Letters to the Editor of Globe Magazine
This is my favorite Robin Abrahams piece I’ve ever read for two reasons. 1) A huge pet peeve for me is when people do exactly what this letter writer does and obsess over – “Well, I’ve never seen him do it that way before!” and “Isn’t that the wrong way to do it?” The right way to do almost anything is by the will of those involved, as long as it’s respectful and doesn’t harm anyone. 2) The answer is written in a way that really asks the author to elaborate on their reaction, in a way that could hopefully provoke learning. It’s brilliant.
kheebs27, posted on bostonglobe.com
Wow, that was wicked! (Well, at least that was my first thought; more politely, I guess I’d say, “I was really surprised by the tone of Miss Conduct’s response.”) The letter writer, who is probably born before email, is faced with what is apparently a new way (for her) to handle a “celebration of life”, which is also a new way to approach what used to be called a “burial” . Why not treat her with the kindness the 4-year-old is treated to in “Why?” arrange? Education is a powerful gift. “As an experiment, try to assume that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have for a week. I bet it will do good. I encourage Miss Conduct to re-read that last paragraph she wrote and apply it to herself.
Anne Somers, Brookline, New Hampshire
I tend to ask why a lot too, and this reader question has definitely helped me see my own attributional style and encourages me to be more compassionate.
screen name 12×99, posted on bostonglobe.com
My husband and my brother both passed away recently, and we had celebrations of life for both of them. With my husband the news spread via Facebook and I asked people to let me know if they knew they were coming but made it clear that everyone should feel welcome to show up at the last minute. I knew how many chairs to have, that I needed a microphone, and most importantly, how much food to get. I also knew what size venue I needed. It was very successful. With my brother, we had no invitations, no way of knowing how many people were waiting for us, and it was a lot less fluid, and actually a little stressful. The last thing you need in this emotional time is stress. Help the grieving family and do what they ask without criticism.
cellar door, posted on bostonglobe.com
This is a good example of why most should leave instructions when they die. Then all that needs to be said is, “It was his wish,” and that relieves the family members.
JAG49, posted on bostonglobe.com
End of traffic jam
I’ve tried and been frustrated for years with Brendan Emmett Quigley’s puzzles in the Sunday’s Globe. Usually I curse and give up, but I kept the September 18 puzzle (“Themeless Challenger”) active during the week and am thrilled to finally claim “success” – complete with 18 hints!
Mary Coney, Dorchester
called to serve
Thank you, Mark Pothier, for your candid account of jury service in Perspective (“I thought jury duty would be a drag. Then I served,” September 25). It captures well the frustrations, satisfaction and ultimate importance of this experience. It also matches mine on both occasions I served on the jury (the most recent being when I was a judge on the Court of Appeal). In 2011, I was part of a delegation of judges and court officials from Massachusetts who attended a conference in Xiangtan, China, about the US jury trial system. Listening to the questions and concerns of our Chinese counterparts, I realized for the first time how our jury system provides a remarkably and fundamentally democratic right. We entrust the ultimate decision in civil and criminal trials to ordinary citizens, who are drawn from random lists and expected to listen to evidence impartially and enforce the law. This faith in the wisdom of ordinary citizens is not surprising to us as Americans, but seemed incomprehensible to adherents of an autocratic, centrally controlled society. And yet, some in our country take it for granted. A comment like this helps rekindle an awareness of the value of what recently retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer calls “active citizenship.”
Massachusetts Court of Appeals Chief Justice Mark V. Green Brookline
Outstanding Article on Jury Service! Should be required reading for anyone called to be a juror.
William J. Lundregan, marble head
As a retired lawyer, I was captivated by this article. I hope potential jurors will read it and, if called, find the patience to apply these suggestions. Most important is the ability to remain “neutral” and to listen carefully to witnesses and the judge. From my own experience, I have found that people have a natural ability to sense when a witness is sincere. The experience can be life changing.
Barbara F Gordon, beverly
Juries are different from voters in elections. First, there is no wealth-controlled advertising. Second, there is a greater effort to avoid bias or prejudice. Third, a judge decides what, according to the law, can be offered to a jury, and what cannot, contrary to the lies exchanged by the candidates. Maybe the elections should go the same way.
