Letters To The Editor


April 30, 2004

Sun's sympathy for alleged killer insults victims

I got home from leaving a professional conference early because of a horrific tragedy that has shredded our small, tight-knit rural community. The first thing I did when I walked in the door was to pick up The Sun to see the latest account of the tragedy. But I was shocked and appalled that The Sun's article "Retired Loyola professor charged in fatal shootings" (April 27) focused not so much on the victims, but on the alleged murderer, and that it was his picture on the front page.

What was The Sun thinking? Why were Rita K. Hofler and Kevin J. Gehring's pictures not on the front page?

They, along with everyone who loved them (and there are many of us), are the victims of someone's selfishness, stupidity and anger.

The Sun highlighted the alleged murderer and added Mrs. Hofler and Mr. Gehring as an afterthought. The article goes on about what a great professor he was and is full of positive comments about his work from a colleague and a former student. But the man has been charged with murder.

Mrs. Hofler spent more than 20 years in Harford County schools teaching and contributing to the education of not only hundreds of first- and second-graders but also their parents and every young teacher she helped.

Mrs. Hofler's life was dedicated to her son Kevin and to her students. She was magic in and outside of the classroom, and she exemplified what all parents want in a teacher for their children. She wasn't afraid to hug her students, and in her classroom every student was special.

Her former students, my daughter included, begged their teachers to go visit with Mrs. Hofler in the morning before school started; it was the best way to start your day.

This tragedy has rocked our community. Shame on The Sun for playing up the man who allegedly caused so pain and anguish.

Our beloved Mrs. Hofler and her son Kevin will be deeply missed.

Cindy Etgen


Diversity no reason for discrimination

Implicit in Mayor Martin O'Malley's transparently political remarks about the all-white class of firefighter recruits ("Fire chief to avoid all-white classes," April 21) is the assumption that "diversity" is a value equivalent in weight and as highly esteemed as constitutional values such as equal treatment before the law.

In point of fact, the ideas of gender, racial and cultural diversity have no such lineage but at best are only social constructs to help achieve explicit constitutional ideas. Too often, however, as the mayor has demonstrated, in the hands of a politician they can become ends in themselves.

I simply do not believe that "diversity" is in the same league with such concepts as "all men are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."

Certainly, it does not justify unequal treatment to remedy a perceived racial imbalance.

John D. Schiavone


Sen. Kerry served with distinction

The Republicans reached the nadir of political campaigning when they challenged the military credentials of a true war hero, Sen. John Kerry ("Kerry battles criticism over anti-war protests," April 27).

This from the party that has as a candidate a man who avoided serving in the Vietnam War by serving in the Texas Air National Guard.

When a serviceman is wounded in a military action, that person deserves the Purple Heart; when one ducks the draft, he deserves our disdain.

I hope that President Bush will immediately apologize to Mr. Kerry and restrain those who are responsible for this reprehensible attack.

John P. Kimball


The Bush administration has recently made an issue of Sen. John Kerry's military record, his throwing away of his medals and ribbons during a protest, his comments in 1971 against the Vietnam War and whether he deserved his Purple Hearts.

But all of this pales in comparison to the question we should really be asking: Mr. President, what were you doing during the Vietnam War?

Shireen Gonzaga


Unverifiable voting will foster a fiasco

I cannot believe Maryland voters are being asked to trust electronic voting machines that do not produce a verifiable paper trail.

The Diebold Election Systems machines have been found on testing to have security flaws and be "susceptible to vote-switching" ("Suggested Calif. ban on voting equipment heartens Md. opponents," April 24).

California is considering simply banning all electronic voting in the November elections. Perhaps this is Maryland's only recourse now.

Should unverifiable voting take place in any state, the results of the presidential election would be so suspect that the Florida fiasco of 2000 would pale in comparison.

Elizabeth W. Goldsborough

Owings Mills

Meddling in market added to gas crisis

The laissez-faire approach of economics textbooks may sometimes be found wanting, but Thomas A. Firey's column "The price of bad policy" (Opinion Commentary, April 21) is a chastening reminder of the mischief legislators can perpetrate in trying to mindlessly second-guess the marketplace.

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