August 1, 2013

Letters to the editor: Car chase's outcome has bigger lesson

I appreciated Bill Nemitz's recent column "Suspect owes her life to Saco officers' restraint" (July 24), even more for what was unsaid/implied.

click image to enlarge

This Saco police cruiser is likely a total loss after being rammed during a recent chase, but the chase ended with no shots being fired and nobody seriously injured. The rule of law puts in place trained professionals to ensure public safety, so citizens don't need to arm themselves, a reader says.

Courtesy of Saco Police Department

Imagine that, instead of rushing after Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman had heeded a 911 dispatcher's request and waited for police to assist him.

I can't speak for Florida's finest, but if the responding officers exhibited even a tenth of the professionalism and restraint that Saco's police department did the other day, Martin would be alive and Zimmerman's life free from guilt and shame.

We are a nation of laws, and we train and employ professionals to uphold these laws. This insidious insecurity we all seem to feel now -- whether a result of economic calamity, terrorist threat or mass shootings -- we cannot let it erode the systems we have in place to ensure our personal safety.

"Stand your ground" laws, concealed-carry permits and neighborhood watch programs are a desperate answer to problems that don't rationally exist. Instead, we've created a whole new calamity.

Consider that simply possessing a gun in your home effectively doubles your risk of dying from firearm homicide, and for males, imparts a tenfold risk of dying of suicide, according to a 2004 article in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Instead of arming ourselves and engendering a vigilante mentality, we need to encourage civility through rational gun policy and support for civic institutions, education and the rule of law.

Rather than sleeping with guns under our pillow, we should consider a cellphone. At least in Saco, the odds of waking up safe the next morning are higher.

Anthony Foianini

South Portland 

Critics of Styrofoam ban make dubious arguments 

I wish to share my position regarding a drive that has been organized by Cleaner Portland -- A Special Project of the Cost of Government Center to urge the Portland City Council to vote against any ban on polystyrene products.

As a consumer of products in the Portland area, I urge the Portland City Council to vote for a reasonably thought-out proposal to ban polystyrene.

I am extremely suspicious of Cleaner Portland's contention that Styrofoam has a smaller carbon footprint than alternatives. Apparently, the organization that came up with this conclusion is the American Chemistry Council. I think we need to use our heads when considering where that conclusion came from!

Another contention by the Cleaner Portland group -- that a ban on Styrofoam will add considerable cost to consumers -- is just out and out bunk! Even if a ban on Styrofoam did add a couple of cents to a cup of coffee, I would gladly pay it.

We are a progressive city doing the right thing, and I'm proud to be from the area.

Keith McMullan

South Portland 

Limits on casting a ballot another form of voter fraud  

One of the responsibilities and privileges of being an American citizen is the right to vote in every election. Among other things, it is a symbol of one's patriotism as an American.

Within the past few months, a number of states -- North Carolina, Texas and others -- have passed laws restricting and limiting the ability of their citizens to be able to vote. I find such actions on the part of these states, dominated by Republican legislatures, to be un-American.

Perhaps it is time to resurrect the House Un-American Activities Committee of the 1950s to investigate these Republican states for passing such laws, which I would label as a nascent form of totalitarianism.

From their behavior, the Republicans in many of our states have declared themselves to be out to win elections by severely limiting the options of their citizens to exercise their legal right to vote. That is a form of "voter fraud" that they appear to have perfected to their supposed benefit.

How unpatriotic on their part. They need to be so labeled. It would appear that if they cannot win legitimately at the ballot box, they resort to such behavior. Shame on Republicans who would curtail the privileges of some of their fellow citizens to achieve their own goals.

William J. Leffler II

Kennebunkport

Column stresses importance of end-of-life conversations 

In response to "Mandela's decline raises questions that all families should consider" (July 16):

I am a hospice social worker and a writer and was pleased to read Ellen Goodman's column about the importance of having end-of-life conversations with family members. 

All too often, families will arrive at our facility with a loved one who is dying and have no idea of what that person does and does not want because they have never talked about it.

At a time when families could be comforting one another, it is a very sad thing to witness brothers and sisters squabbling amongst themselves, each guessing what Mom or Dad would want.

If we get a patient soon enough, we are able to help families have these conversations and fill out an advance directive. All too frequently, however, by the time someone arrives on our doorstep, that someone is beyond able to have any sort of conversation, silenced by cancer or whatever else has brought them to this point. 

I am grateful to both of my parents for making it clear to me and my siblings what they did and did not want done when they reached that stage. 

My husband and I are in our 60s; we have had advance directives in place for the last 10 years, copies safely in the hands of our agents, alternate agents and our primary care doctor. No one will have to guess, no one will have to argue. I can only hope that my family will spend those last few weeks, days and hours with one another and with me. 

Glenny Dunbar, LCSW

Cumberland Foreside 

Governor's words, actions present hazard to the flag 

With the governor so wrapped up in the flag and shooting himself in the foot, I pray that he doesn't perforate Old Glory.

Larz Neilson

East Boothbay

 

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