Forum, April 16: Hoping for Productive Discussions in Hartford

Sunday, April 15, 2018
Hoping for Productive Discussions

​It’s time we understand that any divide between a person’s public and private life is, in fact, imaginary (“Town Mulls Self-Policing of Remarks,” March 30).

​It does matter, in terms of being qualified for public service or employment in a position of responsibility, whether one abuses one’s spouse, for example, or mocks others for their ethnicity, love interests, sartorial preferences or perceived intellectual capacities.

​It’s true that we do not want Big Brother or his many little siblings to cast their eyes upon us every breathing moment. But it is also true that responses like “can’t you take a joke?” or faux apologies like “I was just kidding” are feeble covers for bullying behavior. ​I do wonder, though, how many of the people who were deeply offended by those cartoons caricaturing the Obamas were also those who laughed at depictions of George W. Bush as a paler sort of simian or Alfred E. Neuman’s separated-at-birth twin. I laughed at the latter depictions myself. Political commentary expressed through the visual arts can be pretty savage, and that tends to be why we like it.

​If the proposed “tattling” results in productive discussions rather than in an attack of the Pod People shrilling and pointing, then it shall have turned out to be a wise choice. Let’s all of us strive toward wisdom.

​Sarah Crysl Akhtar


Bill Helps Contraception Access

As an obstetrician/gynecologist who practices in New Hampshire and Vermont, I was heartened to see the New Hampshire Legislature turn its attention to matters of family planning that will benefit New Hampshire’s women and families.

Senate Bill 421, if passed, would increase access to contraception by allowing patients to receive a full year of contraception at one time, rather than one month or three months at a time, which is the limit set by insurance companies, not the recommendation of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It would also give New Hampshire patients the same benefits as people in neighboring states.

Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Making conception easier to obtain, research has shown, will decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies and make the lives of women and their families easier. Increasing access to contraception, and decreasing unintended pregnancies, has the potential to decrease abortion and improve the lives and health of women and families in New Hampshire.

Please support SB 421. I see the necessity of this bill every single day and know it can make a huge difference.

Renee Johannensen

West Windsor

City Cemetery Board Much Needed

I am in 100 percent approval of Lebanon’s plan to appoint a board of trustees to oversee the city’s cemeteries. In addition to the recommendations regarding stones that are deteriorating and have fallen over, among many other unacceptable issues, cemetery policies should be re-written to include restrictions on cemetery usage. These should include no dogs, except those inside a motor vehicle. Communities comparable to Lebanon (Concord and Barre, Vt., for example) have this included in their cemetery policies, as does tiny Weathersfield. Additional policies might include no picnicking and no nighttime traffic, among other matters to be determined.

In West Lebanon there is an unusual situation. Parents are using the cemetery as a drop-off and pick-up point for their children who are attending Mount Lebanon School. This generates traffic in an area where there should be relatively little. Cemetery streets are notoriously narrow, have little if any curbing and minimal drainage. All cemetery traffic should be associated with cemeteries use. The city maintains streets that run to and from the school for this purpose.

As this board of trustees gets to work and its recommendations are enacted there can only be improvement in a long-neglected situation.

I am well aware that my thoughts here sound somewhat selfish (and hopeful) but I do wish much success for the new board and know that its efforts will produce the wished-for goals that for so long have been needed but neglected.

Gordon M. Stone

West Lebanon

Bring on the Electric Buses

Our region is smitten with love of solar panels, an expensive but highly subsidized scheme to reduce peak electric power demand on sunny days, potentially reducing burning of some natural gas.

A more effective way to reduce local carbon dioxide emissions is to use electric buses. Diesel-powered buses are responsible for 20 percent of air pollution in big cities. Here, Advance Transit buses are cleaner, but do emit carbon dioxide. Total cost per mile for electric buses has now dropped below costs for diesel or compressed natural gas powered buses. Search online for BNEF electric buses to learn more.

Robert Hargraves