Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 13, 2008

Concealed guns could save lives

What a senseless, preventable and sad tragedy it is that a young, productive man was cut down by a thug on the day of his first child's birth ("Birth, death collide on Mother's Day," May 12).

In Virginia, Carlos Santay might have had a chance to defend himself and to live a productive life with his young wife and child.

In Virginia, honest citizens are allowed to conceal a firearm. Perhaps the thug who ruined so many lives on that fateful day might not have been so bold as to rob and kill Mr. Santay if he had thought he might be packing a weapon.

It is time Maryland allowed its citizens the same right 39 other states do by passing a law that allows people to carry concealed weapons.

This would ensure that Maryland's violent crime statistics would improve, as even thugs don't want to die.

Gary Gamber, Reisterstown

The real threats to our freedom

Signs such as "Caution: Coffee is hot" are admittedly idiotic and, therefore, easy to scorn ("The land of the free gives way to a nation of crushing uniformity," Commentary, May 11). But they aren't much of a threat to anybody's individuality or freedom.

Laws such as the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which violates our 800-year-old habeas corpus rights, and the Orwellian-named Protect America Act, which shreds the Fourth Amendment, are such a threat.

But in their Mr. Magoo-like critique of the state of American freedom, Leonard Pitts Jr. and his interviewee, Anna, completely overlook such grave setbacks to our freedom.

Unfortunately, their gaze has been distracted by litigiousness and political correctness - which is a relative sideshow.

Daniel Fleisher, Baltimore

Loyalty oaths insult our liberty

I read with pride and admiration that Quaker Wendy Gonaver lost her job at California State University, Fullerton for refusing to sign a loyalty oath ("Loyalty oath costs teacher her job," May 7).

As a Quaker, I can say that this Friend's testimony and subsequent economic suffering after her act of conscience are entirely consistent with the many similar expressions of faith by members of the Religious Society of Friends over the past 350 years.

Such Friends are an inspiration to us.

On the other hand, my native state of California and Cal State Fullerton appear rather petty and foolish.

Loyalty oaths serve no useful or legitimate public purpose, except perhaps to later add perjury as a bargaining chip to a list of charges for some real or imagined breach of national security.

Otherwise, they function simply as a mean-spirited attempt to intimidate persons of conscience.

I know this because I refused to sign a similar oath in the Fresno County school system in 1970. I was then alternately bullied and cajoled to sign it because people argued, in the first place, that doing so was a matter of the highest civic duty and, in the second, that I could be sure that no one would pay any attention to the oath after I had signed it.

What pitiful nonsense.

By continuing to demand loyalty oaths from jobholders, Cal State Fullerton will get what it wants - if what it wants is to winnow out employees of liberal conscience and genuine principle.

Then it will certainly get what it deserves.

William O. Miles, Baltimore

Will others fight oath requirement?

Richard C. Paddock's article on a law from the communist-threat era ("Loyalty oath costs teacher her job," May 7) reads like an opinion column, stating as it does that the main effect of the law is "to weed out religious believers, particularly Quakers and Jehovah's Witnesses."

If that assertion is true, it's hard to imagine any court would agree with the claim of Cal State University that the law "did not discriminate against [fired teacher Wendy] Gonaver because all employees are required to sign the oath."

The editorial leeway granted the article's author seems odd, if curiously refreshing.

The fact that the state can enforce a loyalty pledge should remind us how precariously thin the veneer of American freedom can be.

Please follow up and let us know if anyone else will step up to challenge this law.

Robert O'Connell, Baltimore

Police beating just reprehensible

As I watched the video of the police officers beating men who hadn't been convicted of any crime, I felt sick to my stomach ("Police in Phila. investigated in beatings," May 8).

Police officers are trained to use only the force necessary to effect an arrest. But from what I've seen of the video, at no time did the officers attempt to arrest these men; they just beat the hell out of them.

The behavior of these officers is reprehensible. And to those who say we shouldn't rush to judgment, I say, there's no need to rush to judgment - the video speaks for itself.

If this type of gang violence by the police isn't punished to the fullest extent of the law, then sooner or later, the people will turn on those who are sworn to "protect and serve."

Olatunji Mwamba, Baltimore

The writer is an officer of the Maryland State Police.

Cyclone just part of warming world

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