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Letters to the Editor

April 22, 1999

GOP didn't favor anti-smoking programs

To the editor:

I would like to correct a misconception about the tobacco tax battle and filibuster waged in the Maryland State this past week. It was widely reported that the Senate Republicans forced the governor to include money in the tobacco tax bill for tobacco use prevention and cessation. This could not be further from the truth.

Being privy to many meetings during the filibuster, I can tell you that the group of Senators strongly in support of a significant tax increase fought hard to get Senate leadership and the governor to accept an amendment to the bill requiring at least $21 million to be budgeted annually for prevention and cessation. While we would have liked a higher increase in the cigarette tax, we know from other states that a tobacco tax comparable to the one passed coupled with a well-funded tobacco use prevention and cessation program will reduce smoking.

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Watching the Senate from the galleries, one might have thought that the Senate Republicans supported significant funding for tobacco use prevention and cessation. One need only to look at the evidence. The vote for the 30 cent tax combined with the $21 million in tobacco use prevention and cessation dollars received support from only two of the 15 Republicans in the Senate. Their votes do not reflect their supposed concern about teen smoking.

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky

Prince George's County

Twisted justice

To the editor:

Two articles in The Morning Herald, Wednesday, April 14, reveal how irrationally social morality is evaluated by our system of legal justice. These judgments of social justice are reflected on page A2, "Kevorkian gets 10 to 25 years" and on page D8, "Teenager who drove over love rival with car gets 10-to-20 year jail sentence."

Kevorkian, a retired pathologist, acted out of compassion to serve the will of a suffering terminally ill adult who wished to end his life, whereas the immature teenager intended to cause injury to another teenager with malice aforethought. The courts dealt more generously in consequence of the teenager's motivation to repeatedly batter her rival with a deadly weapon and killing her against her wishes than the doctor who acted medically to honor his patient's wishes.

The victim of the teenager was denied her desire to live and enjoy a full, potentially long life, whereas the doctor's patient desired to put an end to prolonging painful suffering during a few hopeless remaining years.

If the teenager serves her maximum sentence, she will be only 38 years of age when released, still young enough to procreate and lead a vigorous, enjoyable life. The doctor's maximum sentence would place him at age 96, a number of years beyond normal life expectancy, thus his punishment is effectively for life.

It would appear as though those empowered to judge act in favor of the young who kill to satisfy their own passion, while they punish more severely those with compassion to act in the interests of those who pray that God would end their suffering. (Or is it that Kevorkian has a much worse lawyer than O.J. Simpson?)

Jorma R. Keto

Octogenarian

Greencastle, Pa.

A national bore

To the editor:

I read that Winston Blenckstone wants a new ballpark on part because attendance is sagging. Spending anyone's money, let along the taxpayer's, on a losing business venture doesn't seem too wise. Didn't we get drawn into the water/sewer fiasco for a similar reason - to bring customers to Washington County?

Fifty years ago, before players in the majors could retire after one year, baseball was truly the national sport. Today, it's a national bore.

R.H. Babylon

Smithsburg

Drive slowly on Preston

To the editor:

It's Tuesday afternoon around 5 p.m. My husband and kids are getting ready to go to baseball practice. Suddenly, they hear a loud bang outside. My youngest son, sitting by the window, looks out and sees a van going by and a child going through the air. My husband walks out on to the front porch and says "Oh my God!" He then sees our neighbor boy lying on the side of the road across the street.

He walks over in shock as to what awaits him. The boy wasn't moving. When he gets there the boy is not awake and he begins to call his name and ask him if he's OK.

He begins to respond. As other people come around, my husband runs to the boy's house and alerts his sister to get his mom and dad home right away. I receive a phone call as I am driving home from work expecting to meet the boys at the ballfield. I am told our neighbor was hit and to hurry home. From that moment on I felt like I was in slow motion and would never get home.

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