Altoona Mirror from Altoona, Pennsylvania on July 10, 1991 · Page 16
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July 10, 1991

Altoona Mirror from Altoona, Pennsylvania · Page 16

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Altoona, Pennsylvania
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Wednesday, July 10, 1991
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Page 16
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Opinion Page B4 Altoona Mirror, Wednesday, July 10,1991 Will the thong say so long? THE CITY'S RECREATION Commission is probably :wise in hoping the issue of racy bathing suits at public Spools goes away. The alternative of trying to legislate de- : cency is a can of worms nobody wants to open. Regardless, limits must be drawn. Two women recently visited the Prospect pool in so- called "thong" bikinis. The thong is a regular bikini in all respects but one: The back of the bottom is a string, and only a string, resulting in a most revealing view of the backside. We don't advocate legislating morality or foolishly attempting to define obscenity. We aren't basing this belief on any religious or moral standards, just common sense. : Certain things need to be considered in this case. Public : pools are among the few affordable places for city residents : to escape the heat. As a result, many families frequent the pools, thus requiring limits on how revealing a bathing suit can be — for both males and females. Pennsylvania already has a law banning thong suits from its state parks, said Peter Houghton, assistant park superintendent for Presque Isle in Erie.The law is based on the family-oriented atmosphere of the parks and the Penn. sylvania Crimes Code section on disorderly conduct, which ; reads: "A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annovance or alarm : (he) creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor." In addition to disorderly conduct, Chapter 59 of the Crimes Code may also apply. The chapter covers public indecency and includes sections on open lewdness, and obscene and other sexual matters and performances. Throughout the chapter, the word "nude" is used and defined as: "... showing the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering..." The few places where Altoona residents can go to escape the heat need to be kept family-oriented. Attacking the problem with some of the above guidelines may help make the process easier for officials and the pools more enjoyable for everyone, without opening that can of worms too wide. Altoona Jttitror Founded 1874 Published daily except New Year's D.?y, Memorial Day. Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas at 1000 Gtcon Avenue, AHoona, PA 1GG01. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2003. N- toona, PA 16603. WANT TO SUBSCRIBE? Call 946-7480. Homo delivery by carrier is $8/ tnomh; by motor roulo, $8.25/monlh. Both tncludo all seven issues a week. Dairy single copy prico Is 35C; Sunday is $1. Mail subscriptions are available. Call lor rales. DELIVERY COMPLAINT? Phono your carrier. H not satisfied, call us at 9-16-7480 before f. p.m. Monday through Friday and bofoto 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. WANT TO ADVERTISE? Classed ads. 940-7422; display. 946-7500; break page. 94G-7513 or 9467514. Fax number 946-7547. HAVE A NEWS STORY? Call 940-7441. TOLL-FREE NUMBERS: General. (800) 222-1962; Circulation. (000) 297-1480; Sports. (800) 3394482; CrosEon Bureau. (BOO) 244-3172. ADVERTISERS' NOTE: 'The ndvBrtiser agrees thai tho publisher shall not bo liable lor damages arising out of errors In advertisements beyond Ihe amount paid lor space actually occupied by Iho portion ot tho advertisement in which the error occurred, whether such error is due lo tho negligence erf tho publisher's servants or otherwise, and there shall bo no liability (or non-insertion ol any advertisement beyond tho amount paid lor such advertisement.* BUSINESS OFFICERS Publisher 8 General Manager Albert J. Holliinger II Managing Editor ' DivldM. Cuaolina Advertising Manager William C. Keaqlo Classified Ad Manager Rich A. Slep Co-op Manager. James dlmoro Circulation Director Daniel N. Slep Circulation Manager J Bradley Slep City Editor Thomas H. GiDb Production Manager OividM MenlzerSr. Accountant DorisA. Bearr Doonesbury BY GARRY TRUDEAU SUHUNU WATCH AS THE- FORMER SCOURGE OF 1H& KJHIT& HOUSE SHOWS? UP 55—f\ FOR ANOTHER PAY OFPAMAGZ T/MtWI7£P UNDERUNG5 NO ION6BK. FEAR THE- H/RATH OF TH& "CHIEF OF STAFF." PARTICULARLY/N FT THE iCW£R RANKS, ° THatE-ISNOTHIH6Bin J JOYATTH5MCUMTIN6 I I NOTDR/OUStY ^- s / /' ABUSIVE GOOP VR.PEAP MEAT! i \ ' <=> IT ALL CAME BACK TO 6APPAM, W«</,HfeS,HE ... COME TO THIrMK OF IT, HE. PIP ftftt&ti A NUCLEAR W£AP0N<b PRG6RAM, Where are the programs? WASHINGTON - I am a devotee of television nature shows. On the basis of viewing hundreds of hours of them, I am familiar with the food chain, which is an upward sort of thing: An animal eats grass and then another animal eats that one and so on up the op food chain until, I guess, you get to the freezer chest of Safeway. If there's a term for the reverse process — the one that ends with vultures and ants — I don't know it, but I do know where nature shows can film it — not Africa or some such place, but the big cities of the United States. At almost any time, you can see people rooting through trash cans looking for food. As my grandmother might have said (without my irony), "Only in America." The sight of someone sifting through trash for food is one that I once thought I would never see. These are scenes from black-and- white newsreels, the pictures that made parents of the postwar era admonish their children to clean their plate by saying, "Remember the starving children of Europe." Now, the children of Europe starve no more, but those of America do. I wonder what European parents tell their children. I have read an awful lot about the homeless. Conservative journals tell me the problem is overstated. Liberal ones say it is understated. I am told the problem is a direct result of dcinstitutionalizalion, letting people out of mental asylums to live, as it turns out, on the street. I am also told that the problem is a lack of housing and jobs, or few drug-reha- Richard Cohen bilitation clinics or — I almost forgot — alcoholism. I read each article convinced of its truth — and I read the next one with equal conviction, even though it contradicts what I read just previously. You could call me confused. I prefer to think I am open-minded. But whatever the case, I am sickened when I see someone going through the garbage looking for something to eat. I know we have developed a class of human scavengers — people who eat the garbage, others who sift for cans or bottles that can be returned for the deposit. I know, too, that