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Don't allow cartoon to distort NOW's concerns

Re: Editorial page cartoon, March 22.

The Pinellas National Organization for Women is deeply saddened by the murder of five children by their mother, Andrea Yates.

Michael Ramirez's March 22 editorial page cartoon about our organization is appalling. NOW is a multi-issue organization that is concerned with all aspects of women's lives. We fight against sex discrimination in pay, hiring and promotion; against racism, homophobia and poverty; against sexual harassment, domestic violence and rape.

NOW supports equal pay for equal work and pay equity, more and better child care, family leave, the Equal Rights Amendment, minority rights and equality, freedom and justice for women in Afghanistan and all over the world.

It is totally unfair for Ramirez's cartoon to connect NOW's support for a woman's right to choose with the fact that we are concerned not only with the death of five children but also with their mentally ill mother. NOW cares about all women and their rights, including the right to a fair trial. We support needy women. Most important, we work to change our world so that it is a more just and equal place where all women and all children will thrive and not just survive.

Ruth Whitney, Ph.D., co-president, Pinellas National

Organization for Women, St. Petersburg

Yates deserves sympathy and help

I found the cartoon on March 22, most offensive, as if NOW supports Andrea Yates' killing of her children. NOW does not believe that it is all right to kill children. The organization's support and sympathy are rather for Yates, who was clearly suffering from psychosis, as attested to by several psychiatrists. She was also pressured by her husband to have another child, even after she had suffered so much depression that she had tried to commit suicide. Further, she was expected to home-school her children and was inexplicably taken off her medication.

Apparently the jurors were unable to understand psychosis except in the most simplistic terms of telling right from wrong. Andrea Yates knew that killing her children was wrong, but the jurors failed to take into account her delusions that saw that wrong as the lesser of two evils, the other being that her children would go to hell.

Andrea Yates deserves sympathy and help, even while we are grieving and aghast at the enormity of the deaths of five children.

Lucy Fuchs, Brandon

Demagoguery at its worst

Re: Michael Ramirez's March 22 cartoon.

It would be difficult to imagine a more offensive, tasteless and insulting political cartoon than this one. Although Michael Ramirez, a conservative Republican, fancies himself as an equal opportunity offender, this particular political cartoon attempts to pass off offensive stereotypes as somehow humorous.

Since your paper prides itself on its simple policy, "merely to tell the truth," I'm surprised and disappointed that a decision was made to publish such a piece of demagoguery at its worst. Here's the truth:

The vast majority of the American public felt Andrea Yates committed a horrific crime _ they also overwhelmingly acknowledge that this woman suffers from severe psychosis. The National Organization for Women's position in the Yates trial reflected that of mainstream America.

The depiction of the "NOW manly feminist" as a reckless representative of the group is another in a long series of slams by Ramirez at the gay and lesbian community. It is this type of irresponsible invective that perpetuates intolerable attitudes leading to hate crimes like the murder of Matthew Shepard. In truth, NOW, with more than 500,000 members _ men and women _ promotes equality and justice for all in our society.

The inclusion of the abortion issue in this cartoon is the last straw. Current U.S. law protects the right of a woman to choose an abortion. I've always found it curious that conservative Republicans who stand for small, limited government demonstrate no hesitation whatsoever when it comes to interfering in a person's civil rights.

Members of the St. Petersburg Times editorial board should hang their heads in shame.

Lorraine A. Ross, North Redington Beach

Multiple stereotypes

Friday's political "cartoon" by Michael Ramirez should get an award for managing to stereotype so many issues in one extreme cartoon. His portrayal of the supporters of NOW as overweight unattractive, big-mouthed women harkens to the days of overt male domination of women. Further exacerbating his "ugly" analysis was the issue of legal mental competence (ignoring the complex issues of women's health care and spousal and religious domination), and equating it to a woman's right to choose.

It is frightening to think that men such as Ramirez are paid for giving voice to such an offensive attack on women. These are complex issues that involve our collective societal voice, but specifically affect the treatment and voice of women's issues within our country. This cartoon purposely layered multiple issues to create a smorgasbord to meet the authors twisted version of "truth."

