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Letters to the Editor, Aug. 18

Don't fuel the fire

One of the most meaningful definitions of tragedy is that it occurs when two good people/causes/ideas are in conflict and one must lose. Such a tragedy appears now to be playing out in Ashland in the Shakespeare (festival) vs. Shakespeare (bookstore) conflict.

This is a small town and we all know of the two parties in the conflict. We all have past experiences, ties and loyalties that tend to influence our position on the conflict. We have all read and heard accounts from people who claim to have inside information on what “really” happened. We are all infused with ideals that prompt us to jump into the fray based on deeply held principles. We know that the party appearing to agree with our principles is entirely right and the other side is entirely wrong.

What we don’t have, what only half a dozen people have, is firsthand experience with the encounters that initiated the conflict. A bit of humility is in order.

We don’t know the particulars. It would be useful at this point for all of us to stop pouring fuel on the fire by taking strong positions on one side or the other because that is making the situation worse and the option of a resolution less likely. Rather than taking a side, we should encourage the principals to seek a mediated resolution.

The situation may have started with a miscommunication or personal disagreement, but it has escalated to an ideological conflict in which the community stands to lose with people holding grudges for years. That would be a tragedy for both sides and for the community.

Ian Templeton


Antibiotics are a threat

Thanks for publishing your article on the important issue of McDonald's committing to stop selling chicken raised with antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics is one of the most pressing and terrifying public health issues of our time.

McDonald's commitment is an amazing first step, but while reading, it occurred to me: How fitting is it that the head of McDonald's food supply chain is named Gross? The entire food-industrial complex and its willingness to threaten public health for the sake of padding their bottom line (and also our bottoms) is frankly appalling.

Over 70 percent of the medically important antibiotics sold in America are fed to poultry and livestock, and this overuse creates the perfect breeding ground for antibiotic resistant superbugs that medicines can't cure. While it's an amazing first step that McDonald's had committed to stop serving chicken nuggets made from chickens raised on routine antibiotics, we cannot overlook the fact that this attempt to build their brand image does nothing to address the real problem of antibiotic use on farms in our country.

The CDC estimates that antibiotic resistant bacterial infections are going to be the number one cause of death in America by 2050 if we don't stop our overuse of antibiotics. Already, 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and the CDC assures us that number will continue to rise if we do not act.

The world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, can once again kill. A solution cannot just come from the perspective of increasing sales among health-savvy consumers. The simple fact that McDonald's does not comment on why they are "unable" to stop serving beef raised with unnecessary antibiotics betrays their lack of true sincerity.

We must understand that the question of getting routine antibiotic use out of our food production system must be one of obligation to ourselves and all humanity. Before the invention of antibiotics, six of the top 10 causes of death in America were bacterial; now none are.

Today, we expect our children to live past the sniffles and boo-boos of early childhood. Our grandparents did not have that luxury, and our grandchildren may never know it. Any parent will understand the marvel and sanctity of a child's sweet survival. We should not accept symbolic victories and empty platitudes about the reckless and dangerous use of the most powerful and miraculous tools we have to save human lives.

Melinda Monteclair


Alternative to violence

A thoughtful response to a threat of violence may have saved a life. A true story, as reported on NPR the week of Aug. 25, happened in a D.C. suburb. A family supper party was underway outdoors, when out of the bushes a man appeared with a gun. He pointed it to the head of one man, demanding money. The man said he didn't have any on his person. One of the women spoke up, "Would you like a glass of wine?"

The whole scene changed. The intruder put away his gun, and accepted the wine, even saying that it was very good wine. He was invited to have some cheese and other goodies. The visitor then asked for a hug, and received it, then a group hug, and received it. He left the party with a gifted glass of wine. On leaving their property, he carefully set the glass down by the path, and vanished into the night.

Those choice words by the woman threw him off target, allowing him to say, "Yes, I'd like some wine." The woman who spoke those words recognized he was another human being, and offered him an alternative to violence. May we all see that we're all human beings and find helpful words to diffuse awkward/stressful situations.

Carola Lacy


Progressive Ashland

Please, a tremendous waste of time and money rebuilding the City Hall building to make it  earthquake proof!

Also, I might suggest more gardens with deer-safe plants, flowers and ground cover.

Those dotted white lines in the streets, as in lanes — utilize permanent reflectors and paint those dotted lines!

Heck, all you Ashlanders already know how great and phenomenally wonderful Ashland is. To think — this smal,l quaint, colorful city is so immensely progressive in every way — sure, we have a few problems, but nothing in comparison to most towns and cities throughout the world!

Jeff Kassman