RFK remembered | June 23
Imagining what could have been
I loved this story about Robert Kennedy. Last Sunday's paper was one of the best I've read.
I appreciated Sen. Jeff Session's calling out to the other politicians to focus first on the high rate of unemployed American citizens and then deal with illegal immigrants (Rubio's steadfast reform foe).
I also thought the "High Stakes" article was quite provocative and felt Cathy Jordan should be the face of medical marijuana. I personally don't like pot as the smell makes me sick, but I would like to see it decriminalized for medical use in the privacy of one's own home.
I was fascinated by the story of Shirley Fry Irvin (Her prize: a pier) and the St. Petersburg Pier ticker-tape parade.
But my favorite article was the one about Robert F. Kennedy. I was young when he was assassinated but I felt a huge loss, just as I did when President John Kennedy died. I think there would have been huge changes if he had lived and become our president. The article made it appear that RFK had quite a way of getting along with people, unlike the politicians of today.
Annabelle Lee DeGeorge, New Port Richey
RFK remembered and The real Charlie Crist June 23
Reading these two articles brought back a flood of memories, and I realized why these two politicos are held in such high regard by our fellow citizens.
In 1965, as president of our local Young Democrats, I led a group to Washington to place a wreath at the grave of our murdered president. Robert Kennedy drove out to the grave in a white Pontiac convertible to thank us for remembering and honoring his brother. What most impressed me about him was the warmth he exuded, which was contrary to his public persona at that time.
Fast forward to 1994 when I first met Charlie Crist, then a Republican candidate for the state Senate, at a coastal clean-up event off Gandy Boulevard. I was somewhat taken aback to realize that the protection of the environment was not a purely Democratic issue. In spite of the fact that I was working with a Democratic candidate, Crist was most gracious.
James Donelon, St. Petersburg
Drowning doesn't look like drowning June 23
Kudos to columnist Mario Vittone and to the Times for printing his article.
Florida is made up of hundreds of miles of coastline, rivers, lakes and backyard pools. One would think that a responder's knowledge of what to look for in possible drowning cases would be paramount.
As a licensed captain, and in my past 30 years of boating, I have saved six people from drowning. Half were folks just swimming from their boats to the beach. In addition, I found that alcohol played a large part.
I consider the gulf as my swimming pool, and I would like to keep my pool safe. The more people who read this article, the better.
E. Pettit, St. Petersburg
Paula Deen canned by Smithfield | June 24
A matter of greed
The fact that Smithfield has distanced itself from Paula Deen over the fact that she admitted to using the n-word is preposterous. The real word that should be examined in this debacle is greed.
Smithfield is offering itself to a company in China to be purchased for billions of dollars. I'm sure that by dropping Deen, they are attempting to keep their stock prices up by not losing sales to people here in the United States. They really don't give a hoot whether or not she ever said that word.
The irony in all of this is that they would crucify Deen for being honest, while at the same time sell the safety and security of our food supply to a country that violates human rights indiscriminately. I will not buy food from a bunch of hypocrites.
Shirley Pattison, Tarpon Springs
Southern writers rebuff Deen | June 26
I hope the letter writers published in Wednesday's paper have reconsidered their stance after reading the paper's piece on other Southern chefs and food writers, along with the excellent related editorial. The point I think a lot of people miss is that Paula Deen has proven to be unprofessional. Her contracts are ending because she's unprofessional. If she had been more professional, she wouldn't have kept her diabetes secret while pushing unhealthy foods, and she wouldn't have revealed her disease only when she had to do so.
If she had been more professional, she wouldn't have waited until her job was on the line to speak up about racism, and she wouldn't have sounded more like she was excusing racist comments than apologizing for them.
Rebecca Hendricks, Clearwater
Couple's beliefs detailed | June 26
Blurring the lines
The lack of critical distinction in the way this couple's alleged wrongdoing is presented is a serious problem.
I imagine most readers of this article who disagree with this couple's views will agree with each other about how "they need to be locked up." There are only a few sentences that actually describe criminal activity on the part of this couple, with several paragraphs about their beliefs and involvement arranged neatly in between. Is the reader meant to strengthen some association between criminal activity and antigovernment views? Is this article meant to instruct us that attending rallies is wrong? Of course the language of the article doesn't directly make either of these statements, but the tone certainly conveys them.
This particular use of language in media concerns me because it has a sinister historical precedent. People in postwar Russia could never be completely certain what behaviors and beliefs would get them into trouble, as these would change often. I'm not suggesting that our country has gotten to that point, but I feel this article is trying to make an example out of this couple and it uses the same ambiguity.
As we know and will hopefully continue to acknowledge in direct language, to peaceably assemble and to hold and express unpopular opinions are constitutionally guaranteed human rights. We must stand for and insist upon very clear lines of distinction about what is actually illegal, what is circumstantial and irrelevant, and what is constitutionally protected. The article does not draw these lines; it does the opposite, mixing and obfuscating all three. If we, as readers and citizens, de-emphasize and ignore these distinctions, they will continue to disappear.
Daniel Adams, Tampa