Readers Respond


December 31, 2009

Homicides more important than home assessments

It was disheartening that the top story in Tuesday's Baltimore Sun was not the rising homicide rate but lowering assessments. The lack of focus on the fundamental issue of violence hinders progress in the city by pretending it isn't there. Presenting the murders as isolated incidents rather than part of a larger, systemic problem does not help us understand, analyze or stop the violence.

The murder rate, about half the rate of New York City - which has 8.5 million, or 13 times the number of people in Baltimore and which announced today the fewest homicides on record - should be a central issue for all of Baltimore and front-page news. We all need to confront the realities of the poverty that ravages our city and is the root cause of this high murder rate.

Further, the article does not address what is being done by the city to end this violence, if anything. Things can change, as evidenced by New York City's lowered murder rate; we need to follow their lead and move toward a better future for our city.

Danielle Shapiro, Baltimore

World's democracies need to stand against torture

There's a significant connection between two articles in The Sun on Dec. 30. "Museum will put Chile's tortured past on display" describes that nation's struggle to come to terms with the Pinochet regime's assault on both persons and the rule of law decades ago. Susan Goering's "'Gitmo North'? No thanks" points to the Obama administration's disappointingly feeble, evasive and very tardy attempts to put into practice the inaugural promise of January 2009 - the crucial promise to restore the rule of law in the U.S.

As far as I can tell, the only nation thus far that has dealt decisively with a reign of torture was Greece, which promptly put on trial and convicted both the highest-level military and political leaders of the 1967-1974 junta regime and some of the most cruel torturers. Public opinion in Greece strongly condemned the abuses, and that disapproval has held up over the years.

In contrast, none of the "great democracies" - the nations continually trumpeting their adherence to the rule of law - has ever faced up to its systematic use of torture, condoned and often directed by leaders at the highest level: not France in Algeria, not Great Britain in Ireland, not the U.S. in Vietnam, not Israel in the occupied territories. No wonder the scourge of torture continues to infect two-thirds or more of the nations on the planet, despite all the laws and treaties prohibiting it, and the deceitful, self-righteous declarations of the very persons who order it. And despite the fact that torture has always been an immoral and illegitimate device to intimidate and control "others," never an effective means of serving any legitimate purpose, for either criminal or military interrogations.

Joe Morton, Towson

Michael Vick should not be rewarded for cruel behavior

So we have an award for courage and overcoming adversity and we give it to who? Michael Vick? The person who for a long period of time tortured and killed innocent animals. The person who killed some with his own hands because they didn't perform as he wanted them to perform.

He had no regard for the pain and suffering he caused these animals. Fortunately he was caught, or he would still be killing and maiming dogs. He was fined and received a minimal prison sentence. The rescued dogs had to demonstrate courage and overcome adversity in order to survive and become normal dogs. Did it take courage for Mr. Vick to treat these dogs as he did? Did he overcome adversity because he had to spend time in prison?

Some say "Well, he made a mistake." What he did was not a "mistake." It was ongoing violent, cruel behavior that, in my opinion, demonstrates a very flawed character, a very sick mind and a person totally without any regard for life. A person who would do these things to animals would surely not hesitate to do them to a human being.

This sort of thing is what is so wrong with today's society. You can maim, kill, steal or commit any other crime and it's not only OK, we'll give you an award for it!

Margaret Patterson, Baltimore

A different airport security experience at Heathrow

I would like to refute M Hadley's description of lax security at Heathrow Airport on a recent trip. (Readers Respond, Dec. 30)

I flew to Paris, arriving at Heathrow's new Terminal 5 on British Airways on Dec. 10 and connected to a flight to France. I went through all the security all over again that I went through at BWI. I had a half-finished bottle of water which they fished out of my hand baggage and asked me to drink a sip, and then they discarded it. I also had to take off my shoes and had them screened.

I returned to Baltimore on Dec. 26 from Terminal 5. In security, they checked my bottle bag for explosives. At the gate, prior to boarding the flight, each of us was completely patted down and every pocket, zipper and cranny of hand baggage was thoroughly searched. Staff spent about five minutes with each passenger. My flight was delayed three hours because of this. It was a call for patience on everyone's part.

Carol Allen

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