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Bland of Outsider

In response to the article on Otis Rolley (“According to Plan,” Feature, March 16), when I first came across him, I was excited! A young black man with new ideas. Even early in the article I was rooting for him. When Rolley said Rick O. Berndt told him he “lacks a definable constituency of voters” I was all up in arms. I thought, well, this is exactly the problem in Baltimore. Everyone is looking for name recognition, but those same names are of those who have run this city for too [long]. This city does need new ideas and fresh blood, people who desire to see the city run in a way that leads to progress.

At the moment Baltimore is running in place. No matter how “they” try to fudge the stats, it’s the same thing every year: 10 or 20 less murders when speaking of hundreds doesn’t say the city is better. The dropout rate is horrendous. A few percentage points does not signal progress.

However, as I read more into the article about how Rolley considers himself an outsider, he doesn’t seem to be the type of outsider I was hoping for. Yes, he’s worked among those in City Hall, but I won’t count that against him. It seems like he lives in a world that the average black male Baltimorean his age does not live in. I don’t think he actually sees what a lot of residents endure on a daily basis. It’s a difference between knowing and feeling what a person is going through. I’m sure he knows of the blight in the city, but does he really understand Baltimore?

There are plenty of people who live in this city that are like him though. Baltimore is night and day when it comes to a lot of residents of the city. There are neighborhoods where you can walk worry-free at night inebriated and other parts where walking home on any given night you can see any number of violent things, and maybe even be a victim of them. I don’t know if he understands that. If he worked among people, like his former boss who is allegedly corrupt, and he’s ignorant of it or just doesn’t want to speak of it in loyalty, that sounds like a person whose eyes are not open. That sounds like a person with good intentions without the know-how to really bring those intentions into fruition.

This coming mayoral election in Baltimore is going to be wide open. Mr. Rolley is going to have to shore himself up if he plans on making any kind of lasting impression on these tunnel-visioned residents like Mr. Berndt spoke of. He needs to really cement a plan for the city, really get out in the street and speak to people. Not just community groups. I’m looking forward to all of the debates that are certainly forthcoming, and I’d like for Mr. Rolley to show himself capable of handling this city, and it’s a hell of a city.

Darryl Clark

Ultra Pedophiles

Andrea Appleton’s “Silent No More” (Feature, March 9) was a fine treatment of Phil Jacobs’ “several-year quest to expose sexual abuse within Baltimore’s insular Orthodox community,” an effort that resulted in huge repercussions for him personally.

The pedophilia question is a particularly sensitive matter, especially since, as the article indicates, the tendency of the insular (=ultra) Orthodox is to dismiss it or wish to cover it up, even going so far as to invoke Jewish law (Halacha) to chastise Mr. Jacobs for “embarrassing” the Jewish community by exposing it. As though Jewish law trumps American law in Baltimore!

As New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (who, like Phil Jacobs, is himself Orthodox) observed, “If you’re a pedophile, the best place for you to come to are some of the [ultra-Orthodox] Jewish communities. Why? Because you can be a pedophile and no one’s going to do anything.” (The Jewish Daily Forward, March 13, 2009).

One is prompted to ask : Might there be something in the culture of this community that fosters such outrageous permissiveness? Sadly, there is.

Orthodox Jews strictly follow all the dictates of the Talmud (the non-Orthodox do so critically and selectively). According to the Talmud, “a girl of the age of three years and one day may be betrothed by intercourse.” (Niddah 44b, Yebamoth 57b). For the Talmud, the legal age of sexual maturity for girls is 3 years and one day—and for boys 9 years of age.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is currently holding hearings in Washington because it is his position that the religion of Islam predisposes its followers to engage in terrorist acts against the United States.

Just as the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not terrorists, so the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews are not pedophiles.

But fair is fair. If the American Muslim faith community can be faulted as being “soft on extremism” (per Rep. King), then the ultra-Orthodox contingent (per Assemblyman Hikind) can be accused of being “soft on pedophilia.” Certainly, as Rep. King insists, if there are “too many mosques in this country,” then—if Baltimore is any indication—there are also far too many ultra-Orthodox institutions that are pedophilia-friendly.

Therefore, it seems to me that if a Congressional investigation of Islam is valid, then by the same token, should not, perhaps on the local or state level, a similar probe be launched exploring ultra-Orthodox Judaism’s apparent predisposition toward sexual abuse of children? In the words of Rep. King: “It is our responsibility to put aside political correctness and define who our enemy truly is.”

By all means. Especially for the sake of the children. Of Pikesville.

Or is the trump card quashing any such inquiry going to be that, while the American Muslim community is not politically well connected, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community definitely is—especially in Baltimore.

Luke Sanders

Abortion is the Cruelest

In a way Curtis Kidwell (“Cruel, Not Unusual,” Mail, March 2) echoes the ancients’ views that life forms are to be revered and respected. And so Mr. Kidwell rightly condemns the torture of animals.

This compassion for animals is also reflected in the actions of conservationists, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], and a host of other organizations that assign a certain inherent value, a sort of sacredness, to all life forms. They imbue these forms with “rights.”

Except fetuses, human fetuses. They “have no rights” according to Amesh Adalja (“It’s the Dogma That Does It,” Mail, March 9). Yet another of your correspondents, Alan Barysh, calls a fetus a “burden” and strongly recommends that, “Abortions should be made easy as pie for women—and they should be federally funded” (“A Round of Abortions on the House,” Mail, March 2).

It is reasonable to infer that Mr. Adalja and Mr. Barysh do not subscribe altogether to the notion that all life forms are to be revered, much less defined as sacred. The contempt for the human fetus is explicit. They approve the destruction of this life form.

They are not alone. In the same March 9 issue of City Paper an article, “Planned to Fail?” (Static), notes that Planned Parenthood averted 612,000 unintended pregnancies and provided 291,000 abortions each year. These numbers do not appear to reflect a respect or reverence for the life of the fetus. Indeed, they underscore a profound disrespect, indeed contempt, for the fetal life form.

Over the eons of human existence life, all life, has been deemed precious, sacred, informed by some spirit entity (as so many Native American cultures believed).

Planned Parenthood, Mr. Barysh, and Mr. Adalja—together with all who espouse abortion—may well revere some life forms, perhaps nearly all.

But the one they will destroy through poison and dismemberment or decortication is the human fetus. Its life is inconvenient and burdensome, and its death inconsequential, indeed, desirable. It is a parasite to be eradicated. And so, great efforts are advanced and millions of dollars spent in pursuit of this barbarism in the killing fields of abortion clinics.

A helpless innocence is sacrificed, his or her beauty and promise forever canceled. What purpose? In whose name? At what terrible cost?

Leo E. Otterbein

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