Trayvon Martin case
Case is misuse of 'stand your ground'
Much of the left-wing blogosphere is abuzz about Florida's "stand your ground" law and is now rallying to demand it be repealed. Unfortunately, this is a misuse of their efforts.
The stand your ground law simply establishes that when people are threatened they do not have a "duty to retreat," and if they feel their life is in danger then they may respond with deadly force. There is nothing in stand your ground that would allow a person to pursue someone, confront him, start a fight with him and shoot him even though that person was unarmed.
What happened in the Trayvon Martin case is a misuse of the law. The Sanford Police Department says that according to testimony they had they were prohibited from arresting Zimmerman. If that's their excuse then they didn't investigate the case well enough and took Zimmerman at his word without corroboration.
Alan Petrillo, St. Petersburg
Trayvon Martin case
Open minds, hearts
Trayvon Martin's murder has been justified by fear. We exist in a culture of fear. From the cradle to the grave, we are taught to be wary of what we don't know. Our brains naturally use cognitive shortcuts and stereotypes to process the unlimited flood of information that we are inundated with. In foreign policy, we compartmentalize alien cultures into enemies and terrorists — "rogue states" or "the axis of evil." We assume the offensive to show that we are not afraid, but what this really highlights is how uncomfortable we are with the unknown. We simplify Earth into a place of false dichotomy — good vs. evil, black vs. white, us vs. them.
But we don't have to think this way. We can unlock our hearts and minds. We can approach others with an open palm rather than a clenched fist. We can change. Let's be creatures of dialogue and understanding, rather than fear mongering and force. Let's start with standing up for Trayvon Martin.
Lauren Richardson, Tampa
Calling in feds selectively
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's comment was "We don't know the details of whether that is even a defense available to the individual involved. Let's let the Justice Department go in — these are professionals, they'll know what they're looking for."
I assumed that Sen. Rubio would want a possible problem with interpretation of Florida's "stand your ground" law to be handled by the state government. But it seems that our inveterate states' rights advocate thinks that an agency of the national government is needed in this case.
That's the wonderful thing about the states' rights movement. When things are going along smoothly, whether in New Orleans, along the gulf beaches or with the interpretation of Florida law, they tell us that they want the national government to stay out of their business. But when the going gets tough, whether from hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or problems with the "stand your ground" law in Florida, they can't wait to call for assistance from the "professionals" of the federal government.
Palmer O. Hanson, Jr., Largo
House largesse? It's all relative March 23 Daniel Ruth column
Young's words no surprise
The response of long-serving Congressman Bill C.W. Young to a study that notes that he has directed over $71 million to two companies that have hired his sons Patrick and Billy is no surprise: "I've been in this business most of my life. I'm used to it."
I'm sure our congressman has railed about the deficit and the debt, just as I'm sure that he has never looked in the mirror to find the source of these problems.
Robert W. Schultz, St. Petersburg
Pity the gun lobby March 23 Gail Collins column
Where do crooks get guns?
This article failed to discuss where the crooks get their guns! The officer that was shot and died in St. Petersburg was shot with a gun that was in a teen's hands. How did he get the gun? How does the "bad guy" get his gun? They do not buy them at the local gun store like I do. They get them on the black market, and will continue to do so even if you outlawed all guns for me!
It is not the law-abiding citizen with a carry permit, except in very few cases, and they get the attention of Al Sharpton and company so we hear about them. Where is Sharpton on the death of the police officer? When we discuss our prison systems? When we need help with poverty? I do agree that the "stand your ground law" needs tweaking, but we real gun guys would not use it in any way except to protect our family from harm; never to take a life, unless ours was truly in danger. This is what we are taught and what we practice!
Bruce Cramer, Tarpon Springs
Affordable Care Act
Protect women's health
The two-year-old Affordable Care Act represents the biggest advance in women's health in a generation. Specific benefits include preventive health care such as cancer screenings and birth control with no co-pays and ending discriminatory practices against women, such as charging women higher premiums and denying coverage for "pre-existing conditions."
Unfortunately, opponents want to take away these benefits and take a huge step backward for women's health. Planned Parenthood knows firsthand how devastating that would be to women and men across the country. Women need to speak out to protect women's health.
Judy Morris-Hardy, member of the board of directors, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Tampa
Rubio stands alone on RESTORE Act March 9
Mica, Rubio need to step up
Two weeks ago, in a bipartisan vote, 76 U.S. senators passed the RESTORE Act as an amendment to the transportation bill. Without it, BP's historic Clean Water Act fines may end up in the black hole of the federal treasury instead of jump-starting gulf restoration.
Sen. Bill Nelson supported RESTORE while Sen. Marco Rubio flip-flopped and voted against it. The stunning about-face is disappointing and unacceptable. Likewise, Florida U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, has blocked the RESTORE Act in the House by refusing to act on the Senate's better version of the transportation bill. Mica, the House and Rubio need to step up and pass the Senate's transportation bill and restore America's gulf.
Cathy Harrelson, Florida organizer, Gulf Restoration Network, St. Petersburg