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Protection should come before political correctness

Letters to the Editor
Published July 29, 2005


Re: Subway searches are as difficult as they are necessary, July 27.

In the editorial reprinted from Tuesday's edition of the New York Times, that paper's liberal bias is clearly evident when the writer warns against racial profiling in searching subway and commuter train passengers.

To quote the New York Times: "The police officers must be careful not to give the impression that every rider who looks Arab or South Asian is automatically a subject of suspicion." It also says, "those who are selected . . . should be chosen in a way that does not raise fears of racial profiling - by, for example, searching every fifth or 12th person, with the exact sequence chosen at random."

This policy is as loony as the one currently used by the Transportation Security Administration in screening airline passengers. Let's get real here.

Nearly all of the "terrorists" who have killed innocent civilians have, thus far, been Muslim. So exactly what is wrong with giving special attention to a "rider who looks Arab or South Asian" rather than wasting time and money screening a 65-year-old, white grandmother?

These are dangerous times (no pun intended). We need to focus more on protecting the general population than in making sure we follow the "political correctness" doctrine ad absurdum.


-- Bob Lindskog, Palm Harbor

London police cross a line

Re: We killed wrong man, British police admit, July 24.

There is something uncivilized about a policing system that, in the name of nation, queen, democracy or whatever, permits its personnel to kill suspects - a system that shoots first, checks later, and gets away with it basically.

Plainclothes police officers shot dead Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent and upstanding Brazilian workingman, in a London Tube station on suspicion that he was connected with the London bomb attacks. They went by nothing more than that he lived in a neighborhood under surveillance, was dressed unusually for summer, and did not stop when challenged.

London's Metropolitan Police expressed a minimum quantity of "regret" judged to be necessary to assuage outraged public opinion. Authorities have sought to rationalize the horrifyingly irreversible action of their men by calling attention to the prevailing situation in which they were taking "fast time" decisions, and, therefore, could not be expected to follow normal procedure.

A system that rationalizes horrible human rights offenses by claiming that the only way to protect citizens' lives from terrorism is to take out suspects can be characterized as not worth having. Much like the scourge it seeks to fight, no one knows who, or where, it will strike next. There is even a name for it: state terrorism.

State terrorism is nothing new but what is new is that it is gaining legitimacy on the streets because of the rise in extremist violence. It is often forgotten that terrorists, by definition, are meant to kill, whereas police are meant to protect. It is important that the police force, especially in the more "civilized" and "freedom-loving" countries, retain its ability to draw the line between fighting terror and wreaking terror.


-- The Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Safety Harbor

Infusion of common sense is needed

Re: Our military needs an infusion of citizen-soldiers, July 26.

How can David Kennedy possibly call today's armed forces a "mercenary army" when we have such a huge contingent of National Guard and Reserve forces in Iraq?

The problem is not with the composition or dedication of our armed forces, but how and when they are deployed by our civilian political leaders.

Currently, it appears that our political leaders are hell bent on substituting military force for diplomacy. What we need is an infusion of common sense that recognizes that the real object of having an Army is to be prepared for war, but that putting that Army in harm's way is one of the last options in effective diplomacy.


-- Joseph H. Pistorius, Weeki Wachee

An idiotic opinion

Re: President takes fitness a bit too far, by Jonathan Chait, July 26.

Having read the Times for the past 16 years, I have become accustomed to the far left musings of Friedman, Krugman, Ivins, et al. If nothing else, they succeed in raising my blood pressure a few points as I disagree with much of what they say.

Jonathan Chait, on the other hand, is an absolute idiot! It's one thing to disagree with our president on foreign and domestic policy - but physical fitness?

As a 73-year-old who does stretch exercises and speed walks six days a week, I applaud the president's emphasis on physical fitness. Hopefully, Chait will confine his future columns to fiscal, domestic and foreign policy. He's probably all wet there as well, but at least his columns might have a modicum of creditability!


-- John Hungerford, Palm Harbor

Fit to serve?

Re: President takes fitness a bit too far, by Jonathan Chait.

Sorry, Mr. Chait. Of all the heinous and reckless activities in this administration, having a physically fit president is not one of them. I see your implication, but let's not take our eye off the ball, shall we? Attacking the president for his obsessive physical fitness just serves to deflect attention from his questionable mental fitness.


-- Jack Coletti, St. Petersburg

Pain relief and punishment

Re: Drug war punishes the victims of chronic pain, July 20.

My husband is innocent of the crime that has sent him to prison for 25 years. Yet these long days in prison do not compare to the years he lost to pain. For the 10 years prior to the day he had the morphine pump surgically implanted in his body, Rich suffered with pain, and with every treatment that attempted to find relief came a roller coaster of hope and disappointment, a bright future never realized.

Yet neither prison nor pain compares to what happens to a person when the medical establishment and the public believe you are a slacker, a drug abuser or an addict. Opiates are the Vietnam of medical treatments: People can never be proud that they found pain relief.

Our society must do more to lift the veil of suspicion which we lay on all people like Rich who are taking his medication for a legitimate medical condition and should not have to live in shame because it works.


-- Linda Paey, O.D., Hudson

Sex steals the show

Is it just me or is there a perverse irony in the recent furor over simulated sex in a game named Grand Theft Auto?

Sex is legal between consenting adults, while stealing an automobile is a crime.


-- John F. Jewell, St. Petersburg