Reader letters, Monday: ‘Non-masker’ at restaurant infringes on others’ freedoms – Opinion – Savannah Morning News

‘Non-masker’ at restaurant infringes on others’ freedoms

It was sad to read about the behavior of the “non-masker” at the Crystal Beer Parlor, as reported in the August 17 edition. I have been thinking and reading a lot about freedom and now understand what this person does not — wearing a mask actually protects freedom and reflects how we have created the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

Rejecting masks, endangering bystanders, and harming businesses actually puts our basic freedoms in jeopardy. Our founding fathers agreed with John Locke, when he said “Where there is no law, there is no freedom.” Some laws and regulations are absolutely necessary if we expect to enjoy any freedoms at all.

Public health policies and in this case also the right of a small business to set certain standards, are intended to help stop the rampant spread of the virus, which, if unchecked, will drastically curtail our most-basic freedoms — the freedom to live and breathe, to conduct business safely, to exist in a viable, functioning society.

I doubt the non-masker complains about laws that allow him to drive safely, such as driving on the right, having functional brakes, stopping at red lights. Those laws actually make it possible for him to drive freely on our roads, and go wherever he likes. The mask mandate does the same thing. He does not recognize that some laws simply are necessary to protect our most basic freedoms.

As a neighbor of the Beer Parlor, I’d like to also say that they are good neighbors and we see them as family, as they do among themselves. The non-masker may have harmed the staff and viability of a treasured local business. I do not think he has the freedom to do that.

Erika Archibald, Savannah

Remove Confederate leader from Statuary Hall

It’s time for a full discussion of how we select individuals or causes to be memorialized in public spaces.

Americans should expect true heroes to be represented in statuary and memorials, and where decisions are made to keep memorials that are offensive to some, an explanation or context is needed. The explanation would include who made the decision and how – what criteria was used for the individual chosen for the high honor.

An excellent example is the family members of A.H. Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, who have honorably asked that his statue be removed from the Statuary Hall collection in the United States Capitol where it has been since Georgia sent it there in 1927. This “memorial.” like many others from the Civil War, was created years after the end of the war.

Why wait so long to memorialize this grey-clad “hero”? Was his post-war change of heart so dramatic? Or perhaps the name “Jim Crow” helps us understand.

I agree that the vice president of the Confederacy, a slaveowner and a leader of a treasonous insurrection that resulted in over 600,000 American dead, should not be Georgia’s representative to such a hallowed national display. Move his statue to his final resting place in a Georgia cemetery and replace it in Statuary Hall with John Lewis – a true American hero that all Georgians can revere.

Ken Prichard, Tybee Island

Look to past pandemics for cautionary tales

Although we have all heard about the 1918 flu pandemic recently, something that has not been discussed is the pandemic of encephalitis lethargica (sleeping sickness) that began in the same period.

From 1916 to 1926, it infected over a million people, killing an estimated 500,000 worldwide. This pales in comparison to Spanish flu, which likely killed upwards of 50 million. However, there is an important distinction between the two illnesses: the majority of sleeping sickness survivors later developed postencephalitic syndrome, which struck years or even decades after initial recovery.

As dramatized in the Robin Williams movie “Awakenings,” those with serious cases of post-encephalitis existed in a trance. They were aware of their surroundings, yet remained helplessly frozen much of the time until their deaths. Even milder cases caused psychiatric disorders.

This example should remind us that we do not know the long-term effects of COVID-19. Even the short-term is mysterious. Who knew it could cause seizures before the tragic case of the 7-year-old boy last week? Recovery from COVID-19, even the asymptomatic form experienced by most children, could potentially be only the beginning. Therefore, we must entirely prevent as many coronavirus cases as possible by sticking to alternatives to holding school in-person.

If years from now our children, sent back to school because they were usually asymptomatic, develop a henceforth undiscovered post-coronavirus syndrome, we can honestly tell them, “We didn’t know any better.” But I believe there will be no satisfactory answer other than, “We did everything we could to prevent infection.”

Jessie L. Morris, Savannah

President’s environmental policies cause harm

In the midst of a global health crisis, business recession, and national protests over police violence against African Americans, the Trump administration continues to prioritize reducing environmental protections without sufficient environmental review.

Among his changes are rollbacks that would allow fracking near Chaco Canyon National Historic Park as well as uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, etc. Under President Trump’s order, polluters can bypass key provisions of environmental laws such as the Environmental Policy Act , the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act.

These devastating policies can only enhance putting clean breathable air, drinking water, wildlife, public lands for ceremonies, recreation, and historic reenactments at risk. The President claims that reducing environmental protections will hasten economic recovery in response to COVID-19 and the recession. This, however, also appears to be a means of creating profits for the wealthy in the oil, gas, and nuclear industries without sufficient congressional input and public debate.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, minority communities currently suffering the most from the current universal medical emergency such as “communities of color”, will continue to be the most negatively impacted by the president’s unaccountable order.

Fred Nadelman, Savannah

Crucial time for ambitious, comprehensive reforms

Indisputably, 2020 has been a traumatic year globally, with problematic significance here in the U.S.

As many observers have noted, the events of this year have generated widely-shared enlightenment about a number of long-existing, interconnected problems that a majority of Americans are no longer willing to tolerate.

These include:

* Health care – The U.S. is the only advanced nation without universal healthcare, as medical costs soar.

* Racial injustice – Non-white groups continue suffering unconscionable economic, health, and social deprivations.

* Income disparities – Wealth gets increasingly concentrated, while the majority suffers fading prospects.

* Law enforcement – Anxiety grows over police using excessive force and causing ruthless fatalities.

* Environmental crisis – Scientists warn of the long-neglected, dire impacts of an overheating climate.

Considering the urgency, scale, and importance of these interrelated issues, to overcome their increasingly threatening consequences, fundamental changes are required across an array of public policies. This is no time for small, isolated steps – a broad, well-coordinated, approach is vital.

Indeed, reforms must be ambitious and comprehensive, incorporating essential core principles:

* Equitability – Unbiased, even-handed allocation of, and universal access to, proposed improvements.

* Sustainability – Current activities must not threaten the quality of life for future generations.

* Systemic connectivity– Interconnections among economic activities, social justice, law enforcement, and environmental quality must be pragmatically addressed.

* Adaptive and collaborative – To avoid being stymied by ineffective policies, performance must be rigorously evaluated, revised as needed, and strengthened through resourceful alliances among diverse groups and nations.

Working together, we must surmount these challenges by developing transformative policies that consistently honor core principles.

David Kyler, St. Simons Island

Source Article