A simple truth | June 24, letter
Don't put law in service to zealots
The writer's claim that the notion that "life begins at conception" is "a simple truth" is most certainly neither simple nor the truth. Surely, he and other like-minded individuals are free to believe whatever they wish. They are, however, not free to submit their religious doctrine as truth for one and all, and assert that a civil legal principle — the definition of murder — must therefore follow logically from that religious doctrine.
In the United States, unlike theocracies such as Iran, church doctrine is not imposed blindly upon the society by the government; rather, matters of church and state are separate. When life begins is a philosophical question upon which good and decent people can and do disagree. But ultimately, American laws, and the courts that interpret them, provide the standards of conduct for all Americans.
May our American legal system never be subject to the dictates of religious zealots who seek to impose their beliefs on our pluralistic society under the guise of "simple truth."
Morry Bornstein, Seminole
A look back at 22 years on the performing arts beat | June 23
A distinguished run
John Fleming's official departure from our music/drama scene is noted with regret and a fanfare for an uncommon man. A critic's job is not an easy one, although he made it seem so. His insightful, analytic pen was dipped in a deep and warm appreciation for our fortunate area's highly gifted artists.
As a knowledgeable friend of the Florida Orchestra and American Stage, among others, his reviews added to our enjoyment of performances we attended over the years and caused us to rue some we had missed.
Thank you, Mr. Fleming, for leaving a critical space it will be incalculably hard to fill. We offer a standing ovation for your memorable, long-run performance.
John and Patricia Vigneau, Spring Hill
George Zimmerman trial
Lessons from history
As I follow the proceedings of the George Zimmerman trial in the paper and on television, I am reminded of another trial in 1980 that sparked just as much national attention: the McDuffie trial.
In that trial, four white Metro-Dade police officers were acquitted of manslaughter in the death of a black motorcyclist after a lengthy chase. The riots that followed were the worst the state of Florida has ever seen. As a young police lieutenant, I was shocked and dismayed at the carnage — 15 people killed, hundreds injured, property damage in the millions.
My point is that the city of Miami Police Department and the Metro-Dade Police Department were woefully unprepared for the outcome of the trial and the consequences that followed. It is my hope that the major police departments throughout Florida are prepared for what may follow if Zimmerman is acquitted. I'd like to think that race relations have come a long way since 1980, but in my heart and soul, I know this is naive thinking.
Bob Fortney, Land O' Lakes
Another step for immigration bill | June 25
Selling out supporters
I voted for Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate in both the primary and general elections. I gave hard-earned money to his campaign. And while he was better than any of his opponents, Rubio has betrayed us.
Rubio's immigration reform bill does nothing that he said it would. It does everything that the pro-amnesty Democrats demand. It gives old-guard Republicans the cheap labor they crave, and liberal Democrats the cheap votes they dream of.
It gives American citizens higher unemployment and lower wages. It gives Janet Napolitano more power and less accountability.
Rubio, alas, I thought I knew ye well. Et tu, Rubio?
Robert Arvay, Tampa
Court turns page on election history June 26
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg succinctly summed up the fallacy of Wednesday's majority decision striking the Section 4 preclearance formula from the Voting Rights Act when she wrote: "Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."
Immediately after the ruling, officials in Mississippi and North Carolina — jurisdictions formerly covered by Section 4 — said they will move ahead with controversial and problematic changes to voting rules. Freed from preclearance requirements, such changes will likely suppress minority voting, as well as result in long and costly litigation.
In 2006, Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. It must once again join together to remedy this critical blow to one of the most important and transformative civil rights laws of the 20th century.
Hava Holzhauer, Florida regional director, Anti-Defamation League, Boca Raton
BP publicly challenges settlement | June 26
Despite the fact that my Tampa Bay-based business was not affected by the BP oil spill in any way, I've been receiving letters, telephone calls and emails from lawyers soliciting me to file a claim. The BP fund was set up to help those genuinely hurt by the incident, yet unscrupulous lawyers are hounding people to file claims.
I'm not sure which is worse: the parasitic lawyers or the people going along for the ride and cashing in on something they do not deserve.
Tim Bryce, Palm Harbor
Polling, politics swamp Lens | June 22
Run, don't walk, to Tampa
Let this pier debacle be a sign to Stu Sternberg and the Tampa Bay Rays. Pack your bags and run, not walk, across the bay. Pay off your lease and leave indecisive, parochial Mayor Bill Foster and the City Council far behind. Start planning for a new stadium in Tampa, where Mayor Bob Buckhorn seems to have a vision for the future.
If St. Petersburg can make such a mess deciding on a new pier, imagine what it would do to a major-league baseball stadium.
Deborah Green, Sun City Center