The abortion debate
Life is too precious to destroy
Concerning the June 3 letter Religion begets home-grown terror, I wonder if the writer has ever listened to talk radio or talk television. I have been listening to both for several years. I have never heard any of the hosts promoting hate or violence or trying to "whip" their listeners into an "ongoing frenzy."
We have the right to believe that life begins at conception. This does not make us "freedom haters." It does not make us irrational, as the writer suggests. Life is precious, a wonderful gift. No one should commit murder — and that includes those who destroy life in the womb.
Jackie Thornton, St. Petersburg
I know that the vast majority of late-term abortions are done due to health concerns of either the fetus or the mother. I knew someone personally, a religious woman from Kentucky, whose daughter had some type of heart condition. Her daughter became pregnant and was told by her doctor that the pregnancy might kill her. This woman was distraught and heartbroken, as was her mother.
I asked the mom what her daughter was going to do. She said, "What else can she do? She has to terminate." They were in tears.
Most women don't just wake up one day and decide to terminate their pregnancy. It is a heart- wrenching decision. I find it troubling that there is so much concern for the fetus, but none for the women. Do people lose value once they are born? This is a woman's choice because it is our burden to carry children and often care for them alone.
Yvonne M. Osmond, Dunedin
Unjust law is still the law
Slate national correspondent William Saletan (Abortion's extremes, June 3) implies that prolifers like me don't really believe abortion is murder because if we did, we would take the law into our own hands just like Scott Roeder, who is accused of killing an abortion doctor.
Would Saletan prefer prolifers be like William Roper in A Man for All Seasons, who said he would cut down every law in England to get to the devil? I'd remind Mr. Saletan of Sir Thomas More's sober response:
"And when the last law was down, and the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? … Do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"
Abortion is murder, and Roe vs. Wade is an unjust law. But I'd rather live in a land with flawed laws and work peacefully to change them than to live in a chaotic hell where every Tom, Dick, and Jane picked up a gun to redress their grievances.
Brian Pessaro, Temple Terrace
I take exception to William Saletan's view (Abortion's extremes, June 3) about the murder of Dr. George Tiller as defending the lives of unborn children. He states that "the people who kill abortion providers are the ones who don't flinch," likening them to war heroes.
The issue of antiabortion extremists cannot be relegated merely to late-term abortions. Many of the people who are "prolife" are against terminating a pregnancy for any reason, even when the mother's health is at risk, the child is deformed, or the pregnancy is the result of a rape.
I have yet to hear how the prolife segment of society is adopting all of the unwanted, abused or neglected children finding their way into the foster care system. If the prolifers are so compassionate about protecting life, why aren't they as vocal about ending the atrocities of war? Haven't they heard about the torture of lab animals used in testing pesticides and medical devices?
Jane Cone, Ruskin
Let every child be wanted
As William Saletan suggests, the debate over a woman's right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is complicated. Ultimately, no woman (late-term or otherwise) wants to have to make that decision, but for her physical, mental and/or emotional wellbeing it may be a choice she is forced to face.
One way to decrease the chance that a woman will have to choose is to provide solid sex education in schools that includes comprehensive pregnancy prevention education.
Considering the increase in teen pregnancies since the last administration poured millions into the abstinence-only approach, it appears our tax dollars could be used more wisely to encourage abstinence, while also providing information that helps teens be safer and avoid unwanted pregnancies. After all, can't we all agree that the world would be a better place if every child was wanted?
Anita Jimenez, Ruskin
Crist has sold out the state to developers June 4, letters
We cannot let Florida go down the road to ruin
I know that many of us moved down here, paving over some bit of paradise, as some have put it. However, while many ex-Yankees may have wanted a pizza parlor or two to open, we did not want the same sort of unchecked concrete mess that we fled from. For every idiot who says "I paid my dues up North" there were some who genuinely loved the fact that Florida offered many new things, ranging from a more relaxed pace, to local beaches, to the Strawberry Festival.
