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.

It's hard to express how much it will be missed

I am saddened by and displeased with The Post’s decision to end publication of its free Express commuter newspaper [“End of the line for the Express newspaper,” Style, Sept. 12]. Ceasing publication of the popular commuter newspaper was shortsighted and an example of a news organization placing profits ahead of the greater public good.

Twenty journalists and about 75 distributors are unemployed, and thousands more will be denied our daily dose of news, humor and entertainment. Express and the people connected to it were part of the daily lives of so many in the region who use the Metro system. The paper was a reputable source of information for thousands of people, including many who might not be able to afford access to such information otherwise. Additionally, Express always provided something to read or a puzzle to complete when your train inevitably got stuck in a tunnel (where, despite The Post’s claims, WiFi and cell service can be unreliable, if available).

Thanks to all the people who made Express a staple in the lives of tens of thousands of commuters. The Metro won’t be the same without you. 

David Tucker, Olney

Forget Alexa. Ask this letter-writer.

The Sept. 14 news article about questions people ask Alexa, “Amazon crowdsources Alexa responses, gambling on goodwill of Internet,” left something out: the answers. So, as a public service: “Can dogs have oranges?” Yes. “What’s the longest song in the world?” “The Devil Glitch,” which runs 69 minutes. “When was the [Ferris] wheel invented?” 1893.

Always happy to help.

Graham Vink, Vienna

Don't discount the Stein factor

The Sept. 1 front-page article “Fewer states in play, path to presidency narrows,” on the 2020 election outlook, was insightful and well done. It did not, however, mention the Jill Stein factor in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In each of these states, Stein’s total number of votes was larger than the gap between Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. It is not a stretch to think that the Green Party’s Stein voters would have preferred Clinton to Trump. But by casting their votes for Stein rather than Clinton, they were responsible for Trump’s victory.

James P. Pfiffner, Burke

'The Lord looks at the heart'

The photograph that accompanied the Sept. 6 obituary for the Rev. Alison Cheek, “Episcopal priest made history in D.C. ,” captured a moment when a ray of light landed dramatically on the center of her chest, striking the center of the flower on her garments as she was elevating the wine. Cheek, in 1974, was the first woman to lead a Communion service in the Episcopal Church. The photograph is a vivid reminder that Scripture says, though people “look at the outward [physical] appearance,” including gender, “the Lord looks at the heart.”

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Even today, some oppose women’s ordination. Several years after Cheek made history, I was blessed to be in the first church served by a female rector in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, thanks to pioneers such as Cheek.

David Smith, Annandale

Openly human, just gay

Regarding the Sept. 13 Campaign 2020 article “The candidates’ moments”:

Would The Post please stop using the term “openly gay” as if it were still standard for most gay people to be in the closet? We’re just gay. When do you hear anyone say they are openly straight? Or openly Jewish, Christian, Muslim, agnostic or anything else?

“Openly gay” is a throwback to the 1980s when some of us were out, but most of us weren’t living our lives the way we are now. Using “openly gay” in a description is just offensive. I think by now most people know that South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) is gay. Mention his husband. But why write “openly gay” and not classify former vice president Joe Biden as “openly straight”?

Years ago, I asked a new doctor to include an HIV test in a round of routine blood tests. The doctor actually asked me, “Oh, are you a practicing homosexual?” I blinked and replied, “I don’t need any more practice. I’m good at it.” I got the test. I didn’t go back to that doctor.

Dennis Coyle, Arlington

Assault is not a transgression

The Sept. 12 front-page news article about National Football League player Antonio Brown, “Brown saga has seized start of NFL’s 100th season,” characterized the rape and sexual assault allegations against him as “alleged transgressions.” According to Britney Taylor’s complaint filed in federal court, in 2017 Brown masturbated and ejaculated on her back, later acknowledging the assault in a text message in which he called Taylor a “bitch” and a “ho.” The complaint goes on to allege that the wide receiver overpowered and raped the former gymnast in 2018, causing her to suffer panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. 

These are alleged crimes, not alleged transgressions. Language matters. Sexual assault survivors, and all Post readers, deserve better.

Abby Raphael, Arlington

The writer is a volunteer for Project Peace, a coordinated community response in Arlington focused on domestic violence and sexual assault.

A searing protest anthem

Though I agree with Chris Richards’s Sept. 7 Critic’s Notebook, “Protests in a minor chord ” [Style], regarding the poor state of today’s pop protest music, I fear he may be looking for relevancy in the wrong places. There has been a truly great protest song released this year: Gary Clark Jr.’s searing blues saga “This Land.” Give this incendiary song by one of the United States’ most gifted artists one listen or, better yet, give the accompanying video one look, and you’ll find it holds up a mirror to our violently racist system while giving anything but a “blank shrug” as a solution. 

