Saturday Mailbox

August 20, 2005

Foe of abortion shows disregard for democracy

Stephen Peroutka is not only the chairman of the National Pro-Life Action Center but a Maryland lawyer ("Roberts' words give abortion foes reason to be wary," Opinion/Commentary, Aug. 9). Yet his column shows that the foundations of anti-abortion beliefs are truly anti-American because they are anti-democratic.

Mr. Peroutka asserts that "We" - by which he mean America - "declared that the laws of nature and nature's God take precedence over unjust decrees, even when those decrees are wrapped in the guise of law."

One can almost taste Mr. Peroutka's disdain for the rule of law. He certainly doesn't think our laws apply to him since he answers to a "higher law," which trumps the laws that originate from what Mr. Peroutka calls, "the whim of the majority."

But this country is founded on laws. It is not founded on religious laws as Iran is, but the laws of "We the People."

And democracy is no "whim of the majority." Majority rule - based on reasoned and open debate and deliberation - is the foundation of self-rule, human rights and political freedom.

In our society, you may believe that a group of human cells has a "soul" and therefore should be treated as a person.

It is your right to hold your religious beliefs, no matter how bizarre they seem to me. But don't you dare suggest, especially as a lawyer, that your beliefs "take precedence" over our legitimately established laws.

Our laws are not to be respected only if they agree with your religious beliefs.

Our nation is based on the rule of law, and laws are created by the people, not by religious orders.

The wonderful and scary part of being a member of a democracy is that "We, the People," must make our own laws based on our own very human understanding of right and wrong.

Beware of those who claim a higher authority. In a democracy (and "demos" in Ancient Greek means "the people"), there is none.

"We, the People," are the highest authority.

Victor B. Marrow

Baltimore

Crystal meth poses very real dangers

Steve Chapman attempts to discredit crystal meth as a significant drug problem in the United States - even though a whopping 58 percent of 500 law-enforcement agencies surveyed in 45 states claim that meth is their biggest drug problem according to a recent survey by the National Association of Counties ("`Crystal meth crisis' should be taken with a grain of salt," Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 10).

Mr. Chapman downplays crystal meth as just a "new monster" in the "horror movie" of the country's drug war - one that is similar to the old monsters.

Well, this is true. It is a new monster in the drug war and it has become one of the most fierce. Any comparisons of meth to drugs like marijuana, are simply ridiculous.

Mr. Chapman uses a federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey to prove his theory that crystal meth is "not all that addictive." He even goes so far as to compare the addiction rate of crystal meth to the addiction rate of alcohol and tobacco.

Alcohol and tobacco products are legal for adults in this country. Obviously, they are going to have higher addiction rates than an illegal drug.

But compare the meth addiction rates to the rate for any other illegal drug, and you can see that methamphetamines are a huge public health problem in America.

SAMHSA's own Web site claims that meth is "a powerfully addictive drug that can cause aggression and violent or psychotic behavior."

I think I will trust its analysis of its own research.

Justin Thomas

Columbia

Sheehan stakes out a space for debate

Before Cindy Sheehan's campsite protest in Crawford, Texas, nationally elected representatives who opposed the actions of this administration were labeled as being weak on the defense of our country ("Bush can't give frank answers mother deserves," Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 16).

Effective dialogue was often muted and debate effectively shut down. Members of the administration were allowed to define patriotism.

Mrs. Sheehan obviously knows the human cost of war. And waving our flag and placing magnetic ribbons on cars and trucks did not satisfy her zeal to know the true purpose for her son's ultimate sacrifice for his democratic form of government.

It is a matter of public record that members of this administration have stated many different, and sometimes conflicting, reasons for starting this war.

Some of Mrs. Sheehan's detractors have attempted to ignore her message and focus on their definition of her motives.

But whether one agrees with her or not, she has conducted a practical display of democracy in action.

And she may have created an opening in the public psyche for intelligent debate to ensue.

Geraldine Wright-Bey

Baltimore

Learning the value of the 'mute' button

Reading Kevin Cowherd's column about the "generation gap" evidenced in cell phone camera use ("Camera phones give a fuzzy shot of generation gap," Aug. 15), I had a sudden revelation about what the TV remote version of his observation might be.

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