Sadly, it looks like this state is about to throw away all its virtues, and gain nothing for it. It's wrong to pave over paradise, but it is disgusting to do so in such a reckless manner that a mess is unavoidable. As bad as things have gotten, the developers were held in check before; what will they do now that they have been unleashed? What is worse, for all the talk about taxes, the communities may not even have enough roads, much less cops, firefighters and teachers. Of course, keep in mind that this state is still woefully unprepared for a Katrina-style hurricane, and a sprawling Florida without planning can be a deathtrap.
In the end, all I say is this, whether you are a true Florida "Cracker" or you just moved here, please, do not let this state get sold out. We have the potential to avoid a lot of mistakes made elsewhere, and to actually keep Florida a special, beautiful place. However, we have to kill the idea that we can just keep luring down the U-Hauls without paying attention to how we actually live.
The developers do not care how we live once we are here. They will merely look for the next place to spoil, while we live with what the aftermath.
Scott Granell, Valrico
Et tu, Charlie? Crist sells us all out | June 4, Howard Troxler column
Hidden tax increase
Gov. Charlie Crist just signed into law a future tax increase. Who do you think will end up paying the expenses that Crist just saved his developer friends and contributors from paying?
But Crist wasn't the only one who caved into the developers while showing no concern for the average Floridian. According to this column by Howard Troxler, the voting for this giveaway and future tax increase was heavily along party lines:
The area's Republican senators were split. Three voted for it while three voted against it;
Area Democratic senators voted against it, 2-0;
Area Republican House members voted for it, 16-0;
Area Democratic House members voted against it, 6-0.
Of course some will claim Troxler's column showed a liberal bias. That's the typical excuse when facts are printed that some don't like. But anyone who wants to disregard the facts on this giveaway and to vote these politicians back into office has no one to blame but themselves for this and other hidden future tax increases.
Dan Favero, St. Petersburg
Taking note of names
Other letter writers have expressed my outrage at and frustration with Gov. Charlie Crist's cynical, self-serving decision to sign the disastrous SB 360. But there are plenty of other targets for outrage and frustration. Without the complicity of our state legislators, Gov. Crist would have had no such bill to sign. It is now crystal clear just who among our elected representatives are in the thrall of special interests.
I, for one, will be clipping and posting on my refrigerator the list appearing in Howard Troxler's column Thursday of local legislators and how they voted on this issue. Come the next election, this will provide me with a handy reference for determining not just my vote but whose opponent, regardless of party, will receive my time and money.
Barbara Renfroe, Hudson
Limit the flow of funds
The June 4 Times carried several letters of criticism of Republican legislators, and Gov. Charlie Crist, specifically over SB 360. This bill as well as most bills resulted from deep-pocket influence.
The only way to stop lobbyists from running our government is for those who vote for a leader to also finance his or her campaign. Even candidates with the best intentions learn that once elected, money is the lifeblood of any re-election hope.
Since we allow special interests to fund the campaigns, candidates must become servants of their money.
I do not advocate government-funded campaigns. Rather a change where a candidate must gain campaign financing from those who he or she expects to receive a vote from. Without citizen financing of elections we can only expect continued special interest legislation regardless of the political party affiliation of the elected official.
Robert E. Hagaman, Homosassa
A bad calculation
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in Gov. Charlie Crist's signing of SB 360. He has done more damage to Florida in a single act than anything else I can think of in my 25 years in this state.
He has also betrayed all of his own pronouncements regarding the long-term health of Florida and his concerns about the environment. So, in addition to being an opportunist, he is a sellout.
I voted for Crist for governor and do not usually get heavily involved in campaigns, but I will do whatever I can to make sure he does not move on to Washington to represent our state. He apparently made the calculation that the developers' millions will get him there in spite of his betrayal. Not so fast, Mr. Crist!
John King, Tampa
Republican no more | June 4, letters
A primary strategy
I implore the letter writer to not change his party affiliation to Democratic, and indeed I'm planning to reregister as a Republican. Doing so will give me an opportunity to vote against Gridlock Charlie in the primary for someone else (sorry, Marco) who will not stand up as well to a Democratic candidate, whoever it is, in the general election.
I liked Charlie better when he did nothing.
Len Keller, Seminole
A different kind of green
As governor, Charlie Crist became popular for wanting a "green" Florida. He didn't define his goals. The "green" he meant — as is now surfacing with his infamous SB 360 — clearly envisioned the "green dollars" of the Florida lobbyists and myopic developers.
