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Voyeur Dorm is strictly business

Re: Voyeur Dorm best left alone, Aug. 8.

In her Sunday column, Robyn Blumner states that government should leave the so-called Voyeur Dorm alone, as doing otherwise would run up against the First Amendment. While she is right to be concerned about government intervention in the private lives of adults "behind closed doors," she and others are missing the point with regard to this unique Internet-based enterprise.

Plenty of homeowners operate all kinds of small businesses from their homes; an increasing number of these involve the Internet. Such arrangements still respect both the letter and spirit of residential zoning because their business activities are secondary to the act of living in their houses. With the Voyeur Dorm, however, every act of living in this house, from laundry to socializing to bathing, is a product that is sold for profit, thereby making the entire setup a business.

A bona fide home-based business, by definition, takes place in a home, one with a reasonable amount of normal, non-commercial residential activity (as in not-sold-for-profit).

Anyone who purchases a house within the bounds of straightforward residential zoning, paying the price (and taxes) that that entails, has the right to expect that his neighbors are, likewise, people who are first and foremost making a home for themselves and perhaps their families. The remedy for businesses like the Voyeur Dorm, which cannot be defined as anything but 100 percent business, is to set up shop in an area zoned for mixed-use, where one would expect to find warehouses, adult-use businesses, single-family homes and shops next to one another on the same street.

But could it be that the participants in this enterprise (who, it turns out, are not exactly college students but, rather, employees of a cyberporn company) don't want to live in such an environment, preferring instead the relative safety and coziness of a strictly residential, single-family street?

One cannot have it both ways.

I don't doubt that zoning rules might sometimes clash with the First Amendment, but there are no rights to free speech, expression or religion being illegally restricted or curtailed in this instance, nor are any true home-based businesses being discouraged. The Voyeur Dorm and its employees can set up shop where it is appropriately zoned for _ well _ setting up shop.

Deborah Newell, Ruskin

A jarring contrast

Re: Wade Boggs' 3000! and In Mr. Martin's classroom: Every day is a test, Aug. 8.

I don't know if you planned it this way, but the contrast between these two headline stories was remarkable: Wade Boggs hitting a baseball 3,000 times and earning millions versus Mike Martin, teacher, doing a truly important, herculean task for a disgracefully low salary.

Is something wrong here?

P.S. I am not a school teacher.

Alan G. Nelson, St. Pete Beach

No way to rate schools

Re: In Mr. Martin's classroom: Every day is a test, by Shelby Oppel, Aug. 8.

As a product of the Pinellas County school system, I just wanted to respond by saying that the school grading system is not the way to do it.

My sister has been a teacher for more than 15 years in this county, mostly at a school where students are just like the ones at Mount Vernon. These students usually show up to class with more problems than most adults have. I am willing to go out on a limb in saying that my sister would love to have a class of 25 students where most of them are on the same reading, math and writing level.

So how can anyone compare a school like those in Countryside or Seminole with Mount Vernon, or the school where my sister teaches? Most students at these schools have parents who are involved all the time with homework or PTA or other functions. On the other hand, my sister's school has students who are lucky they have one parent, never mind two, who cares.

Society needs to wake up and realize that these students are struggling to make the score, not because they can't do it but because the students have an extra obstacle of not having caring parents.

In addition, I want to say "Nice job" to Mike Martin for taking the time to care for and to work with his students. Teachers like him should be commended for their work with the students, not be rated unsatisfactory by the state of Florida.

Michael Moore, Largo

Pill is a partial solution

Since the beginning of time, mankind has been plagued with social problems of religious intolerance, abortion and prostitution. The latest issue is the influence of the religious conviction impairing the operation of Bayfront Medical Center.

It would appear to anyone who has read the Aug. 1 Perspective article by Margaret Talbot titled One tiny pill that much of the conflict may be neutralized by the use of the European RU-486 abortion medication.

The application of the mifepristone can be safely given in the privacy of a doctor's office with only the patient and the doctor involved. Hospitals and religion need not be concerned. Much of the illegal wars on the abortion clinics and doctors may be avoided. Religion has no place in a public hospital other than comforting the sick.

Unfortunately, there is no such pill available to inhibit intolerance by religious mores. So far, old age seems to be the only cure for prostitution.

S.W. Sayles, St. Pete Beach

Know your rights

Re: What's this man's sign? Try the Fourth Amendment, by Robyn Blumner, Aug. 1.

Thanks for Robyn Blumner's piece on Texas lawyer Pat Barber and his campaign to re-educate the public with regard to their rights during a police traffic stop.

I say re-educate, because lately our citizenry has received such education from insipid television programming, shows that not only exaggerate the glory of police fighting the useless war on drugs, but also are packed full of police who routinely violate the rights of free citizens during traffic stops.

As motorists, all we are required to provide the officer with is our valid license to drive along with proof of proper automotive insurance. In some cases, proof of the right to operate the vehicle may also be required, and registration will usually suffice.

Any and all other questions an officer may ask, such as "Where are you going?" "Where have you been tonight?" "Why are you in this neighborhood?" etc. are entirely inappropriate and should be answered only if the driver wishes. Most frequently abused by traffic officers is the request for an inventory of what is in the vehicle and, of course, the request to search. Such requests should always be met with a polite refusal as they rarely have anything to do with traffic safety.

Most police do good work and it is reasonable that free citizens should help them to enforce safe traffic laws. Surrendering our privacies, however, is not required, and Robyn Blumner helps remind us of that.

Stephen Heath, Largo

Time to amend

The Constitution of the United States has served the people well and made the country the best place in the world to live. However, it is time to make some changes to stop the way it is being abused by elements that exist in our society today. This is particularly the case with the First Amendment.

Should freedom of speech and the press be allowed to destroy the morals and culture of our country? We need new laws to stop this abuse and protect the decent citizens and taxpayers of the country.

John Kirschbaum, Largo

Free market prevailed

Re: Consumers sour on ATM surcharges Aug. 6.

The people at the Public Interest Research Group, and others who agreed with their stand, should note that consumers through the free market decided how to deal with the charges for ATM usage.

The proof is in. We do not need a law to solve every problem.

Those who wanted to gain access to their money by incurring a fee were free to do so. Those who chose not to pay the fee contributed to the decline in ATM usage. No regulation limiting choices was necessary.

Let the free market reign.

J.B. Pruitt Jr., Clearwater

Such a comedian

Re: The Love Song of William J. Clinton, Aug. 8.

I was astonished to see the shameless drivel taking up space on an Opinion page of the St. Petersburg Times. My first thought was that Robert Friedman should be ashamed of himself. But, of course, he isn't. He is proud of his poem and himself _ picture and all.

Friedman belongs on late night TV. The Jay Leno Show would be more suited for his talents.

Sue Ellen Boggs, Tampa

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