- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2002

Better chaste than debased

I have been told that I am old-fashioned, antiquated, very out of date. I just turned 18. Many friends of mine question my actions, wondering why I choose to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. However, I must admit that I question their actions. Ask us what we truly desire, and we will surely tell you that we strive for acceptance and approval from our peers. Tragically, quite often this involves putting oneself at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

I have been told countless times that all I really need to do is use "the rubber" and everything will turn out all right. Contradicting this, the Medical Institute has noted, "For most STDs there is little or no good data showing whether or not condoms work in actual use." My friends are needlessly exposed to lethal diseases they believe they cannot contract. Sadly, our culture hasn't taken the necessary measures to counteract this appalling problem. Instead of discouraging the act, many preach protection.

Yet it has been proven that "protection" fails to adequately protect. So I remain an outsider. I am the strange one. For some bizarre reason I don't want to acquire an STD; I don't want to skip college so I can pay child support; I don't think rampant sex will increase my quality of life drastically. I'm content and at peace with my choice, and I only wish that my generation would think through their own decisions to save themselves from heartache.


DAVID SLEY

Hudson, Ohio

A friendly gesture to Filipinos

I applaud a special Commentary column in The Washington Times, "Steadfast ally worthy of support" (June 13) that stresses the importance of a symbolic gesture of friendship with the Philippines in our joint war against terrorism: returning the bells of Balangiga.

Back in 1901, Filipinos were still waging a guerrilla war against the United States to gain their independence after America had banished their Spanish rulers after the Spanish-American War in 1898. In one engagement, Filipino rebels staged a surprise attack upon U.S. troops at the town of Balangiga, inflicting heavy casualties.

Because the bells of the Roman Catholic Church apparently signaled the start of the attack, the American retaliation included capturing the bells as souvenirs. Two of the bells are in a museum at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., and a third may be in an Army museum in Korea.

I was in the Philippines on April 9 for the 60th reunion of the Battling Bastards of Bataan. I am not a survivor of the Bataan Death March I am a Vietnam veteran but I wanted to be there to honor the struggles of Americans and Filipinos who fought the Japanese during World War II. It was there that some Filipinos told me of the bells of Balangiga, and they asked for Americans' help in getting the bells returned.

I found the Filipinos appreciative of their need for close U.S. relations, but also found them fiercely independent and nationalistic. While we have the bells as souvenirs of the Philippine insurrection, they look at them as symbols of their struggle for freedom.

If our Liberty Bell were held in England, we would want it back. The Filipinos have been trying to get the bells back for years, but have had only limited support from U.S. veterans, who could be helpful in convincing the federal government to return the bells of Balangiga.

Veterans can join the effort by writing to [email protected]


BRUCE GORDON

Georgetown, Ky.

Boosting cigarette taxes is not a drag

In her May 18 Commentary column, "Cigarette taxes and terrorism," Michelle Malkin overlooks the benefits that increasing cigarette taxes offers to society. In addition, her allegations linking higher-taxed states with terrorism are off base and serve only to further complicate the real issue.

Arguing that law-abiding state legislators, whom Mrs. Malkin regrettably refers to as "taxaholic bureaucrats," are serving to fund terrorism campaigns, is terribly misleading. More often than not, lawmakers have voted to increase their state's tobacco tax either as a proactive measure to help improve the health of their citizenry or in response to a revenue shortfall. In fact, many voters nationwide have expressed support for cigarette tax increases.

For example, in Maryland, where lawmakers recently approved a 34-cent cigarette tax increase, nearly 80 percent of voters supported it, which not only will help fund public education programs, but also aims to dissuade 15,600 youths from taking up the habit, help 14,200 adult smokers kick it and save taxpayers more than $300 million in long-term health care costs.

The District's 65-cents-per-pack cigarette tax, last increased nearly a decade ago, would stand at 80 cents today if adjusted only for inflation. The toll tobacco takes in the District is not pretty. The annual health care expenditure directly caused by tobacco use is $190 million; nearly 15 percent of high school students in the District smoke; 900 children under age 18 become regular, daily smokers each year; approximately 720 District residents will die this year of a smoking-related death; and 4,500 District youths alive today will ultimately die from a cause related to smoking. (Statistics according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.)

As for linking the inequities of state cigarette taxes with funding for terrorism campaigns, it is important to note several factors.

The cause of the disparity in cigarette prices between states is the ridiculously low cigarette tax rates in several historically tobacco-producing states, among them North Carolina (where the terrorist smugglers on trial got their cigarettes).

To make things even easier for smugglers, North Carolina does not even require tax stamps on packs of cigarettes sold in the state. That means terrorists can buy clean packs in North Carolina and resell them without alerting customers or enforcement officials. These packs are much easier to stamp with counterfeit tax stamps for the high-tax states where the smuggled cigarettes finally are sold. If North Carolina put tax stamps on its cigarettes, that would seriously hinder and reduce the profitability of cigarette smuggling between states.

Federal and state governments could do a lot to sharply reduce smuggling and make it much more difficult for terrorists to obtain funding through cigarette smuggling. Though cigarette smuggling is nowhere near as extensive as the cigarette companies and their allies claim, the federal and state governments still should take steps to reduce it further not only to block terrorists from raising funds through smuggling, but to stop profiteering by other organized criminals and to minimize tax losses to the states.


AMY PAGLIUGHI

Volunteer

American Cancer Society

Washington

D.C. baseball's right of return

Three cheers for the letter ("Baltimore's dirty birdies," June 13) encouraging Washington baseball fans to boycott Baltimore Orioles games. Orioles President Peter G. Angelos and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig have conspired to deny D.C. fans their own baseball team for far too long after our beloved Senators mistakenly agreed to let the Orioles into the league and then, sadly, left town: 31 years ago and counting, to be exact.

Now that the cleat is on the other foot and Washington wants its own team, Mr. Angelos tells us that Baltimore owns the rights to the Washington market. That's funny given that when the Baltimore Colts sneaked out of town in the middle of the night no one can recall Colts fans adopting the Redskins as their home team. No, they wanted their own team back, and guess what: so do we.

Mr. Angelos' feigned fear of losing his D.C. fan base as an excuse to deny us a team is an absolute joke, but we're not laughing. In case he hasn't noticed, Washington fans have begun to wise up to his hypocrisy and are staying away from Camden Yards.

It's time for all D.C. baseball fans, who have been unfairly denied a team, to stop crying foul and start yelling, "BOO" as in Boycott the Orioles Organization. As the numbers joining our ranks continue to swell now well into the thousands the Orioles will strike out with their dubious assertion that a D.C. baseball team will cause a decline in their attendance when D.C. fans have already stopped showing up for games.

Only by playing hardball and boycotting the Orioles will we be successful in returning the national pastime to its rightful home in the nation's capitol.


JEFFREY A. SIMENAUER

President and Founder

BOO (Boycott the Orioles Organization)

Washington


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