We all lose when women who speak for equality have their ideas minimized and distorted by such purposeful pandering to the rightist feminist myth.

Andy Witzleben, St. Petersburg

Incredibly bad taste

I am appalled by the "We support Andrea Yates" cartoon (March 22). It is in such incredibly bad taste that it does a disservice to your newspaper and your readers.

With all that is known about mental illness, and in particular the mental illness that will torture this poor mother for the rest of her life, the editors should have shown some sympathy and common sense.

Joseph W. Grant, St. Petersburg

Selfish interests exposed

Re: Michael Ramirez's March 22 editorial cartoon.

Never have I seen a cartoon that more accurately exposes the truth than this one.

The NOW figure's support for Andrea Yates with the statement, "Just think of it as late, late, late, late, late, late, late, late term abortions" reveals the truth that nothing is more important to them than the right to chose any behavior, however heinous, that serves their selfish interests, and nothing is less important to them than the rights of innocent children to live.

Frank Boyle, South Pasadena

Parallel cases, different outcomes

Re: Couple guilty in dog mauling death, March 22.

How ironic that the spouse of Marjorie Knoller was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter even though he was not present during the killing by the dogs. He did, however, have knowledge that his animals were a threat and danger to others.

Andrea Yates was convicted of killing her children. Her spouse, however, was not criminally charged. He, too, was not present during the killing of his children but had knowledge that his spouse was a threat and danger to his children.

Hmm . . . do you see a parallel here? Same culpability. Same scenario. Same criminal disregard for another's life. Why is that Mr. Yates walks a way from this one?

Tricia R. Schlosser, Spring Hill

Graham's words weren't confusing

Re: Look at Billy Graham's life, letter, March 19.

The letter writer asks what Billy Graham needs to apologize for: "Saying that some powerful people in our country are Jewish? That happened to be the truth at that time." But he didn't just comment that Jews were in power, he also expressed that he did not particularly like this fact.

True, Graham is merely a human, but he is also a religious leader, someone people look to for guidance. As such, he needs to conduct himself with higher standards and attitudes than your average Joe. In this instance that we know about, he behaved far below average.

As for the letter writer's statement condemning the Pharisees, it would do her well to remember Jesus generally practiced Pharisaic (rabbinic) Judaism.

Graham's actions are those of love? Although he did not act in violence, that's like believing the priests of the Spanish Inquisition, who claimed to be motivated only by love of the people they were torturing. No, I do not think Billy Graham's words were at all confusing.

Laurie S. Roberts, St. Petersburg

More gun laws not needed

Re: People are armed and anxious, by Mary McGrory, March 22.

This article by Mary McGrory is typical of gun control people. I for one am very thankful there is no legislation on controling firearms currently up for consideration in either the Senate or the House. We don't need any more laws controling guns.

What antigun people don't want the public to know is that for every crime committed by guns there are thousands of crimes prevented by people with guns. In many instances, just the showing of a gun to a would-be bad guy is enough to prevent violence.

We need to enforce the laws we now have on the books rather than create new ones. Most of the people who use guns for hunting and recreation are law-abiding people. Their guns never hurt anyone.

James Gardner, Homosassa

Arming to defend our own

Re: People are armed and anxious, by Mary McGrory.

I would like to comment on a couple of the statements made in Mary McGrory's column.

First, she says that "gun sales have quadrupled since Sept. 11." I would think that most Americans do not believe the police can protect them every hour of the day. Since we came under attack, more people than ever have come to realize we need to prepare ourselves to fight back and defend our own. I would hope most of us believe strongly in our right to arm ourselves, defend ourselves and defend our great country.

Second, she says terrorists purchase firearms at gun shows and ship them back to fellow terrorists. That is simply absurd. An AK-47 assault rifle can be bought in Peshawar, Pakistan, which is one of the world's most notorious cash-and-carry gun markets, for a few $20 bills. Why then would a terrorist risk coming all the way to the United States to stand out like a sore thumb at a gun show?

Robert L. Simister, Largo

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