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  1. Archive

E-mail is a part of our progress, like it or not

Re: E-mail is more clutter than it's worth, by Bill Maxwell, Sept. 6.

How extraordinarily uncharacteristic of Bill Maxwell to whine about the volume of e-mail he gets.

Although I do not count myself as one of the nasty white males who only send him an e-mail to bash him or his point of view, I will consider myself as someone who understands the power behind e-mail and how it can put a person in touch with society's pulse.

As a columnist, Maxwell should have developed a thicker skin to deal with those who may be rude and ignorant or stupid. Then again, what does he think public reaction should be when he lobs some of his journalistic grenades at us? Much as we may not like it, we are living in an information age. This is the year 2000, after all.

Unfortunately, the only solution available to Maxwell is to get out of the business if he doesn't like getting e-mail. In all walks of life, we must be prepared for progress. Some of it may not be the progress we want; when that happens we must stand by our moral and ethical convictions and walk away.

Vilmar Tavares, Spring Hill

Another third-party candidate ignored

Re: Where are third-party candidates?, letter, Sept. 6.

I agree with the letter writer. I am calling on the Times to give significant coverage to the Constitution Party presidential candidate, Howard Phillips. C-SPAN taped the Constitution Party national meeting held in Baltimore on Sept. 2 and aired it on Sept. 3.

The request to cover the Constitution Party and other third parties has been made prior to this, but the Times appears to consistently hold back such information from the public. We would like to inform the public that the Constitution Party meets locally in Pinellas and information may be obtained from its Web site,

Ben Quatrano, Clearwater

Times' campaign coverage biased

The Sept. 9 Times front-page headlineswere Gore keeps up boost, wins fans and below, Cheney has lackluster voting history. Your bias is so obvious.

I don't see anything in your paper to the effect that the Democrats have been in the White House for the last eight years and they haven't done a thing to help the needs of our senior citizens with prescription medicine or to help children with health insurance, and what about the fact that we have so many kids in the public school system who can't read or write?

The administration has lied through its teeth, and you know it. But you still feed us your obviously one-sided information. You are not a fair or balanced publication.

Ben Alexander, St. Petersburg

Tone down zero-tolerance rhetoric

Re: Drug court alternative, editorial, Sept. 4.

This editorial was right on target: Public health approaches to illicit substance abuse are long overdue. However, drug courts ignore the fact that all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, is best addressed by medical professionals, not the criminal justice system. Law enforcement's involvement in public health issues like addiction is part of the problem, not the solution.

In order for drug treatment to be truly effective _ and not necessarily preceded by an arrest _ policymakers are going to have to tone down the zero-tolerance rhetoric. Zero-tolerance attitudes discourage the type of honest discussion necessary to facilitate treatment. Driving illicit drug addiction underground is counterproductive and only compounds the problem. Would alcoholics seek treatment if doing so was tantamount to confessing to criminal activity? Likewise, would putting every incorrigible alcoholic behind bars and saddling them with criminal records be productive?

Increased drug treatment options like drug courts are a step in the right direction, but until peace is declared in the failed drug war, the success of treatment will be severely limited.

Robert Sharpe, Students for Sensible Drug Policy,

Washington, D.C.

Statement of superiority without merit

Re: Vatican declares Catholicism is superior religion, Sept. 6.

I had, until today, been of the opinion that George W. Bush, Jesse Jackson, Fidel Castro and the tennis-playing Williams sisters had more or less cornered the market on braggadocio, pomposity and egocentricity. But the Vatican declaration of superiority puts them all to shame. The claim must be viewed as hollow and specious.

From a quantity standpoint, the Catholics might claim some superiority, but is it not, in religion, the quality that is important? Jesus stressed that true Christians would be identified by the fruitage they produce, stressing, illustratively, how a fine tree would bring forth fine fruit.

Recently, the pope humbly acknowledged and apologized for the sins of the church. Over the centuries, we think of the butchery of the Crusades, the horrors of the dreaded Inquisition, and, in this century, the Concordat signed between the Vatican and Hitler and the subsequent mass slaughter of 6-million Jews. In Ireland, Catholics have spewed hatred for Protestants and resorted to violence and have received the same ill treatment in return. During both of the World Wars, at the behest of the rulers or politicians calling the shots, they have taken up arms and killed their fellow Catholics on the opposite side, even as the priests on both sides petition God for victory.

