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The banality of evil is alive and well

Recently, Melody Affonce offered one of the most mean-spirited opinions I have read in a long time (“Letter: Turbine sufferers need to show proof,” April 10). By her lights, anyone harmed by the turbines has to furnish unassailable proof before we take action to prevent further harm. She likens these victims to those seeking workers compensation, welfare or disability benefits. The fact that, so far, no one in Little Bay is asking for compensation of any kind didn’t occur to Affonce.

At the moment, the only thing the turbine neighbors are actually asking for is relief. They just want to be free from the misery of headaches, dizziness, nausea and sleeplessness that they or their families experience whenever the turbines are spinning. Affonce would deny them the same protections enjoyed by every other law-abiding taxpayer, and ignore their legal right to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes. By her logic, if people are beating you, you should have to prove that it hurts before you are justified in asking them to stop. How enlightened!

How far does this apparent endorsement of undeserved brutality and neglect go? Perhaps we should deny medical treatment to seniors until they can prove with certainty that they actually need it. It is well known that care for the elderly absorbs a disproportionate amount our society’s health care resources through Medicare. As long as we vote on this, it’s fair and just, right?

After the Vietnam War, we ignored the obvious suffering of vets with PTSD for over 30 years. They couldn’t prove they were actually wounded – or that it was caused by combat. According to Affonce’s line of reasoning, we should continue to deny all vets any mental health care or intervention until they prove they have sustained neurological injuries in battle.

No doubt, Affonce can tell us how to furnish proof of pain or suffering. How does one prove a headache, dizziness or nausea?

When a doctor takes an X-ray, she does so to find the cause of pain. She begins by assuming that your complaint is valid because she has ethical obligation, known as duty of care, to take her patient’s complaint seriously. We have a similar ethical duty to care for one another, called humanity. You may know it as the Golden Rule.

For two years now, we have concentrated people in an infrasound ghetto against their will, subjected them to incessant low frequency pressure waves, and forced them to live in amplification chambers (which they once called home). We are depriving them of their health, their livelihoods and their basic human rights.

At the Wind Forum in 2012, I described the siting of these turbines as an ominous social experiment and warned about where it leads.

At the forum, I asked: “Aren’t we better than this?” My question was rhetorical because I believed the answer was yes; but when opinions like Affonce’s go unchallenged, I’m not so sure anymore.

Many have stood idly by, while officials make public apologies to their victims on public access television, like some circus sideshow, and hypocritically proclaim that “everyone deserves a good night’s sleep.” Yet, no one demands action to ensure that everyone gets one. They personify what Hannah Arendt so aptly referred to as the banality of evil. When the obvious truth is fully recognized, people like Affonce will be the first to claim, “We didn’t know.”

Curt Devlin lives in Fairhaven.