John Pohlmann Jr., Purcellville

Better far left than four more years

Megan McArdle’s Sept. 11 Wednesday Opinion column, “The illiberal left is scaring conservatives,” took the standard right-wing approach of condemning offenses of the left that, at worst, are minor echoes of major offenses committed on the other side of the fence. McArdle cited the supposed liberal offense of forcing Christian bakers to cater gay weddings, but right-wing decision-makers would deny those gay couples the right to a legal union to celebrate. Whose rights are being trampled the most?

Even more off the mark was her characterization of Christianity as inherently conservative. She set “religious liberty” and “secular progressive values” opposite one another, yet millions of Christians strongly support those progressive values. My sense is that the center-left seeks common ground with the more extreme left not out of fear of the left but out of fear of a mainstream right that is afraid to counter the racism, nationalism and fascism expressed by the far right and emboldened by a would-be dictator in the White House. There are emerging far-left leaders who concern me, but none nearly as much as President Trump. I would much rather take my chances in a center-left/far-left house than have progressive division lead to four more years.

Frank Buhrman, Carroll Valley, Pa.

You don't have to travel far for kindness

I read with interest Andrea Sachs’s Sept. 8 Washington Post Magazine article, “The Capital of Kindness,” a well-written and entertaining travelogue about the kindness and compassion shown to stranded air travelers by the people of a small town in Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. However, I was turned off by two paragraphs early in the piece in which Ms. Sachs injects her political and personal views about the current U.S. administration and its effect on our country.

Sachs wrote that this administration has “fragmented our country,” “we are no longer whole,” she is “no longer whole,” and “the pillars of tolerance and decency wobble and threaten to fall.” She is entitled to her opinion. However, because her article was a travelogue and not a political opinion piece, she should have kept her political comments to herself. It is a pity that she felt she had to go to another country to find a place where “good people and selfless deeds still exist” and where she could do “some mending.”

Regrettably, Sachs seemed to think that good people and selfless deeds are practically nonexistent in the United States under the current administration.

Mike Sage, Ellicott City

But PhD's are doctors

Regarding the Sept. 12 Metro article “ ‘These dads aren’t super dads’ ”:

The benefits Sweden provides for parents regardless of sex is that nation’s call. The Post, however, should not use economists to comment on how the policies affect health and postpartum health complications. I recognize the economists are from Stanford University, but I think Stanford has medical graduates more qualified to provide such assessments. 

Scott McClelland, Bethesda

S'not s'wonderful

I congratulate Laurence Maslon for “The thoroughly modern genius of George Gershwin,” his remarkable Sept. 8 Book World review of “Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music” by Richard Crawford. I haven’t seen such long sentences since reading Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities” (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” etc.).

In Maslon’s review, one sentence included more than 100 words with nine semicolons, a sprinkling of parentheses and commas, and one colon. That feat should make the “Guinness World Records 2019.” No noun was left without a scintillating adjective. The writer’s ingenuity was evident in combinations of two words that had never before met each other: “fusty gatekeepers,” “jolly indifference,” “showbiz ethos.” Maybe the reviewer was trying to jazz up the Outlook section.

I love Gershwin’s music; I love the song “Summertime” (“and the livin’ is easy”), but plodding through this review was not easy. It sent me into “hyperbolic effusiveness,” probably similar to what the reviewer experienced in reading “Crawford’s obdurate tome.”

Lois F. Morris, Silver Spring

Feeling shortchanged

The Markets section of the newspaper was recently redesigned. The new design has removed the currency exchange table that allowed readers to cross-reference the various currencies with each other. It now shows only what the U.S. dollar is worth in other currencies. The previous format was much more useful and interesting. I have friends in several countries, and it was easy to see how, for example, the euro and the pound were related. I can no longer do that. While I understand that, for traveling out of the country, it is nice to know how much a dollar will buy, it is also nice to know how many dollars you need to buy a euro or a pound. The exchange table allowed for that. The new format does not.

Ryan Simmons, Ellicott City

An outspoken advocate

I read the Sept. 8 news article “Advocates implore Congress to reauthorize funds for DNA rape kit backlog” with great interest because I know Debbie Smith, who was featured prominently in the piece.

The article noted that “at the news conference, Smith did not retell her story of being raped in Williamsburg, Va., in 1989, and the evidence not being tested until 1994, when a match was made and a man convicted.”

She did not retell that story because it was not her story — though I can see how someone might infer otherwise based on her advocacy work and the fact that it took years for a DNA match to solve her case.

DNA evidence recovered from Smith was processed early in the investigation and compared with DNA from a possible suspect the police developed. The evidence was not a match. DNA was still a new forensic technology at the time. No DNA data banks existed then. Years later, Virginia was the first state to create a data bank, and Smith’s case represented one of its first cold hits. As a result of her ordeal, Smith became a vocal advocate for rape victims, including for DNA data banks and more funding to enable them to process evidence more effectively as backlogs grew.

By the way, Smith’s husband was a Williamsburg police officer when she was raped. Violent attacks on strangers, as in her case, were rare in the area. No crime could have been a higher priority for that police department, from the top down. There was never any chance of her case falling through the cracks — though probably little chance of it ever being solved without the Virginia DNA data bank.

Patti Rosenberg, Baltimore

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