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Forum, June 1: Catch ‘Voice of America’ on Friday in White River Junction


Thursday, May 31, 2018
Catch ‘Voice of America’ on Friday

I enjoyed reading about the many local films coming to us through the White River Indie Festival (“Green Hills, Red Carpet: White River Indie Festival Showcases Films by Local Directors,” May 25). We are local, too, but were left out of David Corriveau’s article, and I think many people in the Upper Valley will be interested in our film, Voice of America: Lowell Thomas and the Rise of Broadcast News, which will be shown at the Byrne Theater in the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction at 3 p.m. on Friday.

Director and producer Rick Moulton, from Huntington, Vt., has worked for several decades on this exciting and interesting documentary of my grandfather, Lowell Thomas. Narration is by Robert Siegel, longtime host of NPR’s All Things Considered, and Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and the Dalai Lama are highlight interviews of the film.

A panel discussion follows the film with Moulton, journalist Mitch Stephens (author of the biography of Lowell Thomas), and journalist and radio commentator Jack Beatty, moderated by Jane Applegate. I hope we draw a good crowd from the Upper Valley!

Anne Thomas Donaghy

Meriden

The writer is the executive producer of So Long Productions.

A Tonic Tried and True

Who would have thought that uttering two words in a crowded San Francisco elevator could result in such a verbal brouhaha? (“Dartmouth Professor’s Remark Draws Rebuke,” May 8).

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s developed great appreciation for department store elevator operators, who performed some of the functions of Walmart greeters today, but in a much more dignified and sophisticated way. They had to have an encyclopedic knowledge of merchandise their store offered on each floor, and probably set the customers up for the sales associates, who worked largely on commission.

That’s why I was taken aback by professor Simona Sharoni’s accusation that professor Ned Lebow’s quip about ladies’ apparel reduced her to the status of a “lowly elevator operator,” because in my recollection those who ran elevators in their smartly styled uniforms had a fairly prestigious occupation, regardless of their race or gender.

Elevators can be a setting for much good humor. In the 1960s, my high school marching band was featured in a stunt on the popular television show Candid Camera in which people waiting for the elevator in the lobby of a Manhattan office building were shocked as both the front and back doors opened and the entire 88-piece band came marching through. The lyrics of the show’s theme song stated, “It’s fun to laugh at yourself, it’s the tonic tried and true.” As I see the problem, Sharoni took herself too seriously and, unfortunately, Lebow didn’t take her seriously enough.

And what about the stuffy host organization, the International Studies Association?

To me the actions of its leaders smack of pompous self-importance — with apologies to Sir Edward William Elgar, entirely too much pomp for the circumstances to suit me. Maybe the initials ISA should stand for “Intellectualism Supports Arrogance.” Unless the organization has higher goals than acute political correctness, maybe it has outlived its usefulness to society and should go the way of the buggy whip, and the elevator operator.

William A. Wittik

Hartford

‘Elevator Incident’ Takeaways

I, too, remember elevator operators, often in uniform, and the comedy routines built around the department store elevator operator.

I guess there are two takeaways from the incident: We need to “modernize” our sense of humor, and you never know who you share a crowded elevator with.

David R. Mayhew

Brookline, Mass.

Reflecting on Civility and Blame

Recent events prompt me to write about civility and blame. Civility, treating others with respect and consideration, is sorely lacking today. Civility requires taking a step back, listening to how we affect someone, aiming for understanding rather than judging. Civility helps make our society work.

Regarding the professor who quipped “ladies’ lingerie” (or “women’s lingerie”), what would an apology have cost him? He may support gender equality and he may have meant his comment as a joke, but he wasn’t funny to the two women who were there. Perhaps the professor forgot that you may say what you like, but you don’t get to control how it is received.

That said, why was a simple, “I regret offending you. That was not my intention,” so hard to come by? Had he tried to understand why the woman, herself a professor, complained, he might have gained information about how his “joke” came across. With an open mind, one can always learn something new.

My second comment concerns responses to the recent Texas school shooting. There were the usual “thoughts and prayers,” promises to protect our children, and blame on alleged causes: mental illness, video games, poor parenting, bullying, lack of school security, not enough guns in our schools, etc. None of this is helpful.

We are in no position to identify the cause of school shootings because research on gun violence has been restricted. Surely these tragedies have many causes. How about moving beyond blaming and taking preventive action? Why not address multiple possible causes? We could require universal background checks, ban bump stocks, ban civilians from owning assault weapons, fund more school social workers and psychologists, create a model for offering mental health services in schools, allow for interventions in “red flag” situations, provide more support to parents and teachers, fund after-school programs, invest in bullying prevention.

Responsibility to community would take precedence over individual rights. We would treat each other with civility and our differences would not be barriers but opportunities for finding common ground.

Wouldn’t that be a brave new world?

Dena B. Romero

Hanover