Letters to the Editor - Jan. 30

January 29, 2011

Are your 'rights' more important than lives?

To the editor:

The capacity of the strongest of Americans to focus on the victims of the tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., while  soberly reflecting on the idea that their own words, sometimes heated and exaggerated in the heat of the moment, can indeed hurt, is something to be admired.

The capacity of other Americans to expand the general discussion that came up about how language can hurt to specifically rationalize their own past careless language in situations not in the context of Tucson's tragedy reflects a weaker selfish defensiveness, unfortunate in the sense that they were not the victims. Pundits who view the hurtful use of language more politically, as opposed to personally, irrelevantly rely on blame of other ideologies and give endless examples of how "they said it first" or "they said it also," avoiding useful self-examination altogether.

In Tucson, the important capacity was that the 9mm Glock carried 30-plus rounds. America needs to accept the responsibility for having let the ban on these large-capacity gun magazines expire without a fight. Bystanders in Tucson were not afraid to fight and overcame the shooter while he was trying to reload.

Can someone explain to me, please — what possible sporting use a 30-plus round magazine has in a handgun?

I accept that criminals or the insane might still get guns no matter what and that reinstating the ban on large-capacity magazines will not prevent all future tragedies, but if it prevents, or lessens the impact of, just one similar tragedy, it is a worthwhile thing to do. In Tucson, the innocent unaware victims would have stood a more sporting chance with smaller-capacity magazines.

What can you target with 30-plus handgun magazines that can't be targeted with lighter, smaller-capacity magazines?

If you are somehow happily using the 30-round magazine for some kind of sports use, how do you feel when you see a massacre like this? Would going back to a smaller-capacity magazine be a denial of your rights or merely a barely noticeable inconvenience?

Ken Hollar


A possible new use for the old hospital

To the editor:

I would hate to see the former Washington County Hospital building demolished.  I have a plan I would like to offer to those in charge, which I believe would make the site a valuable asset to the area.  

Let's take the top two or three floors and convert them to dorm rooms.  This could be accomplished fairly easily.  These dorm rooms could be used to house students for Hagerstown Community College, Kaplan and University System of Maryland-Hagerstown. This would allow these educational institutions to attract students from farther away.  

The nurse's stations could be converted into lounges and recreation areas.  A County Commuter shuttle bus could make scheduled runs between the facilities.  The cafeteria is already there to provide food for the students.  Possibly a room and board plan could be worked out with the colleges.  The cafeteria could also serve others as described below.

The bottom two or three floors (of the old section) could be converted to a variety of professional and retail to support the residents of the building and community.

The newer wing on the west side of the hospital could be used for a variety of purposes.  I would suggest that the old emergency room area be converted into an Urgent Care Center to continue and improve medical care in the area.

Each floor above the emergency room area could be converted to research labs. Lab assistants could be interns through agreements worked out with teaching hospitals.  These interns could also stay in the upper floors of the building.

Operational funding would come from the room/board agreements and rent from the office/retail spaces. Funding for the research labs could be done through grants and donations. Each could be set up as a nonprofit and solicit donations through direct mail.

The entire building could be owned by a nonprofit and solicit donations as well.

Parking is not a problem with the parking deck already being there.

This would take cooperation among quite a few organizations, government entities and individuals. The benefit to the area would be tremendous for a multi-purpose building like this.

Greg Yost


Would it kill us to leave lights up a little longer?

To the editor:

Driving home from Jubilee in Emmitsburg, Md., one night, I was happy to see some people were not ready to push Christmas aside. They had continued to keep their trees and decorations shining bright, and here it is January.

I always dreaded to go out after New Year. The lights just disappeared. The darkness of winter had returned.

Yes, we must conserve our electricity. I remember a time when we lived in North Carolina. Only the windows could be dressed in color — no lights outside the door. I can remember when Germans actually added color to Christmas other than with just their tree.

Some people just want to get rid of it all. Christmas packages and dinner over — let's get that tree down and lights off the house. Tomorrow is work. How sad.

What do those lights do for you, within you? They are light. Jesus was the light that came into a very dark world.

We need a little peace in these times. Why wouldn't you want that? Look at them, such beauty and peace. Look again at those lights — do they bring anger, anxiety or peace?

We can relax — just absorbing the lights of the stars and lights of Christmas.

Carole L. Bishop

Fairfield, Pa.

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