Letters To The Editor


September 19, 2006

Reverence for life makes us different

In his attempt to whitewash his administration's shameful record of blatant Geneva Conventions violations through proposed legislation, President Bush seems to miss a very fundamental truth ("Bill could thwart detainee abuse trials," Sept. 17).

In proposing that America should permit evidence gained through coercion to be used to convict terror suspects and deny accused individuals the right to see the evidence that may be used to convict them, the Bush administration blurs the line that is supposed to divide our just and good country from rogue states that have no regard for human rights.

As Americans, we do not do what is right because it is convenient; we do what is right because it is our moral obligation.

We must also do what is right and obey the Geneva guidelines in order to protect our troops, who could be subject to reciprocal abuses at the hands of their captors if we don't respect the rules.

Although he claims his favorite philosopher is Jesus, the president seems to have forgotten the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Our respect for life should be what separates us from our enemies.

Ted Knight


Geneva guidelines are clear enough

It is extremely important that President Bush does not get his way with his proposed plan to "define" the rules in the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of detainees ("Security issues set Republican state," Sept. 16).

The framers of the Geneva Conventions were wise to employ the vagueness that the president dislikes.

Because the rules describe the principles of appropriate treatment in a general way, which adults can understand, any person in a position to decide on the treatment of detainees must ask himself or herself how the world will judge the treatment he or she uses.

Defining the rules more precisely would create openings in the law and remove the essential caution that is prompted by good judgment.

If, for instance, we created a list of prohibited forms of abuse, then if a form of mistreatment were not on the list, people would think it is OK.

I see an analogy here with dress code rules in high school (I am a teacher).

The adults would like to say, "Please come to school dressed in a decent and presentable manner."

Children refuse to accept this generality, so a list of specific allowable dress is defined.

Try as we might, students find creative ways to work around the rules.

It pains me that Mr. Bush seems to want to relinquish adult judgment.

Daniel Conrad


A place to pray for more housing?

The sad photo of the beginning of the end of the Rochambeau made me wonder why any religious organization would chose to destroy a building that could provide housing in a city with so many in need of homes ("Building gives up the ghost," Sept. 17).

Razing the building seems to go against all religious teaching - and seems to imply that one should "love thy neighbor," but only from a distance.

I hope that when the planned "prayer garden" is complete, it becomes a place for people to come and pray for a place to live.

Lisa Pintzuk

Owings Mills

Church's arrogance difficult to fathom

So, despite everything, the Rochambeau apartment building is coming down ("Building gives up the ghost," Sept. 17).

It's hard to fathom the arrogance of the archdiocese in this matter. Using a misapplication of the federal Religious Land Use Act, it is doing something other groups might not be allowed to do.

This thwarting of local preservation laws - and of the will of citizens - makes one grateful we live in a country that still espouses the separation of church and state.

Mary Beacom Bowers


Razing links icons of religious freedom

In all of the discussion of the Rochambeau's demise, I have not seen mention of an extremely positive result of its replacement by the projected prayer garden.

As a former student of urban history, I have great respect and regard for historic and noteworthy structures.

But the urban landscape is far more than an accretion of individual buildings. And the positive advantage of replacing the Rochambeau with the garden will be the visual linking of Benjamin Latrobe's Basilica of the Assumption with a contemporary ecclesiastical structure, the domed Unitarian Church, built in 1817 at the corner of Franklin and Charles streets.

The visual relationship of these structures will present the most striking example of how our young nation's freedom of religion was actualized in its civic life.

At a time when religious fundamentalism, especially that of Islamic terrorists, threatens the world, this symbol of toleration in democratic society will be a vivid alternative.

The Rev. Thomas W. Bauer


The writer is a retired Episcopal priest.

Where's tolerance from Muslim world?

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