As a health educator, I was appalled to read attorney Michael Waxman’s rationale for filing a lawsuit (that has now been withdrawn) against Yarmouth school officials on behalf of the student who was disciplined for violating the school’s honor code.

In his response, Mr. Waxman states that “Kids will be kids. Kids will make mistakes. Now is the time to do that, before jobs and other large responsibilities are on the line.”

Teenage underage drinking is not a “mistake,” it is breaking the law. Teenagers will continue to drink as long as adults continue to provide a place for them to do so and rationalize their actions by taking away car keys. Teens will also drink illegally if it is treated as merely a rite of passage or if they believe that breaking this law lacks consequences in certain situations.

In my 29-plus years of teaching, I have seen too many young lives cut short or forever altered due to underage drinking. Those teens did not have a second chance to correct their “mistakes” and go on to their jobs and other large responsibilities. Just ask any parent who has lost a child to underage drinking.

School officials have every right to ask students to sign honor codes when participating in activities representing their schools. Parents and students are well aware of what they are signing and the repercussions that occur when the code is violated. Parents and students who do not agree with such codes have a choice — not to play for the school.

Mr. Waxman suggests that the consequences of violating school honor codes teaches kids that their constitutional rights of privacy and due process don’t exist and “that’s just wrong.” Turning a blind eye to underage drinking or failing to impose consequences for breaking this law teaches kids that underage drinking is not necessarily a major concern depending on the situation, and that, Mr. Waxman, is what’s just wrong.

Jeanne Billings

Health educator, Mt. Ararat High School

Topsham

 

 

It’s impossible to see why ‘open carry’ makes sense

 

I have been a gun owner and competitive shooter for 19 years. I got a concealed firearms permit when I was 18 and newly enthusiastic about guns. I am firmly in favor of more stringent gun control laws, including stricter regulation of private sales and restriction of open carry.

When I learned about the open carry “informational gathering” organized by college student Shawn Belanger, I was dismayed. It occurred to me that gathering a bunch of people to walk around with guns in public, just because the law allows it, might only seem like a great idea to a male college freshman.

Carrying a firearm is allowed by law. However, that doesn’t mean it is wise to draw attention to yourself while you carry. For personal and public safety reasons, discretion is the better part of self-protection.

Common sense also tells us that it is not smart to divert police resources to a demonstration of gun-carrying when they could be working to protect us from criminals.

I believe the law is dynamic and is best balanced with the changing needs of citizens. The opencarry.org website states, “A right unexercised is a right lost.” Perhaps in this case, a right unexercised is one outgrown.

Meredith Harrell

Portland

 

 

The “gun rally” in Portland as reported in a recent paper is a fine introduction to the upcoming tourist season. Are you all crazy?

This state voted to allow guns in our only national park (Acadia is the third-most-visited national park in the nation) when federal law would not have allowed them if the state had banned them. A no-brainer for the no-brains crowd, but the politicians caved in to the nuts.

Come on, stand up and be counted — “step away from the car,” ban all guns from our public parks, cities, towns, any populated and metropolitan areas, even if registered and permitted (except hunting areas and law enforcement, I’m not stupid) — period.

Keep guns out of the hands of the young guy (who was packing) at the rally who said on TV, “If the criminals see a ‘gun-free zone,’ they’ll say, ‘these people can’t defend themselves and. ” He never finished the unfinished thought, I guess he missed the “Maine — The Way Life Should Be” sign on the Maine Turnpike.

Let me do it for him: “If you ban public use and display of guns, only stupid people (criminals aren’t stupid, just lawless) would want them.”

Stupid people jump off cliffs, too; should we let or encourage them? Look around you, gun freaks, the whole world is watching — without a gun. Aw, nuts!

Jeff Smith

Belfast

 

 

In spite of all the discussions pro and con about the right to carry weapons openly, no one, especially the press, has asked the experts — the gentlemen serving time in prison.

I am betting the ranch they are dancing with glee over the prospect of easy access to that first-class weapon on someone’s hip as soon as they are back on the street.

Gerald J. Fanning

Brunswick

 

 

Watched the “gunsels” parade along Baxter Boulevard. Always did want to see what a well-regulated militia looked like.

Don Federman

Portland

 

 

Eliot Cutler’s the candidate who understands education

 

In Ron Bancroft’s most recent column, “Legislature does a good job with budgets, but boots education” (April 27), he ended with the question, “Is there no leader out there willing to stand up and be counted on education?” The answer is “Yes!” and his name is Eliot Cutler, independent candidate for governor.

Eliot has already publicly stood up for education, in opposition to the unhealthy influence that the MEA and other professional education lobbies have over the Legislature, and for reform that is not just innovative in name but that will raise Maine’s public education system up to the standards that our children deserve.

Throughout this campaign, Eliot is the one candidate who has spoken out forcefully and frequently about the failure of Maine’s educational leaders to support meaningful improvement and accountability.

He is the one candidate who forthrightly champions charter school legislation to allow effective educational innovation, and for making student performance data an integral part of teacher and administrator evaluations and employment. Anyone who cares about the future of our great state and the importance of education should visit Eliot’s website to see his full vision (www.cutler2010.com/issues/education).

It is clear that Eliot is the best person to govern this state, and will always have the best interests of our children in mind.

Richard Barnes

Kennebunkport