scorecardresearch Skip to main content
COMMENTS | Magazine

Letters to the editor of the Globe Magazine

Live free or die in New Hampshire, a ‘50s book ban with parallels to today, and more.

Free Spirits

Annalisa Quinn’s article about the Porcupine Freedom Festival and Free Staters in New Hampshire was brilliantly descriptive and freakily alarming as she described the (mostly male) attendees (“Free for All,” August 13). As these men marched around with their rifles strapped on, clothing stripped off, often stoned out of their minds, expounding on the ideal society without governmental rules, I felt both amused at their antics and sad they’re living lives full of such fear, angst, and anger. But, of course, it’s their right to do so.

Peg Sullivan, Hartland, Vermont

Quinn badly garbled a quotation of mine to make it sound sexist. When asked why more men than women are libertarians, I surmised that men on average seem innately more attracted to “logically connected systems,” which may explain male prevalence in engineering fields as well. Women are less likely to endorse counterintuitive implications of first principles, I hypothesized. That doesn’t mean “men are more logical” than women, as the article incorrectly paraphrased. After all, Marxism is another “logically connected system” that attracts more male than female adherents, but I certainly wouldn’t say Marxists are “more logical.” Logic must be firmly grounded in commonsense intuitions and evidence.

Jason Sorens, Amherst, New Hampshire


Some of the best writing I’ve read in the Globe in a long time. Great job tackling this weird and somewhat scary movement.

Peg Toro, Dorchester

Annalisa: You are a brave soul. Free earthers/libertarians claim they want freedom, but what they actually want is minority rule. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be trying to insinuate themselves into government. They can do everything they want—live off the grid, walk around naked, pay no taxes, avoid vaccines—by just living off somewhere. And when they need anything, they should be restricted from using public roads, or hospitals, or anything else that taxes have made possible. They can be totally free. But that isn’t what they really want. They want the benefits of a functioning society without having to contribute to it in any way, or abide by its majority-agreed-upon rules. Even in their stripped-down nirvana, they can’t get along or agree on anything. Thanks for this intrepid reporting. I hope you received hazardous duty pay. And maybe a tetanus shot.


Rick Bevilacqua, Whitinsville

There is a small-L libertarian reflex in many Americans, both on the right and left, that often yields honorable and sensible results. [For example,] the repeal of alcohol Prohibition (1933), was a small-L libertarian effort.

hcunningham, posted on

It never fails to amaze me that people who proclaim “taxation is theft” arrive at events like PorcFest on public roads, use public sewers and water systems, and assume police and fire departments will aid them if needed. Most people figured out long ago that public health requires everyone to participate in vaccination programs and to have countrywide standards for drinking water, air quality, and food safety.

Lana Carlsson-Irwin, Wayland

Hallucinogenics and AR-15s—what could go wrong?!

pushcart2, posted on

Home Away From Home

[To the Miss Conduct letter writer:] It may be not only that you expect your family to make you feel guilty [about moving], but that you already have some feelings of guilt, some sense that you are abandoning them (“Separation Anxiety,” August 13). Be honest with yourself about the fact that you ARE making a choice that, you believe, will benefit you but, perhaps, [will be] somewhat to the detriment of your aging mother and your brother.... You value helping to care for your family. This decision makes it somewhat more complicated to do that. There is some loss that goes with that in a complex world. (TL/DR: It may be appropriate to have some feelings of guilt without believing you are doing the wrong thing, or are somehow a bad person.)


Posterize, posted on

[The letter writer] presumes they will miss the caregiving work she does, but they will also miss her. [To Anonymous:] Tell them your plan for staying close. Get your mother a tablet so you can Zoom. Teach her to text if she does not know how. Plan to spend your vacation time for the next few years visiting home. And when Mom needs more care, coordinate your trips home with your brother so he can take a much-needed break.

Antietem, posted on

People have wildly varying relationships with their families, from very close to formal to completely shut off. There are lots of people whose relationships with their families improve with time and space away from each other.

02149, posted on

Talk of the Town

So much of the classism and moral outrage in the ‘50s toward “Peyton Place” is alive and well today (“An ‘Indecent’ Revolution,” August 13). The author made me want to read “Peyton Place”!

Barbara B. Murphy, Dennis


I was exposed to the legend of Grace Metalious and “Peyton Place” at a young age, since an uncle had been raised in nearby Tilton, continued to summer on Lake Winnisquam after moving to Boston, and knew some of the players. A Lakes Region gadfly himself, he spoke kindly and sympathetically about Metalious even as he discussed her shortcomings. I watched the TV show while in grammar school—we all did. I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about the whole “Peyton Place” phenomenon and associated issues of the era, and I’d say the author of this article got it right.

Boston Water, posted on

I’ve long had a soft spot in my heart for Metalious and her book (I loved her writing). She suffered far too much for taking on the world as she saw it. And she did it with style, courage, and yes, grace; something all the self-righteous book banners will never understand.

Dehler, posted on

I was at a Girl Scout camp on Lake Winnipesaukee for several summers when the controversy about the book was unfolding. Its author hung out at the Laconia Tavern, as I recall, where camp staff joined her for drinks. My recollection is that the book focused on the village of Gilmanton Iron Works, not [the town of] Gilmanton.

Jane W. Van Zandt, Chester, New Hampshire

In all of history, book banners have never been the good guys. Ever.

eddiedow, posted on

Buried Treasure

Over the years I, too, was in a beach club group, but my forays for beach glass were mostly in the Caribbean—Cape Cod was good some of the time, but that was in years past (Connections, August 20). Now, it has become harder to find a piece big enough to take home. However, there is one place that might still be of interest: Spectacle Island out in Boston Harbor once was a dumping ground for the city of Boston’s refuse, and quite a few years ago you could often see that difficult-to-find ruby red or the cobalt blue that is prized by collectors. Today I concentrate on finding small, perfect seashells that are easier to spot.


Kaye Richardson, Milton

This is what I and my wife do every time we walk the beach. It is addictive, and you can’t really explain it to the non-addicts. Finding a good piece is like seeing a shooting star.

Pabloc, posted on

Beach glass can be polished to become the transparent beauty it should be. I have used a tumbler intended for stones to polish beach glass for years. I then glue little findings on to make jewelry!

David Liberty, Brighton

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those plastic pieces floating around the ocean would somehow be valuable rather than an ecological threat?

Peter Babachicos, Milton

CONTACT US: Write to or The Boston Globe Magazine/Comments, 1 Exchange Place, Suite 201, Boston, MA 02109-2132. Comments are subject to editing.