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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Today's Letters: New approaches needed to the treatment of mental illness
By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published October 21, 2007
Discharged with his demons Oct. 14, story
James Allen lived with an illness that is horribly cruel and disabling. He died alone and forsaken by a society whose approach to mental illness is disjointed and fragmented.
Mental illness is not a lifestyle choice. It is not a character flaw or moral failing. It does not define a person. It is a disease that needs be treated the same as any other.
Serious mental disorders affect an estimated 6 percent of our adult population, or approximately 1 in 17 people. An estimated 33 percent of the homeless suffer with severe mental illness. Chances are each of us knows someone who suffers with a severe mental illness.
Sadly many myths and misconceptions about people with mental illness persist in this country fueled by sensational headlines, TV, movies and books. Most people with mental illness would like nothing more than to live as normal a life as possible in the community with friends and family - not to be feared, avoided or mocked.
Ironically, our society has the knowledge, talent and resources to create environments in which people with mental illness can live their lives to the fullest extent possible given the nature of the illnesses. Our challenge is to translate our store of knowledge and experience into programs, support and appropriate services that are available to all who need them.
Mental illness affects all of us. It is time we realized this and developed a clear and healthy approach to treating it.
Diane Gruslin, secretary, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Pasco County, Land O'Lakes
America, please see me as a man, not a state secret Oct. 14, Perspective story
Take back the country
The America that tortured Khaled el-Masri and left him on a mountain is not the America I grew up in. My America was a great and noble country, kind at heart, generous to a fault, and loyal to the basic principles of human dignity and decency.
The "shock and awe" I feel at the behavior of our current administration brings tears to my eyes. As a patriot and a loyal American, I resolve that if my representatives in Congress do not demand that this administration answer for the crimes they have "allegedly" committed, I will not only vote them out at the next election, but I will also campaign without ceasing for my fellow citizens to do the same. It's time for Americans to take our country back from the scofflaws who have taken the "fort."
Demand your rights, and vote, citizens, for it is our only power.
Deborah A. Lyons, St. Petersburg
Psychologists, torture and the rules Oct. 14, Robyn Blumner column
Refusing to participate
I am a Florida psychologist who is horrified at the American Psychological Association's rejection of, as Robyn Blumner says, "an airtight resolution that would have barred its members from participating in interrogations with any prisoner whose human rights were not adequately protected."
It is also appalling that psychologists are present and participating in "prisoner care" outside interrogations (e.g. making decisions about sleep deprivation and so forth) in centers in which prisoners' Geneva Convention rights and protections have been stripped. We psychologists should not be at these illegal detention centers.
Many psychologists have independently made the decision that we have no right lending our expertise to detainee interrogations and that we are therefore withholding our dues from the APA. We are also working to spread the word among our colleagues in the organization.
More information can be found at www.ethicalapa.com (Psychologists for an Ethical APA), and at http://www.withholdapadues.com.
Robyn Blumner's analysis is on target. Some psychologists appear to have sold out their basic ethical principles to a perceived higher authority - the U.S. government and their personal income. These individuals should be expelled from the American Psychological Association and be stripped of their licenses to practice psychology.
Michael D. Knox, Ph.D., fellow, American Psychological Association, Temple Terrace
Tax cut rebels tear up session's scriptOct. 18, Tim Nickens column
Tim Nickens in his column says it best: Republican House Speaker Marco Rubio "wants to be the tax-cut king."
Rubio's insistence that the sales tax is not regressive and his preferring a tax on consumption rather than a progressive tax, abhorrent to the wealthy, is no "big idea" but one utilized by the Republican-controlled state of Florida for too many years.
I agree with Nickens: This thinking on taxes is not a good thing for most Floridians.
Russell Lee Johnson, St. Petersburg
Latest tax plan makes a bad situation worseOct. 14, editorial
Simple sales tax
In my experience, things work better when kept simple. The proposals I've seen so far for revising the property tax mess seem anything but simple.
The last time I checked, those who pay little or no taxes because of the homestead exemption and other breaks they get require the same or perhaps even more state and county services as the more affluent among us.
I would like to see property taxes for homes eliminated altogether and the sales tax raised. People would then have some control over the amount of taxes they pay in that if they don't want to pay taxes, then don't buy taxable items. If the poor want to buy beer and cigarettes, that's their choice. If the affluent want to buy champagne and cigars, they know they will pay taxes accordingly. To really make it simple, set the tax at 10 percent, which would make it quite easy to figure your tax bill.
Jack Peel, Tampa
The invertebrate Florida Democrats Oct. 14
Writing in Graham
Philip Gailey suggested last Sunday that Florida Democrats should (1) close their checkbooks to the national party and (2) write in the name of Bob Graham or Al Gore in the next primary.
I hope all Florida Democrats heed his suggestion. I have already closed my checkbook to any national Democratic group or candidate who will not campaign here, and I will happily write in Bob Graham's name in the primary election. He would indeed make a fine president, as Gailey has pointed out.
Tom Ziebold, St. Petersburg
The invertebrate Florida Democrats Oct. 14
Go with the GOP
Philip Gailey's column last Sunday was quite exciting for recommended Democratic voting ideas.
Rather than writing in the name of Al Gore or Bob Graham, I would strongly recommend that the Democrats simply change to vote Republican. This is the smart thing to do based on what the Democratic National Committee has done to Florida voters.
If this party cannot manage the simple task of running primary voting, just what would its members do to the entire U.S. government if elected?
I recommend that the Florida Democrats simply vote for the other party. It would teach some of those people a great lesson.
Charles E. MacNeill, Crystal River
Cancer killer Oct. 14, Floridian story
Thank you, John Barry, for your wonderful piece about Dr. David Vesely and his accomplishments. As a graduate of the University of South Florida, I have read about his research in USF journals, but I had no idea how his direction and pure tenacity became so focused after the death of his wife due to cancer.
At the urging of his young son he took action, and is now on the brink of a possible cure for this horrible disease. I wish I had been one of the lucky few to have been in the stands at the USF/ West Virginia game to witness the tribute to this great man. Everyone in that stadium should have been standing and cheering when he was called onto the field.
USF is not only winning football games, but winning where it really counts - in research! Thank you, Dr. Vesely. I now have a new hero.