A reader explains why a free press matters | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
The Tampa Bay Times rolls off the press.
The Tampa Bay Times rolls off the press. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published May 7

Freedom of the press

We need a free press to be a free people | Column, April 30

Sunday’s Perspective section is an example of exactly why journalism and a free press are crucial to democracy. I know that the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board receives criticism on occasion for “leaning left” too often. But Sunday’s opinion pieces were exceptional — especially the remarks from former Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash on the importance of a free press. Free speech by citizens and the press is crucial to ensure that leaders and others in powerful positions do not cross a boundary whereby the voices and will of the people are crushed. Intimidation and bullying by the powerful is a real threat to free speech in the current environment. Speaking out does require bravery. And while we will not always agree with one another, we should all defend the right to dissent and debate. A free press is one of the cornerstones of democracy. Let us not forget that.

Suzanne Inzina, Largo

Why I like the ads

We need a free press to be a free people | Column, April 30

When I began my Tampa Bay Times subscription more than a decade ago, I found many of the ads intrusive. Now I pay homage to all advertisers who are helping to keep this paper alive. I support them whenever possible, use those stick’em coupons with pride, carefully remove those attachments with appreciation rather than disdain. To all those businesses who are savvy enough to use the Tampa Bay Times as a go-to promotional mechanism, you are earning my grateful business because you are doing much to sustain our democracy. It’s not just value added, it’s intrinsic value that I wanted you to know is greatly appreciated. Please don’t stop. Our paper would not have been able to uncover the bad behavior that does us harm, hold all the wannabe tyrants to account, win all those Pulitzers without you.

Terri Benincasa, Palm Harbor

Medical decisions

Wait until 18 | Letter, April 30

In Sunday’s Perspective section, a letter writer shared his opinion that because teenagers are not good at long-term thinking, they should be required to wait until age 18 before making life-altering medical decisions. Given the current political climate, I assume he is talking about persons under 18 with gender dysphoria. His is a widely shared opinion, especially by those for whom the idea of transgender as a birth condition is confusing and threating to their long-held understanding of gender, as was the fact that various types of sexual orientation are due to genetics. I remind everyone that any medical treatment for minors requires informed parental or guardian consent. Furthermore, puberty blockers, which are frequently prescribed for gender dysphoria, are not permanent. If the medications are stopped, puberty resumes toward full maturation. Thus, the treatment, which has been used safely for decades, provides critical support for a young person negotiating a difficult physical, emotional and social condition, while still maintaining future choice. I believe that removing that support and choice by punitive statutes is cruel.

Robert H. More, Riverview

Elected to govern

Here’s what Gov. DeSantis and King George III have in common | Column, April 30

Gov. Ron DeSantis is different from King George III. The king didn’t win office in a landslide. The governor lacks the king’s press support at home. George III was distracted as the colonies were a sideshow in England’s travails. In Florida, the salubrious state of the state enables the governor to focus on our sideshow, the culture wars (I believe unduly and contrary to his higher political aspirations). The king faced Thomas Jefferson’s list of widely (but far from universally) felt grievances and responded with force. The governor responds with democratic legislation to the columnist’s exaggerated bill of particulars. If, for example, the governor is a book banner, aren’t librarians — who only buy 2% of published books — censors, too? I consider Obergerfell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, to be one of our greatest civil rights achievements. The key to its rapid popular acceptance was that it extended a useful social norm. It avoided attempts to ignore, denigrate or even oppress majority values. So many fronts in the cultural war and the media’s coverage of it have failed to learn from this lesson.

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Pat Byrne, Largo