Protesters were right to push for ratification of women's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 09, 1999

Protesters were right to push for ratification of women's rights pact

The Sun's two-paragraph summary "Helms has congress women removed from hearing" (Oct. 28) was dissapointing on several fronts.

It provided readers no background on the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This important treaty establishes international standards for the treatment of women and girls.

The treaty has led to such tangible advances in gender equality as new constitutional provisions concerning women's basic rights in such countries as Brazil, South Africa and Uganda.

In Japan, CEDAW has helped women fight job discrimination. In Bangladesh, it has been used to fight discriminatory inheritance laws.

One hundred sixty-five countries have ratified this treaty. The United States has not.

The article also failed to point out that the congresswomen attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting because CEDAW has been held hostage by Sen. Jesse Helms for five years.

The congresswomen had become frustrated by their unsuccessful efforts to discuss the treaty with Mr. Helms.

Their actions point to the fact that those who support women's rights are deeply frustrated and should not have to wait longer. It is time for the Senate to act.

Why are Maryland's senators (particularly Paul Sarbanes, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee) not taking the lead in pressing for ratification?

Jonathan Pearson, Takoma Park

Dedicated city educators deserve some applause

The Sun's article "Reform on a shoestring" (Oct. 8) alleges that Baltimore's schools do not have enough "top-notch principals and teachers." My question is: Does The Sun possess the power to stop bashing conscientious, caring and competent public school leaders and teachers?

Only two weeks before that article, the paper reported that 48 Baltimore City ministrators and teachers the paper likes to berate for failing the children.

It's true that Baltimore has more schools eligible for state takeover than any other subdivision and must work overtime to attract qualified individuals to leadership and classroom positions.

Unfortunately, every educator does not want the challenges of our urban school system. Everyone does not want to stretch resources to make ends meet and provide basic services.

However, our city is fortunate to have many quality educators who invest themselves totally (including their own resources) in serving Baltimore's children.

Please celebrate our accomplishments and give Baltimore City public school employees the credit they deserve.

Sheila Z. Kolman, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Public School Administrators and Supervisors Assn. of Baltimore City.

Is it only news when straight men kill gays?

On Sept. 26, Jeffrey Dirkhising, a 13-year-old Arkansas boy, was tortured, raped and murdered by two homosexual men he and his parents knew and trusted.

I have not seen any coverage of this in The Sun, although it may have been bur ied in the small print somewhere. Certainly, the paper has had nothing to equal its coverage of Matthew Shepard's murder.

The non-coverage of this murder reeks of bias.

Not all heterosexual people are dangerous to children, but some are. Not all homosexual people are dangerous to children, either; but the politically incorrect truth is that some are.

Apparently, The Sun has an agenda, and negative news about homosexual people is unacceptable.

Lilice Wickman, Ellicott City

We must accept difference and learn to live together

Why do people so often equate protecting the rights of gays and lesbians with promoting perversion?

Whether you support gay rights or not, you must support human rights. Human beings must be protected from all forms of harassment.

We all know gays and lesbians, and our children probably go to school with kids who have same-sex parents.

We must learn to accept differing lifestyles, just as we accept cultural diversity. That doesn't mean you must approve: It means you accept differences and get on with your own business.

We are all God's children. We all must live in the world together.

It's as simple as that.

Susan Garde, Marriottsville

Free speech controversies confuse symbols and reality

Considering such recent controversies over free speech as a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning and attempts to ban the Harry Potter books, I am reminded of Joseph Campbell's observation that Westerners have difficulty distinguishing symbols from reality.

If I strike someone, I risk inflicting real harm. However, if I destroy a piece of my own property, even an American flag, I hurt no one. Any meaning attached to the act exists in an abstract realm.

Likewise, a book or art object is a danger only in the interpreter's mind.

Once we attempt to regulate the "offensive," we've made the transition from political correctness to thought control.

culed to illustrate a larger truth. No one calls this blasphemy, takes the story personally or is inspired to violence.

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