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Letters to the Editors

A glimpse beyond the media bias

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 18, 2002

Re: An up-close impression of the president, Aug. 11.

Re: An up-close impression of the president, Aug. 11.

Times CEO Andrew Barnes' column reflects the problems with modern-day media. The media are biased and the very subtle things they do can impact the way Americans view the president.

A most revealing statement came when Mr. Barnes tells us that "the president's demeanor and appearance up close were not what I anticipated." Mr. Barnes then informs us that the president's face was "relaxed and receptive," he was "articulate and informed," and that there was "none of the misuse of words or the twisted facial expression that sometimes comes through the television screen." I am correct that a media CEO has typed these words, right?

Perhaps Mr. Barnes is looking at the same president the American public has the opportunity to view every day, the one who is shown on the nightly news, portrayed as a bumbling, incompetent, inarticulate, twisted-faced ogre. Perhaps this is the picture the news media hope to paint of the president. I submit to Mr. Barnes that he is close to seeing why the nightly news programs are losing viewers and why the president has a favorable rating with the American public.

This president is not perfect, but I firmly believe he is a warm, compassionate human being who is bigger than the media. The American people can see that, despite the daily attacks by the media, he is not the know-nothing president the media attempt to paint him to be.

The veil of secrecy is being lifted from the American people by the likes of books such as Slander and Bias, that show the bias the media have perpetuated on the American people. Perhaps Mr. Barnes can look at the president through different eyes because he has had the opportunity of a lifetime by being granted this type of access and has a real impression of the president and not one conjured up by the media.
-- Sidney G. Lees, St. Petersburg

Experience and empathy

Re: An up-close impression of the president, by Andrew Barnes.

Until one has lead, I think it's very difficult for most people to express genuine empathy for a leader. You have, Mr. Barnes. Thank you.
-- John E. Sattler, Palm Harbor

Bush's own disrespect

Re: An up-close impression of the president, Aug. 11.

I read Andrew Barnes' piece on his group meeting with the president and I think it is commendable and right on. Well, almost right on. I am normally a respectful person, but when it comes to George W. Bush, some of that respectfulness flies out the window.

Barnes' column ends with the observation that, despite sharp differences between the Times and the president on many issues, we should "never edge over into disrespect."

Disrespect of a president at a White House meeting would certainly be contrary to custom and good taste. On the other hand, the president shows disrespect on a broad number of fronts. He shows disrespect -- disdain, if you will -- for the environment. He shows disrespect for the majority of Americans who voted for someone else in 2000. He shows disrespect for the opinions and programs of other nations on matters like the International World Court, or invading Iraq or missile defense.

It is all very well that Bush is polite and genial with his visitors -- and this group happens to be important to him. He has not however, earned much right to be respected for his policies.
-- Edward Rapp, St. Petersburg

Battling ignorance on sex

Re: The meaning of sex, Aug. 11.

I commend Deborah M. Roffman for her article on human sexuality. Those responsible for the education of children in our society will want to read what Ms. Roffman has to say, take time to reflect on it, and then act in ways that will ensure that we do not lose another generation to ignorance about human sexuality.

Sadly, many are not clear on what sex and sexuality are. Most of us confuse being and doing: being sexual and doing things that are sexual. They need to be clearly distinguished. The same goes for sex and sensuality. Today there are many in the teaching and helping professions who are afraid to touch others at all lest their actions be misunderstood and labeled abusive, even when the gesture is only one of kindness and support.

Moreover, there are men and women who make a false distinction between sex and so-called "real sex." During my life as a conservative certified human sexuality educator and counselor, I have heard many men insist that "real sex" is restricted only to sexual intercourse; everything else is simply a waste of time or, at best, a prelude to it. But that kind of attitude prevents people from enjoying a rich, mature, and responsible life that includes a whole range of sexual behaviors, all of which can be just as satisfying. While we must be aware of the seriousness of sexual diseases today, we should not allow that awareness to lead us to a condemnation of sexual behaviors generally and treat them as inherently immoral. Nor should we ignore the fact that some people use sexual expression to demonstrate their power and supposed maturity, uses which frequently are abusive.

If we are to educate our children wisely, we must include morality and meaning along with responsibility in any discussion of sexuality. Ms. Roffman put it best: "To think of sex as something bereft of meaning is to cheat oneself of one's humanity."
-- Curtis P. Hinckley, St. Petersburg

Making it meaningful

Thank you for publishing The meaning of sex by Deborah Roffman. She is so right! Some parents are clueless that the theory "do whatever feels good" is being pushed on their kids while they are in school. The idea of abstinence will never be important to our youth unless we re-instill the idea of the value of sex, how wonderful and meaningful and rewarding it can be in its intended setting (marriage). I wish someone had taught me this before I made my mistakes.

Contrary to popular belief, we are not just "animals in clothing" who need to satisfy every urge. That is an excuse people are using to justify their own actions. We, and even teenagers, can have the will power and courage to say no, if we could get away from the insatiable desire our society has for permissiveness. Someone has said, "We shouldn't even need "safe sex' because it wasn't supposed to be dangerous in the first place."
-- Sheryl Young, Tampa

Give them time to learn

Re: The meaning of sex.

Deborah Roffman was surprised and concerned that 15- and 16-year-old girls didn't understand "the meaning of sex."

They're teenagers, for gosh sakes. How in the world could you expect them to know the meaning of sex when they just learned how to get up on time to go to school? Give them time and they will one day know that feeling Ms. Roffman described, coming home to a lover following Sept. 11.
-- Rick Bodette, Tampa

Troubling priest policy

Re: Plan on abuser priests approved, Aug. 11.

This article states that the leaders of the Roman Catholic religious orders approved their plan to keep sexually abusive clergy away from children, but in the priesthood. Somehow this reminds me of the same thing they have done for decades. Are they just going to move them around again? As long as they have that collar and are recognized as being priests, they are going to have power over children. And that is what this is all about. Control.

I am very surprised that there is not more of a problem with police, since they have that kind of power -- or maybe they do use it illegally and just cover it up better. I do not know the answer to that. But you would think that after all the scandal, the Catholic Church would not try to hoodwink the public into thinking that this "new" rule will solve the problem of priests molesting children.

"Move 'em around" -- that remains the rule.
-- James Bardsley, Madeira Beach

Let them strike

Re: Baseball union goes slow on bargaining, Aug. 11.

Let 'em strike. Walk out and stay out! Get a real job.

There are hundreds of thousands like me who never went back to baseball after the last strike, eight years ago. Many of us grew up on the city streets (New York for me), playing stick ball if we could afford a Pensy Pinky, writing the names of our heroes on a shaft of wood that used to be our mother's broom.

We cried when the Brooklyn Bums and the Giants left New York for California. We watched in anticipation as Shea Stadium was built and then cheered for the biggest bunch of clowns in baseball ('62 Mets) as if they were the world champs.

So leave baseball in the past where it belongs. When it was a game played by guys who played for the love of the game, not the bottom line.
-- Rich Host, Dunedin

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