The Year 2017: ‘Out, Out Brief Candle!’

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“And all our yesterdays have lighted fools”
—  William Shakespeare, Macbeth (Act V, Scene V)

The struts and frets of 2017 confirm we are on a portentous path to a dusty death.

Is there a doctor still in the house?

The Massachusetts Medical Society rescinded its opposition to physician-assisted suicide. Perhaps that phrase was too forthright in these sensitive times. So, a statement from the society reads “medical aid-in-dying.” The society’s governing board will, for now, adopt of position of “neutral engagement.” Theirs might be a dutiful death.

Newly-offensive public statues and monuments were the rage. In Boston a street sign, “Yawkey Way,” so-named forty years ago, became an object of moral grandstanding. Red Sox owner John Henry is now “haunted” by the racist legacy of his predecessor bearing that name. Never mind that the Yawkey Foundation is one of the largest charitable organizations in the city. Henry and fellow progressives are more concerned about erasing history than improving it.

The Boston Globe — which Henry owns — haunted many subscribers with delivery and production problems. The Globe got it wrong in asking its readers this question: “Does Boston deserve its racist reputation?” More probing would have been: “How does racism still exist after a century of pure-bred progressivism in Boston?”

Bad news. The Boston Herald filed for bankruptcy and was sold for pennies on the dollar.

Boston Public Schools needed a bigger piggy bank, surprisingly, as it paid certain employees with off-the-books payments, revealed an IRS audit. But they won’t be pressing the snooze button. BPS announced (based upon computer research) the rescheduling of most of its starting times next school year.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term. No mention during the campaign that Walsh overwhelmingly crushed free speech and freedom of the press during the Free Speech rally in August.

Andrea Campbell, 35, will be the first African-American woman to lead the Boston City Council. Her presidency, says the Globe, will make the council the “most diverse in the city’s history.” Forget political diversity, though. Republicans need not apply — there are none on the council.

For all the region’s proud progressives, don’t kiss and tell. The following codswallop appeared in  “10 Things Every Intersectional Feminist Should Ask on a First Date.” Warning: “What do you do for fun?” isn’t one of them.

Amazon came calling and Massachusetts went groveling. Twenty-six Commonwealth entities submitted bids to become the company’s second headquarters.

Take the long road home. State Senator Thomas McGee, a Democrat from Lynn, proposed legislation that would bring more toll roads to greater Boston. Funds would be allocated to all statewide transportation needs, including the troubled MBTA. For roadways, however, Massachusetts already spends an average of $675,939 per state-controlled mile — a figure exceeded only by Florida and New Jersey.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey continued her quest as progressivism’s most litigious social justice warrior. Her personal vendetta against the Trump Administration included 24 instances of legal intervention in just the first six months of the year. How about Ticketmaster? Drug dealers?

A high school girl golfer beat a high school boy golfer by shooting the best score in the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys’ golf tournament this fall. But she did not get the trophy, sparking national headlines and progressive incredulity.

In more gender-related news, the Girl Scouts of America advised against children hugging relatives. Such activity, reported The Washington Post, “could muddy the waters when it comes to the notion of consent later in life.” Meantime, the Boy Scouts of America accepted girls into their ranks to “shape the next generation of leaders.” And the singer Pink is raising her daughter gender-neutral. No wonder kids are confused today.

Poor Johnny and Jane.

Liz Phipps Soeiro, a librarian at Cambridgeport School, refused to accept a gift of Dr. Seuss books from First Lady Melania Trump — a gesture recognizing “National Read a Book Day.” The Seuss illustrations are “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes,” she wrote in a letter to Trump. Shortly thereafter, it was discovered Soeiro posed for a picture in 2015 wearing a Seuss outfit and holding a Green Eggs and Ham book. Only in Cambridge. Well, maybe not …

In a letter to parents, the Boyden Elementary School in Walpole bizarrely claimed that its annual Halloween costume parade “is not inclusive of all the students and it is our goal each and every day to ensure all student’s individual differences are respected.” Instead, trading a parade for political correctness, the school laughably said that Halloween would be known as “black and orange” spirit day. Call it Banned in Boyden.

