Every week, The Post runs a collection of letters of readers’ grievances — pointing out grammatical mistakes, missing coverage and inconsistencies. These letters tell us what we did wrong and, occasionally, offer praise. Here, we present this week’s Free for All letters.

Get. With. It.

Regarding the June 28 Sports article “NWSL thriller kicks off U.S. team sports’ return”:

One would think that “the first U.S. professional team sport to return amid the novel coronavirus pandemic” would be big, front-page news for the slim sports section. But no. The worried parents of college football players get above-the-fold placement, and then three background history stories fill out the front page. How. Many. Times. Do. Readers. Need. To. Tell. You. To. Give. Women. Fair. Coverage? Ugh. Get with it, already.

Kate Holden, Alexandria

It is really disappointing to see the extremely sparse coverage of Washington’s professional women’s soccer team, the Washington Spirit. The NWSL is the first team sports league to return to play. The level of play is the best in the world. And The Post is doing everything it can to bury meager coverage. Decisions such as these are what makes it hard for women’s sports leagues to survive. Coverage matters, and The Post knows it. Even when there is no other competition available to cover, The Post won’t cover women’s sports.

Nathan Blain, Bethesda

I’ll admit, I don’t usually read the Sports section, but now that it’s combined with Style in the print section, I sometimes bump into it.

I skimmed the July 1 article “Coaches show the way from the sidelines,” and I realized something sad: Not one of the more than 15 people quoted, referenced, interviewed or pictured for the article was a woman.

I tend to perform this check lately with all the media I consume, and I give people a break if it’s a smaller piece or has only one or two people involved.  

There should be a Bechdel test for news articles, to confirm that there isn’t a possibility that a large portion of the population is missing when writing about an issue.

There have to be female coaches and leaders who, as the article puts it, “use their stature in their home states to influence the public’s response to the pandemic,” no? Are there no female coaches or sports teams responding to the novel coronavirus?

This lack of representation in news articles is so common, it’s amazing it doesn’t get noted more often. Even sadder, the reporter is female.

Maybe this is why I don’t typically read the Sports section. There’s no one referenced who looks like me.

Jessica G. Riley, Falls Church

Sports cessation is not 'withdrawal'

As a grateful recovering addict, substance abuse counselor and, yes, sports fan, I was deeply offended by George F. Will’s June 25 op-ed, “The agony of sports withdrawal.” While I’m sensitive to the impact of not having the diversion of spectator sports during these difficult times, I found his metaphoric use of terms for the very real, painful and sometimes lethal effects of abruptly terminating a substance use disorder to be uninformed and frankly insensitive.

Worse, though, was his inference that addiction is indicative of a moral shortcoming rather than a disease. No less an authority than the American Medical Association declared alcoholism to be a disease in 1956 and in 1987 broadened that stance to the substance-nonspecific term “addiction.”  

Saying that delirium tremens, which is often fatal, can result from missing baseball or that video of old games is like methadone, a horrid drug, was cruel. Collateral damage of this pandemic, besides the back of Mike Trout’s baseball card, is that people with substance use disorders are struggling mightily and dying in droves. The connections we all miss are vital to those in recovery. Zoom meetings often aren’t cutting it. People are quarantined with their abusers, and the dope man never closes. Not having the distraction of a ballgame these past few months has stunk, but no one who has gone through withdrawal would compare the two nor wish the latter on his worst enemy.

Norm Friedlander, Gaithersburg

A high-flying article

The Post demonstrated again that governmental accountability depends on journalistic strength with the June 25 Metro article “A low-flying ‘show of force.’ ”  The deeply researched and reported piece revealed militaristic heavy-handedness as our government attempted to cow protesters exercising their First Amendment rights. The tactic was dangerous and warlike, another failed maneuver by a failing regime. Instead of being placed in the Metro section, however, it should have appeared on Page 1. It was that important and that well written.

Paul O'Shea, Fairfax

Stories from the front lines

Thanks to The Post for all the personal stories of people we have lost their lives to the novel coronavirus pandemic. It is truly moving to read these accounts, and it reinforces all the reasons to continue with mask-wearing and social distancing. The stories of health-care workers who have lost their lives are particularly cogent as some of us are so ready to get beyond the therapeutic restrictions. 

When protective gear is absent or in short supply, it is brave to go to work every day in a clinic or hospital or nursing home.  

MaryAnn Russ, Shunk, Pa.

Joy is all-inclusive

The photograph that accompanied the June 28 Metro article “Downtown D.C. celebrates black joy” of a young girl jumping rope double Dutch struck me as one of the most powerful images of the ongoing protests published.

Photographs in The Post and much of the rest of the media are too often those of blacks as victims and/or aggressors, labels that by their nature separate “us” from “them.” Joy is something we all have felt and shared at some point in our lives. We may or may not share pain, which is often individual and specific. Joy affects us all and is all-inclusive.

I hope The Post will publish more of our common celebrations of joy during ongoing  events. It is an emotion that builds bridges between us that emphasize our common humanity rather than our differences.

Bette Petrides, Bethesda

The wrong take on 'defunding'

Regarding the June 28 Politics & the Nation article “In bankrupt Calif. city, use of deadly force surged after cuts in police force”:

I’m a fairly moderate soul who has, with recent reading and research, warmed to the idea of “defunding the police.” But the article framed the issue in an inaccurate and misleading way. The article noted that Vallejo slashed funding for its police department amid an overall budget shortfall and an economic crisis. I’m not in the least surprised this led to poor outcomes, especially because remaining officers continued their duties with fewer resources. 

None of the serious arguments I’ve read for police defunding or abolition suggest that slashing police budgets and walking away will improve matters.

