By G. Michael Dobbs
The devil is always in the details, isn't it?
Although the officials from Hard Rock Resorts International trotted rock dinosaur turned pathetic reality star Bret Michaels as a distraction at their announcement of a deal with the management of the Eastern States Exposition to build a casino there, one couldn't help notice there was a lack of details about the biggest issue: traffic.
My wife and I shop a lot in West Springfield, especially at the two supermarkets on Memorial Avenue. I can tell you that on a busy Saturday the traffic can be daunting.
During the fair season we try to make sure we avoid Memorial Avenue on days we believe will be busy. I'm sure you do as well.
The idea that a resort casino could be added to that mix is one that is difficult to accept.
With cars streaming from the south, what would the Longmeadow curve of I-91 look like? Could the South End Bridge handle the additional traffic? And what about the rotary at the end of Memorial Bridge?
The fact that the Hard Rock guys aren't talking about the details of their traffic mitigation plan – they are still working things out – doesn't inspire much confidence.
If Hard Rock assumes the residents of West Springfield are going to blindly accept their proposal I think they will be in for a rude awakening. There are many people who live in the vicinity of the Big E grounds and they may not want a casino there.
What will happen to the value of their real estate? I can't imagine it will be worth more.
The actors in this drama are now all known and the story will begin in earnest.
The other night I was watching one of the network newscasts and a story about gun control came on with a 20-second sound bite from someone who opposes gun control who said, "The only way to stop a bad man with a gun is to have a good man with a gun."
I'm seldom comfortable with these little quotes that some television reporters and editors like to use, as I'm concerned about context. But for the sake of argument, this quote accurately conveyed a point of view that an armed America would be a safer America.
Is that how you feel?
I've been going to Virginia lately on family business and was unnerved a bit when I was in a grocery store and saw a dad packing his handgun along with his young kids. Did he feel safer by having his gun on his belt? It would have been relatively easy to come up from behind with a baseball bat, clobber him, disarm him and then shoot him with his own gun.
Having a gun doesn't necessarily insure your personal safety. It might actually attract unwanted attention.
If the violence we've seen in the last few years in American society can be fixed, is the solution more guns? Do we arm ourselves even more as a reaction to the acts committed by the criminally inclined or mentally or emotionally compromised?
Or do we have to look at what is happening in America and attempt to deal with how violence is portrayed in popular culture? Do we make a renewed effort to make it difficult for those who shouldn't have a gun not to have one, so acting upon their grotesque fantasies is more difficult?
It is indeed time once again to have a sober and responsible discussion. I believe the overwhelming number of gun owners are responsible and sensible people. Let the extremists say what they want – it is a free country – but let those who truly want to craft a solution find the middle ground.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.