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LETTERS: September 22nd Issue

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Re.: Medford Blues

Regarding the letter to the Editor titled “MEDFORD BLUES” (September 8, 2016), the writer complains that The Rogue Valley Messenger’s list of things to do in Medford is so boring and writes, “You have to be 50 years old or older to enjoy most of these events…It’s sad Medford is that cheap!”

Well, I have a suggestion for this young man.  He should promptly go to his computer and look up the word ageism. Perhaps he will learn that his myopic thinking and stereotyping of Jackson County’s older citizens is not only wrong, it’s offensive. Peek at Wikipedia and read that ageism is the “tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention or unsuitable for enjoyment.”

Then I suggest he share his talents, skills, and thoughts with some oldsters in our community. My guess is that many of us will play a mean guitar, a clever game of poker, read a wider repertoire of literature, listen with compassion and empathy, hike unknown paths, and dance the Funky Broadway till the sun comes up. C’mon, Jason, wise up. My guess is that he will need to get some years under his belt first.

–Liese Behringer, Ashland, Oregon


Re.: Banned Books

It’s ridiculous to think that getting rid of books, (or the authors who write them), will somehow “fix” those things in our history that doesn’t please our sensibilities. Literature is part of the Humanities genre, as is the art we hang on the walls in galleries (some of it “quite shocking”). Being sensitive toward the needs and feelings of our fellow humans should be the norm, but trying to make things that we now know are unacceptable disappear, is folly. Sorry the store felt the pressure to remove the information we already know (but now can’t talk about). By the way, it has been shown, when books are “banned” they often become more popular (forbidden fruit).

– Ginger Gough


Book banning for me, goes back to my childhood when I listened to the radio and read a lot. I was a regular at the public library. When Hitler came into power, one of the first things I heard about him, was about book burnings. He burnt all books that might expose his plans to take over the world.

 People who want to ban books are people who have something to hide. If we hide it, how can we fix it? Some “prim and proper” people don’t want certain words mentioned in books, because it isn’t proper. Meanwhile those same people are manipulating the law and government, keeping the people uneducated. Education, and some books, are a threat to their existence.

I grew up near Pittsburgh, the melting pot of the world. We called each other by our original nationality: hey Pollock, hey Dego, hey Jew, hey Nigger, hey Kraut. It was a way of living. It wasn’t until Hitler’s defacing of the Jews that these words started taking on bad connotations. When I realized that all of these names (labels) carried ugly thoughts about them, I quit using them. Up until then, I never thought much about it. They weren’t meant to be detrimental. Just names.

Now, people want to start banning books again. How dare the OSF organization decide what their staff should read? Ban OSF. That sounds harsh, but what is the difference? You can’t fix a problem if you are unaware of it.

– Sam Younghans


Hey Messenger: What is the deal with Harambe? It seems like it’s become an inside joke for certain people on the internet. What does it mean?

-A. J.


Dear A. J.: For those readers who do not even know who Harambe was, he was the 400+ pound, 17 year-old male Gorilla who was fatally shot in May in his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo after a small child fell in with him. According to zookeepers and animal experts, Harambe would have likely killed the child and tranquilizers would not have activated in time. Before being put down, Harambe had dragged the child around for about 10 minutes.

You are right about what you are seeing online being something of an inside joke, but it also carries some real meaning. People magazine once stated, “Harambe continues to live on in the collective mind of the internet, entering into a rarefied state of venerated meme status.” The context in which one speaks of Harambe on an internet forum is a placeholder for or symbol of their general political alignment, as well as a stance on social justice issues. To mourn Harambe, is to declare yourself on the left side of the American political spectrum. To openly diss Harambe, is to declare yourself on the right side of the spectrum. It can also reveal how the person feels about guns and gun control. This is because Harambe has become a symbol of vulnerable populations and social justice. Heavily pro-gun individuals will be anti-Harambe, for example, even stating such awful things as, “I’m glad he’s dead.” Not much of this actually makes sense, granted. But then again, culture rarely does. To make things even more complicated, when one goes overboard with their support for Harambe through insincerity, such as use of the popular hashtag #dicksoutforharambe, they reveal their intention to mock social justice issues and liberals as a whole. Harambe also has an entire subreddit dedicated to him, which you can find at reddit.com/r/harambe. Months later, it is still a popular subreddit. Word of warning, if you are among the internet culture uninitiated, do not visit this message board, as it will only confuse and offend you. Just take my word for it.

P.S. While I personally choose to mourn Harambe, I tend to trust that zookeepers know what they are doing. Still, it is good to be aware of what this all means, lest you make the wrong public statement about the Harambe situation and find that your friends now think you are voting for Trump. Hopefully this didn’t already happen.


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