- The Washington Times - Friday, June 10, 2005

A difference of opinion

The Washington Times has hit a new low of distortion in its supposed report on my comments on “Fox News Sunday” (“Amnesty concedes no hard evidence,” Page 1, Monday).

Distortion: You contend that I said we don’t “know for sure” what’s going on at Guantanamo Bay, but as I made quite clear, we do know that prisoners have been held in stress positions for up to 24 hours, that their heads have been slammed against walls and that the International Red Cross has reported prolonged sleep deprivation. We don’t know for sure what other crimes have been committed there only because the United States, unlike Sudan, Pakistan and other notorious human rights violators, has denied us access to the detention facilities.

Distortion: You claim I could produce no “concrete evidence” of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld’s being an apparent ” ‘architect’ of ‘systematic torture,’ ” but you conveniently neglected to quote my comment that Mr. Rumsfeld’s authorization of the use of dogs and stress positions itself “constitutes a violation of the Convention Against Torture.”

Disagree with us as you like in your editorial pages, but please have the courtesy in your news columns to report the whole story.

WILLIAM F. SCHULZ

Executive director

Amnesty International USA

New York

Stop the madness

Regarding Wednesday’s editorial “Intolerance in the Bible Belt”: I do not see the point behind harassing innocent 10-year-olds for reading the Bible during recess — a time during which children are free to do as they please. In a time when we should be encouraging our youth to be reading — something, anything — we are discouraging a child from reading what he believes in. Since when did we, in the United States, have a ban on what we can read?

Last year, when I was still a naive high school senior, we had a student who stood in the middle of our cafeteria and read aloud out of the Bible. Some referred to him as the “preacher dude.” Some even went as far as to shout, “The devil is my god” in front of him. Why?

Have we become such an ignorant and intolerant society that we will ridicule someone for doing what he feels is right? I used to eat in front of my schoolmate so I could hear what message he was professing. I always found some moral in his messages, always something that made my day better, always something that made me a better person.

Listening to my schoolmate’s messages did not hurt or kill me. They encouraged me to help others. I thought his messages were magnificent. I do not see the problem with anyone expressing his or her opinions at school. That is saying something, considering that I am a Hindu.

Another piece of advice: If you don’t want to listen, sit somewhere else.

FALAK D. SHAH

Gainesville, Fla.

Rethinking sex-ed programs

In your June 2 editorial “A clean slate for Montgomery sex-ed,” you said the Montgomery County Board of Education “surprised” opponents of its inane sex-ed curriculum by “dropping the curriculum and dissolving the committee that created it.”

It was a surprise, but the board must be congratulated for finally getting some common sense and trashing its sex-ed program, which would have misled students and encouraged high-risk sex.

If the school board’s priority is the well-being of the students, it will work to provide a factual education on sexual matters. To help students, the board will use the knowledge and experience of experts to construct a program that fully informs teens of the dangers to themselves and society of teen sex.

Instead of encouraging sexual activity by teaching students how to use condoms, the school board should consult experts such as Dr. Ruth M. Jacobs, past chairman of the department of internal medicine at Shady Grove Hospital, who wrote of the shortcomings of condoms in the Times’ May 8 Forum item, “Due warning in a ‘risky world.’ ” She said studies have shown that condoms offer “no protection for human papilloma virus transmission and possibly 0-50 percent protection for other sexually transmitted diseases. The studies show 87 percent protection for HIV with vaginal sex.”

The school board must see that students understand that condoms won’t protect them from pregnancy, as shown by information from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy that teens can’t manage a contraception program.

The school board also should present social and psychological pathologies associated with premarital sex, e.g. single-parent families and two-thirds of sexually active girls under 20 regretting their decision to become sexually active (Seventeen, July 2005).

The Montgomery County Board of Education has the opportunity to help county students and, by its example, students throughout the country. Let’s hope school board members step up to the challenge. Unfortunately, the president of the school board, Patricia O’Neill, was quoted in the Sunday article “Montgomery parents seek more say on sex education” (Metropolitan) as saying, “We’re no less committed to moving forward on the issue of sexual variations,” indicating that she and the board are still promoting an ideological agenda, not the health and well-being of the students.

JOHN NAUGHTON

Silver Spring

Are sting operations next?

The recent incident whereby the Maryland State Police used night-vision goggles to nab motorists who showed the unmitigated audacity to ignore Maryland’s nanny-state law requiring seat-belt wearing is a prime example of the danger of incrementalism. (“Night vision nabs seat-belt law violators,” Briefly, Metropolitan, June 3).

If one goes back to the beginning — when our state’s seat-belt law was being debated — it was negotiated to be a secondary offense only because it could not pass as a primary offense. Many people, myself included, disagreed with the very notion of nanny-statisms such as the seat-belt law, but Annapolis knows best (or so it thinks), so it was passed as a secondary offense, enforceable only if the police were nabbing you for another, primary offense.

Then, a few years back, lo and behold, not wearing a seat belt became a primary offense, and now the situation has crept up to the extent that the Maryland State Police are willing to use stealth tactics to nab errant, unbuckled motorists. What’s next, sting operations?

Sure, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has made the State Police give back their toys, but in the future, there may not be a sympathetic governor to be outraged. Then we would go further down the road of government interference in our daily lives.

Worse yet, this single law costs the good people who otherwise would go unmolested time and money to answer to charges brought against them for ignoring a stupid law meant to protect us from our own choices.

Though this stupid law is not the single reason I will retire and leave Maryland, the mind-set that created it is. There are other states that are less “progressive” (read: liberal) in their application of nanny-statism. I will spend my money wherever I decide to move in retirement and fight any such incremental stupidity as a leisure-time activity.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie, Md.


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