Letters to the editor for Sunday, July 3, 2022

Second Amendment

Court decision appalling for congregation

On June 24 The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, upending nearly 50 years of access to abortion. This decision is appalling for those who have worked for many decades to protect and affirm reproductive rights for women.

Comprehensive reproductive care, including access to abortion, is essential for the well-being of individuals and families. The Supreme Court’s decision will affect most deeply people of color, the young, poor, and those in rural areas. These same people are often already deprived of access to comprehensive health care, and this includes safe, legal, accessible abortion care.

We affirm the basic human right for a woman to decide to have children or not to have children. We believe she must make this choice for herself based on her own health and family situation. Our Core UU Principles affirm gender equity and a moral commitment to health care including abortion access. We will continue to advocate for those who need reproductive health care and we urge leaders in public life to take action for gender and health care equity for all.

Board of Trustees, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, Elaine Cockroft, president, Estero,

Lifelong Republican questions party

When you are as old as I am, you can still remember life before Roe! Dark alley abortions were readably available, though payable in cash it wasn’t unusual to hear of providers also demanding sexual favors. Many of the procedures went forward well, though there were some infections requiring emergency room treatment. A few women ended up sterile or dead as a result of botched procedures. How so many survived is amazing considering the training to perform the operations was strictly word of mouth. If you think this was disgusting, the saddest were those so desperate, they turned to the use of a coat hanger; far too many of these, were damaged for life. People consider the loss of a fetus to be terrible. Wait until families experience the death of mothers or teenagers simply because Roe was overturned. As a lifelong Republican it disgusts me that my party whose core principle was, to keep big government out of people’s lives, now choses to back this decision. Sadly, the only obvious answer is, in the next election all those ignoring the will of the majority and bowing to the orders of the chosen few, must be replaced, even if it is by a Democrat.

Richard Klenovich, Fort Myers

Second-class citizenship for women

The Supreme Court’s overturning of a woman’s right to control her own uterus is a setback which returns women to second-class citizenship. Republican-controlled states have been waiting for years to get the power to severely restrict or outlaw abortions altogether, and they’re wasting no time acting on it. These actions evoke a long and varied list of observations and questions. The Reader’s Digest versions of some of them are listed below:

The most restrictive laws against abortion are based on some peoples’ religious belief that life begins at conception. Many others whose religions don’t accept that premise are having those laws shoved down their throats. The First Amendment prohibits Congress from making such laws. Are states permitted to enact laws which give one religion preference over others?

Of the six justices who voted for this very anti-woman decision, two of them, Thomas and Kavanaugh, are accused sexual predators. I understand that the allegations weren’t reported at the time and no charges were ever filed. Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, a third justice, Coney-Barrett, has had a long-time active role with a charismatic Christian group, “People of Praise.” Among the group’s very conservative positions on the role of women in society is the expectation “that women defer to men.”

In a concurring opinion, Justice Thomas argued that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” its past rulings that codified rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. Interestingly, he omitted interracial marriage from his argument.

Some states are enacting abortion laws which allow no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. That forces a woman to carry to term a pregnancy caused by those crimes even though she had done nothing wrong. The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” Would someone please give me an example of something more cruel and unusual that that scenario?

Finally, of all the commentaries on the subject by all the TV talking heads, the most lucid and meaningful was from CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He stated the sad truth that despite the court’s ruling, the number of abortions performed will not go down. Only the number of safe abortions will go down.

Jay Light, Fort Myers Beach

Caring for unwanted babies

On June 29 a letter writer from Fort Myers asked “How many unwanted babies have you adopted?”

My answer is two, a boy and a girl. My niece went to Romania, at considerable expense, to adopt a little girl.

I hope others will accept the challenge because I know there is a demand for “unwanted babies.”

Merrill Phillips, Naples

Americans willing to adopt

I’d  like to respond to a recent letter regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade (Who will care for unwanted babies?)

In it the contributor asked “Who is going to feed them, clothe them, educate them, love them?”

Although there are no national statistics regarding how many people would adopt, the Adoption Network believes the number is between one and two million. They also said there were 1.3 million abortions in the U.S. last year. 

Based on those numbers I would say there are plenty of Americans who would be willing to feed them, clothe them, educate them and love them ! Just give them a chance. 

