Sunday, February 25, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: It's human to profile in all ways

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

Zimmerman verdict

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


Sunday’s letters: Slogans won’t ensure safety

LegislatureSafety requires more than slogansOn Wednesday, our Florida House passed House Bill 839 requiring all public schools to post the state motto, "In God We Trust," in a "conspicuous place." The day before, the same Florida House declined to ev...
Published: 02/24/18

Saturday’s letters: Preserve home rule in Florida

LegislaturePreserve home rule in FloridaOn behalf of the members of Business Watch, a trade association for government contractors, I would like to voice our dismay over the Legislature’s wholesale attack on home rule. As local government contractors...
Published: 02/23/18

Thursday’s letters: Second Amendment is outdated

Second AmendmentCongress can act on firearmsThe Second Amendment is outdated, since it is predicated on the need for a "well regulated militia." Militias are defined as civilian soldiers trained under the command of competent military leadership. The...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/22/18

Wednesday’s letters:

House Bill 21Opioid proposal merits supportIn 2016, Florida recorded 952 heroin-related and 1,390 fentanyl-related deaths. Four in five new heroin users began by misusing prescription pain medications, also known as opioids. Despite the widespread op...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Letter to the Editor for Feb. 23

Re: Hernando business leaders push to loosen development rules | Feb. 9; Re: Deny Brooksville mine expansion, planning commissioners say | Feb. 16Wish to register my opposition to both the draft of the new Hernando County Comprehensive Plan that elim...
Published: 02/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Published: 02/19/18

Sunday’s letters: Congress must act on firearms

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Congress must act on firearmsIt’s time for Congress to be counted.The failure of Congress to act to: (1) limit access to assault rifles and (2) require meaningful background checks for all gun purchases is appalling.Surel...
Published: 02/17/18

Monday’s letters: Call it by its name: terrorism

Deadly toll: 17 | Feb. 15Call it whatit is: terrorismLet’s just call it what it is. It’s terrorism. No school in the country is immune. They all have procedures for sheltering in place or emergency evacuation from a shooter. It’s prudent to be pr...
Published: 02/16/18

Saturday’s letters: Payoff to porn star not front-page news?

Lawyer: I personally paid porn star | Feb. 14Where we’re at: This is 4A newsOnly under the Trump presidency does a story about the president’s lawyer paying off a porn star to cover up an affair with the president show up on page 4A. Never mind t...
Published: 02/16/18

Friday’s letters: Water quality too important to gamble on

State to update water rules | Feb. 10Don’t gamble with water safetyI wondered whether this front-page article was an early April Fool’s joke. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "updated" its pollution regulations in 2016, with str...
Published: 02/15/18