Letter Box

Wednesday December 26, 2012

Use of ‘homeless’ in headline questioned

Editor of the Reformer:

The recent headline "Homeless man charged in Brattleboro robbery" printed in the Dec. 15 issue of the Brattleboro Reformer, reinforces a negative stereotype around "the homeless" and perpetuates an outdated identity for homeless individuals in general. By drawing a connection between homelessness and criminal behavior, the headline was insensitive to members of our community with unstable housing. It is unlikely that the Reformer would have printed a headline that read, "Man on public assistance charged in robbery" or "Unemployed man charged in robbery."

The reality of homelessness today includes families and children, who have been living on the brink, paycheck to paycheck, to the extent that an unexpected car repair or illness may have tipped the balance and caused the loss of their apartment or the foreclosure on their home.

If homelessness were going to be a theme in the story, it would be helpful to provide more context of what we, as a community and/or country, are facing in regards to our capacity to alleviate it. Systemically, greater Brattleboro is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, where the demand far exceeds the means to ensure safe, secure, and reasonably priced homes for all. As a community, we rely on a system that is overburdened and being pushed beyond capacity to meet the needs of all of the many facets that can lead to homelessness.

If we are going to solve the issue of homelessness, we need to move beyond stereotypes and broaden the conversation.

Joshua Davis,

executive director,

Morningside Shelter,

Lucie Fortier,

executive director,

Brattleboro Area Drop In Center,

Dec. 19

Editor’s note: We use the term homeless in a headline to delineate a point of origin for the person being written about, just as we would by saying "a Brattleboro man" or "a Putney woman" (a common practice in the newspaper).

Economics lesson
wrapped up in a cone

Editor of the Reformer:

With so much written about our country’s financial problems, let me present what I call Economics 101 for you and your readers’ evaluation.

Suppose all the money owned by all citizens of our country including in Swiss banks and off shore islands was placed in a giant ice cream cone with chocolate shot on top. Draw a line across the cone where you and readers think it belongs to separate the money in active circulation and that that is sitting above the line. Below the line is the rent and cost of fuel for homes and cars and all other money that is a cost of living and vacations and donations. Below that line are the people who, for no cause of their own, have to have help to survive and that includes those who require food stamps and other charitable help and, yes, even a few free loaders.

Now suppose we have a financial downturn, what has happened? Nobody has burned up or otherwise destroyed some of the money. Question: What has happened to the money? Answer: The money has been redistributed. The line placed between the used and saved money has become lowered.

Now let’s make another giant ice cream cone and in this one place all our citizens in the cone in layers according to wealth. All those who use the available funds below the line. Wondering where in this cone a friend might belong I asked what he did in his spare time. He shocked me with his answer. "Spare time? What I have of it I manage my portfolio." He is above the line. I wonder where in the cone the person with an average income is? This I believe all will admit that if the lines on each cone become much lower all hell will result. It happened in France with their revolution.

Perhaps you and I should offer a hint to those not only represented by the chocolate shot on the cones but the ice cream, too. We can start a new business manufacturing guillotines. Small ones for jewelry and large ones human size for municipalities to erect on street corners for the super wealthy to see regularly and react to before violence results. It is imperative we react before it becomes too late.

George Whitney,

Brattleboro, Dec. 16

One more vote for ‘Rhymes with Orange’

Editor of the Reformer:

Like the Leary/Gottschalk clan, we are big fans of Rhymes with Orange. It is hilary-ous! At present, we must read it online since the Reformer doesn’t carry it.

Please bring Rhymes with Orange to the Reformer in 2013.

Alice Charkes, Greg and Olivia Howe

Brattleboro, Dec. 20

A honest thanks

Editor of the Reformer:

I want to send a very appreciative thank you to the person that found my wedding band in the car park at the Co-op on Tuesday, Dec. 18, and handed it in to the customer service desk. I went from heartbroken to elated when I got the call from the Co-op telling me that they had my ring.

Again, Brattleboro shows why it is a great place to live and I suspect that in most other places my wedding ring would be long gone. Thank you again.

Peter Solley,

Newfane, Dec. 22

A warning

Editor of the Reformer:

We received an e-mail that looked very official. It alerted us that a direct deposit had not been accepted. We were advised to contact the financial institution and there were details.

Well, guess what? It was spam. Fortunately, we did not open it but did check with the bank. No problem. But this is just another attempt to commit fraud.

Please alert others.

Jeanne A Jeffries,

Walpole, N.H., Dec. 23

Nice to be appreciated

Editor of the Reformer:

Thank you for your recent article regarding the 50th Birthday of Santa and for recognizing the "I grew up in Brattleboro" Facebook page. I am the person that started the page and I am glad to know that it is meaningful to so many and that you are watching. Social media at it’s best!

Thank you again.

Mary Ellen (Anderson) Haas,

Arnold, Maryland, Dec. 24


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

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