Many establishments are voluntarily banning smoking - for example, several
malls. Maryland has among the strictest smoking laws around. Several weekends ago, I visited the Baltimore Harbor. Two main malls make up some of the evening attractions. As of April 1, those two buildings went smoke-free. Even on a busy Saturday night, not once did I pass anyone smoking indoors. I had assumed that since the patrons are not allowed to smoke in the malls, the smokers would all be crowded around the entrances. However, that was not the case.
I commend all establishments that have voluntarily banned smoking from their property and those who plan to follow. For those uncertain about taking away the smoking sections for fear of losing business, think about all the nonsmokers. Remember, if they had a pleasant, smoke-free experience, they will come back.
REIGN IN GOVERNMENT
Your April 15 editorial, "What tax increase?" argued that we aren't paying too much in federal, state and local taxes. This misses the point. The problem is not what governments collect, but what they spend. Every
dollar spent by the government diverts resources from the wealth-creating private sector.
For example, government consumes labor that could be better utilized elsewhere. Though many government bureaucrats work diligently at their jobs, the result is often not of benefit to anyone at all. If these hard-working people were instead employed by industry, they could be creating goods and services that the public could use.
The percentage of total resources consumed by the government continues to increase. If the trend continues, there will eventually be no real economic activity left to tax. This would force the government to mend its prodigal ways, but it would be much easier on all of us if the federal, state and local governments reign themselves in now.
TABLOID FRONT PAGE
A modest suggestion for the person in charge of selecting the daily front- page color photographs: Of the total pictures published since The Inquirer changed to color, how many of your choices (1) had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your circulation area and (2) depicted gratuitous violence.
Both practices encourage nonreadership. The latter, in particular, is offensive to children and, more generally, is not conducive to enjoying breakfast.
You could easily solve both problems by "burying" your tabloid-shock pictures deep inside somewhere - if your refuse to stop running them altogether. Save the front page for something important to local readers - and not offensive to families who are trying to educate our youngest citizens.
Bruce M. Brown
A REASON TO EXPLORE CITY
Your editorial of April 3, wherein you advocate the establishment of a Constitution Center, is right on target. I agree that if we build such a center, people will come from this country and around the world.
As we are proving on a daily basis with the Convention Center, people will explore our wonderful town and its treasures if we give them a reason to do so.
The same phenomenon will occur as we enhance the world's understanding of our treasured Constitution. So let's build the Constitution Center where it belongs - in Independence National Historical Park.
Robert J. Butera
Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority
DISMANTLE ALL SHIPS
Dismantle the Russian navy at the Philadelphia Naval Yard? Great idea!
While we are negotiating that contract, we could institute a training program of naval ship disassembly by dismantling all of our Navy ships that have been sitting in the yard for the last 45 years or so.
William F. Bussiere
INQUIRER'S NEW RAPE POLICY QUESTIONED
On March 22, editor Maxwell King invited readers to comment on The Inquirer's new policy on disclosing the names of rape victims. As an Inquirer subscriber, I am mystified by the new policy.
According to Mr. King, The Inquirer will continue to respect a rape survivor's right to privacy in most cases - standard U.S. journalistic practice. However, he warns, the "door is open" to publicizing her name in certain, unspecified cases - against her will, if need be.
Pitched as an issue of equity and progress - if the accused is named, why not the accuser? - the new policy arrogantly usurps a rape survivor's right to decide whether or not to reveal her name.
Given today's blurring of the boundaries between "mainstream" and ''tabloid" journalism - witnessed in The Inquirer's recent front-page story on nude female dancing - it is hard not to see the new policy as part of a cynical strategy to sell newspapers, by giving reporters the green light to name and profile sexy or otherwise "newsworthy" rape victims.
Rather than its stated goal of "destigmatizing rape" - a stigma rooted in centuries-old laws that regarded raped women as damaged property - the new policy is likely to decrease the reporting and prosecution of rape, already one of America's most widespread and under-reported crimes.
If The Inquirer is serious about de-stigmatizing rape, it should ask its policy committee to review the newspaper's coverage of violence against women as a whole, rather than place additional obstacles in the path of women's efforts to fight back.
Rather than reporting the serial stranglings of 10 black women in North Carolina, the sexual assault and murder of a 6-year-old New Jersey girl and the slap-on-the-wrist sentence given a Levittown man who stalked 35 women, for instance, as recent isolated, disconnected crimes, The Inquirer should place them in a context of a worldwide "war against women," ranging from genital mutilation and bride-burning in the Third World to sexual harassment and serial killing in ours.
With the United Nations, Senate Judiciary Committee, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other bodies finally focusing attention on and naming violence against women for what it is - gender-based hate crimes and human-rights violations - the time is due for U.S. news organizations to update their coverage.