- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 25, 2003

Change the policy

Your Oct. 4 editorial “Scrap the pot and sex ads” has it all wrong.

One ad pictures two mature, clothed adults and states, “Enjoy Better Sex! Legalize and Tax Marijuana.” Explicit? Hardly. Condoning teen sex? Not compared to most ads peddled by Madison Avenue.

Like other drugs, marijuana is not for children, but children aren’t stupid either. They see the adult double standard: government ads claiming the horrors of marijuana use, but no deaths or social problems like those associated directly or indirectly with the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco — more than 500,000 annual deaths.

Because 54 percent of high school students have tried pot, how can Change the Climate, which is placing the ads in the Metro system, be accused of encouraging it anymore? Government policy is to blame for making marijuana so widely available to children via street dealers.

We’re asking: What’s so wrong with legalizing marijuana? Legalization will get marijuana off the streets, away from children. Legalization will save taxpayers billions of dollars every year — billions that can be used for teacher raises, teen-pregnancy prevention, job-creation programs and environmental cleanup in poor communities.

Like it or not, teens are smoking pot and having sex — so what else is new? It’s time adults clear the smoke from their eyes and consider new approaches to an issue that needs rational discussion, not more hysteria.

JOSEPH WHITE

Change the Climate

Greenfield, Mass.

In defense of Dr. Shesser

The suggestion by D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous that Dr. Robert Shesser would make clinical decisions based on racist opinions or beliefs is an insult both to him and to the thousands of practicing emergency physicians and educational leaders who know and respect him (“Doctor at GW erred, city says,” Metropolitan, Wednesday).

Our firm, Challenger Corp., conducts an annual emergency-medicine review course with George Washington University in which Dr. Shesser and his staff are the representatives for the university. The physicians drawn to this program come from across the United States. One of the primary reasons for attendance is the perception of quality, equity and commitment on the part of Dr. Shesser and the GWU team. The attending physicians represent every color, religion and ethnic identity.

We are not party to the specific conflicts, challenges and issues of emergency medicine in the District. However, after 25 years as an emergency-medicine educator and executive, I can tell you that the dire state of urban emergency care is not unique to Washington. What we are able to address is our relationship with Dr. Shesser — and our experience with him is that his only objective as a practicing emergency physician is to ensure the highest quality of care for all.

ROBERT E. SWEENEY

CEO and president

Challenger Corp.

Memphis, Tenn.

A ‘glimmer of hope’ for the war on terror

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld offers the first glimmer of hope that we might defeat terror when he tells The Washington Times that the United States needs to communicate more effectively and to set up a new agency that would help fight a “war of ideas” against terrorism.

Our nation spends billions of dollars to combat terrorist acts; finally, we may start to counter the virulent ideas that spawn it worldwide.

As though we were dealing with a sewage-filled river, we have spent all of our resources trying to slowly clean up the downstream mess without ever challenging the source of the pollution. Every day, unchallenged messages of terror are duping, indoctrinating and slowly killing untold thousands of people.

We live in a pluralistic nation, but we must not be confused about the lethal nature of our enemy’s ideas. The politically correct temptation never to speak the truth for fear of offending others only gives aid and comfort to murderous liars.

The federal government cannot win a war against the ideas of terror with soldiers alone. It will take a counterforce of strong and clear messages that convey hope and more noble truths around the world.

News outlets are not equipped for the job; they have different purposes.

We are encouraged to hear that the real war for the hearts and minds of men and women is finally engaged.

MICHAEL PATRICK

Chairman, journalism department

Regent University

Virginia Beach

Pondering ‘The Reagans’

Concerning your editorial “Smearing Reagan’s legacy” (Thursday): Remember “Just say no”? With regard to CBS’ “The Reagans”: Just don’t watch.

BARBARA T. WOLBRINK

Alexandria

• • •

As former President Reagan was famous for saying during the 1980 campaign, “There you go again.” I don’t know what I find more surprising, that the editors of The Washington Times read the New York Times or that they take something said in the New York Times out of context.

What the New York Times actually noted is that Mr. Reagan’s family and friends are concerned, not that there is a growing public concern that Reagan’s supposed “legacy” is being deconstructed by next month’s television miniseries. Here is the actual quote, for your reference, from the New York Times:

“[F]riends and relatives of the ailing Mr. Reagan are expressing growing concern that this deconstruction of his presidency is shot through a liberal lens, exaggerating his foibles and giving short shrift to his accomplishments.” The Washington Times omitted the first few words of the quote.

Is it any surprise that those who have a vested and financial interest in the Reagan legacy are concerned that they are not controlling the message this time? As a casual reader of The Washington Times, I have found it fun for a couple of days to play “spot the error” in the paper’s editorials. Wednesday, the editorial staff dusted off its “blame Clinton” column for failing to get Osama bin Laden (“Avoiding Clinton’s mistakes”). I was surprised to see that you chose to use the story generated by Mansoor Ijaz that he offered former President Clinton a chance to capture bin Laden. Funny how the editorial failed to mention that Mr. Ijaz had no official connection to the Sudanese government or any real access to bin Laden and was merely trying to gain favor with the government in an effort to help out his oil interests. (And to think he didn’t even work at Halliburton.)

Though playing spot the error with editorials of The Washington Times has been fun, it will not replace my all-time favorite game regarding the “Reagan record.” You know the game: When you see people at political events manning a “Stop lying about the Reagan record” table and ask them what Mr. Reagan’s record actually was and what lies are being said about it. The fun begins as you wait all those minutes while the person at the table makes up an answer.

BRYON S. BEREANO

Silver Spring

• • •

I propose a three-week (or longer) boycott of CBS after the two-part miniseries on President Reagan scheduled for Nov. 16 and 18 airs if it contains blatant lies and distortions.

I do not believe in censorship. I do believe in consequences for your actions, especially when a lie is told. When presenting a story portraying someone in American history, it should be based on fact (good or bad) and not have words, thoughts or actions for which there is no basis. Presenting a story not based on fact contributes to distortions in history and, in many cases, the erroneous rewriting of history.

WAYNE GLOVER

Prattville, Ala.


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