St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Public profanity deserves more useful discussion


Published November 15, 2003

Re: City Hall's virgin ears learn new vocabulary, by Howard Troxler, Nov. 12.

Why did you write "$#$5s," "$%#$%s" and similar symbols, instead of the words that they represent? Are you censoring the news about which you write?

Is there a double standard between what is lawful to speak and what is lawful to write? How are your readers to determine whether or not the real words that were used at the concert in the park meet community standards, if you do not write them?

Before condoning profanity in public, or condemning the St. Petersburg City Council for trying to limit it, why not educate your readers about what the law allows and does not allow, how our community standard should be determined and how the quality of life in our community can be enhanced with regard to such matters. You have the power and ability to assist in a solution, instead of adding to the problem.


-- C.Q. Foster, St. Petersburg

Complaints are disappointing

I am a 23-year-old white female from St. Petersburg with a college education and a great job. I also happen to love hip-hop, 50 Cent in particular. That is why I was so disappointed in the Old Northeast when I read the article about how many complaints there were about the Urban Car Show.

There are concerts all the time in Vinoy Park, and it seems the only one that people had a real problem with was the one with the "rapper." I applaud Gina Vivinetto (Falling victim to "urban' legends, Nov. 13) and Howard Troxler for bringing some light to what all the hoopla was about. I couldn't believe the concert could inspire so many people to complain.

Hip-hop music embodies the culture of its artists and reflects that culture in expression, cuss words and all. It was silly of the city to be so blissfully unaware; shameful of the people in the nearby neighborhoods who weren't able to open their eyes to see that not everyone hears music the way they do. And if they have a problem with it, they can close their doors and windows, or leave their picket white fenced-in yards for a couple of hours.


-- Jaime Kehm, Tampa

City was irresponsible to allow concert

Re: Rap performance in Vinoy park.

Profanity and artistic merit aside, the city of St. Petersburg's decision to allow this type of act (which is by nature extraordinarily loud and profane) in an outdoor venue and so close to any neighborhood was irresponsible.

In spite of Howard Troxler's specious comparison, Shakespeare in the park it was not, and Gina Vivinetto's talk about bringing the children inside for the day is rather unfair, don't you think?

Sure, there are other, equally loud events held annually in or around downtown, like fireworks, the power boat races and the Grand Prix, to name a few. However, the profanity being blasted throughout the neighborhood is what I believe prompted the majority of the protests.

Perhaps this particular interpretation of the "urban" condition was a bit too "complex" and "challenging" for an outdoor venue. Let's use one of the many indoor venues for this kind of "art" in the future.

Hopefully, in the future the city will cosponsor more "urbane" concerts.


-- Dale Bridges, St. Petersburg

Description of urban life was offensive

Re: City Hall's virgin ears learn new vocabulary, by Howard Troxler, Nov. 12.

Your assertion that unattributed "smart people" tell you that aggression, anger and danger are a necessary part of urban life has to be one of the most racist statements I've seen in print in a long time. A few rotten apples choose to engage in aggressive, dangerous, angry behavior. They are glorified by "artists" like 50 Cent who spew their garbage and then laugh all the way back to their gated communities.

Of course the people who suffer for this are the vast majority of urban dwellers who just want to live their lives and raise their families. Just like you, Howard, and just like me. So the next time you're looking for an opinion from smart people, try to find some who don't consider sheets and pointy hats appropriate evening wear, okay?


-- Deborah Hall, Clearwater

Concert-crowd contrast

Re: Profane concert spews a tempest, Nov. 11.

I am a jogger. My route begins in the area of Tropicana Field and goes down to and along the waterfront all the way to Coffee Pot Bayou and back to the Trop area. I ran through the crowds and police, etc., just outside the perimeter of the "50 Cent" concert venue at Vinoy Park.

My first thought, as I was zigzagging through the throngs of people coming and going, was, I can't believe that the city is allowing this. "This" being someone vehemently screaming the "F" word at the top of his lungs into a state-of-the-art sound system at a rate of about a dozen times a minute.

On my return run, with the concert now finished, I had to navigate through the departing crowd and their vehicles. To my surprise, the crowd was remarkably well behaved, uncannily sedate, in comparison to more conventional venues.

Why?


