Russia's antigay law hazy | Aug. 13
Religion drives Russia sex policy
Russia's new ban on providing information on nontraditional sexual relations to minors has ignited a firestorm of controversy here and abroad. It is not altogether clear if the law is meant to ban simply providing information to minors about nontraditional sex, or to ban actively promoting such behavior to minors, or both. It is also unclear exactly what is meant by "nontraditional." Does it refer to the sexual practices of lesbians and gay males only, or does it include practices of heterosexuals as well?
In some respects the attempt to enforce such a law, as well as the law banning blasphemy, is like trying to herd all the imps and demons back into Pandora's box, given the explosion of information on the Web and the relatively easy access to it even for Russian teenagers.
President Vladimir Putin and many of his fellow social conservatives are worried about the threat of a declining Russian population (shades of Pat Buchanan). Hence, any type of sexual activity, including the promotional dissemination of information not related to procreation, poses a danger to the national welfare and ought to be banned in their opinion.
One would be remiss if one did not also point out the role of religion in all this. Putin and many other Russians get their morals from the Russian Orthodox Church, which holds a unique position of power in Russia.
In some ways the status of the Russian Orthodox Church recalls the situation in colonial Virginia, where the Anglican Church was the official religion of the colony. More than a few Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers and others were thrown in jail for having run afoul of the colony's strict regulations of religious activities.
This was the point at which an angry young James Madison entered the fray, thundering against "that diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution" and railing against the "quota of imps" supplied by the clergy "for such business." Fortunately for us, Madison and some of his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 managed to sever heaven from earth in a national government for the first time in world history.
Tommy Moore, Riverview
Wrong on immigration | Aug. 18, Perspective
Legitimize foreign workers
Ezra Klein's article is an important revelation. There seems to be little justification for the current emphasis on upgrading the border with Mexico. One of the reasons is that the unemployment rate in Mexico is less than the U.S. rate.
We have a long history, according to the article, of needing workers from Mexico for certain jobs in this country. Let's continue to use those workers and legitimize their status, so they can assimilate in a compassionate and legal manner. I'm hoping Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who has already established an important legacy in his tenure in office, will support sensible immigration reform in the House and add to his legacy.
Carl P. Hansen, Clearwater
States struggle to find drugs for executions Aug. 19
Go back to the chair
After reading this article about the shortage of drugs for executions, I have an idea: Forget the drugs, bring back the electric chair, and make it mandatory. Lethal injection seems too easy.
The last time I checked, there was no shortage of electricity.
Barbara Troop, Tarpon Springs
Seismic airguns dangerous
A recent Washington Post article, "Noise from seismic air guns could be skirmish before war over offshore drilling," brings an important, and potentially disastrous, proposal to light.
The Interior Department is deciding whether to allow oil companies to use seismic airguns to locate oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean. Not only is this the first step to offshore drilling along the East Coast, but seismic airguns would be devastating for marine wildlife. The Interior Department itself estimates that 138,500 dolphins and whales could be injured or killed by seismic airguns — a process that emits a thunderous blast of air every 10 seconds, for days to weeks on end.
Fortunately, the department has recently decided to hold off on issuing its recommendation until the spring of 2014 in order to include newer scientific evidence. This is good news since there won't be Atlantic seismic testing this year.
We cannot risk an oil spill along the East Coast, and we cannot subject marine mammals to such intolerable noise. I urge the Obama administration to reject this dangerous proposal and stop East Coast drilling before it starts.
Debra Tate, Gibsonton
Legislator seeks an end to nuclear advance fee | Aug. 16
Zero-emission fuel source
This article fails to point out that a vote to kill the nuclear advance fee would be a vote against cleaner air. Nuclear energy is the only source of high-quantity, baseload electricity that emits zero greenhouse gases.
Antinuclear activists (and the Times) rally around the politics of such legislation, but any true environmentalist must support nuclear energy. The current pay-as-you-go financing law enables the development of this zero-emission energy source. Do not repeal it.
Jerry Paul, Venice
Clerk talks down gunman inside school Aug. 21
The power of love
Antoinette Tuff's three simple words, "I love you," along with her willingness to share her own challenges with a troubled young man, altered the trajectory of history in the making last week at a Georgia elementary school.
Love changed everything. Today children are playing, parents are rejoicing and our country recognizes an act of heroism. Let us long remember that a single act of courageous love by one individual transformed lives.
Marci Moore, Seminole