Rules and results
Has the conservative legal movement succeeded? | Column, Nov. 30
Ed Meese criticizes “a purely results-oriented approach to judging” and disapproves of judges reading something into the Constitution merely because people want it to be there. Ethical philosophy differentiates decisions made solely by following rules from those made solely by considering results. Most decisions are mixtures, of course. For an example of the rule-worshipping philosophy, remember that some years ago a Clearwater police officer arrested an old lady for stealing a can of dog food from Albertson’s. “No crime too small,” said one of my students. I countered, “Did she own a dog, or was the dog food for her?” “No matter,” said the student. He’d have been someone from Les Miserables: Inspector Javert, pursuing Jean Valjean for stealing a loaf of bread.
But the police officer is sworn to uphold the law, even if “the law is an ass.” In the case of abortions, this horrific decision confronts a woman who might have been raped by an imbecile or a close relative, or a woman so poor she must steal dog food to live, or who faces death or misery in carrying a baby to term. Surely, the consequences of blind rule-following must be considered. And when does human life begin, anyway? Meese, apparently a rules-above-all guy, should recall the Preamble, which declares the purposes of government, one of which is “to promote the general welfare.” Rules are needed, but they must be adapted to avoid unpleasant consequences in particular cases. Right?
Charles Matthews, Tampa
What will St. Pete do with $45M in federal funds? | Nov. 30
If St Petersburg does create “workforce townhomes,” the city will need to do so in a way that leads to home ownership and not corporate developments. In the 1950s, access to homeownership and creation of low-income “projects” led to some of the greatest inequities between wealth of minority families and those of white families in our nation’s history of systemic racism. If the city intends to spur development by encouraging corporate investments, the long-term result will be exacerbation of existing wealth inequities in our city.
Steve Geiger, St. Petersburg
Golf pioneer Elder dies at 87 | Nov. 30
God bless the trailblazer Lee Elder, the first Black player who changed the golfing world forever at the Masters. A pioneer, a legend and an icon.
Paul Bacon, Hallandale Beach