Letters To The Editor


February 16, 2005

Teaching youths to be smarter about sexuality

I agree with Bronwyn Mayden that abstinence-only programs do not work ("Media messages render abstinence programs ineffective," Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 9). But leaving sex education to MTV and HBO is equally ineffective in teaching our young people healthy sexuality. We need to develop a moderate and balanced approach to ensure our young people receive the comprehensive sex education they must have to make good decisions for themselves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2003, there were 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in this country. Almost half of these infections were among people ages 15 to 24.

The medical field honestly informs people who are obese to exercise self-restraint and change their lifestyles. Our young people should hear the truth: STD prevention is more than using condoms; it is also about self-restraint and changing a lifestyle of casual sex with multiple partners that has been glamorized in youth-oriented media.

I do not advocate censorship, as Ms. Mayden does. I would rather join forces with the media by appealing to their duty as fellow citizens with an interest in the emotional and physical health of the young people who are their primary source of business.

As MTV campaigned to "Rock the Vote," its next public service could be to provide balanced sexual messages to our youths.

Finally, young people must accept that they are responsible for protecting themselves and others from unwanted pregnancy and STDs.

Carol P. Saucier


Democrats defend interests of young

In his column "Youth under siege" (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 9), Anirban Basu claims that every public policy decision being made today is hostile to the young, and he provides some examples. But he also asserts that this hostility is bipartisan, and here he offers no substantiation.

In fact, regarding meddling with Social Security, he is dead wrong when he tars Democrats along with Republicans.

The writer's overall point about society's economic exploitation of the young is well taken. But - remarkably - Democrats have emerged strongly united in defense of Social Security, a program founded on solidarity among all generations.

Daniel Fleisher


Anirban Basu quite rightly suggests that the present political establishment is effectively heaping billions in debt upon the backs of its children and their children.

It does seem a bit much, however, to state, as Mr. Basu does, "Stay ignorant, and you will always be a Democrat."

I was under the impression that it was Republicans who engineered the massive tax cut for which our children will be paying long after we are gone. But what do I know? I am merely an ignorant Democrat, and a grandfather to boot.

A. J. Downs


Looting pension plan will not `rescue' it

Larry Beinhart was right ("Labels trump facts in Social Security debate," Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 11). People react to having their buttons pushed, and to call President Bush's plan for Social Security "reform" or "rescue" pushes the wrong button.

People will react to a reform or rescue in a positive way, even when they hear the truth.

As Mr. Beinhart suggests, let's call the plan what it is - "looting" Social Security.

Pamela Wilson


New NASA budget limits our learning

The important science being shortchanged by the administration's proposed NASA budget is exactly that which has the most likelihood of providing answers to questions about the origin of the universe ("Vision threatens space science," Feb. 13).

Do those making this budget decision also have a Christian fundamentalist world view, and might this explain the shift in emphasis?

Paul M. Heid


Bush sends message to world's terrorists

The tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, taught the United States that we must wage war when it is in our national security interest to do so, even if that is before we are attacked ("No end," editorial, Feb. 13).

The U.S. government's absolute responsibility is to make us safe. By attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, we have sent a message to the terrorists that plan to kill us: We will hunt you down and kill you first.

I am sure that same message is now being heard by Iran, Syria and North Korea. And that is why our troops will stay in Iraq until the job is done.

Ron Wirsing

Havre de Grace

Sectarian chaos will engulf Iraq

In Iraq, a country cobbled together in the aftermath of World War I by the British, who ignored the existing ethnic and sectarian divisions of the region, a prescription for eventual civil war was all but ensured by the election results ("Majority Shiites win Iraq vote," Feb. 14).

The outcome of these elections was quite predictable - sectarian Shiite dominance with a nationalist Kurdish slate coming in second and the Sunni Arabs all but excluded.

This administration ignored the potential for civil strife in its headlong rush to invade the country, remove Saddam Hussein from power and install a government to its liking.

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