Forum, Nov. 30: An Accidental Misunderstanding

Thursday, November 29, 2018
Book Angels Need Your Help

The Book Angels are back and asking for your help collecting books for children and young adults in our community.

Paper angels hang on a large wreath in the Norwich Bookstore stairway with hints or requests, such as “2-year-old likes trucks” or “teen reads fantasy.”

You can participate in several ways: Choose an angel and find a book that matches, select a book that is special to you and we’ll find an angel for it, or donate any amount and we will pick out books and appropriate angels. The Norwich Bookstore will donate at least one book for every 10 purchased and we guarantee that no Book Angel will leave empty-handed.

This year we are working with The Family Place, Family Services at the Department for Children and Families in White River Junction, The Haven and the Children’s Literacy Foundation to identify young people to receive the gift of a special book.

We thank you all for supporting this generous local tradition.

Liza Bernard

Norwich Bookstore

An Accidental Misunderstanding

Professor Ned Lebow was recently found in violation of the code of conduct of the International Studies Association for a remark he made in an elevator (“Ex-Dartmouth Professor Loses Appeal of Conduct Violation,” Nov. 20).

When asked which floor he wanted, he replied, “ladies lingerie.” This bothered professor Simona Sharoni, who sought an apology from Lebow. If Lebow had stepped on Sharoni’s toe, he no doubt would have quickly apologized. He hadn’t intended to do it and was sorry. Surely, accidentally offending someone deserves the same response.

I expect that Lebow had no intention but to amuse when he answered as he did. Having grown up in a time in which department stores had elevator operators who announced floor offerings, it probably never occurred to him that someone almost two decades younger might take offense. To Lebow, “ladies lingerie” may have conjured up pictures of men or women, often seated at tiny stools, operating the elevator. To Sharoni, having grown up in a time in which elevators are operated by the riders, hearing “ladies lingerie” may have suggested a lecherous man fantasizing about Victoria’s Secret models. What a misunderstanding — surely unintended.

Would that Lebow had been able to hear Sharoni’s discomfort and honestly reply, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” and perhaps explain to her the context from which his reply came. Who knows? They might have become friends.

Corlan Johnson


A Sad Overreaction

I am an 80-plus-year “older — not old” woman. I grew up in the years of elevators and elevator attendants and announcers who told us what was on every floor. The Dartmouth professor who is in trouble for joking around about lingerie is in a very sad “state of affairs” (“Ex-Dartmouth Professor Loses Appeal of Conduct Violation,” Nov. 20). He did absolutely nothing wrong.

It is too bad the #MeToo generation has no humor, no appreciation for what used to be, and how wonderful the world can be if you don’t constantly look for things that upset you or give you a reason to complain and fight.

I hope the professor will continue his fight over this. I must admit, I am also shocked the executive committee of the International Studies Association reacted as it did. It is so overboard. Sad.

Selma Sanborn


The Blood of the Children

A Yemeni child died recently. She was 7 years old. She couldn’t hold down or keep in the milk the local hospital fed her. Her parents couldn’t afford to take her to the Doctors Without Borders facility, so they took her home.

There is a good Yiddish word that I must hurl at members of my ethnic community who support Republicans, including this president, considering that support for Israel supersedes all other considerations.

This is a shonda. A shame and a disgrace. This is why Jared Kushner, wise councilor to the president, is very best friends these days with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, genius architect of the genocide in Yemen. This is why Sheldon Adelson gives millions to Republican campaigns.

I do not consider any political party to be “the good guys.” Hypocrisy, venality and naked self-interest are indiscriminate afflictions. But to consider oneself to have any moral values at all, and to yet support Republicans at this moment in time, because you believe they are strong defenders of something you hold dear — you are a shonda.

Remember that verse from the Old Testament? “The blood of your brother cries out to me from the ground.” The blood of children is screaming. Do you hear it?

Sarah Crysl Akhtar


Seeking Some Specifics

I see that, in his latest letter (“Earning a Ph.D. in Progressivism,” Nov. 24), Anthony Stimson struts out a slew of sociopolitical credenda that irk him. He takes off on multiculturalism, feminism, LGBT causes and so on. He says he learned all the things he most despises from Democrats, and that their most excessive demands were on full display during the midterm elections.

Curiously, he doesn’t cite a single specific: the name of a candidate or a platform position, for example. This leads me to believe that his letter is merely a recitation of his own phobias and nothing directly ascribable to any particular person or group. If I am wrong on this, might he be more specific?

Sydney Lea

Newbury, Vt.

Headline Failed to Reflect Story

Whoever wrote the headline for the front-page article about the human costs of canceling federal safety regulations clearly did not read the story first (“Administration Analyses: Regulations Hurt,” Nov. 23). The substance of the piece is that federal agencies are being led to dismantle rules that protect the public from various dangers, and the conclusion is certainly not that “regulations hurt.”

What hurts the commonweal is the Trump administration’s wholesale assault on the regulatory bodies that guard our air, water, highways and public health. I hope that the new Congress will be able to restore some of the most important safeguards. And I’d advise one more editorial look at the front-page mockup before hitting the “roll ’em” button.

Allan Dooley