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    Letters to the Editors

    Zero tolerance needed for safe schools

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 24, 2001

    Re: Zero tolerance produces a foolish educational consistency, June 17.

    Zero tolerance is a sound policy that provides for a safer school climate for students and adults in our public schools. Schools are no longer a sanctuary from the violence of the outside world. Jon East's column has a twisted view of reality. Too often we hear that those involved in these cases are good students or honor students. Behavior has nothing to do with grades or socioeconomic status. Inappropriate behavior is inappropriate behavior. The consequence should be the same for all. To put administrators in a position to determine whether a student meant or did not mean to cause physical harm is not a comfort to the parent of the victim.

    The issue is not zero tolerance, but why a student choses to behave in a manner that is illegal. Why would a student decide to take matters into his or own hands, violently, and not follow every school's procedure to tell a teacher, administrator or parent when there is any problem? This is the issue!

    To say that a student was afraid to tell his or her parents or school officials is unacceptable.

    In the wake of Columbine, school districts across the nation have instituted various lines of communication for students to inform school officials of any problems at schools. If we are going to continue to try to eliminate future Columbines, then zero tolerance and open communication are the keys to this goal. If the two students at Columbine, who felt bullied and fired those fatal shots, had been apprehended before those fatal shots, would their parents have said, "They didn't mean it"?

    Let's not play games with the lives of students and teachers. Let's keep a zero-tolerance policy. Let us continue to make clear that violence and violent assaults are not permitted in our schools.
    -- Danny Scaringi, St. Petersburg

    They know what happened

    Re: Zero tolerance produces a foolish educational consistency.

    Enough already about the poor maligned Palm Harbor University High School boys! What's next for them: sainthood?

    I am reminded of a line from the movie Working Girl where Melanie Griffith says to Sigourney Weaver, "Don't you ever act like you and I don't really know what went on here." What's the latest version of the events? It's "wrestling over pretzels on a baseball trip." Those boys know what really happened. So does the boy who was held down, so does the boy who was forced to pull down his pants, and so does the boy who videotaped the whole sordid event.

    It doesn't appear that these boys have learned accountability for their actions. It seems as if they are believing their own hype, or that of their parents. But, like Melanie and Sigourney, those involved know what really happened.
    -- Margaret Williams, Clearwater

    Speaking against tyranny

    Re: Counterdemonstrators' brave protest deserves protection, June 17.

    I am writing to thank Robyn Blumner and the St. Petersburg Times for her column supporting the First Amendment and telling the simple truth. Legends Field is a venue paid for by public money -- that is, the people's money. President Bush's visit was presented as a public event, open to the people. The people's First Amendment right to speak freely should have been respected there. The counterdemonstrators were entitled to air their unpopular, anti-government view.

    I am glad the Times and Blumner have the courage and the integrity to speak out against tyranny.
    -- Philipp Michel Reichold, Largo

    Injustice agains POWs

    Re: They should have their day in court, Parade section, June 17.

    At last! An in-depth article about our military imprisoned and used as slave labor in Japan!

    I know personally someone who was taken prisoner, was in the Bataan Death March and was taken by boat to Japan and made to work in a factory in Japan for almost three years. The men in this Parade article are telling a story that should be read by everyone.

    The United States is Johnny-on-the-spot to demand recognition and compensation for workers in Germany. Now, American law firms have represented Japanese corporations, defending them and denying our American POWs anything -- even an apology! This article reads: "The U.S. government not only had successfully worked on behalf of Holocaust victims in Europe but also was brokering an agreement with Germany to compensate slave labor during the Nazi regime. It was then that Tenney filed his own lawsuit against Mitsui."

    The U.S. State Department and Justice Department intervened for the Japanese corporations! These men must feel so outraged and ignored by our government's actions.

    It is our government that's waiting until all these men die! Maybe then they'll erect some meaningless monument in some unknown corner of the world. Let's do something while it still means some recognition of this injustice. Let's take care of our own. These are our guys!
    -- Dorothy E. Karkheck, Palm Harbor

    Shades of "1984'

    Re: Japanese textbook denies WWII atrocities, June 17.

    In the novel 1984, by George Orwell, the central character, Winston, says: "If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened -- that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death."

    There are already some who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. What if a textbook denied the same? How many years would it take to erase the event? 100? 1,000? 10,000?

    There is no excuse for the rewriting of history, especially for something as foolish as pride. The Japanese textbook writers are setting a dangerous precedent.

    In the year 2001, 1984 is upon us, and it terrifies me.
    -- W. Brian Overcast, Tallahassee

    Maternal instinct

    Re: Hollywood's twisted family values on single-mother parenting by choice, by Michelle Malkin, June 17.

    This article is a venomous attack against actor Camryn Manheim. The paternity question is a private issue and not something that the press or the public need know. It is outrageous that the author portrays Manheim as a mean and thoughtless parent. Surely she realizes that donor sperm is often provided by males who do not want to be "fathers" in some senses of the word. Is this a woman's fault?

    Single motherhood by choice is only a choice against being alone and childless. Today, many men are not interested in family and commitment. What is a woman to do? Remain barren and empty? Remain childless? No!

    It is a strong need to nurture that cries out for expression. It is an instinct, the maternal instinct, that demands satisfaction. The truth is women want a domestic aspect in their lives and many men don't, so women are left to improvise.

    Congratulations to Manheim and the many other fine ladies who mother and are mothers alone.
    -- Alberta Beversdorf, Port Richey

    Honored at last

    Re: Orr's deserving recognition, June 17.

    How grand that the Florida Bar Foundation is honoring Jack Orr, at last. The state of Florida has shamefully neglected this civil rights pioneer. When the Ford Foundation honored Jack in the '50 for his civil rights stand, not one member of the Florida delegation in Washington attended the ceremony.

    Those of us who loved Jack -- married him, even -- remember the vigor with which he battled and the passion with which he charged through life. Jack had a recklessness, a personal risk-taking that allowed him to take what he wanted, choose the moral high ground and damn the cost. That made him irresistible.
    -- Liz Armstrong, Gulfport

    End the word misuse

    Re: Misconceptions of "closure," June 17.

    While I am infrequently in accordance with your editorial positions, your questioning of the use of the feel-good word "closure" finds me in complete agreement! It has been misused and overused, along with the term "healing process." Thanks for bringing that to our attention.
    -- Ruth L. Bowman, Gulfport

    Closure encounters

    Hooray for you to have finally pointed out the inane use of the word "closure."

    I worked for several years as a mental health counselor in the late '70s and can confirm that this jargon became faddish as serious psychobabble around that time.

    However, you are the media, and you have only yourself to blame when twaddle like this gets thrown around. A quick search of the Times archives on the Internet generated 36 hits for the word "closure" between May 18 and June 14 of this year. That's more than one a day.
    -- Tom Ziebold, St. Petersburg

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