I wish to congratulate The Committee to Stop Insanity … A pop-up group of business owners and healers who rose up against a mask ordinance during the contagion in Keene.

A city councilor put forth the ordinance. He based his ordinance on Nashua’s. The Gate City is hard on the Massachusetts border and near interstates. The Bay State was hit hard, with the Boston broadsheet running 23 pages of obituaries at one point in the Sunday edition.

Might a nuanced approach for Keene have been better? What people here saw was Nashua’s draconian $1,000 fine. He played into the committee’s hands. It deftly outmaneuvered him. Like a flash mob appearing in a department store.

A appeal against the councilor was floating around the social media with an ad promised in the local shopper funded by one of the entrepreneurs. A holistic healer gave the committee the homespun face it needed.

The City Council blinked. The councilor counted his votes and only three declared for it. The ordinance was withdrawn, the reasoning given a lawsuit launched in Nashua against their effort at containing the contagion.

We don’t have home rule in New Hampshire. Cities can only do what our Legislature allows them to do. Still, Keene bucked the state twice in the past, in banning smoking in restaurants and bars, and prohibiting the sale of synthetic marijuana — and won. The state followed Keene’s leadership. A precedent made.

But this time council leadership was not forthcoming. With a hospital and allied groups boasting of making Cheshire County the healthiest in the nation. Rather than step back and remove the offending fine, the ordinance was withdrawn.

This retreat reminds me of the lighthearted Johnny Horton song The Battle of New Orleans. These lyrics:

“Yeah, they ran through the briars

And they ran through the brambles

And they ran through the bushes

Where the rabbit couldn’t go.

With fall approaching and virus spikes reported in Florida, Texas and Arizona, I pray the Committee to Stop Insanity is right. And that I am wrong.

As I am now 60, and into AARP territory, I am putting my affairs into order. Swedish death cleaning appeals to me. I don’t want to be found out as a hoarder. Does anyone want a book case? A bicycle? A vintage print of the RMS Titanic?


17 Center St.