You can just call me 'sir' | March 3, Bill Maxwell column
Titles inappropriate, not racist
I enjoyed Bill Maxwell's column and agree that the use of the word "sir" — and "ma'am" for that matter — has become elusive, just as "no problem" has replaced "you're welcome" as a response to "thank you."
However, I was disappointed that Maxwell connected the use of the titles "buddy," "chief," "boss" and "boss man" to racism. As a white male, I have been addressed as any and all of those by black and white people alike. I would add "dude," "partner," "pal" and "man" to the list.
If Maxwell would like to be addressed as "sir," I think he's earned it — first, just by being a gentlemen, and certainly as paying customer. But when he ties other greetings specifically to white male uses and racism, the main word that comes to my mind is, simply, "chip."
Fred W. Van Cleave, Brandon
You can just call me 'sir' March 3, Bill Maxwell column
Mind-reading at work?
There must be something in the water over there at the Times. If the respectable columnist Bill Maxwell really thinks he can divine the inner motivations and overall mentality of a complete stranger based on an otherwise irrelevant word choice, then he is just as guilty of perniciously prejudicial thinking as one who judges based on skin color.
What if the person chooses to reserve "sir" out of respect for those who have actually been knighted? What about a million other motivations that he knows nothing about? And urbandictionary.com is in no way a reputable source for citations. I once added a word there I had made up just for the occasion, and it is still there. No one should cite this website as a scholarly reference.
Brian Kastel, Largo
Meat scandal widens in Europe | Feb. 15
Alternatives to animals
Last week, food safety officials in the United Kingdom, France and Sweden found traces of horse meat in ground beef sold across Europe. Massive recalls and lawsuits are ensuing.
Can it happen here? Horse slaughter for human consumption was banned in the United States between 2007 and 2011. But now, a New Mexico slaughterhouse is getting approved by U.S. authorities to slaughter horses for human consumption, and a Philadelphia restaurant has already announced plans to serve horse meat.
I marvel at our hypocrisy of rejecting the notion of horse or dog meat on our dinner plates, while condemning cows, pigs and chickens to the same fate. Obviously, we have established special relationships with horses and dogs as our companions, protectors and sports protagonists, rather than as food. But where is the ethical and logical distinction, given that all these animals are endowed by individuality, sentience and an ability to experience the same feelings of joy, affection, sadness and fear that we do?
Fortunately, our health food industry has spared us from having to choose which animals to pet and which ones to eat. Their delicious soy and grain-based meat alternatives are available in every supermarket.
Earl Blanchard, Redington Shores
The perils of medical marijuana March 6, letter
Pain and prohibition
No one has the exact same body chemistry. Some people respond well to THC (the active agent in marijuana) for the relief of chronic pain. For many, THC works better than any other agent, including narcotics (which THC is not) and is preferable to narcotics. THC is orders of magnitude less dangerous than narcotics; it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to die from a THC overdose. For those for whom THC works, it could be the drug of choice.
Because the agents that relieve chronic pain can be abused, some would ban them or make them difficult to obtain, rather than deal with the abuse.
Charles Palmer, Lutz
Medicaid helped speaker's family | March 6
Speaker is a hypocrite
I am truly ashamed that Will Weatherford represents my district. How can he be qualified to be House speaker when he isn't qualified to answer questions about a personal tragedy that affected his own family? Weatherford said, "A government that grows too big, becomes too intrusive, and fosters too much dependency will threaten our liberty, our freedom and our prosperity."
Government was there to help his father in a time of need. The family was at liberty to have the needed health care, free to live their lives without a lifelong debt, and were hopefully able to prosper because of it. I'm sick and tired of hearing politicians throw around words like liberty, freedom and prosperity as talking points that either don't belong or are inserted to appeal to a group of people who don't know any better.
If Weatherford isn't a hypocrite, who is? His family was helped by Medicaid; now he wants to deny its expansion. Ask yourself: Whom does he really represent? The federal government will pay 100 percent of its costs for the first three years, and then at least 90 percent thereafter. If your employer offered you that same plan, you would jump at it, even if you weren't sure it would be around forever. So why isn't Weatherford on board?
Jeffrey Hibbert, Wesley Chapel
Adding insult to injury
It is appalling that we have representatives, and I use that word loosely, who actually don't want more of their citizens to have health care. It adds insult to injury to find out that there are those in that group who have actually been beneficiaries of the very program that they want to deny others.
Yvonne M. Osmond, Clearwater
In defense of drones | Feb. 24, Perspective
War shouldn't be easy
Among the many supporters of our use of predatory drones are even a couple of moderate conservatives, David Brooks and George Will, who only desire a critical review of a designated "imminent threat" before the kill is authorized.
In my opposition, I submit that after 11 years of war in which so few of us made any kind of sacrifice, making war even more convenient and distant by the use of drones is not the way to discourage the military and civil mentality that justifies "pre-emptive strikes" and employs euphemisms like "surgical strike" and "collateral damage" to mask and cauterize the ugliest aspect of humanity.
Rodger Lewis, Crawfordville