Letters To The Editor

December 28, 2007

Bhutto's murder is attack on democracy

The audacious and outrageous assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is an attack not only upon her and the country she loved but also on the civilized and democratic world.

It is an assault that must be met with a renewed fervor to root out terrorism wherever it flourishes.

Ms. Bhutto could have chosen to remain out of the spotlight, enjoying a comfortable life in exile.

She instead chose to return to Pakistan, knowing full well of the dangers of doing so - dangers that have regularly been reinforced since the day of her return, when a lethal attack on her caravan was perpetrated.

The courage and heroism she displayed will cause her to be remembered as a true martyr.

Those who were responsible for Ms. Bhutto's death must be hunted down and swiftly executed, and their allies should be given no sympathy or comfort anywhere in the world.

Yesterday, the terrorists won a key battle.

They must not be permitted to win the war.

Oren M. Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

State's belt pulled quite tight already

The Sun's editorial "A tighter belt" (Dec. 21) suggests that state agencies should accept still further cuts in response to limited state revenues.

Perhaps the editors are unfamiliar with the belt-tightening at the state level over the last five years.

Maryland has 3,230 fewer state employees now than it had in 2002, according to a recent report from the General Assembly's Spending Affordability Committee.

And state employees are consistently doing more with less. Caseloads for workers in parole and probation, juvenile services and foster care continue to increase. Inmates overpopulate prisons. State psychiatric hospitals have more clients than predicted.

While workloads burst open, many employees leave for better jobs and working conditions. The hiring freeze limits replacements. Then, in frustration, yet more employees leave in search of better pay.

This issue goes way beyond the impact of budget cuts on individual employees, however.

Maryland government has huge responsibilities preventing abuse to children and the elderly and making sure that prisons, parolees and probationers are monitored, foster care homes are located properly and the state's juveniles receive rehabilitation.

State employees make sure regulations to protect the environment, workers and consumers are enforced.

So we need to ask: Do we want to have a state government that improves the quality of life of Marylanders?

If the answer is yes, we need to understand that further cuts will jeopardize that goal.

Sue Esty

Baltimore

The writer is the assistant director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - Maryland.

Texas shows how to handle crime

This year, the state of Texas has put down more criminals than all the rest of the states in this country combined - despite the best efforts of the nation's courts, with their "evolving standards," to rewrite the rules again and again to prevent justice ("Texas carries out 60% of the executions in U.S. this year," Dec. 26).

All that means is that the people of Texas have better sense in choosing their public officials than we do. They've got more backbone than anyone in Maryland's government or any other state in the union.

Hurrah for the government and people of Texas for knowing how to handle crime.

If we have a problem with the death penalty, it is that we do not apply it more often to more criminals and more crimes.

M. Norman Ryan

Bel Air

Tree-lighting defense insults intelligence

Excuse me, but if it's an evergreen tree and it has lights on it and it's December, then it's a Christmas tree ("Schools walk holiday line," Dec. 23).

It is an insult to our basic intelligence, much less to Jewish and Muslim students, to listen to Carney Elementary School Principal Eileen Roberta speciously defend the practice of the annual tree-lighting on school grounds as "festive," claiming, "It's just lights on a tree. ... It's not a religious activity."

Her view is echoed by Meg O'Hare, a Baltimore County school board member, who insists that "this isn't a religious observation" because "we're not putting the baby Jesus out there, for God's sake."

Their implication is that those pesky troublemakers who object should just back off and let the local majority (which is overwhelmingly Christian) have their community celebration (which is undeniably religious in nature) despite the fact that it takes place not only on public property but on school grounds - a place that should be free from any religious influence.

The Jewish teacher who registered a complaint about the Christmas lights should not have to endure being cast as some sort of Scrooge for defending the right of all students to be able to attend school in an atmosphere that promotes tolerance and diversity.

Ruth Goldstein

Pikesville

Christian symbols marginalize others

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