Re: Outrage grows; retreat begins, March 11.
Many thanks for Mary Jo Melone's follow-up on public reaction and the attitude of Clear Channel Communications after one of its stations aired the audio of the castration and killing of a pig. While some advertisers have pulled ads, the corporation apparently has issued only a perfunctory apology and does not plan to fire the long-controversial disc jockey who was responsible.
We should all be complaining to the Federal Communications Commission and to Congress. Since federal law and rules have allowed greater consolidation in the radio industry, I have noticed less variety and a lowering of all kinds of standards on our local radio stations. For example, in my experience, the blatantly sexual topics and vulgar sexual innuendo have increased considerably on WFLA-AM 970, another Clear Channel station, during prime-time hours.
If Clear Channel does not fire the DJ responsible for airing the "pig-killing," then it is accepting it as a standard for entertainment. Whether the sounds were simulated or not, such a display is revolting and harmful for both adults and children to hear as something for "enjoyment." Common sense tells you this. Why not air the sounds of someone undergoing painful medical tests or dental work? The answer should be obvious. Listening to the suffering of others should not be "enjoyable." And if it is, then something is badly wrong.
I hope the public will continue to express displeasure to the station's corporate owner, to the FCC and to Congress.
Lisa DeVitto, Tampa
Where do we pin the blame?
Re: Outrage grows; retreat begins.
Mary Jo Melone's March 11 column on the Clear Channel Communications response to the publicity stunt pig killing is disturbing. It bothers me because the killing of a "being" for sheer enjoyment is wrong. Period. The commercial Tampa Bay morning radio air time is poor at best. Driving to work, I hear stupid laughter, a voyeuristic sense of humor and not much music. Yes, I do have an off switch as well as a choice of other listening options. I use them liberally.
With regard to the pig-killing, I am at a loss as to who is to blame or whom to punish: Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, who provided the vehicle for the killers and who got the most out of the deal; Clear Channel Communications for its obvious lack of concern, supervision and tacit support; the humans (I use the term in the broadest way) who actually stabbed the knife into the pain-riddled animal; or the listeners who got off on the event.
I have a master's degree in communications, and I have been in the fire and emergency medical services fields. You are correct: One thing sometimes does lead to another. After 13 years here, I am worried about the Tampa Bay area. Perhaps the best punishment is to identify the names of the people involved and hold up a mirror so that they can see themselves as I see them.
Kevin J.T. Jensen, Clearwater
Don't allow suffering for amusement
Re: Bubba's on-air animal torture.
How can we continue to express shock at kids slaughtering their classmates when supposedly responsible adults get only laughs when animals are tortured?
Those who don't care about animals need to understand that it's this mind-set that needs to be changed. Every serial killer started off by harming animals and then "graduating" to humans.
Bubba needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And the message needs to be sent loudly and clearly to our kids that the suffering of any being is not funny and will not be tolerated.
Jayn Meinhardt, Redington Beach
Remember the good Bubba does
Re: Is anyone listening as Bubba fouls the air? by Mary Jo Melone, March 8.
The answer is "yes." People are listening. The airways are owned by the public, as Mary Jo Melone said, and the public has spoken, or people like Bubba the Love Sponge Clem wouldn't be on the air. The public has a right to listen as well as to turn the dial if offended. Clem's morning show isn't for everyone. Thank God we live in a country where there is free choice.
Has Melone ever listened to Clem's show or is she basing her opinion on what others have told her? Does she realize the positive effect he has on this community? Every year Clem raises thousands of dollars for the Children's Home in Tampa. Also, thousands of dollars are raised by him through his listeners for a women's home/shelter. Or how about the hundreds of toys collected and the money raised every year at Christmas for underprivileged children in the Tampa Bay area? Did Melone know any of this?
Maybe she has a lot more in common with Clem than she cares to admit. She says Bubba spews garbage. I believe she did a little spewing herself.
Susan Wlasiuk, Kenneth City
Stay away from censorship
Re: Is anyone listening as Bubba fouls the air?
Mary Jo Melone is calling for boycotting all Clear Channel Communications radio stations, pressuring advertisers on those stations and even suggested contacting the Federal Communications Commission.
I have a problem with trying to kick Bubba off the air. Melone asserts that deregulation on the part of the FCC is to blame and appeared to yearn for a return to the days when the FCC enforced obscenity laws more stringently.
