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Monday letters: Freedom of speech, even if it's hateful, is an essential right.

A line must be drawn somewhere and Tasteless and cruel | March 11, letters

Free speech remains essential

I can't agree with the letter writers more that the protesters at the Marine's funeral are despicable people. Their message was abhorrent to any good American, and it broke my heart to read what some of their placards said, not to mention their choice of a platform.

However, true freedom of speech comes not just in the form of speech with which we agree, but also in freedom for the speech that we hate.

Freedom to voice your opinions, good or bad, is an inescapable and essential right in our democracy. Our forefathers, also soldiers, fought and died to give us this right, one that no other citizenry enjoys to the extent that we do. Unlike other nations, we protect all speech, even hate speech, in hopes that their own folly will be exposed by their own actions in our great "marketplace of ideas." When we take away the rights of those who ruffle our feathers, we invite censorship by allowing a government body the ability to say what is good speech and what is bad.

How long will it be until one of your own opinions becomes unpopular or not politically correct? Then can that same government body take away your right to speak it? After all, popular opinions rarely need to be protected.

When we draw a line on what is acceptable speech and what is not, we take away the crux of all of our other freedoms. If there is a truth to be discovered in all of this, it could be said that those protesters only stood there that day because that Marine and those who came before him died protecting their right to do so, and as much as we all mourn for the loss of another great American Marine, his death should not be dishonored by taking away the freedoms for which he gave his life.

Dana Stewart, Tampa

Too tall, too fat? 10 thoughts | March 7, commentary on the "rights" of air travelers

Exercising rights and responsibilities

It is time to define the difference between a "right" and a privilege. Most Americans today have the two drastically confused.

You've heard them before: Everyone has the "right" to own a home. Everyone has the "right" to own a car. Everyone has the "right" to. …

The article on air travelers' "rights" and how those "rights" are perceived by others was enlightening. As a 6-4 passenger, who travels both on business and pleasure, I can relate to all of the comments from both sides of the seat back.

To the person in front of me who exercises their "right" to lean their seat all the way back, I exercise my "right" to exercise my knees to prevent blood clots from forming in my legs. The resulting bouncing seat back is usually enough to convince the leaner we both have "rights," and if you exercise yours, I'll exercise mine.

Personal responsibility is something lost in this era of my attorney is better than yours. Our heightened sense of entitlement is driving us off the cliff of human decency and decorum.

If you made the decision to purchase an airline ticket instead of utilizing another mode of transportation, you now have the privilege of potentially arriving at your destination sooner. You have not purchased the "right" to anything else, only to the "hope" that you get there sooner.

Most all issues concerning perceived "rights" can be resolved through communication with the person whose own "rights" you might be usurping.

Take personal responsibility for your actions. Spend a nanosecond thinking about how your actions might affect others.

Until you ask if it is okay to lean your seat back, I'll keep exercising my knees.

Fred Greene, Sarasota

Gendercide | March 9, commentary

Possible benefits

Don't be afraid of China's one-child policy. It may be a win-win situation. Old patriarchal cultures often promote having boys, rather than girls. There are two ways this could be beneficial in the long run.

First, realizing that there will be fewer future mothers will result in a reduction in the population explosion, which is the most threatening problem the world is facing. Malthus was right, but his timetable was off because he did not realize how well science would overcome the food problem. Even that is starting to fail and starvation is becoming more common.

Second, supply and demand will raise the status of women as they will be in a position to bargain for more equality, possibly breaking the stranglehold men have in those strongly patriarchal societies.

Human population growth must be brought under control! If humans cannot make the necessary emotionally charged controls, nature will do it for us, and that will not be pretty.

Francis Prahl, St. Petersburg

Gendercide | March 9, commentary

Population is the problem

Contrary to this article, China's predominance of male babies makes sense. China's primary problem is population control and it would like to reduce its population from well over 1 billion to about 800 million, feeling that this level will allow the country to sustain wealth and power over the long term.

Population statistics depend on the number of females in society. So reducing the number of females greatly assists population control. The Chinese place far greater emphasis on social order than on individual fulfillment, unlike the West. This is one reason that China has survived as united country for over 2,000 years.

Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg

An Everglades dream deferred | March 10, commentary

Sweet deal has a bad odor

Why am I not surprised that U.S. Sugar is offering to sell land to the state of Florida, not because they care about the Everglades, but because they are losing money? We should all have learned during this past decade to be very skeptical about anything that comes from big business and their political friends.

Environmentalists know all politicians mouth the idea of "restoring the Everglades," but they will not do that at the expense of their major contributors.

And if anyone thinks that Sen. George LeMieux has nothing to do with this deal, I know some swampland in Florida to sell him. Why does something as sweet as sugar smell so bad?

Lucy Fuchs, Brandon

Monday letters: Freedom of speech, even if it's hateful, is an essential right. 03/14/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 15, 2010 4:04pm]
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