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Fairness missing in cocaine sentences - May 13 editorial

The Times rightly points out the inequity in sentencing guidelines for cocaine possession. This should be corrected, but a more comprehensive solution would be the legalization of cocaine and marijuana. Legalizing these drugs would not only solve the problem of sentencing, but would take a huge burden off our legal system and, most important, it would stop drug violence.

These two drugs are already accepted by America as part of our culture. Not true you say? Think about how frequently drug usage is depicted on TV and in the movies, often in a matter-of-fact or comical way. We laugh at depictions of people smoking pot, and what teenager has not learned how to snort lines of cocaine from watching TV.

We should learn from history and stop this modern prohibition. We cannot change the fact that drugs, just like liquor in the 1920s, are in demand and will be obtained one way or another. America did not become a nation of alcoholics after Prohibition was repealed, and it won't become a nation of drug addicts when drugs are legalized. Abuse will continue when they are sold legally, but the violence will stop, taxes will be levied, the quality will be safe, and there can be the disclaimer added that no humans have been harmed in the creation of this drug.

Jeffrey Lahm, St. Petersburg

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Teacher, student suspended - May 13

Self-defense paramount

If you change the setting of this article from a classroom to a store parking lot, this would not be an issue. Why shouldn't a 64-year-old woman defend herself from a teenage male that approaches her and calls her vulgar names? Just because this happened in a classroom, her actions are now called into question.

In my opinion, this teacher's actions should be justified under Florida's stand your ground statute: She was in a place she had a right to be (the classroom) and she met force with force because she had reason to believe it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to herself. I am not advocating that teachers have the right to hit students, but if you feel threatened, you shouldn't have to wait for that person to harm you. You do have the right to defend yourself.

Don Sarvis, Safety Harbor

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Elementary education

Don't start computers early

Search engines, if used as "research" tools, are for people with basic understanding of the subjects. But they are not appropriate for young children who have a lot of educational holes. Children may have a crooked understanding of extremely difficult things and when using a search engine, they miss the important links and explanations in between. It's like nongifted kids skipping grades.

Therefore, traditional methods (e.g., reading a book) are much better for the young as they are more likely to read from beginning to end and are less likely to have holes or gaps in understanding. That's why we should ban computers in doing class projects in elementary and middle schools. They need to learn basic science, math, etc. first.

You may argue that not teaching our students with current technology will cause them to lag behind students in other countries. But our students actually come behind students in a lot of other countries where there's no computer in the classroom. Students only need months, not years, to catch up on technology. Take me for example. I didn't study mainframe obviously. I didn't own a PC when I finished my undergraduate study. It took me few years in graduate school to surpass most other graduate students in term of software proficiency as well as programming. In my 10 years of engineering practice, about 1 percent of engineers are better than I am in terms of software proficiency/ programming. Not because they studied those technologies when they were young, but because they are smarter than me.

Thai Nguyen, Largo

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Drug testing for welfare recipients bill heads to governor - May 6

New low in society

We've come to this: Requiring welfare recipients to submit their bodily fluids simply to qualify for our assistance.

How much more morally corrupt can we become?

How much lower can we go?

I am ashamed at the depth to which we have sunk as a civil society.

I am ashamed that we have become a society that physically monitors and punishes poor people, not based upon any kind of evidence, but only upon a suspicion that they may be addicted to drugs. This is a chilling scenario.

James M. Barrens, St. Petersburg

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GOP gets election wish - May 6

Vote already won

The Times reported that state Sen. Mike Bennett said, "I want them to fight for it," referring to Americans' ability to vote. Did I miss something?

I was under the impression that beginning with those patriots who stood at Lexington and Concord and down throughout our history, all those who put on the uniform did the necessary fighting to assure all citizens the right to vote. These patriots were joined by the brave Americans who led voting rights freedom rides and similar activities to ensure that all could and would be able to exercise the prime "blessing of liberty," the vote.

Patrick J. Conrey, Spring Hill

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PolitiFact - May 7

Politicians lie too easily

How can we continue to have elected officials who consistently get ratings of "Pants on Fire" from PolitiFact? I'd like to see a weekly listing of all "Pants on Fire" rulings and maybe a monthly or quarterly listing. I would definitely like to see a listing of all such rulings for all candidates running in any given election. I think just a list of names and the topic would suffice.

I don't care with which party these liars are affiliated. Anyone running with a "Pants on Fire" ruling would not get my vote. These people run counting on the voter not remembering all their past lies. They and the rest of us need to be constantly reminded of who is a liar and who is not. We need to weed them out and get them out of our lives.

Mark Parry, Clearwater