How to form a cohesive argument — and why it matters | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, seen in this marble statue in front of the Athens Academy, would certainly be disheartened by the poor state of our public discourse and debate.
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, seen in this marble statue in front of the Athens Academy, would certainly be disheartened by the poor state of our public discourse and debate. [ PETROS GIANNAKOURIS | AP ]
Published June 10

The poor state of public discourse

I fear 45 years of teaching may have been in vain | Column, June 3

I share columnist Richard Cherwitz’s lament about the current state of public discourse. Presenting a cohesive, informed argument requires work. One must first conduct research and examine different points of view. I wonder if we are willing to put in that work? And even if we were, many forces are aligned against us. Social media tempts us to react viscerally. On Facebook or Twitter, we can use a meme to show our agreement or disagreement with another and get positive feedback from other like-minded individuals without any serious discussion. Cable news is often segregated into left or right camps, resulting in less balanced presentations of “the facts.” Unless we seek out opposing points of view, we may never hear them. This state of affairs amplifies extreme viewpoints and hurts our ability to solve serious problems.

Peggy McCabe, St. Petersburg

A Citadel of Kindness

DeSantis signs bills on pronouns, gender care and more | May 18

Our governor has signed more anti-gay and anti-trans bills into law, boasting he will make Florida a “Citadel of Normalcy.” I could lecture on biological variation due to genetic, chromosomal, developmental or experiential causes in humans or even in mammals in general, but instead I’ll share a personal anecdote from 57 years ago, when I was a freshman in high school. A fellow student, Edmond, had a significant amount of breast tissue and was cruelly teased as “the boy with tits.” He was daily bullied and physically assaulted by grabbing at his chest. Edmond was possibly XXY, a variation found in 1/142 of people born with external male genitalia. When going through puberty, the endocrinal physiology is female, with tissue growing on the breasts and hips. The brain is also subject to typical female hormonal influence. Edmond never returned for his sophomore year. At the time I figured he went to another school because of the cruelty suffered. Only later did I wonder if the bullying drove him to suicide. XXY individuals should not have to live with shame, guilt or fear of rejection. If they adopt a feminine lifestyle and dress, they can now be arrested if publicly dressing as a woman while around children in the state of Florida. How wonderful it would be to have a “Citadel of Kindness” rather than a “Citadel of Normalcy,” where normalcy is strictly defined as the hateful bigotry of the majority.

Paul Beaver, Tampa

Never thought it could happen

Trump indicted again | June 9

Most of us knew it was coming sooner or later. To paraphrase what Oliver Hardy used to say to his partner, Stan Laurel, “This is another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into.” But I finally agree with something Donald Trump said, “I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former president of the United States.”

David Lubin, Tampa

Not really serious

GOP legislators beg migrants to keep working in Florida | Column, June 9

Are there any other laws — such as this one cracking down on undocumented migrants — that the current group of legislators passed only to scare people? Is the six-week abortion ban the same? Should doctors and clinics not pay any attention to it, as it is just supposed to scare people? What of the law that resulted in books being banned, was it just supposed to scare people?

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Peggy Millard, Tampa

We agree on core values

Fort Bragg drops Confederate name for Fort Liberty | June 3

Renaming a major Army base Fort Liberty brings attention to the foundation of American values. Research shows Americans agree on core values — freedom, liberty, family security, peace, equality and honesty. While Americans may not agree on how each core value should be acted upon, it’s important to remember that our consensus on core values ultimately unites us. As we enter the 2024 election season using key values to evaluate a candidate’s political position is an excellent way to illustrate what they believe and what they might do.

Harrison Fox, New Port Richey

A banned book’s allure

Book banning isn’t a ‘culture war’ | Column, May 30

I’d like to ask the Moms for Liberty just what they think they’re accomplishing. When I was a teenager at an all-girls Catholic high school, the banned book of the day was “Valley of the Dolls.” Anyone caught with a copy in her book bag or locker got a week of detention in the room of the strictest nun on the faculty. Yet we all managed to find and read that racy book about sex and drugs. As far as I know, we grew up to be good moms, wives and professionals. Banning does not work. Curiosity and the ability to ask difficult questions belong to the mysterious process of growing up. Also, banning books or restricting evolving cultural and social movements only lends greater allure to teenagers, most of whom use contradiction to spur the process of self-development. Maybe the Moms for Liberty should read all those books thoroughly and ask themselves what is the essential theme of each, rather than isolating the bits and pieces that scare them.

Antonia Lewandowski, Largo