Domestic abuse isn't just a quarrel that turns violent...


April 23, 2000

Domestic abuse isn't just a quarrel that turns violent

It was very disheartening to read about the young woman murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Charles Village on April 16.

What was even more disheartening was how the event was described in Mark Ribbing's article, "Man fatally shoots girlfriend, kills himself in Charles Village" (April 17).

"An apparent lover's quarrel" simply does not do justice to what happened to this young woman, or what is happening to women and men across the country every single day.

"A lovers quarrel" may evoke images of a simple disagreement, but this case shows signs of explicit domestic violence.

The woman feared for her life and tried to escape, even eliciting the help of her neighbors who "could tell she knew she was going to die."

In an overwhelming majority of domestic violence cases, the most dangerous time for a victim is when she or he leaves the abusive relationship.

An abuser has such a strong desire for power and control over the situation, including the victim, that when that control is taken away, he or she will go to any lengths to regain it.

I implore the media to resist the urge to glorify domestic violence as disagreements gone poorly and "ending violently," and show respect for the issues at hand.

Jessica M. Cavey


The writer is education coordinator for Turnaround Inc., a domestic violence and sexual assault counseling center.

Bush's education record pales next to Gore's

The young man who wrote recently that we should have Texas Gov. George W. Bush's education policies in Maryland may not have visited Texas ("Gov. Bush's record shows he can reform education," letters, April 11).

After Mr. Bush pushed through $2.8 billion in property tax reform, the state cut services to students with learning disabilities to help offset that loss of revenues.

Educators are also concerned by the increase in hate crimes in and out of schools.

Yet the Texas governor voted against an anti-hate crimes bill in Texas immediately following the dragging death of an African-American in that state.

On the other hand, Vice President Al Gore cast a tie-breaking vote for gun control in the U.S. Senate, called for a return to affirmative action and has proposed more funding for students with learning disabilities.

Hilda Coyne


More women need to understand computing

Susan Reimer's column "Girls show their smarts: Computers are `stupid'" (April 18) misrepresented the findings of a recent report sponsored by the American Association of University Women.

The report stated what many of us in the field know to be the case: Women are underrepresented in computer-related disciplines.

Its important new finding is that girls (and many others) have a misconception that computer-related careers are isolated or boring and that workers in the field are immature and unattractive.

Computer culture should be welcoming to anyone who has an interest in and enjoys the challenge of problem solving. That is what computer science is all about.

It might interest Ms. Reimer to know that the first computer programmers were women. That doesn't surprise me, since some of my best students are female.

So please, no more talk about how great it is that women can use the computer for e-mail or to purchase consumer goods.

Isn't it obvious that how computers will be used in the future, will be determined by those who understand them?

And those "in the know" must include more women.

Roberta E. Sabin


The writer chairs the Computer Science Department at Loyola College.

Gates' philanthropy knows some bounds

The caption with The Sun's April 6 picture of Bill Gates and President Clinton noted: "President Clinton praised Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates for his charitable contributions."

That praise may be well deserved, but isn't it a shame that Mr. Gates couldn't spare a smidgen of charity for his business competitors. For them, it was strictly "search and destroy."

Also, we cynics can't help wondering whether the contributions the president praised included some that were, strictly speaking, other than charitable ones.

Alfred H. Funk Jr.


Did police need to shoot Palczynski -- 27 times?

The Baltimore County state's attorney's office is reportedly standing by its preliminary assessment that police actions in the final moments of the Dundalk hostage crisis were justified ("Palczynski hit 27 times, autopsy concludes," April 12). But some nagging questions remain.

The police decision to act quickly to rescue the remaining hostage was understandable. Their decision to enter with guns blazing is another matter.

Joseph Palczynski was asleep when police burst into the house. Police accounts say Palczynski then began rising from the couch and had firearms close by.

A person emerging from sleep would naturally stir in response to the clamor. But he would also be hard-pressed to quickly reach for and fire a weapon.

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