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Letters to the Editor

October 23, 1998

A loaded question

To the editor:

It is The Herald-Mail's obligation to fully inform its readers, not to needlessly stir up controversy. The candidate's forum in last Sunday's edition did just that. You might as well have asked the candidates what action they would take to prevent nuclear war with Russia. There is absolutely nothing a candidate for state office can effectively do. It is simply bad reporting practice to ask questions that have no relevancy for the office being sought.

The abortion issue is a settled matter of law. The Supreme Court decided this issue on the grounds that laws banning abortion violated the United States Constitution. The court has had ample opportunity to reverse this decision and has not done so. The only way that this law can be changed is through actions taken at the federal level. It is the law of the land. I personally believe that abortion on demand is an abomination.

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Only one candidate recognized this question for what it was, an inquiry designed to stir up controversy. One candidate answered, "I am pro-life," the only correct answer in today's climate. The same zeal The Herald-Mail uses to stir up controversy would be better used to fully investigate the facts and report them correctly. The true facts speak for themselves, and we don't need the paper to ask irrelevant and controversial questions of candidates who can do little or nothing about an issue or tell us how to interpret properly reported pertinent facts.

Thomas Immer

Hagerstown

The other Smith

To the editor:

I'm writing about the article "Fort-Finding Mission." I found the article a very interesting one. There was only one thing wrong - the name of the man portrayed by John Wayne was James Smith, not John Smith.

James Smith is a very interesting person even though not a well-known one. His captivity journal is one that should be read by all Pennsylvanians. I belong to a re-enactment group that portrays James Smith's "Black Boys" of Fort Loudon fame.

A man such as James Smith should not be confused with John Smith of Jamestown.

Joseph Dimaggio

Sabillasville, Md.

Poor track record

To the editor:

With regard to the October 7 story of a Winchester and Western freight train derailment in Falling Waters, W.Va. This is not the first time this decade that a W&W train has derailed on that line, and it was bound to happen again sooner or later.

I'm not an employee of or associated with any railroad, nor have I ever been, and I don't claim to be an expert on railroad tracks, but anyone who has ever seen this particular line can tell you that it's an old line with many rotted out ties, missing spikes, eroding ballast, and bumpy, uneven rails. It is mere speculation at this point, but I wouldn't be surprised if this derailment, like the one in downtown Martinsburg several years back, was caused by the poor condition of these tracks - a condition that, in my humble, non-expert opinion makes this line less than fit to carry two freight trains daily without at least some repair and reconditioning.

Jason L. Smith

Minneapolis, Minn.

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