Our banned book club
Our book club decided to each read a different banned book and discuss its content and why it had been banned. We used Florida’s list of more than 200 books that had been banned in public schools and chose classics and contemporary literature for young adults and children. While we agreed that certain explicit sexual or violent content may not be appropriate for some young readers, we universally agreed that “banning” these books from school or public libraries was also inappropriate. Parents have the right to ask for an alternative assignment for their child, but they do not have the right to choose what is right for other families. Libraries should have books that represent the diversity of the community. Children need to see and read about characters that look like them and their family. They also need to see and read about differing families. Each family will view these books through the lens of their values and by banning these books, libraries would squelch opportunities for meaningful discussions between family members where these values are transmitted to the next generation. Removing and banning books is a slippery slope to government censorship and the erosion of our country’s commitment to freedom of expression.
Deb Park, Charlotte, North Carolina
The writer is the moderator of The Best Exotic Book Club.
The cost of cheap labor
Immigrants grapple with new disrupted reality | Sept. 17
Florida passed an immigration law making it against the law for all kinds of activities — supporting, transporting or hiring a worker without proper documentation even for family members. Also, it made it difficult for larger employers to hire them (for the cheap labor). So, some workers without proper documentation have left Florida, and many others are not coming to Florida. And now we hear that there is a shortage of labor in the fields and shortages of labor in the hotels and motels. And we hear that prices are going to go up. Well, this is what happens when there’s more to be done than available workers to do it. You can have cheaply picked products and cheap room service by allowing the hiring and exploiting of workers without documentation. But if you want these cheap services, stop complaining about the “border problem.” You are causing it. Or you can pay a little more for services provided by workers protected by regular employment laws.
E. Seward, Odessa
A fuller history
What I didn’t learn about American history in an old Florida classroom | Perspective, Sept. 24
Charles B. Dew is right that the full story of American history was not taught in schools, helping to “cover up” local realities St. Petersburg has come a long way since the ‘40s and ‘50s. What goes unrecognized are the hundreds of St. Petersburg citizens who worked, through the years, to provide low-income housing, reduce discrimination, provide food assistance, lessen racial disparity, provide affordable child care and improve the status of women. Let’s keep on working.
Harrison Fox, New Port Richey
Get on the bus
So what changed? | Sept. 24
I read with excitement that the Tampa Bay Rays will stay put. Getting here from the east side of Tampa Bay will remain a problem, however. Widening the bridge will not help, since the number of cars will remain the same, and they all need to funnel into the city. They will back up onto the highway at the exits. The ferry would need a dramatic increase in frequency to significantly affect traffic. However, a SunRunner-style fast bus service across the bridge principally designed for fans would really help. There presently is no good cross-bay transport with frequency. Look to the SunRunner. It is fast and has met with real success. Get on the bus.
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Bruce LeBaron, St. Petersburg
A cartoonish patriotism
American Despotism | The left/right file, Sept. 24
Despotism? Newt Gingrich proves once again how utterly cartoonish his patriotism is. No Democrat is opposed to parents knowing their child’s curriculum. They would love parents to engage with teachers and PTAs. They do not want to force cultural and societal change beyond ending the whitewash that pervades American education to this day. So often when Republicans dog whistle such claims, they are admitting their own truth. Some of them are trying to impose their belief system of white supremacy on American youth. Read the paper; what is the color of the student being suspended for his hairstyle — dreadlocks deemed too long? He is not white, is he?
Pat Ward, St. Petersburg