Alan Chartock: Talking back to the headlines
Shalit car crash case to be dismissed: I'm happy for Gene. I love the guy and think he's done a great deal for the Berkshires. Obviously, this is a wake-up call for Gene and for the rest of those of us who may be getting a little older.
On the one hand, the last thing we want to do is penalize people who depend on their cars for mobility and independence. We don't want to pass rules that amount to elder abuse. On the other hand, as our coordination slows down, there ought to be mechanisms developed to ensure safety and help prevent accidents. Maybe there should be enhanced testing.
Many of us know adults who have suggested to their parents that the time has come to stop driving. One has to proceed with sensitivity and caution. When you live in a place like the Berkshires, cars are essential for mobility. That's why it's better to live within walking distance of stores. It would be cruel and unfortunate to pass blanket rules that discriminate against the elderly, many of whom have excellent eyesight and clean driving records.
Meanwhile, people of any age can fall asleep at the wheel and that can be as dangerous as driving while under the influence.
Sosa, Bonds and Clemens not allowed in the Hall of Fame: These great ballplayers went with the flow and used performance enhancing steroids.
Many of us think they should catch a break, but many others think that steroid use constitutes cheating, pure and simple.
Imagine that you're playing bridge (pretty much a past art) or poker and someone is sending you signals about what cards the other players are holding. Your opponents would be pretty angry. That's why the sports writers seem to have an aversion to opening the door.
Now, you could argue that "everyone was doing it." First, that's not true. And secondly, you'd have to extend that to the opera. Yep, that's right. Every time I point out that Richard Wagner was a no good, low-down anti-Semite, I hear from folks who say the same thing: "They were all doing that." That isn't true either.
I don't think anyone wants to go there.
James Taylor to perform at the presidential inauguration: I rec-ently wrote a column suggesting that the Democrats could win if JT was the senatorial candidate. Now the president has personally asked our James to sing at his second inauguration. This is big stuff and a high honor.
Consider how Americans feel about the guy. There are thousands of singers and performers who have broken all kinds of records, but there is only one James Taylor. The man is always self-deprecating, always thoughtful, and blazingly smart. One can only wonder whether the president is, in his own way, checking in to tell us how much he values Taylor.
I tell you, Taylor can win and Ed Markey is a much more dubious prospect. The party can go with the war horse and maybe lose or do far better with James. The only question is, "Why would James do it?"
Gun control: As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently put it, "Enough!"
If the members of the NRA knew what was good for them, they would allow for controls on assault rifles. As for me, this business of throwing the blame on the mentally ill is just offensive.
We have not supported programs for the mentally ill the way they ought to be supported. Now we have some very unscrupulous people suggesting that guns aren't the issue, that the mentally ill are responsible for these killings. I find this reprehensible and disgusting.
We have to limit access to guns. And to try to put this on those with mental illness is a new, all-time low.
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