Letters from the Issue of December 22-28, 2005

It's all about your religious beliefs, you agnostic, you!

'Tis the Season ...

To be biased:Although addressing the topic of religious displays would be fine, Mariah Blake made absolutely no effort to be unbiased in her story "Bah, Humbug" (December 8). Journalism is defined as "The style of writing ... consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation."

Carelessly using descriptions such as "implausible arguments" or "officials — like Bethlehem innkeepers of millennia past" reveals her personal bias (the title alone suggests an unfair approach). Having lived in Bay Harbor Islands for many years, I know it to be a friendly and safe community, which is hardly obvious from Ms. Blake's portrayal. Permitting "each resident ... one display" sounds like a legitimate effort to be more inclusive, but submitting threedisplays, including a sign reading "Reclaim America for Christ This Christmas," is not only derisive but also proselytizing!

The fact that Ms. Blake mentions how a lady's mother "had no idea who I was" but still insisted "Where's the Nativity?" sounds like a miracle. Perhaps Ms. Blake would rather write for her church paper or religious slanted media that's fair and balanced.

Stu Beilinson
Miami

To be terse:The article "Bah, Humbug" was extremely one-sided.

Rachel Carlsen
West Miami

To be historical: After reading Mariah Blake's article about Sandra Snowden and Bay Harbor Islands' battle over holiday decorations, I have come to the conclusion that it's time, yet again, for a public lesson in history, law, and civics.

Our country was founded by a group of men with astonishing wisdom, who crafted a nearly perfect document with a very clear provision: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Hey, our founding fathers' backgrounds were primarily English, so let's focus on that country. Henry VIII had trouble producing a male heir and had some itchy pants. The pope wouldn't issue him a divorce, so Henry split from the Catholic Church in 1533 and 1534. Through the next several reigning monarchs, England swung back and forth between Protestant and Catholic.

Protestantism was secured in England by the "divine wind" that destroyed the Spanish Armada in 1588. The Church of England was now secured, but dissenters believed it hewed too closely to the papacy. Then came the civil war that brought Oliver Cromwell to power beginning in 1642. Cromwell's reign was marked by the ascension to power of the Puritans, the direct forerunners of today's Christian extremists, who had been oppressed by the Church of England, resulting in a pilgrimage to America.

It was from this background that our forefathers drew in forming this country. They believed that political power did not flow from God to the government/monarchy directly, and — pay close attention, Mr. Alito — they believed that God directly gave rights to human beings, who then gave up certain of those rights to live in society. Philosophically if power flows from God to the people, a government is a secular institution.

So what does all of this mean in the end? Simply, Snowden is wrong. The city is wrong. The only real American solution is to let private people worship in their own way and keep the government out of our religious life. Too much American blood has been spilled by too many genuine American heroes here and overseas for you fundamentalist idiots to shit on our Constitution or compromise the ideals upon which this country was founded.

Errol Portman
Miami

Don't Be Cheap

You ninnies: I read Chuck Strouse's "Widow Speak" (December 1) after five hours or so of open-heart surgery.

We are talking about giving the late Commissioner Arthur Teele's widow his City of Miami pension of $26,000 per year. We are also talking about not giving it to her because, this past March, the state charged the commissioner with assault on a police officer and corruption by threat. Art Teele was found guilty of the lesser charge and sentenced to two years of probation.

I attended the entire trial. What a show. Two rulings absolutely sucked. The jury was not allowed to know that Art had a history of getting involved when a woman was threatened. Nor could they hear some — shame, shame, shame — anti-Semitic remarks and anti-gay remarks made by one or another police officer involved in the charges.

The testimony was he-said, she-said. Everyone was pissed. In the end, the judge imposed a light, fair sentence. And it's off to the Third District Court of Appeals.

We know the rest. If the court tosses the appeal, Art's wife does not get his pension of $26,000 per year. This is like pocket change. Have you seen the pensions and sick-day payments our city and county office-holders and major bureaucrats walk away with when they retire?

Art was convicted of making unwise comments during an argument with police officers — that's all! This has nothing to do with other charges that would have been argued at a future date. Besides all the bullshit Art Teele has in common with so many of our connected folk, he did some really good stuff for his constituents. I hope his wife is successful.

Alan W. Rigerman
Palm Springs North

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