Not on my ocean view! Having faced a “very vicious and very well-funded lobbying organization” to protect Nantucket Sound for 17 years, said Bloomberg, the last gale warnings were issued for America’s largest off-shore wind project, known as “Cape Wind.” It’s officially kaput. Some wonder if Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth will now close, as scheduled, in 2019. Power down, green protesters!

Scandals ran down Beacon Hill. Former Democrat state Senator Brian Joyce was issued a sweeping federal indictment. And Democrat Stan Rosenberg stepped down as Senate President amid an investigation of sexual assault allegations against his civil-law husband, Bryon Hefner — while he conducted state business. Rosenberg said the Senate has a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment.

Charlie Baker is running for Comedian-in-Chief of the Commonwealth. When the popular incumbent announced his re-election, a running joke circulated within the GOP:  “For which party?” Confirming his unassailable allegiance to progressivism instead of conservativism, the governor signed bills mandating free birth control and bi-lingual education.

Always in character, thin-skinned progressive U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren got her feathers ruffled with faux-outrage, once again. She said President Donald Trump used a “racial slur” during a White House celebration of Native Americans when he referred to her as “Pocahontas.” Funny, did she consider the 1995 eponymous movie to be a slur, too? Millions didn’t. The Disney animation grossed over $141 million during its theatrical release in the United States.

Among the initially-named visiting fellows at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics for the 2017-2018 school year were two improbable scholars:  former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer, and former U.S. Army intelligence-analyst-turned-traitor Chelsea Manning. Harvard students are falling behind … Fordham students. Two students were kicked out of a coffee shop at Fordham University for violating a “safe space” with their “Make America Great Again” hats.

Shootings were up 18 percent in Boston. There was no evidence, nonetheless, that those weapons were modified with “bump stocks.” But bump stocks were outlawed in Massachusetts as a threat to society.

Fifty years after The Summer of Love, take the flowers out of your hair but be sure to put some LSD in your head. People looking to get an “extra edge at work are turning to [the] illegal drug to boost their focus and creativity,” reported They are micro-dosing, which involves taking small amounts of the substance about twice a week. Says computational neuroscientist Selen Atasoy, “It’s really like jazz improvisation, what LSD does to your brain.” Will it block progressive impulses in 5/4 time?

Psychedelic meet-up groups are trending in Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and New York. Cutting-edge hipster millennials in Boston are likely meeting now.

Meanwhile, the opioid crisis rages on. However, for the first nine months of 2017, Massachusetts reported a 10 percent decline in deaths over the same period in 2016, likely a result of more immediate administration of Naloxone, which reverses the effects of overdose. Theirs is a dusky death.

Needham-based TripAdvisor, the travel and restaurant website (which includes reviews and public forums), got into trouble when it repeatedly removed posts warning of alleged rape, assault, and other injuries at Mexican resorts. And, reported, a writer in London tricked TripAdvisor by creating a “fictional eatery” that became the city’s top rated restaurant. Trust but verify.

Snowflakes actually coated the College of Holy Cross in May. A committee was formed to determine what to do about the fact that its founding president owned slaves, and what to do with a now-objectionable sports name: “Crusaders.” As National Review noted, “where there’s a will, there’s a microaggression.

Not to be outdone, Pope Francis, a leader in thoughts and words, is considering a change in one word of “The Lord’s Prayer.” The pontiff, conversant in nine languages, is concerned about the word “temptation.” He believes that the phrasing in the Our Father prayer “is not a good translation.” Will this translate to stemming high rates of disaffiliation plaguing the Catholic Church?

Next year, should it be tempted to arrive, marks the 45th commemoration of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion. Since then, it is estimated that over 58 million abortions have taken place in America. As a stark reminder, the only gravestone on the premises of the chapel at Holy Trinity Church in Harwich reads: “In memory of The Unborn – Denied the Precious Right to Life (1973-   ).” Theirs was a despicable death.


James P. Freeman is a New England-based writer and former columnist with The Cape Cod Times. His work has also appeared in The Providence Journal, and