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Forum, July 4: Police use of profanity is a red warning sign

Published: 7/3/2020 10:00:23 PM
Modified: 7/3/2020 10:00:10 PM
Police use of profanity is a red warning sign

We’ve all seen videos showing dubious police behavior. Some show blatant racism, no question. But I want to focus on another aspect: In many of them, just before the tragic shooting or questionable violence, the officers use profanity. The details of Wayne Burwell’s beating by Hartford police in 2010 reveal officer speech utterly loaded with the F-word (“Brutality, bias are here, too,” June 7).

I’m old-school: When I was a kid, profanity led to spanking. Granted, some folks these days lace even calm conversation with the F-word. But that’s not what’s happening in those videos. Instead, the officers use it to express intense emotion, which then ripens into violence. Over the years I’ve had a few confrontations with police where I thought I was in the right and let them know it — a response which, but for my white privilege, might have gotten me hurt. But I’m just stubborn enough that, if they’d also cursed at me, I might well have disobeyed.

At that point, I would argue, they no longer represent our state and its system of laws, but have sunk to engaging in a purely personal macho contest.

Profanity adds nothing to a lawful police order. On the contrary, it escalates tension, rather than calming it. And it converts legitimate law enforcement into a mere acting-out of personal emotion. I’ve never been a cop, but I’d profoundly hope that officers, as part of their training, would learn to treat their own or a colleague’s profanity — even an urge to use it — as a flashing red sign that things are going wrong. Looking inside oneself in the heat of a moment, to recognize an action as racially motivated, can be hard. But hearing yourself use the F-word should, for any cop, invoke a shocked mental “Whoa!” — a recognition that your emotion, whatever its cause, is dragging you way off track.

BERNIE WAUGH

Hanover

Attacks on reproductive rights will continue

Women’s reproductive rights won a major victory this week as the Supreme Court struck down a medically dangerous Louisiana law restricting abortion in a 5-4 decision in June Medical Services v. Russo. Rightly so, the court ruled that it is unconstitutional to impose medically unnecessary restrictions that burden an individual’s right to a safe, legal abortion. Although access to a safe, legal abortion in Louisiana is protected for the time being, attacks on reproductive rights will continue, make no mistake of that.

The door is still open for politicians to continue to try to pass abortion restrictions across the country. Abortion is safe and legal in every state in America, but we need to expand access to quality health care — not reduce it. Politicians have made it clear they will stop at nothing to interfere with a woman’s ability to control her own body, her life and her future.

Here in Vermont, state law protects access to abortion. Vermont is also on its way to preserving reproductive rights in the state’s constitution with Proposition 5, which would further assure reproductive rights in our state. With cruel abortion bans on the rise in other states, we cannot rely on the Supreme Court to protect us. People who call Vermont home deserve to be protected, and we can be the first state in our nation to guarantee reproductive liberty in our constitution.

Proposition 5 will protect our freedom to become pregnant, to carry a pregnancy to term, to use contraception, to have an abortion, or to have a vasectomy; it would keep politics out of our personal health care decisions. As an obstetrician-gynecologist, I support Proposition 5 and I hope you’ll also join me.

PAUL MANGANIELLO

Norwich

A safe school means filtered, fresh air

When schools closed due to the new coronavirus, teachers and parents joined in a valiant effort to teach children remotely at home. Providing sufficient online learning to replace a full school day for children was challenging for teachers. The responsibility of supervising children learning remotely at home while trying to work and carry out other parental responsibilities was a burden for many families. This method worked well for some students and just barely for others.

In September, children want to see their friends at school, teachers want to be in classrooms with students, and families look forward to their regular routines. School districts are undoubtedly deeply involved in working on plans for the safe re-opening of schools in the fall. Those plans might include:

■ Added bus runs with fewer students.

■ Daily temperature checks at school.

■ Everyone wearing masks the entire school day.

■ Plans for moving through school and within classrooms to maintain 6 feet of social distancing.

■ Monitoring when people touch their face, cough or sneeze in order to wash hands and sanitize the area.

These are several of the myriad considerations likely necessary if schools are to re-open safely in the fall and to prevent continuing transmission of COVID-19.

A potentially significant additional consideration is filtration and exchange of fresh air. As The Washington Post reported on June 26, “When it comes to schools and office buildings, wearing face masks and cleaning surfaces are not enough.” Various ways to circulate and filter the air can be expensive, are not yet mandatory and may require help from professional engineers. However, as schools plan to re-open safely in the fall, they must find new and effective ways to filter and circulate fresh air throughout each classroom in the building to minimize the risk of further COVID-19 transmission.

SHARON BEAUFAIT

Enfield

Support Joe Biden and protect the ACA

Pay attention to what politicians do, not to what they say.

Right now, the Trump administration is petitioning the Supreme Court to scrap the entire Affordable Care Act, in the midst of a pandemic that’s challenged so many Americans. Some 23 million folks depend on the ACA, including 487,000 individuals who’ve signed up since losing their jobs due to COVID-19.

Say goodbye to insurance companies covering preexisting conditions, should President Donald Trump get his way.

We have a say in this: Support former Vice President Joe Biden in November, and Democrats up and down the ballot.

BOB WILLIAMSON

South Woodstock

After we go bankrupt, then what?

In 1995, the Soviet Union went bankrupt. The result was many new countries were formed. The U.S. is next. We are $25 trillion in debt, much of it owed to China. We could pay off some of this debt. Sell off our aircraft carriers and discharge the sailors who run them. Sell the thousands of unused boats, planes, tanks and armored vehicles we never use. Stop blowing money on expensive, unneeded warplanes.

The Chinese teach their students to read, write and speak in English. Why?

When President Bill Clinton left office, our government had a surplus. After we go bankrupt, there will be no money to feed our troops. No Social Security checks. No Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, no nursing homes, no oil or gas, no electricity, no police, no newspapers and numerous other everyday items. Democracy failed.

ROGER SMALL

Claremont




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