Readers write: Second Amendment, whistleblowing, and more

Letters to the editor for the Dec. 30, 2019 & Jan 6, 2020 weekly magazine. Readers discuss whistleblowers, the Second Amendment, and more.

Staff

Collective nouns

Regarding Melissa Mohr’s columns on collective nouns in the Nov. 11 and Nov. 18 Monitor Weekly magazines: I’m a language fan too. 

Way back in 1974, the Pratt Tribune in Kansas ran an article about collective nouns from the World Almanac, which I clipped. I kept it in my dictionary. It included a brace of ducks, a cloud or horde of gnats, a clowder or clutter of cats, a clutch of chicks, a cry or mute of hounds, a draught or shoal of fish, a grist of bees, a leap of leopards, that old murder of crows, a skulk or leash of foxes, a tribe or trip of goats, and a volery of birds. Thank you for Ms. Mohr’s fun articles.

Elizabeth Stevens
Manhattan, Kansas

Motorcycle packs

I always enjoy reading Melissa Mohr’s entertaining “In a Word” column in the Monitor Weekly, and I was delighted with her Nov. 11 column on collective nouns

Here’s a collective noun that I coined one warm summer day. For 35 years, I’ve lived next to a stretch of road that is immensely popular with motorcycle enthusiasts. The road curves through the hills of western Massachusetts, along streams, in the shade of forests, by farm fields, hillside vistas, and small towns. Spring to fall, groups of as many as 30 to 40 motorcycles roar through all of that otherwise-peaceful scenery. 

After a really loud group flowed around the curve past my house one day, the word that came to me was “flatulence.” Ever since, when I’ve seen and heard a group of motorcycles, I’ve said, “There goes a flatulence of motorcycles!” I can’t think of a better descriptor ... and I wonder if anyone else has come up with a collective noun for motorcycles.

Thanks for all that you do!

Mary McClintock
Conway, Massachusetts

Whistleblowing

Regarding the editorial “In 2019, whistleblowers get their due” in the Nov. 21 Monitor Daily:

This article emphasized the need to protect – by law – whistleblowers driven by conscience to expose corruption and dishonest dealings in all levels of society, if they have substantial evidence and hard facts to back up their claims. But there are individuals whose only motive, through false accusations and malicious gossip, is to whistleblow for their own personal profit or gain. Let’s not forget that in the late 1940s and ’50s, McCarthyism ruined the careers and lives of many people through U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s egotistical “whistleblowing.”

Linda Ashton
Rochester, England

Career paths

The Dec. 9 Monitor Weekly cover story, “Top course on campuses: You,” reminded me of my own career and life journey.

Having excelled academically in high school and college, I blindly and obediently entered white-collar management. As classes in “happiness” were unheard of during my college years (I graduated in 1978), I never gave much thought to what my “passion” might be, or just what I wanted to do with my life. 

After 18 years of unfulfilling work, I quit my high-paying job and committed myself to working only at things that interested me and that were fun. It was fiscally challenging at times and required dogged determination. But thanks to a very supportive spouse, the subsequent 23 years were filled with fun and satisfying work.

From that time on, my goal was to never work a job that I would not do for free. That way, passion, happiness, and contentment became the motivating factors in my employment. I continue to follow that goal today, as I work part time in semiretirement, and have never regretted it.

Rick Soule
Surprise, Arizona

Second Amendment

The Nov. 4 Monitor Weekly included a “Readers Write” section that centered on letters about gun ownership and the Second Amendment. [Editor’s note: Two readers wondered why gun owners are not required to train in militias, because the full amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”]

As I recall from an internet search I did on a similar topic, there are several mentions of militias in the Constitution and amendments. But when the Constitution was written, militias were, in most cases, not the same as the entity we call the National Guard today. Instead, militias were formed by individual towns for the purpose of protecting local property.

At one point in the colonial era, nearly every free white man of a certain age who was not in the British military was enrolled in a militia. During that time, there likely were no police or sheriffs to call if property was trespassed upon or attacked, especially because many households were rural. I believe this is how the Second Amendment argument has evolved into the legal basis for self-defense and the right to gun ownership. 

If I am incorrect, I welcome an article on the correct legal path that the Supreme Court followed to establish today’s right to bear arms, but I’m pretty sure their logic did not ignore the first phrase as the other readers wondered.

Roger Lachele
Round Mountain, Texas

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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