Neglecting roads won't protect nature or ease...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 24, 1999

Neglecting roads won't protect nature or ease congestion

David Bingham's letter, "More highways bring more sprawl, congestion" (Aug. 15), indicates that the writer is either uninformed on transportation matters or prejudiced by an unreasonable fear that any roadway improvement will result in "overdevelopment."

Neglecting our roads will neither reduce congestion nor improve the environment. If we want people to locate and remain in "existing developed areas," as Mr. Bingham suggests, we must provide a transportation network that supports that choice.

Until we do, people will seek ways to avoid congested areas -- which forces them to move further from desired growth locations and exacerbates the very problem we hope to avoid.

Mr. Bingham's response to the letter by Marylanders for Efficient and Safe Highways (MESH) executive director Robert Latham ("More drivers are coming," July 24), fails to address the facts Mr. Latham presented: That Maryland's population will increase significantly by 2020; that current transportation funding for both highways and mass transit won't meet the state's future mobility needs; and that failure to properly address transportation needs will harm the state's environment and quality of life.

MESH strongly supports adequate funding for a balanced transportation system, including much-needed capital improvements for both highway and public transportation to reduce congestion.

"Smart Growth" cannot and will not occur without the highway and transportation improvements in question.

Robert L. McKinney

Towson

The writer is president of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce.

To stop hate crimes, ban hate-mongering

In a multicultural nation, harmony is essential to avert chaos. Thwarting hate crimes begins with outlawing hate-mongering ("Clinton, Jewish leaders discuss need to thwart hate crimes," Aug. 13).

Hate speech fuels discord, jeopardizing the interests of society as a whole. The unfettered dissemination of hate speech is explosive.

The role of free speech is to guarantee the free exchange of ideas. Threats, intimidation, incitement, hatred are not ideas.

Other democracies have prohibited hate speech without any erosion of vital freedoms. The Supreme Court has deemed defamation, insults and "fighting words" outside the protection of the First Amendment.

When a black man is dragged to his death for being black; when a homosexual youth is brutally beaten, hung on a fence and left to die for being gay; when 5- and 6-year-old children are shot and maimed for being Jewish -- how can we blind ourselves to the fact that hate speech is corrosive and dangerous?

Claims of free speech must be subject to scrutiny; their consequences must be taken into account and right weighed against right.

Knee-jerk defense of free speech can erode even more fundamental rights, including the right to life itself.

Rea Knisbacher

Baltimore

Protecting hate and guns fosters a killing society

It has become all too routine to see children kill children, racists and other hate-filled people kill innocent people and all the "experts" wonder why.

I think there's a very simple explanation: The American Civil Liberties Union defends the right of hate groups to exist and the National Rifle Association protects their right to their weapons of choice.

These organizations foster and support a killing society.

W. Donald Bell

Baltimore

I am outraged that special interest groups are sheltered by the Constitution and groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union. These groups protect white supremacists and the Aryan Nation, stressing their right to free speech.

I believe in that right, but these groups refuse even to allow the FBI to keep track of and infiltrate such supremacist groups. We are not talking about the 1960s subversives here, but hate groups.

It sickens me to see someone gunned down because they worship the Star of David instead of the crucifix.

As a law-abiding, gun-owning American, when will my rights be protected?

Philip J. Ohler

Cockeysville

Easy access to guns contributes to tragedies

E. C. Cannon's letter "Don't rush to blame guns for Atlanta shooting tragedy," (Aug. 9), hints that Mark Barton, the perpetrator of the Atlanta shooting, snapped -- so why blame guns?

The fact is that had Mr. Barton not been able to obtain a gun, this tragedy would not have occurred.

How many more massacres must we endure before Congress does its duty?

Morris Grossman

Baltimore

Sanford Abrams, vice president of the Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association Inc. ended his letter ("Would gun control have prevented Los Angeles shooting?" Aug 17) criticizing The Sun's editorial advocacy of more gun control ("More innocents, more gunfire, more pain," Aug. 12) with the sentence: "Something is very wrong with this picture."

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