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Rita MacNeil, in St. Catharines, Ont., during her Christmas 2004 tour across Canada. (CP)
Rita MacNeil, in St. Catharines, Ont., during her Christmas 2004 tour across Canada. (CP)

WHAT READERS THINK

April 18: Farewell to Rita MacNeil, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Home she’ll be

Rita MacNeil certainly had a way with words (Cape Breton Mourns Rita MacNeil: ‘She Had The Guts To Get Up And Do What She Did’ – online, April 17). Her lyrics came across as heartfelt, genuine messages of caring. It is a lucky thing for all of us that her shyness and the taunts she endured growing up did not silence her.

On top of the pure enjoyment her concerts provided, she also leaves behind a powerful message to those who experience difficult times growing up – you, too, will one day find a voice. Farewell to a lovely Maritimer.

Giselle Déziel, Cornwall, PEI

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While she was known mostly for folk music, Rita MacNeil could sing a much wider range of genres than many people realize. I recall seeing her sing Down in the Alley with Ronnie Hawkins. His words of introduction were “Now, a lot of people don’t know that Rita can sing the blues.” She belted it out like Etta James or Beth Hart, with flawless pitch, timbre, timing, harmony. Anyone who heard could not help but be awestruck and inspired by her talent and passion.

David Hughes Glass, Kincardine, Ont.

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Beauty in Boston

As a runner who was lucky enough to be a safe distance from the finish line by the time of the blasts, I want to speak to the incredible caring and resilience that the people of Boston demonstrated on marathon day (A Search For Answers In A Shaken City – April 17).

Navigating the city core was next to impossible with a near lockdown; it was surreal hearing facts emerge piecemeal and by word of mouth. I will never forget how the locals helped us get to where we needed to go, even inquiring if we needed a place to stay for the night. One man on a bus was especially vulnerable due to a fairly evident mental illness, but the driver had him sit close to the front where she could better care for him. Such selfless actions during a time of profound stress, when the mourning was just beginning, speak to the beautiful side of human nature.

Christopher Richards-Bentley, Toronto

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Hooligan times

Re We Live In Hooligan Times (Arts & Life, April 17): As a thoughtful John Doyle questions the consequences of a world interconnected as never before, we should remember that the evils of the world, not good things, emerged when Pandora’s box was opened.

Media gurus Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman would probably argue that the explosion of connectivity will promote harmony and acceptance of diversity. Yet, we can’t deny that we are still tribal in nature. Many use the power of “social” media to throw up new barriers, form new and expanded tribes and attack those they exclude.

Charles Morrow, Ottawa

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John Doyle’s column resonated with me, as did that heartbreaking picture of eight-year-old bomb victim Martin Richard holding his sign “No more hurting people. Peace.”

We do live in hooligan times, with hatred spread in the words of attack ads and in deeds of atrocity. We have to keep speaking out against it.

Ann-Maureen Owens, Kingston

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I honestly cannot understand the level of emotional reactions people have had toward the Boston bombings. Acts of terror occur on a daily basis in the Middle East. It isn’t wrong to show sorrow and remorse for the tragic death of a person, but an act of terror in Boston is no different than an act of terror in Iraq or Afghanistan or Iran.

Before taking to social media to express your prayers for Boston over three deaths, think about how many innocent men, women and children see acts like this every day. It’s time to stop being ignorant and open our eyes to the reality that is occurring in our world.

Joaquim Cresswell, Mississauga

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John Doyle’s column strikes just the right note, reflecting the weariness so many of us are beginning to feel. Could it be that our Bedford Falls is becoming Pottersville after all?

Chris Marston, Toronto

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Sanitized politics

I suppose I should express admiration for the letter writers who took exception to the Conservative Party’s bullying ads (Shocked, Appalled – April 17). However, the only place that politics might be as sanitized as these people would seem to prefer would surely be Heaven. Politics, as humans know it, is dirty with the earth from which it is born. Justin Trudeau would be further ahead if he started slinging his own mud.

Charlie Sager, Ottawa

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Dissing the dead

I find it amusing that, in your editorial Nil Nisi Bonum (April 17), you feel the need to call people to civility over the death of Margaret Thatcher. Why couldn’t you have followed your own advice when Hugo Chavez died?

Simone Ubertino, Quebec City

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Why on earth should we not speak ill of the dead? It may be bad form to turn up at a graveside, badmouth the deceased and do a celebratory jig. However, if, for example, you feel Margaret Thatcher heartlessly destroyed your life, then why on earth should you not dance in the street with your fellow sufferers, rejoice at the death of your enemy and drink to her damnation? It sounds healthy and cathartic; it’s honest and harmless.

If Christopher Hitchens thought Ronald Reagan was stupid, phony, loony and cruel, why shouldn’t he counterbalance the generally “reverential tone of U.S. media coverage” by saying so? Chances are, he gave voice to millions of others who held Mr. Reagan in contempt.

Surely we should always favour honesty (however coarse and nasty) over reverential falsity (however well-mannered and discreet). The less we deviate from truthfulness, the better for society.

George Patrick, Oakville, Ont.

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Sad, sour note

The Toronto District School Board strikes a sad note in its proposal to cut its music programs in elementary schools (TDSB Considers Muting Music Programs To Balance Budget – April 17).

It is shortsighted and insensitive, ignoring what researchers overwhelmingly endorse – that music boosts brain development in children. These cuts will directly impact only one segment of the student population. Parents in affluent homes will pay for music lessons. But what will happen to the low-income families the board is forgetting in its rush to balance the budget?

Gilda Berger, Toronto

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Kal-el keepsake

Re Meteorite From Mercury? (Social Studies, April 15): Mercury shmercury! That “strange green rock” found in Morocco is almost certainly kryptonite, from the birthplace of Superman. The Daily Planet would have gotten this story right.

Farley Helfant, Metropolis (Toronto)

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