Today on Context Florida: Freedom of speech, domestic violence, pensions and first impressions matter

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Today on Context Florida:

If Americans cherish anything, says Stephen Goldstein, it is their constitutional protection to speak their minds. But however unqualified the framers of the Constitution may have meant it, freedom of speech in a civilized society has necessarily devolved into a gossamer of loopholes. No one has the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, but they can lie through their teeth.

Domestic violence is one of the most critical issues affecting Florida’s families and children, writes former Florida First Lady Columba Bush. You may be surprised to learn that children account for nearly 50 percent of emergency shelter residents at any given time. Bush challenges each Floridian to commit to one thing each month to help educate our communities and families.

Dominic M. Calabro and Bill Herrle point out one of the most alarming illustrations of government spending money it does not have is in local government pension plans. Simply put, Tallahassee’s mandates for local governments to provide “extra benefits” when they already can’t pay for required minimum benefits is unsustainable.

Andrew Skerritt, citing one of the truisms we must live with, says that first impressions matter. Unfortunately, that’s a fact seemingly lost on new Florida State University President John Thrasher. Exhibit 1 is the former legislator’s tone-deaf response to last week’s New York Times article highlighting another instance in which an FSU football player not named Winston might have received preferential treatment from a Tallahassee police officer.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.