The cornucopia of bad fruitage, were it to be painstakingly set forth, would fill a page or two of the St. Petersburg Times. So the pompous declaration of the Catholic Church, that of the approximate 2,000 sects and religions existent on the Earth, it alone stands out as superior, is without merit.

Leonard A. Peterson, New Port Richey

Declaration is the height of arrogance

Re: Vatican declares Catholicism is superior religion, Sept. 6.

I find it ironic that, while the definition of "Catholic" includes "having sympathies with all; broad-minded; liberal," the Vatican's latest declaration seeks to elevate Catholicism above other mainstream religions such as Judaism, Hinduism and Islam.

If we were to, hypothetically, assume that there is a God, I can't believe that he/she would be so picayune as to show preference over competing religious dogmas. Having created billions of galaxies over billions of years, would this God really care whether his/her sycophants say the rosary, wear a yarmulke or pray to Mecca five times daily?

Furthermore, the Vatican describing other religions as inferior "because they depend on superstitions . . . (that) constitute an obstacle to salvation" is a case of "the pot calling the kettle black"! All religions _ especially Catholicism _ are steeped in superstition (i.e., "a belief or practice founded in ignorant fear or mistaken reverence").

Lastly, for the church officials to say that these new declarations should be considered as "infallible" is the height of arrogance. But then, could we expect anything else from a church that declares itself to be "the superior religion"?

Bob Lindskog, Palm Harbor

Vatican's tragic proclamation

Re: Vatican declares Catholicism is superior religion, Sept. 6.

My reaction to this ludicrous statement of opinion made by a reactionary church leader is summed up in one word: tragic.

I have served the church as a priest for 26 years. I've had the opportunity to study church history, guided by respected and informed contemporary theologians who along with so many committed and educated Catholics would definitely react with surprise and disgust when reading this article, which appears to have set the church back into the Dark Ages.

The other day, I was confronted by at least five very genuine and sincere Catholics who asked the question, "What's going on with this church?" I am sure thousands now are asking this same question with a critical yet honest determination to find out what this church really does to help people discover a loving God who accepts all those who come in faith and love.

How dare any church claim to represent this most awesome and mysterious deity whose words of comfort resonate with hope and peace: "Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, I will give you rest." Perhaps this pope should take comfort in those words rather than thinking he can change the mind of God.

Fr. Anthony D'Angelo, All Saints Independent

Catholic Church, Spring Hill

Dr. Laura's right: gay is wrong

Re: Muzzling Dr. Laura, Sept. 7.

I was very disappointed when I read the article regarding the protests against the Dr. Laura show. The article contained quotes from many homosexuals decrying Dr. Laura's philosophy, and not one person speaking to the truth of her claims _ that homosexuality is wrong and deviant.

The truth is that homosexuals are the only group of perverts who manage to get good press. Perhaps the Times would better serve our community by focusing more on real news and less on homosexual propaganda.

In recent weeks, we have seen how the United Way and other supposed charities have stopped funding to the Boy Scouts of America over their decision to stand on the moral high ground. How many parents of Scouts would be comfortable knowing their child is on a camping trip with a homosexual scout leader? I, for one, would not. This issue has caused me to cease donations to the United Way, and I urge every other moral person to do the same.

Someone must stand up and say "No" to those who lead and legitimize perverted behaviors. Go, Dr. Laura!

Bob Monti, Clearwater

SUV design is part of the problem

Ignored in the avalanche of hearings about bad tires is this question: How many lives could have been saved if the vehicles involved had been better designed?

Most SUVs are inherently less stable than conventional sedans. They start with a truck chassis already high off the ground and then topped with a heavy passenger cabin.It is easy to calculate that if you double the center of gravity for a given track width you almost cut in half the flip-over angle. That angle can be reached in a heavy SUV by just hitting a curb at high speeds, not only by blowing a tire.

So how many lives have been lost due to high risk design? This deserves an airing.

Over the years, I have experienced blown tires at 75 to 85 miles per hour. In all cases control was maintained. But this occurred in conventional sedans with wide tracks and low centers of gravity.

It is time for manufacturers to disclose data on centers of gravity, track widths and stability ratings.

Joseph A. Mas, Palm Harbor