Reader favorites from 2015: a countdown

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2015/12/30/reader-favorites-from-2015-a-countdown/

BOSTON You clicked, we listened. Although 2015 was littered with tragic stories and wacky tales, NewBostonPost’s most-popular posts ranged from columns and editorials to political stories sniffed out away from the beaten path. Here’s our countdown of the year’s top 10 items:

     10. Column: A doctor’s view on assisted suicide

In his 35-year career at Harvard Medical School, Dr. John Peteet, an associate professor of psychiatry, has seen “hundreds of patients” who have desired death to end their suffering, many requesting physician-assisted suicide to retain a semblance of dignity and control over their final days.

But Peteet advocates another way forward, for doctors to offer hope in the form of “expanding their possibilities.” To be clear, he is against a legislative proposal pending before Massachusetts lawmakers to legalize physician-assisted suicide, fearing that “we will be sending a message to patients that their lives may no longer be worth living.”

     9. Editorial: Michelle Carter and the case against assisted suicide

Michelle Carter, an 18-year-old Massachusetts resident, in 2015 faced manslaughter charges for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself. The NewBostonPost editorial board compared Carter, whose trial will resume late next month, with those who would help terminally ill loved ones end their lives.  Even Carter understood that her texts to her late boyfriend, Conrad Roy, could be incriminating, the board noted.

“At the very least, she understood that encouraging and helping someone to commit suicide is immoral,” the editorial pointed out. “Let’s hope that the Massachusetts legislature understands that as well and does not alter the law to allow others to assist the vulnerable in ending their lives.”

     8. Publisher’s message: Value of life

NewBostonPost Publisher Tina McCormick introduced November’s theme, the “value of life” by addressing the debate surrounding the assisted-suicide proposal.

“What makes our discussion of the ‘right to die’ especially challenging is our cultural focus on individual rights at the expense of a supportive social fabric,” McCormick wrote. “This focus on individual preference has a worrisome effect on our entire political culture.”

     7. News: Benghazi truth-telling becomes focus for these survivors

NewBostonPost reporter Evan Lips sat down with three former soldiers who were present in Benghazi, Libya, on the night terrorists attacked our consulate and murdered U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Mitchell Zuckoff, the co-author of the New York Times bestseller “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi,” joined the discussion.  Zuckoff’s book served as the basis for the film “13 Hours,” which is set for a mid-January release. Lips related the stories of what took place during the September 2012 attack that left four Americans dead in the port city, including two of their colleagues, Winchester native Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

His lengthy account gives former U.S. Marine Mark “Oz” Geist, former U.S. Army Ranger Kris “Tanto” Paronto and fellow Marine veteran John “Tig” Tiegen a chance to talk about incident and their work to retell it in the book they helped Zuckoff write and in the film directed by Michael Bay. According to Geist, the movie “is not about the politics,” but instead, seeks to honor the four men who died by providing the truth about what took place.

     6. News: Luxury high rises spur new gentrification worries in Chinatown

How fast is Chinatown headed for gentrification?  Too fast, according to some community groups, like the Chinatown Resident Association.  The number of white residents in the historic neighborhood doubled between 2000 and 2010, following the construction of luxury high rises encircling its main retail district.

Some residents expressed concern about the the growing financial disparities between traditional Asian immigrant residents and wealthier non-Asians.  Others expressed concern that newcomers who only speak Chinese or another non-English language risk losing a safe haven of sorts, one considered vital and beloved to the Boston Chinese community.

     5. News: Boston’s library lit up by celebration of lights

The colorful photo gallery of a special four-day display of animated holiday lights that washed across the Boston Public Library’s Copley Square-facing outer wall just before Christmas displayed the talents of artist Anthony Bastic and Gloucester-based LuminARTZ. Hundreds of commuters paused to witness the kinetic, three-dimensional light show.

The performance ran for just four days, but those who missed it can take some solace in the fact that organizers are already planning for a return next year.

     4. Column: Charlie Baker should be more like Deval Patrick

Massachusetts Republican National Committeewoman Chanel Prunier waxed on about two governors with starkly different leadership styles. Although Prunier generally shares Gov. Charlie Baker’s political philosophy, she suggested that he could learn a lesson or two from former Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat and a pal of President Barack Obama. Prunier pointed to Patrick’s commitment to pushing a partisan agenda and his ability to bring voters around to his positions on issues with his charismatic personality, as well as his ability to manipulate local media.

“Charlie Baker ran as a Republican, and that needs to mean something more than competence, common sense, and saving taxpayers a few dollars around the edges,” she wrote. “To lead is to take a stand and encourage people to follow not just people who already agree with you, but also those who you had to convince.”

     3. Column: Gordon College prevailed, but will the country?

In a column about the controversy over Gordon College’s policy barring sexual relationships outside of traditional marriage, publisher McCormick reflected on religious liberty. After Gordon’s president signed a letter in 2014 asking President Obama to include a religious exemption in his Executive Order barring federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, Gordon found itself in the center of a media firestorm.  Opponents of the christian college’s faith-based code of conduct tried to strip Gordon of its accreditation and several institutions severed ties with the college.

“Whether you are a gay marriage advocate or an evangelical home-schooler, there is more to this issue than a clash of values,” McCormick wrote. “Much will be lost if those on either side assume that their personal values must be applied universally and by force. True pluralism must accommodate diversity of religious belief.”

     2. Column: Guns, Congress and the will of the people

Although he’s never held a pistol in his life, Washington-based columnist Robert Driscoll argued that Congress’ failure to pass stricter gun control legislation is a democratic response to the views of a majority of Americans and that tighter gun control is simply unrealistic. From banning all guns to “closing the gun show loophole” and prohibiting the “mentally ill” from owning guns, Driscoll shot down a variety of gun control proposals and exposed the flawed reasoning behind each.

“It is easy to grandstand and pretend that there is an obvious legislative response to mass shootings,” he wrote. “But over time, and in particular on issues subject to much public discussion, Congress generally does reflect the will of the people.”

     1. News: Boston activist says tax the rich, no apologies to dad

Northeastern University student Keely Mullen made national headlines in November, first when she led the “Million Student March” demanding free public college education, cancellation of student debt and a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers, and again in an embarrassing interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News when she said that “America’s 1 percent” should fund the students’ demands. The marches occurred in cities all over the U.S.

NBP reporter Evan Lips reported that although Mullen says she will likely owe $150,000 in education-related debt by the time she graduates, her various online profiles indicate she graduated from a pricey Chicago private school before leaving her family’s nearly $1 million North Side home to attend college in Boston.

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