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Understanding the militia mentality

In response to your June 16 editorial, That militia mentality, I have had the following thoughts.

It seems to me that the militia mentality follows from two great experiences that have occurred in most of our lives.

First, most of us were given 12 years of education about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and about our fundamental belief "that all men are created equal" and that "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." And we believed it and still believe it.

Second, we all watched as our government commanded our military citizens to go to the Persian Gulf war and defend two dictatorships.

I therefore feel some understanding of the militia mentality (especially since Robert McNamara noted that he _ representing our government _ sent some of our military citizens to their deaths because he wanted to be known as a team player). However, I don't even feel close to understanding the government mentality (that of the presidents, generals, etc.) that sent our military citizens to the gulf to die defending dictatorships.

Please do not try to explain to me why people who take the pledge to "uphold and defend our Constitution" take such actions. I am tired of their silly and petty reasons based on greed.

Leonard M. Bianchi, Spring Hill

Laughing at ourselves

Guffawed, cheered and agreed with My kind of town, St. Pete is (June 18), the latest Don Addis plot to get us to lighten up and cultivate our latent sense of humor about the city (community?) and ourselves.

Now I must say to Don Addis that I think St. Petersburg has gotten better with age, but its sense of humor is insecure.

My wife and I just had the pleasure of seeing Tampa Tongues at the Off Center Theatre in Tampa (sorry), and what a wonderful idea for a St. Petersburg counterpart. Bet it never happens.

James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg

Robertson defended

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson agrees that freedom of religion is one of the most basic principles of our nation. However, a letter writer (Deceptions of the Christian Coalition should be exposed, June 18) misrepresents the true beliefs of Robertson concerning the separation of church and state.

In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal on April 12, Robertson wrote: "Despite the claims to the contrary, I have never suggested or even imagined any type of political action to make America a "Christian nation.' "

Further, in a just-published law review article for the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, Robertson writes: "I agree that the church and state should be separate because the separation of church and state is good for religion, religious institutions and the religious liberty of believers."

It is Pat Robertson's view that there has been a growing hostility toward religion and people of faith in this country _ in the courts, in the schools and in the public square. Robertson's support of a Religious Equality Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is a move to protect the religious liberties of all Americans in public places. That does not mean a return to compulsory, sectarian prayer or Bible reading dictated by government officials. The amendment would allow voluntary student- and citizen-initiated free speech in non-compulsory settings, such as courthouse lawns, high school graduation ceremonies and sports events.

In the Wall Street Journal, Robertson wrote: "We seek nothing more radical than to ensure a hearing for America's time-honored values . . ." And that includes freedom of religious expression for all people of faith.

Gene Kapp, vice president,

Public Relations, the Christian

Broadcasting Network Inc.,

Virginia Beach, Va.

Build character

What a compelling article presented by reporter Curtis Krueger in the June 18 Times (At 13, runaway lives on the edge of danger) about the 13-year-old runaway Elizabeth.

The compelling feature of the lengthy report seems hidden behind a few inconspicuous words of the text: "Her mother and father, who never married, split up when she was barely more than a toddler."

I concur strongly with columnist Bill Maxwell: Until we as a community _ myself included, who is not yet a parent _ strive diligently and responsibly to build character in our young people (which includes not only our 13-year-olds but those who conceive the soon-to-be 13-year-olds), all the social programs and welfare aid which we have thought up and adopted over the past decade(s) will continue to fail, if not exasperate us.

I pray for Godspeed in our effort at recovering our national identity.

David A. Eaton, St. Petersburg

Helmet safety

Re: Bonk, crack, splat, June 19.

In your X-Press section you ran a full-page story exulting the virtues of bicycle helmets. The article went on to describe what kinds of helmets are available and how they should fit.

It also inadvertently gave a perfect example of how not to wear one. In the picture at the bottom of the page it shows young Robin Beyer zooming along on her bicycle proudly wearing her brand new helmet. The helmet is worn on the back of her head like a beanie, providing no protection for the top front of her head. All helmet manufacturers explicitly state that the helmet must be worn level on the head, not tilted fore or aft.

But what mostly stands out is that the helmet is being worn backward! Perhaps it might be a good idea to run a follow-up story showing how to wear one the right way.

Jim Tonak, Largo

While wearing a helmet is a necessity when riding a bike, it will not help prevent injuries if worn off the forehead as in the picture of Robin Beyer.

Helmets should be placed squarely on top of the head, as in the picture of Ted Bianculli.

Please continue to stress the use of helmets. Those of us who bike have at least one story of being saved from injury because of our helmets!

Helene S. Allweiss, Treasure Island

Keep up the research

Re: Hot news flashes aren't helping women's health, by Ellen Goodman, June 20.

When reading Ellen Goodman's angry column about the ongoing research relating to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), one wonders what she would have the medical community do. Should the researchers stop looking for answers because the results so far are inconveniently confusing? It is frustrating that HRT seems to increase the risk of breast cancer while apparently helping to prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.

As a woman who lost a sister and an aunt to breast cancer and a grandmother and two uncles to heart disease, I certainly yearn for a definitive answer. But do I want a simplistic, pat-on-the-head guess? Definitely not.

Let's face reality and not "kill the messenger." Instead, let's applaud and support the continuing research.

Judith F. Gordon, Seminole

Hemochromatosis?

Re: Word out on dangers of eating raw oysters, June 20.

The Associated Press article reported on the dangers of eating raw oysters by people with certain health conditions, including hemochromatosis, the genetic disease of high iron storage in the body.

I was very pleased to see iron overload/hemochromatosis added to the list of conditions that put people at risk for death from eating raw oysters; however, how can people be warned when most do not know what the word "hemochromatosis" means let alone have been tested for it by their doctors?

In other words, there are people out there reading that story and glancing over the health conditions; they see the H word, and it means nothing, and move on. They couldn't have that, whatever it is, they think to themselves. But, one out of every 200 Americans reading that article will have that condition and one out of every eight will be a carrier; and if they go ahead and eat those raw oysters, innocently thinking that they have none of the listed health conditions, especially hemochromatosis, a potentially fatal but easily treatable condition estimated to affect more than 1.25-million Americans, they will probably die from it.

They will never know what hit them. Even their surviving family members may never know unless an autopsy is performed.

Anyone wishing information concerning this condition may contact our non-profit organization for free literature, physician referral and medical studies. Write to: Iron Overload Diseases Association, Inc., 433 Westwind Dr., North Palm Beach, FL 33408.

How many men, women and children will have to needlessly die before the American public will be informed and educated concerning this lethal but treatable disease?

Sandra Thomas, national director

of public education, Iron Overload

Diseases Association Inc.,

North Palm Beach

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