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Letter: What responsibility to stop a fight?

Brother of Khassen Morris, Khaleem, in tie dye

Brother of Khassen Morris, Khaleem, in tie dye shirt on right, stands with friends and family as they mourn Oceanside teenager Khaseen Morris, 16, during a vigil in front of the strip mall where he was killed on Brower Ave. in Oceanside on Sept. 18, 2019. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

On Oct. 1, you published two reader letters on the issue of how the Sept. 16 stabbing death of Khaseen Morris, 16, might have been prevented by teens who knew a fight was possible at a local strip mall [“A teen’s killing and those who saw it”].

I was particularly disturbed by one writer who seems to want to absolve all of the teens who did nothing to preempt this tragedy. He writes that “heaping guilt on fragile teens who had the misfortune to witness a brutal killing is unconscionable.” The writer states that those who criticize the students who knew a fight was looming are “ignorant.” He states that there is “pressure to keep quiet for fear of being labeled tattletales.”

At what point, then, is it responsible for students or anyone to act in the appropriate manner? If these same students knew someone had a bomb or a gun and was entering a school or theater, should they keep quiet? Should they fear being labeled tattletales? There is a time to do the right thing; in this case, it was a simple call to tell a teacher.

I am getting a bit tired of this “don’t blame me” generation and the parents or adults who make excuses for bad behavior and judgment.

George A. Szarmach,

Dix Hills


Don’t abandon Regents history test

The potential that changes in New York State Regents exams will diminish the study of history should concern every parent [“Revamp alarms teachers,” News, Sept. 30]. Without an understanding of our past, students are ill-equipped to understand the forces that shape their world. Nor can we create a bulwark against racism and anti-Semitism.

A recent proposal by Assemb. Charles Lavine and Sen. Todd Kaminsky to require New York’s middle and high school students to learn about the murderous underpinnings of the swastika and the noose reveals the need to actually mandate such course study at a time when the most seminal conflict in the last century, World War II, does not get enough time in class during the school year [“Lessons in hate symbols,” News, Aug. 14]. That conflict’s legacy ranges from today’s geopolitical borders to the technology that dominates our society, yet a growing number of students can’t identify the belligerents.

The Regents exam has a role to play in ensuring history is taught.

Michael Sapraicone,


Editor’s note: The writer is a board member of the Museum of American Armor in Bethpage, a past president of the Seaford Board of Education, and a member of a Regents task force on World War II curriculum.

Has the educational establishment gone mad? The suggestion that the state’s Regents exam in history/social studies for high school students be eliminated is astonishing, even frightening.

In the future, the students of today will have to evaluate what works and improve it, and identify what does not work and change it. This is the cost and honor of being an American. Without a full grounding in how and why America came to be, what we stand for, how we protect the rights our predecessors passed on, and an understanding of how and why our country and many others made progress or erred, democracy is in grave peril.

Some students need advanced science because our nation and world need that expertise; some students need advanced English because higher levels of understanding come from higher levels of reading and because reading feeds the soul. But all students need to understand our constitutional system, as well as other forms of government that succeeded or failed. God help us if the future voters of America are deprived of this history.

Jean Van Riper,

Oyster Bay

Editor’s note: The writer, now retired, began her career as a teacher and later became a lawyer.

The fishing industry needs healthy seas

The hopeful story “Wind farm developers reach pact” [News, Oct. 1] — about the developers of the South Fork Wind Farm reaching a deal to build a facility near a Montauk seafood dock owned by current and former fishers — contained a disturbing detail. It quoted a commercial fisherman who called wind farms “wind-scams.”

But perhaps the fisherman is the one getting scammed into denying the obvious.

The obvious fact is that climate change is harming the ocean ecosystems from which all commercial fishers derive their livelihoods. Is the objector not aware of the recent UN report on perilous changes to the world’s oceans — warming, acidification, reduced oxygen — resulting in many fewer fish [“UN report: Oceans in big trouble,” News, Sept. 26]?

New York needs offshore wind to generate the massive amounts of electricity required to replace fossil fuels, a primary cause of climate change. We need offshore wind to power our homes, offices and electric vehicles — and with some creative state incentives, perhaps even the battery-powered fishing boats.

It’s time for the fishing industry to heed the scientists’ warnings. When will it stop opposing a technology that offers them a lifeline to the future?

Dale Speer,

East Setauket

Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Stony Brook University chapter of the Sierra Club environmental organization.