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The Aegis Opinion

‘A final note on Mr. Bennett,’ reader says | READER COMMENTARY

Thank you for allowing liberal voices to be heard in your paper concerning Jacob Bennett, elected Democratic County Council member, and his travails with the majority Republican County Council.

The last letter to the editor I read on this issue was from Cecelia Stier Hanauer, “Author responds to ‘purposefully incoherent’ letter” (Dec. 23, 2022), in reply to a previous letter from letter writer Ellen Cutler, “Taking issue with response to ‘mean girl behavior’ letter” (Dec. 21, 2022), accusing Cutler of unprofessionalism for describing one of Hanauer’s letters, “I’ll take it from here Usha” (Dec. 16, 2022), as incoherent. Hanauer admits that the letter in question was, indeed, incoherent, but purposefully so. This amused me.

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Since obscurantism is no virtue and when employed purposefully, it can only confound and confuse readers genuinely trying to understand a writer’s intent and meaning, I would fall on Cutler’s side. If Cutler had not read Hanauer’s letter carefully, she would not even have noticed its opacity. Pushback and candor from critical readers are the lot of writers in the public space. Every reaction, offensive or appreciative, shows one is being read and sometimes what seems like an offensive criticism can be the basis for improvement.

That said, the output of letters on this topic should not be about the letter writers, their accomplishments, backgrounds, achievements or connections and must instead focus on the topic at hand — Bennett’s inability to serve his constituents as their lawfully elected representative.

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Here in Harford County, we have our very own Maricopa County, Arizona, replete with cunning election deniers ready to stoop to conquer political power. If Bennet is seated, he could be a thorn in the flesh of the ultra conservatives on the council, questioning their motives and their modus operandi. By eliminating him, the right wants to eliminate a potential dissenting voice.

Remember, this is the very same right that was wrong to remove Dr. David Bishai from his public health post, pretending its political position on the subject of Covid-19 was actually an acceptable public health position.

This, too, was the right standing with the parents of Harford County fighting mask mandates in schools, as though public health decisions are easy to make and are made lightly; as though they are not made with consideration and conscience for all children, the immunosuppressed included; as though medicine and science have not codified at least some of the ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases for which a population has no immunity; and as though the containment of such infections does not require sacrifice from one and all.

The right-wing politicians of Harford County, instead of combating misinformation on masks, joined the misinformed in their anti-mask foray. The seduction of misinformation and conspiracies is too much to resist for the right, and this includes fear and loathing for “mixed-gender children” mischaracterized as dangers to cisgender students.

In this melee, Bennett emerges victorious in his election and immediately he is met with hostility, because his ideas could potentially rock the dogmas of the complacent conservatives on the County Council.

All politics is local. This County Council brouhaha may seem minor to Democrats engaged in federal policies and politics, but it is worthy of note. I believe Maricopa County, Arizona, got a lot of attention from national Democrats because that state is purple and considered a swing state.

But to those Democrats who think what happens in “little old Harford County” is irrelevant in the larger scheme of things in blue Maryland, I say think again. What’s happening in this county is unjust, so pay attention and help Bennett with his court battle and his court costs.

Usha Nellore

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Bel Air

Using reader’s lacrosse and football analogies to support Jacob Bennett

Let me explain Jacob Bennett’s eligibility to serve on the County Council using the analogy of lacrosse and football as suggested by Mr. Kauzlarich in the Dec. 28 Aegis Open Forum, “Issue regarding Jacob Bennett’s eligibility to serve on County Council is ‘pretty straightforward’” (Dec. 28, 2022).

The lacrosse team (County Council interpreting the County Charter) believes that anyone serving on the football team (Harford County Public Schools teacher Jacob Bennett) cannot play lacrosse because football is a sport and is therefore in direct competition to lacrosse.

The football team (Maryland State Education Association attorney, HCPS attorney, Harford County Board of Education, Bennett’s attorney, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County charters) believe that football is a separate entity from lacrosse and therefore a football player can also play lacrosse without any conflict of interest. Bennett is exactly the type of citizen who is needed on the County Council AND as a Harford County teacher.

Hopefully, the court case will clarify the ambiguous language of the County Charter. The county attorney claims the Board of Education is part of the state government. Bennett’s attorney maintains that HCPS is a separate legal entity from either the state or the county. The court case will determine if Harford County football players are also allowed to play lacrosse as the similar county charters in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties allow their football players to do.

MaryLee A. Stritch

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Abingdon


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