Editorial: The sound of silence

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The announcement of our closure came as we were assembling this edition, but it wasn’t a complete surprise. As a free community newspaper with no subscriptions, revenues dried up quickly as advertisers shuttered their doors against the virus. We hope to be back. Now, more than ever, we urge Southington residents to use your voices, be objective, be critical, vet facts, and be slow to form opinions. To be successful, trusted town leaders need opposing voices. As daily newspapers and large media outlets focus on national and state issues, don’t lose sight of local issues, and speak up.

Over the weeks, and possibly months ahead, we urge our readers to look past the big stories and keep searching for the truth. Now more than ever, residents need to vet new information and speak up for those who can’t. The town is fortunate to have many leaders with strong character, but as they are forced to handle things alone, blind spots will develop. There can sometimes be unintended, long lasting implications from decisions made out of necessity. Watch for it, and speak up.

We’ve already seen authority narrow as government tries to stay ahead of this virus, and that’s a danger to a democracy. We’ve seen Congress and the General Assembly take a step to the sidelines out of necessity as this pandemic spreads, so that presidents, governors, and experts can make vital decisions. That can be dangerous. Propaganda develops when news comes from one source—even a well-meaning one. Truth requires multiple sources. Our forefathers knew this when they crafted the first amendment. Every opinion is necessary as a check and balance against tyranny.

The First Amendment has already suffered from this disease. Social distancing—so necessary—indirectly prohibits free religion as churches are forced to close their doors. Necessary measures to control the outbreak create subtle consequences that limit speech and the right to assemble. As public meetings close doors and rely on technology, invisible obstacles are created that limit the public’s constitutional right to redress grievances. It’s not done on purpose. It’s subtle and unintended.

Even locally, we need to guard against blind bias and lack of objectivity because it keeps us from seeing the full truth and making good decisions. It’s easy to get swept up in stories of hope and charity, but look past the headlines. It’s vital.

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It warms our hearts to see the local government’s efforts at distance learning with government workers forming caravans for their students. Sadly, it’s not enough. Even in schools and classrooms, under the loving and watchful eyes of committed teachers, students fall through cracks. It’s often the most powerless who are forgotten. School officials, so committed to their students, have to admit that children get left behind even in perfect situations. Local teachers must lose sleep at night, knowing that even with our town’s commitment to students, there is only one year over the last decades where the graduation rate was 100% (and a critical investigator can poke holes in that statistic, too). How will we do in these not-so-perfect conditions? Now more than ever, school officials need objective opinion to challenge them.

Our newsroom knows about at least one Southington student with special needs—out-sourced but overseen by the Southington Board of Education—still waiting for a first contact from the schools, fallen between the cracks with no emails from the town, no phone calls, or even a form letter from a town official. How many more are slipping through the cracks? If you see it, report it. We need you, our readers, to be our eyes, ears, and voice until we can return to serve you. Stay safe, stay healthy.

Editor’s note: The student listed above was finally contacted by the outsource school on Wednesday, April 1.