I would like to thank Bill Nemitz and his Sunday column (“Horror all around over teen filmmakers’ bloodbaths set in Brunswick,” Jan. 13) for introducing me to USN Films.

As a performer, it is truly inspiring to see a group of high school students putting their energy into creative endeavors.

These young folks could be spending their free time drinking in the woods (as I’m sure many of their peers do), but instead they use that time to create movies and learn about and share their knowledge of filmmaking.

Writing, acting, shooting, directing and editing a movie is no small task; that they can do all of that while still in high school is truly impressive. Do you think their parents and teachers realize how talented they are?

Zachary M. Rohman

Portland

In 10 years, the town of Brunswick will be falling over itself to lure USN Films with tax breaks to make equally violent films within the confines of the town.

Why don’t we guide these creative young people and assist them in their efforts instead of arresting them? They have been making films for more than two years. The Connecticut tragedy should not spur us to curtail the First Amendment. What type of example does this set?

Some of the films posted on the USN Films YouTube site show young actors wearing American flags rescuing hostages and killing bad guys. Isn’t this a case of art imitating life?

Why not show them how to go through channels to gain access to the former Brunswick Naval Air Station? Are they breaking the law by making or posting the film? No! They were arrested for trespassing because of the content of the film, period.

These arrests are nothing more than Internet censorship! It would not be surprising to find this issue to be a catalyst in the larger debate about Internet content. It may bring these artists, the town of Brunswick and all the individuals connected to this story into the national spotlight. Are you ready for your close-up?

Douglas Gimbel

Portland

New Senate rules could help avert debt ceiling showdown

The U.S. is required to pay its debts by the 14th Amendment, while the artificial debt ceiling is a legislative tool that has been abused for political ends by a divided Congress.

The reality is that we will always be able to honor our debts and our creditworthiness is harmed, not helped, by attempts to blackmail the president and Senate to yield to the extreme views of the current House majority.

Perhaps the main lesson for this is that our 200-year-old Constitution, with its built-in divided government, is inconsistent with rational policymaking (either liberal or conservative) in the 21st century. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein in “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” and Sanford Levinson in “Our Undemocratic Constitution (And How We Can Fix It)” have it about right.

Maine can contribute to resolving these ends if its elected officials and voters work to adopt some of the more reasonable proposals outlined in these books, such as aligning congressional elections every four years with presidential races, and putting the burden on the Senate minority to actually conduct a filibuster and come up with more than 39 votes to prevent approval of a presidential nomination.

At minimum, the Senate must adopt a rule that requires only one filibuster on any nomination or bill, and that all nominations are given an up-or-down vote within 30 days.

And even this House could agree to a rational balance of tax and spending decisions if the speaker would not let it be held hostage to the artificial “majority of the majority” precondition for letting issues come to a vote.

Bruce Lindsley Rockwood

professor emeritus of legal studies and former chair, finance and legal studies, Bloomsburg (Pa.) University,

and Damariscotta resident

Governor deserves praise for linking food aid, food choice

As a person who supports the general idea of disbursing money by helicopter over our lower- and working-class neighborhoods, I believe the operating principle for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — from Congress to the cashier — ought to be “dignity” (“Bill Nemitz: Is that Gov. LePage picking a soda fight? Sweet!” Jan. 6).

And yet, I find it simply weird that otherwise progressive defenders of the status quo use a libertarian argument, saying people should use this benefit however they see fit.

We expect tuition assistance to be used so people can go to school. We support housing assistance to decrease homelessness. Why would we support a nutrition subsidy being used to reinforce poor nutrition?

Maybe we should just close down Medicare and Medicaid and send everyone a check each month with a memo line, “In case you get sick. Or whatever.”

I don’t object to the “buy whatever non-alcoholic ingestible as long as it’s not hot” SNAP regime because it’s a waste of money. As economic stimulus, it makes no difference what particular thing someone buys at the local bodega.

Nor do I bristle when someone pulls out the easily identifiable EBT card at high-end bakeries and grocers. (What makes me bristle is the graceless snobbery from the counter help and pseudo-liberal customers that one of “them” would have such gall.)

Dignity.

We’ve all seen the tattooed 20-something buy milk with his EBT and brandy with cash, and it’s hard not to take it a little personally. But that’s a different and — in the whole scheme of industrial-scale corporate fleecing — insignificant issue.

It seems so straightforward and easily implemented: A program intended to supplement nutrition should not do the opposite.

The governor deserves credit for stumbling on a fix to our social safety net that actually helps. Kudos to Mr. Nemitz for pointing this out.

Ward Peck

Portland

It makes writer wonder – guns allowed, not smokes?

I can walk through downtown Portland with an assault rifle, but I can’t smoke there?

Something is wrong with that!

Roberta Johansen

Portland

Self-published wordsmiths should select press carefully

Thank you for the interesting McClatchy Newspapers story in the Sunday Telegram about self-published books (“Senior wordsmiths find voice in self-publishing,” Jan. 6).

I’d like to add a note of caution. The availability of affordable digital printing and e-publishing is great in many ways.

But in my opinion, many of these companies overcharge inexperienced writers and their families for these “vanity” books because the writers don’t know how inexpensively books can be produced and printed.

I have seen a lot of self-published books or ones published by these kinds of companies that are, unfortunately, of poor quality — not proofread, edited or well-designed.

I recommend that families or individuals do some research about exactly what a vanity press provides. Look at some books they have produced. Consider hiring an experienced editor or at least a copy editor.

(I have published 69 poetry books with my small press, Moon Pie Press based in Westbrook. I’m not soliciting business with this letter.)

Having a book published is thrilling, but don’t be overcharged for it, and have a book you can be proud of.

Alice Persons

Westbrook