I just don’t understand Bill Nemitz. In his column about Justin Dean exercising his open carry rights (“A world so safe, it’s scary,” Dec. 28), Nemitz claims that Dean lives in “a world of pure paranoia,” where he might want to have a firearm at his disposal for purposes of self-defense, yet he (Nemitz) has “little wonder” that people would call the police to report a man with a firearm.

Aren’t both actions undertaken in response to the same thoughts? The thought of being the victim of a violent crime is one we have all had to face in the wake of the Newtown massacre. And I would submit that those calling 911 on Dec. 24 were expressing just such a fear; as, clearly, was Dean.

So why is the reaction of those who, like Dean, have decided to take responsibility for their own safety themselves (through legal means), viewed as unreasonable, or “paranoid,” while calling the cops on someone who has not done anything wrong makes sense because of “the searing memories” of Newtown?

This is a double standard. Dean’s fears are the same as those who reported him to the police, but he has taken a different, yet equally legitimate, path to deal with those fears.

It is important to emphasize that Dean broke no laws. Nemitz seems to think that Dean is crazy for wanting to carry a firearm in the state with the lowest violent-crime rate in the nation. I think that people like Dean (and laws like ours) are a big part of what keeps that rate so low.

After all, if you’re a criminal, would you rather be “working” a street where you know there are no guns, or one patrolled by an Army veteran with a rifle slung over his shoulder?

Zack Beisswanger


Joining forces would boost momentum for change

Today, industry is judged by how much “horsepower” it produces; many folks may not take the time to reflect on what that really means!

My early years started on a two-horse farm. Every challenge was met with teamwork. It took teamwork to pull the great logs from deep in the woods. Above all, on a farm it was folks working as a team to survive and grow. One often wonders why these primary elements are so often overlooked in today’s society.

Horsepower is the energy exerted to move an object. In that same vein, how much “brainpower” would it take to change the world?

I often wonder, in our political endeavors, what would happen if we as a nation just called ourselves “The Americans,” a force of people in every nation that put their best foot forward for the betterment of its people.

Just the other day my future son-in-law and I were discussing the dress code for the upcoming wedding. I injected the thought: What a simple matter it would be if Adam and Eve had not sampled that forbidden fruit. The thought that all nations could sit down to a communal table and solve their needs, where prejudices were not invited and compassion sat at the head of the table.

Vigilance was not needed, suspicion no longer separated us. Even the most common of folks would be able to dine and share in “God’s harvest.”

The greatest law of the land would be to help our fellow man. You may remember that often used quote: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”

I believe everyone sometime in their life should walk behind a plow pulled by two magnificent horses!

Fred Collins


Lawmaker must explain why NRA supports him

I consider the National Rifle Association an enemy of the people, an enemy of democracy, a threat to the lives of our children.

Maine congressman Mike Michaud received an A-minus rating from the NRA. He also received $4,000 in donations from the NRA. I think Mike Michaud has some explaining to do.

Philip Davis


Column welcome reminder of educators’ strengths

Kudos to Caroline Collins Slecke: “Maine Voices: All we need to know about human decency, we learned at Newtown” (Dec. 29).

She described my sister Sylvia, an elementary teacher, in loving detail with outstanding praise, efficiency and dedication of all elementary teachers – everywhere.

Furthermore, the courage they have when necessary – and did have at Newtown – brings great comfort to all the parents and grandparents of all those “smallest, wiggliest, goofiest, neediest and most vulnerable members of our society.”

Thank you for expressing our true feelings openly; we needed to be reminded.

Arlene Clifford


Mentally ill man cautious about disclosing to police 

Reading Tux Turkel’s Maine Sunday Telegram article about the tragic epidemic of police shootings and mentally ill victims in Maine (“Deadly Force: Police and the Mentally Ill,” Dec. 9), I feel a sense of almost panicked urgency to speak out and air the perspective that has been the result of my own experience diagnosed as a mentally ill person with a psychosocial disability for the past eight years.

I mean to say I find myself trembling to be asked by the police 1) if I have a mental illness diagnosis; 2) if I am in the care of a doctor and 3) if take any medications. The reason I tremble is that answering feels like facing a rigged jury.

“Yes, I do have a mental illness,” it may occur to me to answer.

But about the suggestion that medical care is any different for a mentally ill individual or a misperception that I must be medicated to be safe, I feel an urgent impulse to correct the misapprehensions that I widely experience.

First, all psychosocially disabled individuals should be considered to have the full legal rights and capacity of any individual. This is not diminished because they might have the advice or care of a doctor. Their doctor does not advocate over their own voice on their behalf.

Second, the wildly research-prestige-driven insistence upon psychotropic drug use of recent decades is just what it sounds like – an opinion that has valid alternatives. Skepticism about psychotropic drug use is a research-supported and valid position for those who prefer not to take medication.

My experience leaves me glad that the police take notice of mental illness, but it hasn’t in any way made me feel safe from the stigma of compromised rights and the risks of profoundly misguided opinion.

Robert Minard