the cause may not be poverty, as it is commonly understood, but mental illness. After all, some of these people can get food at shelters or from the vans that park, in the evening, at certain locations. That, too, is a sight I thought I'd never see. These sights take their toll. At first they shock and then we become inured to them. For sure, my heart has been hardened. I don't give anymore to beggars. In the first place, there are too many of them. But also — and just as important — I have come to resent them. Sympathy and concern have evolved into antipathy. Go away, I say to myself. I fear that soon I will be saying it out loud. Who can I blame? Not the homeless, that's for sure. No, not them. How about the advocates for the homeless? Yes, a bit. I blame them a bit. I think sometimes they have their lexicons all screwed up. They 'talk about rights in strange ways — the right to live on the street, the right never to bathe, the right to beg. These are not rights. They are recourses, the desperation measures of the desperate. Whatever happened to the right to be protected and housed, medicated and kept clean? Those were rights, too, and in our urge to secure others we have all but neglected them. Deinstitutio- nalization has vastly expanded the grounds of mental hospitals. Now the inmates roam everywhere. But mostly 1 blame government. Where is the housing for some of these people? Where are the community-based mental-health facilities that were supposed to deal with de- institutionalized people? Where are safe shelters? In short, where oh where are the programs? Occasionally in doing research for a column, I come across a newspaper clipping that reminds me how much times have changed. Recently, I read one that described a mansion in Westchester County, N.Y., as being worth $67,000. That was in the 1960s. That same home is now probably worth millions. Inflation, silent At almost any time, you can see people rooting through trash cans looking for food. As my grandmother might have said (without my irony), "Only in America." and creeping, has slowly eroded the worth of the dollar. Somewhat the same thing happens with social problems. Over the years, we have become accustomed to bars on our windows, alarm systems in our cars, guards in the lobbies of public buildings. That's all relatively new. In the same way, I think we've grown accustomed to seeing homeless people sift through the trash. This, too, is erosion — of our standard of living, of our standard of care and of our sense of community. The black-and-white newsreel films of my childhood - the starving kids of Europe — are now the commonplace sightings of my adulthood. Only now, if we eat everything, someone else eats less. That's the way it is at the end of the food chain. Washington Post Writers Group (Richard Cohen's commentary appears on (he Opinion Page every Sunday and Wednesday.) Catching up after a week away You don't feel right when you haven't read the newspaper. All last week I did a poor job reading the papers so I saved them and today I laid them all out on the dining room table and went through them, methodically. You do a belter job when the newspaper's flat on a table instead of in your lap. President Bush stopped b'y Mt. Rushmore: I don't think I ever saw it spelled out, "Mount Rushmore." Who decided George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt were the four presidents most worthy of being honored by having their faces carved out of a mountain? Teddy Roosevelt? Everyone was saying how beautiful the memorial is, but several years ago we were filming from a helicopter in South Dakota and I got a look at all the anonymous mountains out back of Mt. Rushmore. They're a lot prettier than the one Gutzon Borglum carved up, I'll tell you that. I mean, it's a remarkable parlor trick for a sculptor to have done but those faces don't make the mountains look any better. The newspapers I read were more interested in Donald Trump than I Andy Rooney am. One story said he gave Maria Maples an 8-carat diamond. I wouldn't be surprised if he got together enough money to have his face carved on a mountain out there near Mt. Rushmore. It's a funny thing about very rich people. Trump is supposed to be in big financial trouble and in debt hundreds of millions of dollars, but no matter how much financial trouble rich people get into, they still have chauffeur-driven limousines. The difference between having a billion dollars and owing a billion doesn't make much difference to them. I watched some of the Wimbledon tennis on television so I didn't bother to read about it in the paper. Some games are better on television than others. It makes a big difference how interesting the waiting time is in a game. There's a lot of time when there's no action on the field in both football and baseball, but if you're a fan, it's fun to anticipate what your team's going to do next. The waiting time isn't dull. Hockey and soccer are terrible sports to watch on television because you can't see everything that's going on and there's very little waiting time so you don't have the fun of trying to decide what the teams will do next. That's true of basketball, too, except that there's so much scoring that you spend a lot of time thinking about whether your team can catch up or not. The big story last week was President Bush's choice of Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court vacancy. Someone accused the president of being racist because he went out of his way to choose a black candidate to replace the only black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall. One of the most controversial things about Judge Thomas that I've read is he's a regular cigar smoker. How are those eight other justices going to feel about having a cigar smoker locked up in there with them? Judge Thomas is known as a conservative. I suspect he's going to be popular with a lot of white Americans because he agrees with a small but growing number of conservative black leaders who think black Americans have to get up off their tails and do it for themselves. He thinks young blacks are involved with sex too early, having babies they can't take care of and then becoming involved with drugs and crime. No white person in public life would say that. Opponents of Clarence Thomas are going to fight him on grounds that he's anti-abortion. No one knows for sure but it seems likely that as a good Catholic boy, he is. I've never seen an issue that so divided the people of our country as abortion does and it's hard to say whether most Americans are for it or against it. Maybe we ought to have a simple yes-no vote and see how it comes out. Tribune Media Services (Andy Rooney'a column appears every Wednesday and Saturday on the Opinion Page.)

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