George Zimmerman verdict
It's human to profile in all ways
I believe George Zimmerman was both legally and morally wrong in the killing of Trayvon Martin. However, much has been said in this case about how Zimmerman perceived Martin. A black man said on CNN that he has told his son he is no longer allowed to wear hoodies with his pants down low. I would agree. Why? Because, right or wrong, he will be profiled as a thug.
I would argue that not only is it natural to profile, but actually desired in almost every instance. We intentionally profile with first impressions, what car we choose to drive and the clothes we choose to wear. We may be a complete schlep when it come to our work, but every one of us wears our finest for an interview in order to "profile" ourselves as someone who works hard and cares about his or her job. This works in negative cases as well. What impression do we have of someone driving around town with a loud muffler and heavy-metal music? Probably a teenage boy? How about a middle-aged lady with all her front teeth missing — do you profile her as likely living in the most exclusive neighborhood in town? Probably not.
This is human nature, and this is profiling. Everyone — white, black, Hispanic — does this. Even as you read this, you are likely profiling me as to my financial, racial and social class.
George Zimmerman wasn't wrong for profiling Trayvon Martin; he was wrong for following him and then shooting him. If you want to be profiled as an honest and civilized citizen, then you probably don't want to hang your pants down low; you may want to comb your hair and shave. It may hide the fact that you're actually a sleazebag, but you won't be profiled as one.
Bill Riley, Lakeland
Respect jury's decision
"We did what the law required us to do" stood out to me in the statement from the four jurors in response to juror B37.
If you agree or disagree with the verdict, and there are sound grounds for both points of view, we should all respect their decision. They did their civic duty, and I doubt if any of us could have done a better job sifting through some of the evidence.
James Donelon, St. Petersburg
Stiff terms for fraud's 'first lady' | July 17
IRS can stop cheaters
There has been a lot of media coverage about tax refund scams, like the story about Rashia Wilson, but I have two fundamental questions.
I assume the scam works something like this: The crook obtains someone's identification and files a phony return, presumably reporting a certain income and that excess tax has been paid. They then ask for a refund of the excess tax. Rather than blindly issuing a refund and then processing the return later, couldn't the IRS verify the reported income (W-2s) and tax paid?
Second, if the IRS can't do this, don't issue a refund until the claim has been fully processed. Wouldn't it be better to wait for the full refund than have it stolen by some scammer?
Philip R. Thompson, Tierra Verde
Re-examine the state grading formula July 17, editorial
Another helpful hint
I fully agree. I suggest that Florida citizens who value and support public schools, parents and students take an additional step toward real accountability in public education by taking a hard look at the Florida Board of Education. Are these members focused on public school students, or is the real issue cutting public funding for schools?
You stated that Education Commissioner Tony "Bennett rejected (Board member Kathleen) Shanahan's suggestion that the state take a year off from issuing grades." Maybe a year without the state school board could help accountability. Just think, the superintendents and the elected local school boards could actually run public schools in Florida. What a novel idea. Really, how much worse could it be?
Bill Person, Tampa
TIA lands key Latin route | July 18
Sort of a Panama hat
As the grandson of a 1930s Panama hat exporter, it was a pleasure to see the front-page photo of Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other dignitaries sporting Panama hats to celebrate the new flights from Tampa to Panama City.
Panama hats are actually woven in Ecuador, not Panama.
These beautiful toquilla straw hats apparently acquired their common name because they were exported through the Isthmus of Panama, and they became popular in the United States when Teddy Roosevelt was photographed wearing one while touring the construction of the Panama Canal.
Thomas Brandon, Lutz
Pinellas taxes likely to rise | July 17
Taxes up, value down
Shame on our elected officials. This will be the second year my taxes have gone up and my property value has gone down.
Why not freeze the officials' rate of pay or cut employee pensions/benefits? A lot of us do not get pensions, because our businesses know how to manage their income.
Annette Beyer, Palm Harbor
Rolling Stone cover stirring debate July 18, Eric Deggans column
Wrong is just wrong
It is not the "misplaced and unwise" negative response from social media regarding the picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the Rolling Stone cover about which Eric Deggans should opine. It is not even the content of the magazine article.
Wrong is just wrong. It is just as wrong to publish a sanitized version of Tsarnaev as it was for Time magazine to doctor a picture of O.J. Simpson to look more menacing during his arrest and trial.
Richard Block, Tampa