Death penalty is throwback to barbaric past When Del...

LETTERS

June 18, 2000

Death penalty is throwback to barbaric past

When Del. Carmen Amedori asserted a moral imperative for fewer legal reviews and swifter state executions, she claimed that death penalty opponents say, "a death penalty is the moral equivalent of murder" ("Colvin-el case: victims' rights are diminished,"June 11).

Actually, reasonable death penalty opponents say that both murder and state-sponsored executions are morally wrong, not necessarily equally so.

But that kind of distinction is lost on many people, apparently even many of our leaders in government.

And that's why capital punishment is a pernicious example for government to set. Once a legitimized rationale has been established for the taking of human life, justifications for killing become that much easier.

State killings may not be morally equivalent to murder, but they may be even more reprehensible.

Since the first job of our government is to protect the life and liberty of its citizens, no crime could be greater than for the state to take the life of an innocent person (especially within a pattern of inferior legal representation or racial discrimination).

If Ms. Amedori is driven by the compassion she feels for "the loved ones of the victims [who] are weeping every day," she should reserve some of that compassion for the victims wrongly executed by their own government.

This is a tragic group -- for whom we are all responsible -- that is guaranteed to grow if Ms Amedori gets her wish to create "a more efficient system for executions."

It is understandable that the bereaved should seek retribution from those who have taken so much from them.

But it is the temperance and reason that we use to order our society that sets us apart from our barbaric past.

Capital punishment doesn't deter murder, bring back the dead or respect the dearness with which we claim to hold human life.

If we continue to kill killers, just to make ourselves feel better, then we haven't yet learned not to let our passions rule our reason or conscience.

Steve Shepherd

Millersville

Eugene Colvin-el deserved to die

I'm sorry, but although I try to be a Christian, I try to see the other person's point of view and I try to walk in my neighbor's shoes, I cannot agree with life imprisonment for Eugene Colvin-el.

Colvin-el was convicted of stabbing Lena Buckman 28 times. He certainly did not show any mercy in this brutal act.

He does not deserve to live and our tax money should not be used to keep him alive.

Marge Griffith

Pasadena

Cartoon slandered execution proponents

I have never really cared much for Mike Lane's so-called talent as a political cartoonist, but his June 9 editorial cartoon has caused me to write.

Mr. Lane's representation of proponents of the death penalty as a group of seedy, boozing slobs was a cheap, unwarranted attempt at humor.

Joe Rider

Glen Burnie

Air pollution threatens everyone

The Sun's article "Too much pollution" (June 11) mentioned a recent study by the American Lung Association reporting that Anne Arundel County has the worst air pollution in the state and the 11th worst in the nation.

It said that this is bad news for people suffering from breathing problems such as asthma.

However, it is really unhealthy for all people to breathe the air on red-alert days. Red-alert days like last Sunday are days when no one should be outside.

Children especially should not be outdoors on high-ozone pollution days.

Studies have shown that children who grow up in high air pollution areas have permanently diminished lung capacity.

Schools should keep students inside and allow no outdoor sports when ozone levels reach the red zone.

Recent utility deregulation in this state was an ideal opportunity to curb air pollution by requiring utilities to offer energy generated from renewable sources such as the sun and the wind.

But utilities and industry fought against this in the Maryland General Assembly, our legislators wimped out and we lost an opportunity for cleaner air.

Power plant pollution is a major cause of ozone smog. Maryland's members of Congress should fight for legislation to curb this pollution.

In addition, our state legislators should legislate strong programs to help Maryland use less electricity and begin shift as to non-polluting sources of electricity.

We need to let our members of Congress and our state legislators know we want clean air.

We need to tell them we are tired of being held prisoner indoors on high air pollution days, and they need to do something about it.

We have too much air pollution, and we need to speak up.

Joan Seward Willey

Annapolis

Fathers don't need more harassment

In a speech to the National Fatherhood Summit, Vice President Al Gore proposed tougher child support enforcement measures.

But when Mr. Gore claimed that only 25 percent of support owed was paid, one person in the audience interrupted and tried to point out the fact, proved in scientific studies, that more than 70 percent of fathers pay their child support, in full and on time.

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