Vol. I No. 10 12/15/2020
Reader to Reader — We Got Mail
To the Editor:
Earlier this year, the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement "hit" Stockbridge. Signs showing support popped up in many locations — on private property as well as at businesses.
One resident of our town took it upon himself to really show his support by doing damage to various buildings, signs, police cars, town offices, and in Great Barrington did even more damage. DEFUND THE POLICE became the mantra.
To my knowledge, not a single sign in our town supporting that movement was damaged or stolen.
Some residents in our town, understanding that they also had First Amendment rights, put up some signs that said, "Support Our Police."
Two residents in town — one, a veteran who admirably served our country and town, and the other a retired businessman, put up the supportive signs. Those signs disappeared. Each was able to get a replacement. Now, they were careful to take the signs down at night to prevent them being stolen again. As a month or so went on, one property owner was home when a group of young people went walking by during the day. His wife noticed one of the students walking away with their sign. Her husband yelled out the window telling the student(s) to put the sign back, because it was private property. They laughed and kept walking away with the sign. The owner said, he would call the police and the entire group just laughed at him.
The police responded and proceeded to have the student(s) return the sign to that property. Not only did they return that sign, they also returned the sign that had been stolen previously. It had been thrown in the weeds.
Now another property owner with a "Support Our Police" sign at his property had it stolen.
Is the Stockbridge revision of our First Amendment now to read, "You have rights — as long as we agree with them"?
To the Editor:
The facts of Mr. Balfanz's letter are not complete.
It is true that a student from our school removed a sign from a lawn, and that a teacher was present. As soon as the teacher learned what had happened, however, she had the student return the sign and apologize to the homeowner, which the student did, contritely and sincerely. The class then spent the rest of the walk discussing personal property and effective ways to address differences of opinion.
We do not take a political position at our high school, and we encourage our students to act responsibly and as good members of the community. When teenagers mess up, as they sometimes will, we hold them responsible for their actions and help them make things right.
PhD, Executive Director, Berkshire Waldorf High School
There is no revised First Amendment, but we do apparently have some misguided people residing here who lack a basic understanding of the First Amendment and how a democracy functions.
Just as the town did not respond to the BLM vandalism episode by painting with a broad brush all who voiced their support for BLM as being lawless individuals, we should recognize that a group of students do not represent ALL students.
Lack of respect and broad, sweeping categorization of individuals has led to enormous polarization recently. It seems to be commonplace in the media to make generalized pronouncements about groups of people regarding their positions on various issues. Certainly, humans are a great deal more complex than this and every individual has a variety of positions on any of these topics.
Respect for everyone's right to their point of view is critical to our democracy. Without respect and rational discussion there can be no social contract through which we reach consensus for the greater good and perhaps just as important, no opportunity to gain an understanding of one another.
Roxanne McCaffrey is a member of the Stockbridge Select Board.