-- Daniel P. Quinn, St. Petersburg

Editorial inconsistency

If you ever wondered why people do not trust the press, consider these two editorials from the New York Times:

"President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a "free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a "dramatic and inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict."

- editorial, New York Times, Feb. 27

"The White House recently began shifting its case for the Iraq war from the embarrassing unconventional weapons issue to the lofty vision of creating an exemplary democracy in Iraq."


-- - editorial, New York Times, Nov. 13

Jim Frishe, St. Petersburg

Let Iraqis lead the way

Re: Quick, cheap and un-American, Nov. 11.

Let the Iraqis do it! The price was $23-million the American way, versus $250,000 the Iraqi way. Which do you think Americans will accept more readily? It's not only money but, as I see it, a matter of putting the Iraqis to work for their country. This is a good thing and will keep them off the streets.

I believe the people should be given a stronger voice in what is happening. Iraq is not the United States (keep that in mind). If a cement factory can be put into operation, why not other necessities? If the people were more involved, perhaps they would feel it is still their country, not ours.

After all, we are there to help, not take over. I say let them lead the way! They know Iraq, we do not.

Our government is good at spending our money, not necessarily wisely - particularly this administration.


-- Rosemary Holmes, Seminole

Bring on the auditors

Re: Quick, cheap and un-American.

If the Iraqis can bring online a decimated cement plant with $10,000 in seed money from the U.S. military and $240,000 of their money while the United States said we would need a year and $23-million to do the same job, perhaps it is time for our General Accounting Office to audit the contracting procedures going on outside the oversight authority in Iraq. It seems like a lot of fraud, waste and abuse may be going on with that $87-billion just approved by Congress.


-- Joseph F. Coughlin, Safety Harbor

Too much sitting and eating

Re: Is obesity disease or poor willpower?, Nov. 11.

If obesity is a disease it certainly coincides with many societal changes that have occurred in my lifetime. Thinking back to childhood in the '40s and '50s, I didn't know many obese people at all and can only think of one or two children who were overweight.

So what happened? Some of the things that are different include television in every home, viewed countless hours by most; computers and video games; motorized transportation for everyone almost exclusively as a way to get around (it is unsafe to be a pedestrian or bicyclist the way traffic patterns are set); drive-in banks, fast-food restaurants, dry cleaners, etc.; automatic door openers, shifts, power steering; cutbacks in physical education in schools and lots more.

Meanwhile, as we save ourselves all these calories, soft drink machines are ubiquitous and have even invaded schools. Fast and high-fat foods are often served in schools, too. There are entire aisles in grocery stores for snack foods and candy. Restaurants and fast-food restaurants super-size everything, and many shoppers do not pay attention to ingredients in the grocery items they purchase.

In other words, in my opinion, it is a complex problem. In some cases it may be genetic. But since there were so few people who were heavy in years past, it doesn't seem that there are enough fat genes for all of us. It appears that our primary disease is sitting and eating.


-- Dorothy Gaylord, St. Petersburg

Workouts get the blood flowing

Re: Is obesity disease or poor willpower?


-- Thank you, St. Petersburg Times, for publishing this Washington Post article.

One of the paragraphs said, ". . . if it's demonstrated that exercise is beneficial for obesity, there could be an argument that Medicare ought to buy a Gold's Gym membership."

Since I am a senior who joined Gold's Gym in 2001, I highly recommend the classes for "over 50" given by a certified professional to activate the blood flow and muscle strengthening. It's phenomenal how the muscles and heart react to activity and burn calories.

Thank you, Gold's Gym and other gyms, for providing the public with social and physical activity for all age groups.


-- Carol Szazynski, Clearwater

A sick cartoon

Re: The Far Side cartoon on Nov. 13.

I find it hard to believe that the St. Petersburg Times would publish The Far Side cartoon depicting a sick person boarding up a doggy door and calling to her dog Fifi. When my wife and I saw the carton, we were extremely upset. With all the cruelty to animals now going on in this world, the Times decided to publish this sick cartoon, which has an original release date of 12/12/84.

Who on the paper's staff approved it? He or she should be sent to classes on animal cruelty. I'm sure there are a lot of funny cartoons that could have been used instead of this one. Please do a better job of screening cartoons in the future.


-- Bill Held, Palm Harbor

Share your opinions

We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

They can be sent by fax to 727 893-8675 or by e-mail to letters@sptimes.com (no attachments, please).

They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.