Our political spectrum suffers a drought of purple | July 29, column
A movie the middle isn't viewing
A pundit recently said that Americans seem to be watching two different movies. The Trump rally in Tampa and its protesters remind me just how few Americans are watching either film. The plurality of Americans have usually: (1) put "try something different" at the top of the ticket; (2) appreciated prosperity; (3) seen politics as something that only occasionally affects their daily lives, and are suspicious of those who believe otherwise (for example, that President Barack Obama brought us together or that President Donald Trump is splintering us); (4) viewed such things as Whitewater and "collusion" as "B" horror movies that are too long and have neither a surprise ending nor a useful message and (5) valued pragmatism, realizing that ideology yields only festering impasses in those areas where government actually matters (self-evidently, there's tremendous room to maneuver between "oops, we can't 'repeal and replace' Obamacare" and a $32 trillion "Medicare for all," between building a wall and sanctuary cities, etc., etc.).
Americans are purple, and proud of it. Politicians seem stupefyingly slow in grasping this reality. They are so absorbed watching their own movie that they haven't noticed how empty the theater is. A base is more precarious than is a foundation.
Pat Byrne, Largo
Stick up for journalists | Aug. 1, letter
Assessing the sources
In this age of misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories and assault on truth, it is more important than ever to be skeptical of information coming our way, especially in social media. At the very least, we should filter publicly shared information, using these basic criteria: Is the source of information a recognized authority? Does the source have a reputation for being unbiased, accurate and trustworthy? Can the information be readily confirmed? More than ever, we need to filter all publicly shared information before believing it. Let the public beware.
Ernest Bartow, St. Petersburg
Trump whips up Tampa faithful | Aug. 1
Florida deserves better
I am saddened and alarmed to see that President Donald Trump continues to hold rallies to manipulate and whip his base into a frenzy and encourage mob mentality. He has done so in Tampa and those who attended failed once again to see through Trump's Orwellian tactics and purposeful twisting of the truth. Do you enjoy being fooled? I can see you feel powerful and righteous but you are being fed a load of hooey and seem to enjoy it.
Trump needs to be running the country, not encouraging violence and ignorance by spreading his particular brand of misinformation and hate speech. The citizens of Florida who would like to see the free press silenced apparently have no clue how important the press is to bring to light the corruption and damage brought by the Trump presidency and to keep our society free.
The greatest source of fake news is Donald J. Trump, and you should be rallying against him and his disinformation campaign instead of for him. Someday, perhaps, you will see the light. Will you have the courage, then, to stand up and demand the truth as strongly as you have supported the ugly upside down reality of Trump and his friends at Fox? I hope so. Florida deserves better than self-interested, greedy, dangerous politicians like Trump and those he supports.
Claiborne Coyle, Venice
Sheriff stands by his choice | Aug. 1
He stood his ground first
Florida's "stand your ground" law is designed to protect citizens from what they believe to be imminent danger from another person or persons. This law must rightly apply to Markeis McGlockton, who sought to protect his girlfriend, Brittany Jacobs, and his children from Michael Drejka.
The relevancy of this law in this case is that Drejka took it upon himself to self-police a handicap parking space and confront Jacobs and her children with threatening body language, and the family had every right to believe they were possibly in danger of his irate, erratic behavior and the probable escalation of the situation into physical assault equivalent to "road rage" in a parking lot.
An unarmed McGlockton was "standing his ground" to protect his family. Drejka, who presented the threat, was unrelenting in provoking the confrontation because he knew he was armed with a concealed weapon. Yet this law refuses to take into account that a citizen can't bring a gun to a situation they create and approach other citizens with a threatening confrontation to bait a response from them, only to shoot them. Then they invoke self-defense under the "stand your ground'' law after they kill the very person the law was intended to protect.
The "stand your ground" law hampers prosecutors and law enforcement from correctly ascertaining whether the shooter is cloaking a murder under the law. This is a monumental flaw in the law and how it is interpreted.
Sevell Brown III, St. Petersburg
The writer is national director of the National Christian League of Councils.
Let the courts decide
A homicide occurs when one human takes the life of another. Not all homicides are crimes. A killing committed in self-defense is not a crime; it is justifiable homicide. That distinction is left up to the court to decide, not law enforcement.
John Waitman, Palm Harbor
Why are primaries closed? | Aug. 1, letter
Parties aren't government
Political parties are not part of the government. They are separate entities. It's like being a Rotarian. Only Rotarians get to vote in Rotarian elections. The reason we have primaries is that long ago, party leaders would select the party's nominees in some smoke-filled room. The primary evolved because some people in the party came up with the quaint idea that members should have a voice in whom its nominees should be.
I believe that the idea has very democratic origins. While members of the party have a right to take part in their party's selection process, what rationale is there to have people of the opposition party, or independents for that matter, decide for them whom their nominee should be? If they want to vote in a Republican or Democratic primary all they have to do is join the party.
Rene Tamargo, Tampa