The church didn't want a fetus to sue | March 4, Robyn Blumner column
Column shines light on hypocrisy
Robyn Blumner has done it again. Her excellent memory and clear thinking have exposed the hypocrisy of religious leaders who twist their doctrine and theology for financial gain while holding onto their power.
Speaking as a retired pastor, I have observed that the rank and file of most religions — from Jews to Christians to Muslims — are fair-minded and God-fearing folk who only want to do what is right by themselves and others. On the other hand, those who establish laws and rule in religion seek hypocritically to control others for their own aggrandizement in wealth and power. They are shamelessly hypocritical, and Blumner is courageously exposing them for that.
Ralph N. Madison Jr., St. Petersburg
Fighting for penny a pound | March 4, Bill Maxwell column
Poor corporate citizen
After I was reminded by Bill Maxwell of my pledge to stop purchasing my tomatoes at Publix given their ongoing corporate policy to literally buy into the poor behavior of Florida growers, I turned to the business section, where I found Publix reported to be rated one of the top businesses in the world by Fortune.
This places the "corporations as people" debate into an interesting light. Does a corporation have the same moral obligation as individuals to do the right thing by our fellow human beings? I can handily combine my personal finances with my sense of right and wrong by using my wallet as my voice with businesses that act in violation to my principles.
Publix, a business that markets itself as warm and family-friendly, turns its back on almost slave-like labor by stating publicly that it "refuses to make payments directly to workers," a transparent excuse for simply choosing the bottom line over workers' lives, when other choices exist.
Here's another bottom line for Publix: Such "personhood" cuts both ways, and your corporation is not a very nice one.
Terri Benincasa, Palm Harbor
Schools to limit outside speakers | Feb. 29
Display of intolerance
At the last three Hillsborough County School Board meetings, a great deal of time was spent discussing the policy for inviting speakers into the classrooms. A group of very vocal but misinformed people are upset that a high school teacher invited Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to speak to a world religion class about Islam.
The group claimed this was not about Islam but about who was invited to speak. However, their behavior made it clear to me that this was about Islam, and about hatred. Just to give one example, several of the Muslim speakers were greeted with heckling from this crowd.
There were also a number of speakers, including myself, who actually know Shibly and have worked with CAIR. Some of these speakers represented Christians. All of us spoke positively about Shibly and about CAIR, and we attempted to correct some of the misinformation we heard.
First, he is not a terrorist and he is qualified to speak about Islam, since he is an imam. And CAIR does not support terrorism. CAIR was formed to counter stereotypes about Muslims and to work for civil liberties. Discussion of Christianity, like all religions, is allowed in the schools. Jews, Christians and Muslims come from the same tradition and worship the same God.
Melva Underbakke, Temple Terrace
Obama, GOP hopefuls trade fire over Iran March 7
Don't rush into war
Republican rhetoric advocating military intervention in Iran is reckless and endangering this great country.
However, should we get a new leader in November promoting yet another U.S.-led war, then we need to bring back the draft. The pain of sending loved ones into battle needs to be shared by every family across this nation.
True leadership is one that explores every nonmilitary option first and foremost and doesn't shoot from the hip and ask questions later, as we did in Iraq.
Baerbel R. Dagon, Tampa
Legislature turns back on public education March 8, commentary
Thanks to the writers of this opinion column. It is both sad and appalling to learn what our state legislators are doing to public education. The whole idea of charter companies, including for-profit corporations, taking over K-12 education without assessment measures and evaluative criteria in place is absurd.
Until our Florida politicians can get educated themselves, I'm afraid we're going to see them jump from one hasty proposal to another without using any sound reasoning and justifiable data as support.
This is evidenced by the "parent trigger" bill and the Senate bill that would allow private charter school companies to use public funds for building construction. When the November elections occur, I hope we will all remember these bills and those who supported them and, instead, vote for legislators who are educated.
Susan Zwieg, St. Petersburg
Money isn't the answer
I challenge the statement that the Legislature turns its back on education. Schools are a major part of every community's increasing taxes, but that seemingly does not produce a parallel increase in student ability.
The path to the American dream as described in this article existed in the '50s. Then we decided the system was unfair and proceeded to institute the "no matter who they are, what skills they start out with, or where they come from" ideology. It is not possible for any system to take those parameters, put them in the same schoolroom, and expect all to do well. Can you take a racehorse, a greyhound and a turtle and demand they reach the finish line at the same time?
This article decries allowing a for-profit system to at least try where the public system is failing, but why not? No amount of money will be a solution for today's public school system. Truth can be a harsh reality.
Lynn O'Keefe, Largo
It matters that they're all so rich | March 4
Penny for your thoughts
The author wrote that "a number of new studies suggest that, in certain key ways, people with that much money are not like the rest of us at all." Really? I wonder how much they paid for that information.
Diane Barker, Clearwater