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Letters to the Editors

War on drugs breeds police corruption

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 25, 2000


The June 18 article Crime, in the name of the law turned my stomach. Besides their own lives, it sickens me to think of the other lives that the officers of the Delta squad ruined.

The investigations into the Delta squad will undoubtedly continue to cost the taxpayers of Florida millions of dollars for the next few years. This cost does not and never will pay for the pain and suffering that the Delta squad put innocent people through.

However, the Delta squad does not stand alone. This is happening all over the country. The Rampart Division in Los Angeles is under investigation for the same thing.

It is inevitable. When a country declares war on its own citizens as America has with the "war on drugs," there will be a countless number of innocent victims who will suffer the horrible consequences.

We need to remember that soldiers are taught to dehumanize their enemies, and most soldiers believe that the ends justify the means. As we fight this war, we also need to keep in mind our precious Constitution, because at the present rate of decay there will be nothing left of it when Americans finally say they have had enough.

The time for a change is upon us. It is time to put an end to soldier interdiction. The time is right for peace, compassion, healing and medical interdiction. Let's take the profit out of the drug dealers' hands. It is time for a harm-reduction policy.
-- Rick L. Meredith, Tampa

Power corrupts

Re: Crime, in the name of the law.

We mustn't be surprised over local police being found to be corrupt. We mustn't be surprised that it isn't limited to the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division.

My stepfather was a "revenooer" during Prohibition, and he would later tell marvelous stories about how he skirted the law and twisted the legal process to "get the job done." Being children, we didn't understand (yet) that such things were immoral; all we knew was "good guys and bad guys."

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely, according to Lord Acton, and he has never been proved wrong. Now we have the example of Manatee County deputies planting evidence, tampering with witnesses and generally acting like thugs, because they're allowed and encouraged to do so to get drugs off our streets. It now looks as though there might be a worse problem than drugs on our streets.

We must soon address the fundamental issue of the morality of the war on drugs, or we must soon lose all that we hold dear.
-- Frank Clarke, Oldsmar

Prayer ruling goes too far

Again, the Supreme Court has gone too far! Its latest ruling about prayer at school sporting events is the most absurd yet. Aren't we to tolerate Christianity as well as secular humanism?

There's a big difference between "expressing" our views and "imposing" our views on someone else. Nobody can be forced to worship or pray, whether in church or at a sporting event. When someone of a faith different from mine prays at a public function, I must allow them that privilege and would most likely pray for them.

We might expect this kind of intolerance from atheists or Muslim extremists, but for this action to be brought by Catholics and Mormons is a disgrace to both faiths.
-- Deborah J. Kohnle, Seminole

Prayer should be private

Regarding the issue of praying in schools, in public and in sports arenas, I wonder if some of the professed followers of Jesus Christ have forgotten his directives concerning prayer. They are clearly stated in Matthew 6:5-6:

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites
-- are . . .
"But thou when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy father which is in secret; and thy father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Lorna M. Anderson, Clearwater

God and politics

Re: Free speech is protected, as long as it's not Christians', June 18.

Regardless of one's inclinations, religious or political, it does seem a trifle disturbing to read about the District of Columbia's seeming practice of censorship when it comes to conservative religious messages.

However, it is at least equally disturbing to read Michelle Malkin's last line: "Preaching God's word will land you in court." It is a peculiar idiosyncrasy of the right to identify "God's word" with a conservative, fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.

It is a source of persistent consternation to me, a Christian and a teacher of theology, that right-wing Christian views are the only ones considered truly representative of Christianity. Being somewhat familiar with the Bible, I'm fairly convinced that the slogan "Was it Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve?" has nothing to do with the biblical story of Adam and Eve and everything to do with an imposed theological and political agenda. While any church has the right -- and maybe even, given its own theological ideology, the duty -- to spread its message, it is not legitimate or accurate to equate that agenda with the word of God. I'm afraid God is just a little bit bigger than that.
-- Alan Hamacher, Palm Harbor

They're really bear killers

Re: Bears back under the gun? June 18.

"The fun is not in killing the bear," says Raymond Hamlin Jr., president of the Florida Bear Hunters Association. "It's in tracking him... "

If that is the case, then why kill? I don't believe that there is any law against "tracking" bears. If you need to prove the accomplishment, how about capturing it with a camera?

Jamie Adams, of all things a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says, "I don't know of a single thing a bear is good for other than to look at or hunt." Of course, the proper wording is "other than to look at or kill."

Throughout the whole article, the word "hunt" should be replaced with "kill," for that is what is meant. For these people, "bear hunter" is just a better-sounding euphemism for "bear killer." I wonder how Hamlin would like to be known as the president of the "Florida Bear Killers Association."

There are many beautiful things in this world that serve no purpose other than to be "looked" at, both man-made and natural. Since they are not suitable or available to be "hunted" -- killed -- apparently Adams considers them to be of no value.

To kill to put needed food on the table, or to protect oneself, is one thing, but to kill just for the fun of killing -- to hang the dead animals's head on the wall -- that is something quite different. If, by opposing it, I might appear "weak-minded" to Raymond Hamlin's "Cracker daddy," well, that doesn't bother me in the least.
-- Sydney K. Potter, Tampa

Setting a good example

Re: Being a father comes first, June 18.

I had to write to tell you what a wonderful story this was.

Marvin Daniels Jr. is such a good example of someone accepting and taking responsibility for his actions. Too often the newspaper is riddled with negative stories about young black men, which I feel do not portray the majority of the young black men in America.

That is why it was refreshing to read about Marvin Daniels Jr. He could have turned his back on his daughters but was mature enough at his young age to realize what is important. He made the right decision, even though he must feel overwhelmed. Even with all the obstacles, their home is filled with love.

Maybe one of our many wealthy Tampa Bay area residents could share a little to help such a fine young man. I know Marvin Daniels Jr. had a great Father's Day. Our good wishes and prayers are with him and his daughters. Keep up the good work.
-- Carmen Laracuente, Oldsmar

A traffic reducer

What a delightful coincidence: too much traffic on U.S. 19 and a sharp rise in gasoline prices. What more effective way to reduce traffic than to have high fuel prices?

In fact, to guarantee the result, why not increase the gasoline tax? Oops, we can't do that. It might prevent the less fortunate among us from driving to work or to play. A "regressive tax," so to speak.

Then, how about a tax on cubic inches, horsepower, torque or vehicle weight?

Oh, well, I can dream, can't I?
-- John W. Krey, Clearwater

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