Misguided approach to drugs may explain high murder rate...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 11, 2001

Misguided approach to drugs may explain high murder rate

I was intrigued by The Sun's chart showing the city's murders and murder rate per 100,000 from 1812 to 2000 ("Fewer than 300 homicides at last," Jan. 1).

The city's current population was reported as 632,681. When you look back in history for a similar population, it came about 1914. The difference is that the murder rate then was about 4.3 per 100,000 residents, as opposed to our current 48.2.

The major cause for the difference is attributed to the drug trade. From 1960, when "an escalating drug trade" began, to 2000, about 9,000 people have been killed.

A column by Jonathan Power, "China's sad history of the opium trade" (Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 9, 1996) reported that Mao Tse-tung kept China from opium for 40 years through a "mixture of carrot and stick -- addicts were not condemned but offered medical help and rehabilitation. Those who were uncooperative were sent to labor camps or imprisoned; dealers were summarily executed."

If our politicians had adopted a version of this hard-line approach, I wonder how many lives, families, businesses and neighborhoods would have been saved?

Or, maybe restricted legalization of drugs would be closer to the answer.

But our past middle-of-the-road approach, guided by entrenched Democratic politicians, has been fatal.

Geary Foertsch

Lutherville

Kenya's president belongs to a much smaller tribe

In today's journalistic universe, The Sun's tribal misidentification of Daniel arap Moi may not count for much. But President Moi is a Tougan, not a Luo; it is his erstwhile ally du jour, Raila Odinga, who is of Luo origin ("Storm clouds over Kenya," Jan. 5).

As a Tougan, Mr. Moi belongs to one of the smallest of Kenya's 43 tribes, and his mother tongue is of Kalenjin origin. To have survived so long, he has had to forge alliances not only with other Kalenjin-based tribes but with those from other language groups.

Moreover, the Luos, centered in the Kisumu-Lake Victoria area, are not a "small tribe" but Kenya's third-largest.

Not too much should be made of the recent rupture in the Moi-Odinga relationship. Mr. Moi has survived without Luo backing in the past and, if he decides to ignore the term limit imposed by Kenya's constitution and runs in 2002, he could again prevail.

Some see him as a ham-handed autocrat. No one could say, though, that he has been anything less than politically nimble. As a Tougan, he has had to be.

Charles H. Trout

Chestertown

Facility may help addicts, but it hurts property values

The Sun's editorial "Full chance for halfway house" (Jan. 4) addresses only half the problems facing the immediate community.

The stigma attached to a substance-abuse halfway house is a deterrent for a prospective property buyer. Thus, such a facility deflates property values and denies residents the true monetary value of their homes.

How about giving the locals half a chance to get the full value for their homes?

Herb Griffin

Brooklyn Park

Don't count on treatment rehabilitating Graziano

I am the son of an alcoholic. My father's drinking devastated me as a boy and, after frequent treatments over his lifetime that failed, he died at age 52.

If Mayor Martin O'Malley is convinced a 30-day leave of absence for alcohol abuse treatment will cure the problems facing his housing commissioner, the mayor is in for a big disappointment ("O'Malley OKs paid leave for Graziano," Jan. 5)

The obscene conduct of Commissioner Paul T. Graziano is not just an insult to the gay community.

It is a threat to the respect the citizens have for Mr. O'Malley and reflects shamefully on Baltimore's reputation.

Mr. Graziano should resign or be dismissed.

Walter Boyd

Lutherville

Real `eco-terrorists' are those destroying open spaces

I read with great interest The Sun's article about the Earth Liberation Front ("Environmental group says it burned houses," Jan. 4).

It seems that eco-terrorists are those who perpetuate terror on the ecosystem. To give that designation to the ELF misses the point entirely.

Those who develop forests, wetlands and open space for the sole purpose of making a buck are the real eco-terrorists and should be stopped.

The ELF presents one method among many to protect the environment.

Myles Hoenig

Baltimore

Mideast coverage is unfair to Israelis

The Sun's article "Mideast peace efforts falter: Jewish radical, Fatah official killed in new shootings" (Jan. 1) was very misleading.

Fatah leaders were labeled "official" or "activist." The murdered Jewish victims were labeled "radical extremist" because they were related to the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was gunned down like his son and daughter-in-law.

Is it radical and extremist to protect and defend yourself? Is it proper to call people who send children on suicide missions and throw rocks and firebombs "Fatah officials," instead of "terrorists"?

Kahane and his son never murdered anyone. They only advocated that if Arabs and Jews could not live in peace together, they should live separately.

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