Rick Manuel, Dade City

Trump a warped, toxic man

Until the recent testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson to the January 6th Committee I wrongly believed President Trump knew he had created and disseminated a false flag scenario to retain the White House. I am wrong, the testimony of his rage and violent outbursts paint a man obsessed not with truth and just false narrative but egomaniacal behavior fitting a 5-year-old. Trump’s inability to control his rage, his language nor his grasp on reality is in itself frightening for a man with nuclear codes. Do we really want a president who encourages mob action, attacks his driver, attacks his own security, calls for hanging his #1, and tells the nation he loves insurrectionists to have the codes to destroy our one world, the voice of America and lead our military around the world!

I was wrong. I’d falsely believed Trump was acting the part of aggrieved loser, all the time knowing it was an act. No, his egomaniacal behavior demonstrates a warped reality by a warped man who would call for and do hideous and vile acts to retain the power the U.S. voters, by a large margin, awarded another. He should never have the keys again. Sadly, Trump’s toxicity plays into the hands of Gov. DeSantis who’s likely thrilled to watch the big dog wounded. Just waiting to pounce.

Harvey Cohen, Naples

Courage, integrity in young witness

Cassidy Hutchinson displayed amazing bravado at her nationally televised hearing. She gave unimpeachable (no pun) testimony to her constant presence in the West Wing- attending all the important meetings involving Mark Meadows — her boss and chief of staff. She was calm, cool and professional, especially for a 25-year- old recent graduate. She spoke truth to power and shed more light on an unhinged president. You realize the gravity of her statements when Trump disparaged her as a coffee girl and messenger, then tried to say he didn’t know her well when she was at every meeting and had an office just steps away from the Oval Office. Do the Trumpers still believe this guy when he utters such nonsense? Who else will now come forward in light of her accusatory firsthand knowledge and will they plead the Fifth like Flynn, Clark or Eastman who once said anyone citing the Fifth must be guilty of something?

It’s so gratifying to see someone in Trump’s orbit display such integrity knowing she will receive death threats. 

Thank you Cassidy. 

Glenn Chenot, Cape Coral

Healing message for Trump supporters

Here’s a hopefully healing message to anyone who has or is still supporting Trump:

He played us by appealing to our sense of patriotism with lies that the country we love is under attack and only he can fix it.

Of course, any America-loving patriot who believed him that the reason things aren’t going well in our lives is because of the Deep State, Fake News, Immigrants, Democrats, BLM, Pelosi, and above all else, the “America-hating traitors” who speak out against Trump.

I know it’s embarrassing to discover that our patriotic love of America was nefariously and self-servingly exploited, misdirected and weaponized by a con man to actually harm the very thing we ALL love: The United States of America.

Let’s not beat ourselves up over being successfully conned by this unstable genius. He spent his whole life honing that skill and is really good at it.

Trump is unable to love America like we do. His mental defect is that he only loves himself and will throw anyone and anything, like our democracy, under the bus to feed and protect his self-serving ego.

Again, let’s not beat ourselves up. Our friends and family who managed to keep their patriotism correctly directed at the real America will welcome Trump’s victims back with open, compassionate and understanding arms.

J. Cant, Naples

Where is the father?

Abortion is not a form of birth control. Men and women are supposed to use birth control and in a lot of cases it is free. The only thing this law changes is that states decide what is for their state. So if you want an abortion in your state and it doesn’t allow it you can just go to another state. Personally I don’t think the government should have a right over a woman’s body and her choice.  But I am sick to death of men having relations with a woman then walking out the door and leaving the whole responsibility to her, not that I’m blaming him entirely but after all it was his seed and he should share responsibility. He’s had his fun and away he goes. Some women have multiple children by multiple men, don’t understand birth control and then let these children run wild and can’t afford to keep them, feed them or raise them properly. That is what’s wrong with our society. Where is the father!  Education and discipline go hand-in-hand.

