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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 10

No news is not good news

Today we ostensibly have 24/7 instant access to propaganda and news, but unfortunately the former is often disguised as the latter and the latter is often missing vital parts. All major media outlets (TV, radio and newspapers) are now owned by six conglomerates. Even PBS is tainted by their money. And these are the same Big Money forces that buy "our" politicians right and left.

We are in a no-news wasteland surrounded by inanities, soundbites and talking heads. In-depth news reporting is missing — and vital information is withheld from us. For instance:

  • We should be hearing more from Jill Stein and Gary Johnson — who are serious contenders for the presidency — not just the Democrat and the Republican.
  • We should be hearing more about global warming as Earth is now warming at a pace unprecedented in 1,000 years and 2016 is already slated to be the hottest year on record.

We do have one independent news program that offers in depth reporting, and that is Democracy Now!. But we need more, because Americans are generally not well-informed. And an uninformed or misinformed public is easily manipulated and does not vote in its own best interests.

Lee Lull


Learn about autism

My grandson is autistic. He would tell you that his brain is wired differently, and that no one is perfect. Who would want to be, anyway? How boring.

My grandson is amazing. He deals every day with several health issues that can accompany autism, such as Attention Deficit/Hyper-Activity Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder and Tourette’s syndrome. None the less, he is awesome! He loves people, hugs easily, has good eye contact, is articulate, intelligent, funny and sensitive.

The problems he faces are daunting. The worst are intolerance, discrimination and avoidance. Society has historically been intolerant, discriminatory and, until recently, ignorantly chosen to avoid people with autism. Up until 50 years ago, many were hopelessly institutionalized rather than looked at through a compassionately creative lens. Thank God that changed. Today, people on the “spectrum” function as scientists, doctors, artists, actors, educators, inventors — I could go on.

Many children are on the autistic spectrum in the Rogue Valley. If you see a child with questionable behaviors, react with understanding and compassion. Autism has been with us forever. Now, we are realizing their extremely exciting and beneficial contributions to society.

Educate yourselves. Teach tolerance and patience to those around you.

Penny Keenan


Cleansing history

It's official. The University of Oregon will remove the name of a university founder from a building because black students "felt uncomfortable studying in buildings named for men who considered blacks human property" (MT, Aug. 12).

Racism continues to be an ugly fact today. Blacks have reason to feel uncomfortable in many settings, but studying in a blameless pile of brick and mortar doesn't seem threatening. Where does it stop?

If there is discomfort with the founders, should the university itself be scrapped? Should we remove Thomas Jefferson's name from the Declaration of Independence and his image from the nickel because he owned slaves? Should we rename every town, institution or landmark named after someone who over a hundred years ago held racist beliefs about any minority?

History is a long story of flawed individuals who nevertheless contributed to great achievements. We study it to say "never again" to evils of the past. A university should ensure students feel safe in their pursuits, but its purpose is to provide intellectual rigor, challenge, perhaps even discomfort, to shape resilient, critical-thinking adults focused on creating a better future — not tidying up the past. Cleansing history is not in the curriculum.

Betsy Shanafelt


Thanks for gesture

A friend and I went to the Medford Senior Center the other day, and the lady that was in front of us paid for our lunch. Thank  you, Maggie, and God bless you.

Marilyn Wirshup


Response is unsettling

Artistic Director Bill Rauch’s defense of OSF’s boycott of the local bookstore Shakespeare Books & Antiques is unsettling.

Rauch claims the owner “disrespectfully” treated OSF. But, the owner was asked only to “consider” moving an “offensive” book. She respected that request, but ultimately decided against it. OSF then upped the ante and demanded the book be moved. The seller acted in good faith. Rauch’s insinuations about her honesty and motivations buttress her complaints about how disrespectfully OSF has treated her.

It wasn’t disrespectful for the owner to go public. The situation was already a topic of conversation in OSF. Rauch claims OSF has moral reasons for its actions. Why secrecy?

The books were part of an accurate, content-neutral historical display about book-banning.

Why are OSF’s “moral considerations” about offensive displays exclusive to public places? Rauch makes no principled distinction about why offensive material in a street window is worse than when it is first encountered by unsuspecting patrons when they enter a store or when a theater curtain is raised.

Rauch’s ad hoc feelings about morally exercising free speech provide no useful guidance. I have no more confidence in his subjective judgments than I would in the government’s.

Ward A. Campbell

Sacramento, Calif.

Letters to the Editor, Sept. 10