront to Jefferson but totally beyond the bounds of logical and inductive reasoning.

Jefferson was not married at the time. He was a widower. To the best of my knowledge, he did not lie before a grand jury. And, according to all biographies I have read, he truly loved this woman with whom he had a 20-plus year relationship, which was not a predominantly sexual one.

To which era or age will we have to revert next to glean some exoneration for the shameless and arrogant man we call our president in 1998?

Pamela T. Prenger

Baltimore

A pumpkin smash package that was a hit and intact

Thank you for Erika Niedowski's fine article and John Makely's colorful photographs of this year's pumpkin smash ("Halloween's end is smash for pumpkins," Nov. 2). During the same week that articles ran in The Sun dealing with deplorable conditions in some schools, the public was also made aware of something very right with education.

Students from all over the metropolitan region were challenged to use imagination and creativity to design devices for the contest. Many hours of student and mentor time went into this volunteer effort.

The only omission from the article was the contribution of the businesses that sponsored the event. The largest contribution was from United Rental, which for the third year in a row donated the crane service as well as the time of operators Bobby Thomas and Mike Stack. Without their help none of this could happen.

Quality education does not occur in a vacuum. It needs the support and vigilance of the media and local businesses.

Phillip Brauer

Baltimore

Those who would skip draft should face firing squad

In a letter published Nov. 4, Kenneth A. Stevens calls his own conscript military service "involuntary servitude" ("No sexism allowed in military service"). He concludes: "Think about it. Should young men be regarded as any more expendable than young women? Are young women inherently incapable of doing the same things that young men do in the military or elsewhere? I say no to both."

As a combat infantry veteran, I say "yes" to both questions. And because military law recognizes no privilege of arguing over such matters during national emergencies, I say further that if people like Mr. Stevens insist on their viewpoint after being called for service, they should face the firing squad.

Willis Case Rowe

Catonsville

Anachronistic reporting on state of gay matters

Why is it that the newspaper's entertainment section continues to discuss the seemingly equivalent choices of pursuing a gay or heterosexual lifestyle?

Rob Hiaasen's "A question of conversion" (Nov. 1) is pure anachronism.

What's most disappointing is the focus on this topic comes on the heels of the recent decision by the largest private employer in Maryland to extend its benefits package to same-sex life partners.

Contrary to such antedated depictions, this is not the world we live in, and thankfully so. Despite fringe groups such as Exodus International and tragic incidents such as Matthew Shepard's murder last month, gay and lesbian people have earned their right to exist in modern America. We can pursue our careers, relationships and, yes, even procreational family units in relative freedom today.

It's a shame, however, that these realities continue to be challenged by our media, which continue to perpetuate this culture clash as if numerous marches on Washington, revelations of biologic casuality and an extended era of cultural visibility had not occurred.

To his credit, Mr. Hiaasen portrays the anguish many of us continue to experience when faced with the social barriers erected against gays and lesbians.

Many of us have been engaged in this dialogue ad infinitum over decades, and we are tired. To honor the debate sustained by Mr. Hiaasen's piece is to deny a wave of progress that lies behind us. It is time to move on.

We gay and lesbian Americans -- happy and free and usually able to ignore the clatter of marginal though occasionally extremist homophobes -- deserve more than this. And so does the rest of your readership, which ought to be able to pick up the Sunday paper without having to check the date on the masthead.

Chris Hall

Baltimore

Rob Kasper shared himself if not the pie crust recipe

Thanks so much for Rob Kasper's gentle reminder that things in the world don't mean a hill of beans when there's stories from a distant past to be heard and talked about around the kitchen table ("A slice of family life," Nov. 4).

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