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Letters to the editor

November 18, 2004

Limiting speech isn't the answer


To the editor:

Some time ago, you published a notice announcing that you would be "eliminating Donald Kaul and adding new features " I clipped out and saved the notice, intending at some point to publicly lament the loss of this sometimes irreverent, but never irresponsible, view from the left.

A recent letter writer has now called for the retirement of Leonard Pitts, Charley Reese and Allan Powell from The Herald-Mail Opinion pages because, after all, "this is Bush Country." In the next breath, he espoused his own (and by extension, our own) unconditional love of country, county and God.

In terms of opinion, I rarely agree with George Will, but I read his column because it helps me to better understand those with whom I disagree and the essence of our differences.

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It is no accident that the word "God" does not appear in the U.S. Constitution. One thing the Founding Fathers feared and loathed, even more than colonial rule by a European monarchy, was theocracy - "government of the state by officials who are regarded as divinely guided." - Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

The religious right claimed victory in the recent elections and has strengthened its control over all three branches of the federal government. Apparently, some folks truly believe that the only way to solve our domestic problems and confront terrorist-sponsoring religious extremists abroad is with a government activated by our own brand of lock-step religious fundamentalism.

Dissenting opinion is now more crucial than ever, lest we are to become increasingly like those we claim to despise.

Commenting on the infeasibility of liberal talk radio as an effective countermeasure to the radical right's inflammatainment machine, a letter writer to the editor of Time magazine aptly quoted philosopher Bertrand Russell: "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." We are too often defined by the extremes of our political persuasion and if you accept the pendulum metaphor of swings in dominant political philosophy, you know that the further the weight moves in one direction, the further it will move in the other.

Somewhere in between, however, is a "center" that many of us once inhabited. We can only rediscover that center when all concerned and responsible voices are to be heard.

David Fitzwater
Smithsburg




Uniforms serve no good purpose


To the editor:

Recently, the warden of the Maryland Correctional Training Center (MCTC), J. Michael Stouffer, announced that MCTC would be the next institution to implement the inmate uniform policy. The Maryland House of Corrections (MHC) and MHC Annex became uniformed two to three years ago. MCTC, with approximately 3,000 mostly young inmates serving short sentences, was scheduled to convert last year. Now it is expected to do so in January 2005.

Perhaps clothing all Division of Corrections (DOC) inmates could be justified, if uniforms would reduce security problems, e.g., escapes, contraband concealment and thefts. Such a notion is contradicted by common sense and past mistakes, however.

Someone climbing over or cutting through a fence unsupervised would, nevertheless, be deemed an escapee. Much of the clothing, provided by State Use Industries, is ill-fitting, i.e., baggy and good for hiding contraband, such as shanks and drugs.

Furthermore, inmates in need, due to inadequate supplies of DOC clothing, are more likely to steal than those who merely want. These basic principles, in addition to being common sense, should have been realized by DOC officials since clothing all inmates at the MHC and MHC Annex, if not well before.

Inmates and staff at MCTC are currently faced with an unharnessed hepatitis C epidemic, the absence of fire sprinklers, irritations and diseases caused by mattresses unfit for human use, insufficient locker space, extensive delays in replacement of broken cell windows, the lack of clothing and footwear already needed by a lesser portion of the inmate population and accompanying frustrations.

Aside from creating an additional monetary burden on the public, uniformity at MCTC would render its inmates and staff more susceptible to criminal acts by perpetrators who would be difficult to identify. Why clothe inmates unnecessarily at a time when money is needed for real security, safety and rehabilitation?

Richard L. Massey Jr.
No. 190754
MCTC




Support for Shannon


To the editor:

I am writing this letter after reading about Shannon Leidig who has R.S.D. We know what she has been through. Our granddaughter has had it since she was 11 years old and is now 23.

Like Shannon, no one knew what it was and could not think that anyone that young could hurt that bad. She is still in the same pain, which she has every day. She has been through the same things Shannon has. So, Shannon, our prayers are with you and God bless you. We pray someday soon they find a cure for R.S.D.

Ruth Taylor
Hancock

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