I, however, adamantly oppose censoring anyone on the air because someone else may have a problem with the content of their show. I personally am not a big fan of Bubba's, although I have listened to his show on occasion. When I don't like what I hear, I solve the problem myself by changing the station, or turning my radio off. Amazingly, no one has ever held a gun to my head and forced me to listen to his show when I didn't want to.
Although I may not want to listen to him, I don't feel I have the right to make that decision for everybody else by trying to get him kicked off the air.
James Bennett, Safety Harbor
This is what's wrong with society
A hearty congratulations to the St. Petersburg Times and to Mary Jo Melone for her column, Is anyone listening while Bubba fouls the air?
The lower-than-pond-scum mentality that drives the Bubbas of the world and their ilk is precisely what is wrong with our society.
Thank you for casting Bubba in the light that he so richly deserves. Let's hope that Clear Channel Communications receives a clear message from the public, as well as from the FCC.
Charlene Inglis, Nokomis
A call to limit freedom?
Re: Is anyone listening as Bubba fouls the air? by Mary Jo Melone.
Ah, the sweet sound of a call for censorship, veiled under the guise of one person's opinion of decency. Is this an early April Fool's Joke, Mary Jo? Can you really be calling for censorship solely because you do not approve of the subject matter of this particular radio show?
You take for granted your protections under the First Amendment every day, and now call for a limitation of someone else's. Don't bite your lip speaking out of both sides of your mouth.
Todd M. Smayda, Largo
Misconceptions about education
Re: Logic is lacking in how we deal with education, letter, March 5.
After reading Rob McMahon's blatant misconceptions of our education system, I felt obligated as a member of the Florida Legislature to enlighten him on the facts.
The first misconception is that the Legislature has shown it is not interested in ensuring a quality education for every student by not providing our districts with adequate funding for reduction of class size. Since 1995, the Legislature has earmarked nearly $5-billion to directly address school overcrowding and construction needs.
According to the latest Florida Department of Education report, school districts still have more than $1-billion at their disposal for school construction needs. Of the $2-billion in lottery bonds, 42 percent has yet to be spent by local school districts. In addition to the education department's report, a national report stated that Florida funds local school construction at twice the national level. In fact, Florida puts more money into local school construction than any other state except Alaska and Hawaii.
The Florida Legislature has appropriated record amounts of money into our education system, yet surprisingly, it never seems to be enough. It is unfortunate that available funds for school construction have remained untouched. We have insisted that the school boards spend the money allocated to them. However, we have not seen significant results.
The letter's second major misconception is that the Legislature is not supportive of our state's teachers. The letter writer made references to the Georgia Legislature and the perks it provides that state's teachers. Allow me to compare apples to apples. When you look at the complete picture, Florida teachers do better than teachers in Georgia and are actually closer to the national pay average of $40,000 per year. Teachers in Georgia who were hired after July 1, 2000, no longer have tenure. All teachers in Florida do. Teachers in Georgia must pay a state income tax on their earnings. Florida teachers do not pay a state income tax. Teachers in Georgia do not have the option of collective bargaining. Florida teachers are represented by teacher unions that collectively bargain for salaries and working conditions. Teachers in Georgia must contribute 5 percent of their annual salary to the Teacher Retirement System. In Florida, the state fully pays into the retirement system, which is an 8.21 percent contribution of the teacher's annual salary. If you total this up, the average Florida teacher's salary is more than $2,700 higher than Georgia's average teacher salary.
The Legislature has also enacted numerous programs from financial assistance for national teacher certification to bonus incentives for people aspiring to become teachers.
The Florida Legislature understands there is still work to be done, yet we have accomplished many great things. It is unfortunate that the president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association would make such irresponsible and unfounded statements to the public regarding our education system.
Frank Farkas, state representative, District 52,
Taking care of the wealthy
So what is the definition of a compassionate conservative anyway? Recently the Republicans killed the workplace regulation rules aimed at preventing health problems associated with repetitive motion. President Bush's tax plan demonstrates his concern for the wealthiest people in our society. In a recent speech he also revealed his compassion by stating that no one should have to pay more than 30 percent in taxes.
Isn't it too bad that he didn't have the compassion to say that no one in America should have to work for $5.15 per hour. Al Gore would have.
Robert Glass, Seminole
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