Hatred of gays: It's a black thing | June 19, Bill Maxwell column
Column stood up against hatred
Bill Maxwell's writing is always thoughtful, but the column in Sunday's paper was an all-time gem, and most appropriate during Gay Pride Month. It showed a lot of courage on his part to come down hard on those well-known black athletes for their hateful comments.
As a 70-year-old gay white male who worked hard in 2008 for President Barack Obama's election, I recall with some pain seeing many African-American households in south St. Petersburg with lawn signs for Obama alongside "Yes on 2" signs supporting writing the state's ban on gay marriage into the Constitution. This in spite of the fact that candidate Obama had (quietly) announced his opposition to Amendment 2.
Homophobia within the black community, I'm convinced, has especially pernicious effects on gay African-Americans. I suspect it is a major reason why relatively few openly join their white, Hispanic and Asian brothers and sisters in gay rights organizations. Equally bad, of course, is the often more subtle racism that can unfortunately be found among some white gay people.
Prejudice against "the other" can be found among all colors, creeds and orientations. But Maxwell certainly took a brave step in combatting a portion of it that few other writers could expose so well.
Tony Branch, Madeira Beach
Trouble in Florida's 'Tomatoland' | June 19
Finding tasty tomatoes
Born in southern New Jersey, I always enjoyed what we thought were the best-tasting tomatoes anywhere, and former residents confirmed that when they came back for a visit. Tons of tomatoes were unloaded daily each summer to make tomato soup in a huge factory in Camden. In later years, I raised them in my own family garden and have always enjoyed the flavor of well-grown tomatoes.
We were, of course, concerned for the low-paid people who harvested them, and New Jersey law required substantial housing for the seasonal workers that included running water and flush toilets. The real problem was sometimes with their own crew chiefs not sharing the funds fairly.
Here in Florida, I buy tomatoes each week at my local supermarket and enjoy the flavor in every bite. I choose carefully among the regular, organic or Ugly Ripe brands for ones that are firm but not overripe, and after washing them eat every bite except the stems. Sliced onto a sandwich or added to a dinner plate, they are part of the joy of living.
Shipping tomatoes for long distances may require artificial means of ripening, but the expensive tomatoes we find locally are delicious.
Robert A. Stanton, Seminole
Flavor is just a memory
The other day I bought a quarter of a fresh-cut watermelon at a local supermarket. Once home, I took one bite, spit it out and immediately threw the rest in the trash. Barry Estabrook's latest book on the tomato business is just the tip of the agribusiness iceberg.
Worker abuse and overuse of chemicals aside, perhaps the one thing that selfishly angers me the most is how the taste of our produce has been so dramatically altered over the past 25 years. Does anyone remember watermelons with that deep red color, coal-black seeds and sweet juice? Or juicy, fragrant peaches that would explode with flavor in your mouth? When you sell me a produce item that's harder than a baseball and I have to leave it on the kitchen counter to ripen for four days, we have a problem.
Add these nutrient-deficient foods to an already deadly American diet, and the future for our health and our palates is grim.
John Schreadley, Dunedin
I'm Republican; what are they? | June 19
True to her principles
Nancy Argenziano, thank you! Thank you for your years of service to the people of Florida. Thank you for your penchant to speak truth to power. Above all, thank you for staying true to your basic principles and for not being seduced by the vast sums of money available to politicians in power.
The litany of actions taken by your fellow Republicans listed in this column is an indictment of a party corrupted by money and power. Florida is so much less because of these actions.
One can only hope that more politicians who have the courage of their convictions as demonstrated by Argenziano get elected.
R.G. Yates, Bayonet Point
First, read the bill
I agree with most of what Nancy Argenziano asserted, but she skipped over the biggest problem facing us today: Lawmakers don't read what they vote on.
She said there were "automatic increases embedded in a contract" that was signed and agreed upon but shouldn't have been. Also, something was "sneaked" into a bill. Why depend on others' explanations? Why not read the bills themselves? If a lawmaker is not able to read and understand what he or she votes on, he or she shouldn't be there or at least shouldn't vote.
Elizabeth Churchwell, Dade City
Political self-serve system
Nancy Argenziano's sentiments are mine exactly.
Where have all the real statesmen gone — those like LeRoy Collins whom we so desperately need? What we have are a bunch of self-serving, ambitious individuals. Dialing for dollars or talking for contributions seems to be the order of the day.
Austin R. Curry, executive director, Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, Tampa
Obama evades obligation | June 21, editorial
This editorial is correct that Congress has an obligation to bring the president to heel for launching a war in Libya without legal authority. You should also mention that only "Congress shall have the power … to declare war" as stated in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8). Our Founders cited the president's lack of unilateral warmaking power as one of the main differences between a president and a king, and that even then-Sen. Barack Obama said the president has no such unilateral authority.
We already know that the president has contempt for our Constitution, judging from the health care bill and other things, but we can't allow yet another expansion of executive power.
Kris Schnee, St. Petersburg