The recent wave of exonerations around the country, which, based on new DNA findings, may soon include a case in Maine, brings to mind an accepted journalism practice I’d like to see changed. It’s the way in which people who have been found guilty of a crime are often identified.

For example, in two recent stories, the subject was identified in one (“Male DNA found on girl’s clothing in Dechaine case,” Sept. 25) as “convicted killer Dennis Dechaine.” In the other (“Dechaine lawyer: DNA points to other suspect in 1988 death,” Oct. 12), he was identified as the man “convicted of killing 12-year-old Sarah Cherry of Bowdoin in 1988.”

I believe the two approaches differ substantively in connotation, a difference that’s especially important in a contested case such as this one.

While it is true Dechaine is the person who was convicted of the crime, it may not be true that he committed it. To identify him as a “convicted killer” leaves no room for that possibility, and it may well serve as a hidden, if unintentional, persuader that influences the reader’s perception of him.

I ask that your reporters and commentators consider a general policy change in how they identify people convicted of a crime, a change that allows for the possibility that we’ve got the wrong guy.

Bob MacLaughlin

Warren

 

‘Equality under the law’ affirms gays’ right to wed

 

We were born in 1941 in a small town in central Mississippi. We are black and have personally felt the sting of discrimination, the pain of being treated as second-class citizens and the demoralization of having to wait for others to vote on whether we were equal under the law.

We moved to Maine in the early ’60s because Mainers were more enlightened and fair than the people in charge of Mississippi at that time.

We love Maine and its people. However, we find it shameful that gay couples have to wait, just like we did in the past, to find out if their fellow citizens are willing to “grant” them equality under the law.

That we have to debate, in 2012, whether gay couples should have equal rights to marry degrades us all. To us, equality under the law means equality under the law.

We are hopeful that Mainers are now ready to put this issue behind us by simply affirming that equality under the law means just that. That means that if heterosexuals can marry, so can gay couples.

Some Mississippians thought that granting our race equal rights under the law would destroy society. In reality, it improved it. Mainers will find the same thing in this case.

Jim and Nan Stovall

Scarborough

 

I don’t understand all this fuss over granting marriage licenses to everyone. We shouldn’t even be voting on this issue.

It shouldn’t be up to popular vote who and who not should be given equal rights. The Constitution guaranteed that. We’ve already had a couple of centuries and our history to figure this out.

People of color have equal rights. Women have equal rights. Same-sex couples have equal rights.

Don’t let the pastor in your church tell you that you are letting this country down by supporting “Vote Yes On 1”! You are loving your neighbor by giving them the same rights that have been granted to all.

Sheryl Lee

Portland

Obama’s 2008 promises were just empty rhetoric

 

I am irritated by President Obama. In the 2008 election, with his great campaign skills and rhetorical ability, he promised to bring us together and work to fix the nation’s problems. It turns out it was just words.

He has used these same abilities to not only divide us, but it seems he is just another tax-and-spend Democrat.

Prior to the 2010 election, he said, “I have been focused like a laser on the economy.” It was just words. He was focused on a health care bill that nobody but Democrats wanted.

I could go on, but it is all the same. Calling out the successful people and blaming them for the nation’s ills. Passing killing regulations when people are struggling. No wonder that the economy is in the tank.

It is too bad because everyone had such high hopes, but he won’t even work across the aisle without the OK from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

I am not sure Mitt Romney is likable, but he is likable enough.

Former liberal media darling Jack Welch, retired CEO of GE, said, “Romney is the most qualified person to be president in my lifetime.”

That is good enough for me, I don’t need a hero, just a capable president.

You also know one more thing. Romney won’t be blaming Obama or anyone else after he becomes president. What a relief that will be.

Doug Crosby

Portland

Summers supports veterans, and they should support him

 

I’m supporting Charlie Summers in his bid for the U.S. Senate.

I’d urge all veterans to think carefully this year when going to the polls to cast their votes. It’s not very often that we get the opportunity to vote for one of the two people who will serve us as a U.S. senator, and for that reason we need to make our vote count – it’s probably going to be a long time before this particular senatorial seat changes again.

Maine has approximately 110,000 veterans. This is one of the highest percentages of veterans of any state in the union. I would venture to say that veterans probably have a greater impact on who gets elected than almost any other demographic group in Maine. They can certainly make the difference to a candidate.

Charlie Summers has demonstrated his commitment to veterans and to veterans’ issues over the years. A veteran himself, Charlie served with the U.S. Navy in Iraq, and has demonstrated that he can “walk the walk as well as talk the talk.”

There is really only one candidate for the U.S. Senate who has demonstrated his commitment to veterans and to veterans’ issues, and that candidate is Charlie Summers.

I urge all veterans to support the candidate who will definitely have your back in Washington and who will never throw you under the bus for political expediency.

Nancy Lee Kelley

chaplain, Gold Star Mothers of Maine

Old Orchard Beach

 

Believe in it or not, climate change is taking place now

 

People who say that they do not believe climate change is taking place are like a person flying in an airplane saying, “I do not believe in aerodynamics!”

It really does not matter whether you believe in it or not. It simply is!

C. Waite Maclin

Portland