Letters to the Editor - March 1

Published: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 29, 2008 at 4:34 p.m.

Abolish the death penalty

Today is International Abolition Day, a call to abolish the death penalty. In 1847, on March 1, Michigan became the first English-speaking territory to abolish capital punishment.

In 36 of our 50 states the death penalty remains in existence. Even though there have been many changes in the death penalty system, it is still a form of vengeance. This vengeance seems to relate to the Biblical phrase "an eye for an eye." Some believe that the Bible condones this vengeance, but it does not.

The death penalty is a very expensive form of vengeance. Monies spent on executing a prisoner could be used for those who are in need educationally and economically. If the person on trial were sentenced to life without parole, the millions of dollars now being spent on death penalty trials could be spent to help the families of the victims who were murdered.

Society offering life in prison without parole instead of the death penalty offers the opportunity for the person in jail and the jury who has sentenced him, to learn a "new awareness of the sacredness of life and the respect it deserves." This awareness would "demand courage to say no to killing of any kind," and it would require "the generosity to provide perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes the chance to live a renewed life envisioned with healing and forgiveness."

Those are excerpts from a statement, by Archbishop Renato Martino. They make Abolition Day seem promising.

Marsha A. Lyons,


Save our wetlands

The map in the Feb. 26 Sun highlighting the wetlands in Alachua County, makes me wonder why the local government leaders keep pressing for large-scale development in those areas.

When I first came to visit in the Gainesville area some 40 years ago, everyone referred to that area as swamps and sinkhole lakes. Being that we are now politically correct, we call them wetlands.

No matter what you call them, they are critical habitats and watershed areas. The talk of asking for "flexibility" in developing these areas is disingenuous.

It does not take a rocket surgeon to figure out that the high ground is west of I-75. That's where development had been for the last 40 years. If it had been sensible for development to proceed in the wetlands, developers would have swooped down on them years ago, and built their ticky tacky there.

The rules and regulations are there for very good reasons, and should be applied to everyone. The environment of that area is too fragile to sustain large-scale development.

Economics will drive the developments and determine their success. If the cost of remediation and infrastructure under the law is too high, so be it.

Don't bend the rules. One project should not have an advantage over another. Once they start down that path, they will have to allow all developers the same "flexibility" in their projects no matter where they want to build.

Richard DesChenes,


Not Nader again

Attention Birkenstockers and vegans, Ralph Nader is coming out once again to destroy the next presidential election, as he did in 2000. He and his wackadoo followers are so last millennium.

This election is dreadfully important so we cannot take a chance on allowing Nader to prevent a Democrat from being elected. John McCain has said he wants another hundred years war. Do you?

Please, we can't allow that to happen. So set aside your sandals, try a chicken leg and forget about any thoughts of voting for Ralph Nader.

He is so Ralph Nada!

B. James Quigley,


Unhealthy is cheaper

Once again The Gainesville Sun has gotten it wrong. In its editorial from Feb. 17, it called for "the removing of unhealthy items from our personal diets." Sounds logical, but in order to control future U.S. medical costs we should be calling for the complete opposite!

According to a study published by the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, it is cheaper to treat people who are obese, smoke, etc. Since on average they live far less than the norm, we would be saving scarce health care resources in the long run.

Who knew that the way to control our health costs is through our stomachs! By stopping advertising of the food pyramid, the benefits of eating vegetables, etc., we save these costs as well.

Obviously, with so many people overweight promotion of healthy lifestyles is not doing any good anyway. People under 50 should take this to heart as it their best chance of getting anything out of the Medicare program. This concept falls right in line with how we approach health care in the U.S.: Everyone gets paid when you get ill.

From a monetary perspective is there really an incentive for most health care practitioners to keep you healthy? We need a real paradigm shift to bring all parties to the same side of the table: Everyone getting paid to keep us healthy. Until then we continue to head to a national crisis.

John Byrd,


Another liberal failure

Tom Wheeler's sarcastic Feb. 24 response to my Feb. 20 letter regarding armed citizens is, like everything else that is liberal: a complete and utter failure.

Please allow me to clarify my own viewpoint using Wheeler's own inept words. He says, "Dissell's answer was to have a half-dozen kids packing 38's..." In truth, my choice would be something 40 caliber or larger, and yes, in the hands of a trained (Wheeler cleverly omitted the word "trained") 18 year-old, I would have no problem with them carrying concealed whatsoever.

In contrast, Wheeler projecting a drunken, irresponsible behavior pattern on college students with a very broad brush, will do nothing to save lives.

Wheeler also makes the typical error of overestimating the ability of law enforcement officers to beam themselves from point "A" to point "B" instantaneously, thereby being on scene as a shooting is in progress. Only an armed and trained citizen, including 18-year-old students, can be counted upon to respond immediately to violence on a campus or in a mall.

Wheeler's opinion that the kid who pulled a gun on a student in an SFCC lunch room "isn't a bad guy" is purely asinine. By virtue of his actions, he is by definition a bad guy because he broke the law. I also suspect that the guy he is referring to is neither trained or has taken the time to get a concealed weapons license, so he would not be counted by me as an "armed and trained" citizen.

I have personally trained many hundreds of 18-year-old civilians in the finer points of threat management, and I can attest that I would rather have any one of them watching my back than a hundred like Wheeler.

Jeffrey H. Dissell,


Same-sex classrooms

As a Gator for 30-plus years, I have poked plenty of fun at Georgia, but my hat is off to rural Greene County. They are creating single-sex classrooms in a "desperate" attempt to raise their high school graduation rate above 67 percent.

If I'm not mistaken, Alachua County has a lower graduation rate than that. What will our School Board do to improve it?

Kathleen Fette,


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