Letter of the Month
August's winning letter addressed freedom of speech.
Unpopular, offensive, protected
Defending free speech is hard. It means that speech and actions that are offensive and hateful are protected. From the speech of Richard Spencer to the multimillion-dollar athletes sitting out the national anthem to the offensive racist and misogynistic rap lyrics and the burning of the United States flag, as abhorrent and hateful as these words and actions are, they are all protected under the First Amendment.
It is easy to defend words and actions that are popular, but a truly free democracy requires the protection of all speech or our country becomes nothing more than an authoritarian state. As one has seen over the past week, once-acceptable statues, markers, street and school names are no longer acceptable. Next time it will be different statues, markers, street and school names. So for those who think this purging is a good thing, then when it happens again to historical figures that are venerated today but not in the future, remember that you thought it was a great idea when it affected others.
One can protest, ignore and or boycott the speech and actions that are hateful and offensive. Violent protest, however, is not acceptable regardless of the views of the protagonist.
Anne Kraus-Keenan, Spring Hill
Harvey's lessons | Sept. 1, commentary
When I read that "Houston provides a case study in sprawl, and quite frankly, dumb growth," I was immediately reminded of the County Commission's decision in Pasco County to allow development of housing on the Quail Hollow Golf Course. The editorial continues, "Houston is famous for giving a free hand to developers, and that has severely constricted flood controls, both natural and man-made."
Just over a year ago, FEMA mitigated the purchase of our home on Quail Hollow Boulevard following flooding from Hurricane Frances and, specifically, Tropical Storm Debby. Since our home's construction in the late '60s, massive amounts of fill dirt were brought in to build newer, neighboring homes, a small townhome complex and a large golf course community — effectively creating a basin around our home.
Residents of the golf course community currently face the same kind of resignation we had to face because the Quail Hollow Neighborhood Citizens Group Inc. was unsuccessful, mid August, in its attempt to solicit legal fees and appeal the commission's decision. They are acutely aware of what more roofs and concrete will mean to the floodplain they call home. I shared photos with the group of the devastation to our property from 2004 through 2014 — hoping they'd make an impact on county officials.
Virginia Lieberman, San Antonio
Help our own first
The United States has a foreign aid budget totaling $50.1 billion. The leaders are Afghanistan at $4.7 billion, Israel at $7.5 billion and Jordan at $1 billion. The people in Texas, victims of Hurricane Harvey, are suffering. It is time to cut back on these exorbitant outlier charities and help the people of Texas. Charity begins at home.
John J. Tischner, Dunedin
The tragic electrocutions of flood help volunteers in Houston leads to a question for our Florida electric utilities: Do you have the means to turn power off in areas subject to flooding? Do you have a system in place to remotely detect downed power lines and to kill the current feeding them? If not, why not?
And for people evacuating — turn the power off at main breaker box in your house on the way out. Yes, the food in your refrigerator will perish. That's far cheaper than your lives, the lives of emergency responders, or even your house if the combination of electricity and water causes a fire.
Rolf H. Parta, Bradenton
DACA's end confirmed | Sept. 6
Return on investment
One thing I hear rarely mentioned about the Dreamers is the public money that has been spent to educate 800,000 students. It must be in the billions of dollars. By all accounts, the Dreamers have grown up (or are growing up) to be fine and productive members of our society.
Aside from humanitarian concerns about sending these people back to places unknown to them, give them a chance to return our investment.
Charles M. Phillips, Tarpon Springs
N. Korea claims hydrogen bomb | Sept. 3
Safety depends on respect
North Korean leaders have access to our media outlets and read and hear daily attacks by many in the media and some in Congress describing President Donald Trump as unstable and unfit to be president. Character attacks by the media on the leader of the free world give rogue countries like North Korea the impression that we are led by a weak, unfit president. Our nation's safety depends on the media and Congress having respect for our country's president.
How can we expect rogue nations with nuclear weapons to have respect for our president when the media calls him unfit? The media plays a major role in how we are perceived by other countries. It is time for the media to return to "fair and constructive criticism."
Patricia Jenkins, St. Petersburg
Kenyan court orders new vote | Sept. 2
Do it right — or do it over
In the last 20 years, the United States has had two presidential elections with irregularities yet no "rerun."
I commend Kenya's Supreme Court for invalidating the result of last month's presidential election and standing up for democracy rather than saying, "Let's get over it for the sake of democracy."
Larri Gerson, Dunedin