They will soon be paving, not the roads to their forthcoming developments, but the "road" to Crist's dream of Washington, D.C.
I wonder if they really want him there. He was overlooked by the Republican Party as a possible vice president. Now does Washington really need a man with his judgment? I think not.
Marlene Sanderson, Tierra Verde
Guns in national parks
Living fearful lives
After reading the June 2 letters to the editor on this subject, I must confess a deep sense of compassion for the authors. It must be hard to go through life being in constant fear, to not be able to enjoy a day in a park without worrying that you might have to defend yourself and family.
One writer makes a good point for doing away with drug laws. Just as it is foolish to think that gun-free zones accomplish anything, it is also foolish to think that drug laws accomplish anything.
Given the extremely low rate of crime in the parks, it will be interesting to see what the statistics are in a few years.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach
I find the long-standing argument about closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to be quite amusing and filled with built-in hypocrisies.
I am appalled at the actions and the rhetoric of our elected officials. The level of difficulty in dealing with this situation has been grossly exaggerated by politicians both left and right. As a consequence we seemed to have forfeited the ability to act quickly, even when important issues arise.
I find it profoundly amusing that our elected officials have no problem sending tens of thousands of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan and spending billions of dollars under the premise of national security and protecting our country. However when it comes to being proactive with suggestions on how to incarcerate 240 suspected terrorists, no one on either side will come forward. Where is the emphasis on national security?
What is the true motivation of our lawmakers? If they can't figure this out, they are not worthy of their positions. When the spirit is willing the flesh is never weak.
Gary Battane, Largo
Leaders saving lives
Barack Obama gives the go-ahead to kill three pirates to save one American. George W. Bush gives the go-ahead to dunk three terrorists to possibly save thousands. One, Bush, is a perceived conservative, the other a perceived progressive. Both are president at the time. Three dead, three scared. So who was right?
"Both" is the correct answer folks. The key is an honest, loving answer to this question: If a member of your family were in danger, as we are all in danger, would you do what is necessary in an attempt to save lives? Or have we become hypocritical and hyperpolitical to the point of stupid? One is the darling of the left-wing press, the other is not.
Perry Cross, Largo
Get ready for hurricanes
Floridians should be dismayed by a new Mason-Dixon poll showing that most coastal residents in the Southeast are unprepared for hurricanes. Two-thirds of Gulf and South Atlantic coastal residents don't feel at risk from hurricanes, according to this poll. Nearly half didn't even know whether their insurance covers storm damage.
Working with Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Gov. Charlie Crist's administration and other organizations, AARP has launched a new initiative to help Floridians of all generations be better prepared. Operation Hurricane Prepare encourages you to reach out to friends, relatives and neighbors and help them get ready for the hurricane season. Along the way, you'll also improve your own family's preparedness. Step-by-step guides on how to prepare are available in both English and Spanish at www.aarp.org/hurricaneprepare.
"Operation Hurricane Prepare" offers three ways to get involved: guides that can be downloaded to let people improve their own preparedness and to help neighbors and friends; group activities that you can do with others in your community; and a national Web site that helps organizations post volunteer opportunities.
You can take steps to prepare yourself, your neighborhood and your state for tropical weather.
Lori K. Parham, AARP Florida state director, Tallahassee
The Greatest Generation
Remember the sacrifices
I was a teenager growing up in 1944-47, and World War II was a big thing. I met and heard many stories from the returning veterans from that war. The ones that I remember best were the veterans of "Bloody Omaha Beach" on June 6, 1944.
They lived through many trials and horrors, seeing their buddies killed, parts of bodies all around and the ocean red with blood.
I visited that beach with my wife in 1997 and again in 2000. I could not hold back the tears when I looked out over the straight lines of white crosses that seemed to stretch forever (there were just under 10,000). I looked down on that beach that so many died on and I could only hear the wind blowing and the large American flag flapping in the wind. I could see and hear the sounds of war in my mind.
I wished that I could have done something to save those many young men who gave their lives that day so millions could be free. Please let us all not forget those brave young men today and remember them and their families in our prayers and thoughts.
Charles Harris, Tampa