Maryanna Less, Fort Myers

Slap on the wrist

Reading today that Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns quarterback, should receive at least a one-year suspension based on 24 allegations of sexual assault (20 of them settled out of court, which neutralizes them but doesn’t make them go away) strikes me as specious. The sentence of Ghislaine Maxwell to 20 years, Bill Cosby to 3-10, Harvey Weinstein to 23 years, R. Kelly to possibly 25 years and at least nine former NFL players to sentences from three to 30 years for similar offenses is proof that this stuff eventually gets noticed, but mostly in court if not in public opinion. Granted innocent until proven guilty is still a principle of our legal system, 24 allegations would be an unlikely conspiracy and Mr, Watson is likely to get some time in the pokey, if any of these go to trial.

So why the slap on the wrist of a one-year suspension?  Pandering to misbehavior is a hallmark of NFL administration. 

The NFL has a stinky record on  human rights. Roger Goodell gets about $64 million per year and has a poor reputation for being able to face the facts and take decisive action.  Seems like time for some major clean-up, starting with Watson, whose hearing with an arbitrator is currently going on.  Let’s hope to see some action putting Watson on the sidelines for a long time. Maybe the message will get through, both to Goodell and to the owners and players in the NFL.

Charlie Berry, Naples

Governor sets sights on presidency

I met Ron DeSantis a year or so ago at a press conference (a.k.a. presidential fundraiser) re: COVID. I admired his speech-making ability and how he showed empathy for those affected. The latter seemed sincere, of course, but the message wasn’t. I guess you learn to do that in Lawyer 101. This was also when he was introducing Dr. Ladapo as his adviser and downplaying the need for vaccines. We know how that went.

As I watched his crowd interaction after the speech, it reminded me of an old description of someone not so friendly. He’s a “cold fish.” He just stood and talked briefly to others politically. When introduced to me, he said five words “Hope I get your vote.” I did; last time. Not this time!

Since then, I’ve read much and it seems like he has his sights set only on Washington, not Florida. Stories abound about all those big out-of-state donors. What favors do they want in return and are those favors good for Florida? It seems that the best thing we Floridians can do is elect a governor who has ONLY Florida on their plate. He has a bully-pulpit as governor. Eliminate it!

Raymond Brooks, Fort Myers

Gas-burning idiots

Regarding the inflated gas prices of late, I have a question that I have yet to see entertained here.

Considering I drive basically the same roads everyday, encounter the same traffic and signals regarding those roads, how is it that I see the same idiots driving like maniacs to meet me at the red lights? High profile vehicles, souped up trucks and hot rods, probably all getting 15 miles per gallon, accelerating off the light like a drag strip, all burning much more fuel than required to meet me at the next red light.

Oh wait. That’s right, they all have those “Let’s go Brandon” stickers in the back window.

Now I understand the mentality.

Steve Zihala, Naples.

Business aviation essential

Your recent guest opinion not only missed key facts about business aviation and smaller airports, but also mischaracterized the causes of delays in our aviation system.

First, it is important to note that our system remains the largest, safest and most diverse in the world. The causes of delays are well documented, and they include air traffic controller and airline staffing challenges, scheduling and commercial aviation management issues, weather and evolving traffic conditions.

Second, while it might be easy to cherry pick traffic patterns at particular airports to make a one-sided case against the value of business aviation, the truth is that the number of flights made by small airplanes in many places in Florida are only now returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Finally, contrary to what your piece would have readers believe, general aviation has allowed companies and communities of all sizes to survive during the pandemic, supporting supply chains, helping transport goods and personnel and safely moving doctors, medical equipment, supplies and more to communities in need.

Simply put, business aviation is essential, during and beyond the pandemic. It’s unfortunate your piece suggests otherwise.

Clara Bennett, executive director, Boca Raton Airport Authority

No longer a democracy

As Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, many are calling for action to “save our democracy.”

Overlooked is that in the United States today, we no longer have a democracy. Democracy is generally understood to be where the “majority rules” via our elected representatives, and they derive their “just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence).

That hasn’t been the case for quite some time. Republicans in the Senate haven’t won a majority of the vote since 1996. Republicans have won the popular vote for the presidency only once since 1988. As a result of partisan redistricting, voter suppression laws, and policies that make it harder for minorities to vote, Republicans have almost guaranteed themselves victory if they garner somewhat over 40 percent of the vote. For example, the Republicans in the Senate now hold 50 percent of the seats, but they represent only 43 percent of the voters. In 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election, only 42 percent of Americans voted Republican for the Senate, yet they won 50 percent of the Senate seats. Based on what the majority wanted and voted for, 2000 should have been a Democratic landslide.

