'Docs vs. Glocks' battle ends quietly | June 13
A victory for freedom of speech
Once again, the courts have rescued the people of Florida from the extremism of their own Legislature. Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott let the deadline pass to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court the decision striking down the gag order on doctors in the infamous "Docs vs. Glocks" case.
Whether this was an intentional decision to throw in the towel on this dangerous and unconstitutional restriction on freedom of speech or simply neglect, we don't know. But any threat to strip a doctor of his or her license for talking to patients about the safe storage of guns in the home has been removed.
The ACLU worked for six years on behalf of more than a half-dozen medical, pediatric and children's rights organizations in support of the doctors who courageously challenged the state's effort to gag their discussions with patients about gun safety — and especially keeping guns out of the reach of children.
Yes, there is a constitutional right to own a gun. But our Legislature was conned into swallowing the fiction that talking about guns and gun safety somehow threatened this constitutional right.
What is important now is that every doctor in Florida knows that the First Amendment right guaranteeing freedom of speech once again provides protection for the medical community to honor its mission to protect the health and lives of patients. And this includes counseling patients who own guns to ensure that they are safely stored to prevent suicides and out of the reach of children to prevent tragic accidental shootings.
One of the many reasons that this case was so important is that Florida became a test case. If the courts didn't stand up for the free speech of doctors, you could be sure that the NRA would have had this dangerous law introduced in every state legislature. But the strong affirmation of free speech by the federal appeals court hopefully ends this deadly threat here.
Howard Simon, executive director, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Miami
Cuba progress reversal feared | June 2
Cuba policy needs rethink
As Americans wait for President Donald Trump to announce his new Cuba policy today, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor urged the president to consider that expanded engagement would benefit the American people, the Cuban people and small businesses on both sides of the Florida Straits. The Tampa Democrat is oblivious to the facts.
With the monthly salary for an average Cuban set at $30, it is difficult to imagine how increased trade would benefit U.S. businesses. With a socialist economy determined to severely regulate the flow of capital to its citizens, it's impossible to envision the Cuban government allowing the birth of a middle class. With the Cuban authorities giving asylum to New Jersey cop-killer JoAnne Chesimard, it is unthinkable to extend an olive branch to those who don't respect American lives.
Since U.S. flights to Cuba were authorized in August 2016, American Airlines, Fort Lauderdale-based Silver Airways and Frontier have canceled or reduced their flights to the Caribbean island. And, after a year, Carnival is ending its Fathom line sailings to Cuba. "If American can't earn the profit that it requires from these routes, they're going to cut back on the flying. It's as simple as that," said Henry Harteveldt, the founder of the travel consultancy Atmosphere Research Group.
With the arrival of American tourists, the demand for rooms increased — jacking up hotel prices to as high as $500 a night. Increased visitor numbers have also generated periodic shortages of beer and bottled water. Moreover, the Cuban authorities do not recognize the U.S. nationality of Cuban-born U.S. citizens and require them to procure Cuban passports — thus creating an added expense for these travelers. All these inconveniences have tempered the demand for repeat visits.
President Barack Obama's Cuba opening was a one-sided gift to the Cuban government. Freedom-loving Americans await the unveiling of a Trump Cuba policy that would be a gift to Cuban and American citizens and businesses. My hope is that the president's policy will undo some of the one-sided concessions that Obama granted the Cuban authorities and demand an improvement in human rights.
Jorge E. Ponce, Trinity
Saving history, saving a nation | May 28, commentary
Understand our past
I don't often agree with Peggy Noonan's viewpoints, but this article was not only informative but spot-on. A nation that does not value its history has no soul. A sad testimony to this fact is that the victors of war write the history books.
Throughout my education, history was more than just memorizing dates; it was a written pictorial that gave me the unique gift of living vicariously through legendary, illustrious men and women so I could cherish their accomplishments within the context of their era. More importantly, it gave me an insight into their humanity.
Noonan's article adeptly dramatizes the need to change our school curriculums so that they represent an honest reflection of our past. Those who have no knowledge of history are destined to repeat it, and they are the poorer for it.
John Helleis, Spring Hill
My wife was a talented professional, not a racist | June 13, commentary
Officials let principal down
The Pinellas County School Board, administration heads and the superintendent definitely failed to support this wonderful educator.
They falsely said race is never considered when setting up class lists. Having been a teacher in Pinellas for 30 years, I know this is not true. Our county used to bus children to schools based on racial percentages. There has been talk of going back to that.
This poor principal was sacrificed so that county leaders did not have to deal with negative press and protesters. Shame on our school leaders. Shame on the person who leaked this information out of context to the press, and shame on the press for printing it!
Frances Glisson-Doyle, St. Petersburg