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Have you taught your kids the stare?

Date: 10/27/2008

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

I was driving down a busy street in Springfield recently when two young women probably about 18 years of age walked into the flow of traffic and on cue cocked their heads in unison at me giving me "The Stare."

You know what "The Stare" is, right? That's when a pedestrian who is in the wrong glares at on-coming motorists with a look that sends the following message: "I know I'm wrong, but I don't care. You will stop for me unless you want a huge messy lawsuit."

Now, I stopped and I hoped my action would be acknowledged at least with a little wave. Of course, it wasn't.

Do you think these kids learned about the stare from their parents? From teachers? Do people still teach their kids the idea of not walking into traffic in order to maintain their personal safety? Or is it a Darwinian society in which we now live with only the most belligerent kids with the best stares and least regard for physics moving cars have more force than walking humans manage to make it to adulthood?

It's moments such as that one that I wish Mary and I lived in some rural community at the end of a long dirt road, instead of the middle of a city.

Reality, though, rears its ugly head and the things that I like about living here quick commutes to our jobs, the ability to quickly substitute a can of soup for take-out, a variety of places to shop and things to do quickly outweighed my momentary bit of madness of wanting to teach someone a lesson in physics.


Speaking of the country, my family lived in Granby from 1967 to 1987 and it was the community in which I went to high school.

I received a notice the other day that there is going to be a multi-class reunion on Nov. 28 at the Castle of Knights in Chicopee. Members of the classes from 1970 through 1979 are invited. The cost is $35 for a single ticket and $65 for a couple. There will be a dinner buffet and dancing to Brass Attack. Checks should be made out to "Granby H.S. Big Class Reunion" and sent to Elizabeth Hatch Johnson, 52 Cold Hill, Granby, MA 01033.

I plan to go as I do find class reunions pretty interesting and frequently fun.


Is it my imagination or has this presidential election brought out new levels of hate, ignorance and fear? Here is one example.

Bob Grant, one of the pioneers of talk radio, recently berated Barack Obama for a speaking appearance in Ohio at which the candidate was seen standing in front of flags with a big "O" on them.

He told his listeners over WABC in New York on Oct. 15, "But really folks, did you notice Obama is not content with just having several American flags, plain old American flags with the 50 states represented by 50 stars? He has the 'O' flag. And that's what that 'O' is. That's what that 'O' is. Just like he did with the plane he was using. He had the flag painted over, and the 'O' for Obama. Now, these are symptom these things are symptomatic of a person who would like to be a potentate a dictator. And I really see this in this man."

Grant apparently didn't apologize when he was informed the "O" flag was actually that of the state of Ohio.

It's this kind of nasty rumor-mongering that has characterized so much of the media coverage of this election. Instead of discussing issues and platforms, let's talk about stuff that has no real bearing on anything because it's cheap and easy.

Well, perhaps issues don't make for good talk radio or for good pundit TV or for good newspaper columns and blogs. I beg to differ, though.

I just worry about democracy surviving in a world where journalists and columnists can't tell the difference between a real story and puffery.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.