January 3, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Carrier of gun had legitimate motive

(Continued from page 1)

This photo provided by Justin Dean shows the assault rifle Dean carried around Portland on Dec. 24. A columnist criticized Dean and defended those who reported him to police, yet both acted for the same reason, a reader says.

Provided photo

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

Gorham

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

Falmouth

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

Portland

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