Richard D. Gilman, Lexington
As a retired judge, I am always interested in hearing about the experiences of jurors. It is good to know that in the era of attacks on democracy, this extremely important democratic institution is alive and well.
Mary Ann Driscoll, Dorchester
In Massachusetts, if you are over 70, you can avoid jury service simply by asking. When I received a jury summons in early 2020, I was over 70 and retired. I thought long and hard about whether to avail myself of the automatic exemption. (I wasn’t so concerned about jury service per se, but about COVID-19.) During the registration process and even when I went to Lowell to report for service, every state employee whom I met told me the same thing: “You are over 70, you are not obliged to serve. I always said the same thing: “I want to serve. It seems perverse that someone who has accepted jury service, although they might get away with it, is supposed to want to jump. [Does] the state thinks anyone over 70 is senile and would somehow ruin a lawsuit? In other words, discrimination based on age?
Hall Lockhart, Newton
Unfortunately, as I found out when I was called as a juror, many people with disabilities are excluded from service even if they want to. Accommodations are only made for mobility-impaired, hearing-impaired, sight-impaired and service animals. If you have “invisible” disabilities that are regularly accommodated fairly easily at work or school, the only “accommodation” is to obtain a medical disqualification.
Elizabeth Sinclair, Milton
This article recalls the importance of being a juror. I particularly enjoyed Mark Pothier’s observation that the justice system has been plagued by political agendas and conspiracy theories and juries can make a difference one case at a time. As a law librarian for 38 years for the Massachusetts Trial Court, I have been discouraged in recent years by the fact that society no longer sees the importance of the courts as an essential third branch of government. For those of us who struggle to provide access to justice on a daily basis, it can be tempting to give up, but then there is the realization of the devastating consequences. We must continue to work to make our country better.
Louise Hoagland, Plymouth
I also don’t understand people’s bad attitudes towards jury duty. I have always been very enthusiastic about the idea of being part of a jury. However, the last time I was called, I was very surprised and then overwhelmed by the process. Pothier mentioned being “led one by one to be questioned by the judge and the lawyers.” What I learned is that as a potential juror, you sit on the stand and are questioned by the judge and the attorneys as if you were on trial. This is done in front of the defendant, if he wishes. This includes people charged with very violent crimes. I’m sure it was said in the briefing, but the full weight of it wasn’t clear until it happened. I think this is a key element of jury duty selection that cannot be repeated enough.
Jen Millet, worcester
I served on a jury in a drunk driving case many years ago and was gratefully discharged as a prospective juror in a murder case a few years later. In both circumstances, I certainly felt the importance of this service in our society. May I suggest that The Globe develops this subject in a journalistic way, in order to present the challenge of jury service as we all lead busy lives, and its importance in our society? If not, how should we decide the cases? See if the defendants are screaming while walking on hot coals? Allow a certain King Solomon to make these decisions? This democratic institution should be better presented and celebrated.
Robert Rosofsky, Milton
I laughed at Miss Conduct’s comment (“Pause and Effect”, September 25) on interacting with vendors in the booths, where she mentioned “the classic Boston maneuver of avoiding eye contact and pretending that the other person is not there”. I moved from Chicago to Boston over 30 years ago and I still remember the first day of my new job, a guy who interviewed me and helped me get hired walked right by me in the lobby without looking at me or saying hello. What’s going on? I thought.
Gayle H. Edson, Wakefield
I have a very talented artist sister who used to do craft fairs, and here are some additional tips: beyond not pretending the person isn’t there, also don’t shout out loud at your mate: “I could do that at home!” Maybe you could, but you probably couldn’t. Also, don’t complain (again often out loud to your mate, but also to You can buy it or not – it’s not a necessity like milk or diapers – but most artists charge pennies an hour for their work and undervalue their art just to get people to actually buy it. As a mystery writer, I’ve often sat in booths at craft fairs with other local writers. At almost all of them, a man (never the same, but always a man), comes to proclaim loud and clear that he does not read. nse is always: “I feel bad for you, you miss a lot of things! »
Maureen Milliken, Belgrade Lakes, Maine
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