When we talk about “saving our democracy,” we should be talking about “restoring our democracy.” Patriotic Americans want their democracy back, even if it means their favorite candidate might lose. They want to see the policies they voted for get a fair shot in Congress. They want fairness and integrity in their elected officials, not lies and cheating. They want “this great experiment” to succeed.

Susan McGuire, Bokeelia

Elect people who care about what’s right

1. Since women can no longer have control of their own bodies, why don’t we pass a law that says that any man who impregnates a woman against her will should be castrated?

2. Why can’t 193 Republicans vote in favor of a bill that tightens requirements on young people buying guns? Of course they would say, it is a violation of Second Amendment rights. Don’t they realize that the amendment was written back in 1791 because there was a fear that England would once again try to take over the 13 colonies? What about the rights of all the children that lost their lives in school shootings or the people gunned down in churches?

3. Since it is now easier for citizens to walk around with concealed guns do we feel safer? Do we really want to go back to the Wild West days? You better be careful not to upset anyone on the highway, in a store, on the street, at work, or in a church.

4. Putin invades a neutral country, destroys cities and towns, and most importantly destroys innocent people’s lives. Isn’t this what Hitler did? How long do we make the Ukrainian people fight this war alone? Putin is fearless. NATO needs to be fearless.

5. No matter what party you belong to, how could anyone respect Trump when he did nothing to stop rioters from trying to kill the vice president?

In the coming elections, each of us needs to actively help to elect candidates who care more about what is right rather than simply getting elected. Judge the candidates on their positions on abortion, gun control, the economy, civil rights, and the Ukraine. Only you can bring about change.

Warren White, Estero

U.S. contrasted with Canada

We speak the same language; however, our Canadian neighbors appear to interpret the word “freedom” in its most meaningful sense with respect for the well-being of its citizens:

ABORTION: Canada treats abortion like all other medical procedures and is regulated through provincial/territorial and professional bodies.

GUN CONTROL: Canada has stringent gun control rules, including background checks and bans on 1,500 types of military-style firearms. (No NRA)

EUTHANASIA: Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) became legal along with assisted suicide in June 2016 to end the suffering of terminally ill adults. In March 2021, the law was amended by Bill C-7 which permits assisted dying in additional situations, including for certain patients whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable (ie: Alzheimer’s), subject to additional safeguards.

HEALTH CARE: There is a significant difference in coverage for medical care in Canada and the United States. In Canada, all citizens and permanent residents are covered by the health care system, while in the United States at least 10 percent of U.S. citizens do not have adequate health insurance, if any at all.

Canada expresses its freedom in common sense democracy where the USA has gone down the slippery slope of becoming a plutocracy conveniently hiding under the flag of theocracy. 

C. A. Farrington, South Fort Myers

Defend democracy with our vote

I taught government and history for over 30 years. Watching the Jan. 6 Capitol events unfold, I felt horror thinking this was the end of our democracy. Brave Capitol Police were outnumbered and pleaded for reinforcements that didn’t come for hours. Our Capitol was breached on four sides. The mob broke windows, stormed offices, trashed the Rotunda and Senate chamber. Trump and Confederate flags and bear spray were used as weapons against Capitol Police. Our congressmen and senators fled. A noose was erected. Chants to get Vice President Pence and Speaker Pelosi echoed through the halls.

My mind flashed back to the history of the 1933 German Reichstag (parliament) attack and fire. Hitler and his Nazis then formed a dictatorship with horrifying consequences. That attack and this looked shockingly alike.

After hours of mob violence, I was grateful for the courage of our vice president to call Congress back in session and resume the electoral certification. I was appalled by the legislators who voted against certification of the election. The blatant violation of their oath of office to our Constitution was on full display.

Our democracy is fragile. How fragile it is was illustrated by the terrorist events of Jan. 6. Only through the courage of those who upheld their constitutional oath, Jan. 7 dawned with our Constitution and our democracy still standing. We all have a responsibility to defend that democracy with our vote, voicing our concerns to legislators, and allowing a free press to survive.

Linda Russell, Lehigh Acres

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