Instead, advocates call for reducing the budgets of police departments and using those funds for social services, housing, job training and mental health. At least some of the research I’ve read suggests that these efforts reduce the root causes of crime more cost-effectively and with less of a human toll than police intervention. Vallejo couldn’t do that when it had to cut funding and services across the board.

Defunding advocates also recommend reducing the scope of policing, so officers have fewer responsibilities and thus are less likely to be overworked and exhausted, as they were in Vallejo. Advocates call for rolling back traffic stops, nuisance ticketing, “broken windows” enforcement measures and other situations in which police effectively operate as agents of social control against poor and minority citizens. They also argue that police should not be asked to tackle problems, such as mental health, for which they lack proper training and expertise.

Serious advocates of police defunding and abolition call for us to rethink the role police play in society and more efficiently direct funding to address the root causes of problems, rather than obliging police and only police to deal with the symptoms. Equating what Vallejo did to current calls to “defund the police” just doesn’t make for an accurate comparison. 

Cutting police budgets and doing absolutely nothing else simply isn’t the substance of the actual argument at hand.

Nathan Alderman, Crozet, Va.

What a puzzle

How does Evan Birnholz keep coming up with such incredible crossword puzzles? His June 21 masterpiece, “Like Father, Like Son” [Washington Post Magazine], featured three celebrity father-son pairs in which both the father’s name and the son’s name worked equally well when answering the clue. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would have thought such a thing impossible. 

That he comes up with equally amazing puzzles week after week boggles the mind. I encourage Birnholz to stop wasting his talents constructing crosswords and instead work on solving the mystery of dark matter, now that we no longer have Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking to probe the nature of the universe.

Jeff Hamilton, Jessup

No puzzle at all

The July 5 news article “Historians question Trump’s ‘heroes,’ plans for national garden monument” declared that “one of the more puzzling selections is Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.” I don’t see justification for a monument garden, but I don’t know why anyone would consider Chamberlain “puzzling.” Aside from his successful defense of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, Chamberlain was an outstanding example of “citizen-soldier.” 

A college professor when the Civil War broke out, he volunteered to serve in the Union Army, rose to major general and commanded a division while suffering a serious wound that pained him for life and ultimately caused his death. After the war, he was elected to four one-year terms as governor of Maine. He then served as president of Bowdoin College until he resigned because of his war injury. 

Self-sacrifice and a life of service to larger causes are, I think, things well worth honoring. 

At a time when too few Americans still have faith in their government and the people who serve in it, the example of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is an important reminder of the sort of people who make the choice to serve their country in military, civilian and academic positions. Not because he is unique, but because he represents those who still do their best on behalf of others and in the service of causes large and small. Not because they expect great rewards or in pursuit of partisan goals, but because the jobs need to be done and done right.

John G. Hemry, Owings


I couldn’t help but notice the incongruity of the lead photograph with the June 25 Local Living article “The buzz about bee hotels.” I’m glad it was a stock photo rather than credited to a staff photographer. First, a mason bee hotel, such as the one shown in the picture, should, as Adrian Higgins pointed out in his Gardening column, “Bee houses are an effective way to draw wild species to your domain,” be placed “below an overhang to keep them dry but not too close to the ground to minimize predation. Position them to face the morning sun.”

Instead, the hotel is clearly on the ground, horizontal rather than vertical, positioned next to a coral bell, pachysandra, periwinkle and some type of sedge grass.  However, it is a nice picture — artistic license, I suppose.

Don Greenwood, Vienna

Jesus wasn't white

The June 27 Religion article “How one painting came to define what Jesus looked like,” about the iconic 1940 painting of Jesus as a white Northern European, failed to point out the obvious: Yeshua — Jesus’ name in Hebrew — was a Jew, so he looked like a Jew. Putting aside the issue of what Yeshua actually looked like, the fact that the article did not mention his ethnic and religious background is emblematic of Christianity’s tendency to whitewash Yeshua’s Jewishness from the historical record. To many Christians, Jesus was the founder of Christianity, but nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus (or Paul, for that matter) say he rejects Judaism and is starting a new religion. Yeshua was a Jew, his disciples were Jews, and he preached only to Jews, encouraging them to uphold the tenets of their religion.

Elliott Negin, Washington

According to the Bible and history, Jesus Christ and his disciples spoke Aramaic, the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean region. People in this area mostly had dark skin. Christ’s skin was either dark brown or black — but not white.  

Duy-Tam Tran-Kiem, Potomac

San Francisco flattened a curve decades ago

Thanks to Alexandra Vuksich for taking me back to walks along Crissy Field and views of the Golden Gate Bridge in her June 20 op-ed, “It’s the Golden Gate Bridge, not the apocalypse.” Most especially to the 1986 50th anniversary of its dedication, when the bridge was briefly closed so pedestrians could cross. My dear wife and four children and I were part of that mob that managed to flatten the curve. It was a bit scary but great to be part of history. I was stationed with the Army in the Bay Area at the time, living at Fort Mason. My dad was visiting. He had been in San Francisco in 1936 when the two ends of the bridge were joined. We watched fireworks that evening from the Presidio. Now that, too, was a lot of noise.

George Sisson, Middletown 

Arrantly errant

E.J. Dionne Jr. is always worth reading, but his reference in his June 25 op-ed, “The Flynn decision doesn’t pass the smell test,” to errant (not the time-honored arrant) nonsense reminded one of similar usage issues elsewhere in The Post’s pages.

There are of course the lost causes: “like” for “as,” “may” and “might” used interchangeably, nary a “whom.”

Thanks for not confusing “less” and “fewer,” but are we soon to succumb to “comprised of” for “composed of,” “disinterested” standing in for “uninterested,” “presently” vs. “at present,” even the occasional “squashed” for “quashed”?

Oral slippage has become the order of the day; writing once called for more care.

Edward C. Knox, Rockville

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