If we can agree that prayer is a loving and helpful action to benefit Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of this horrendous tragedy, perhaps we can begin to wonder about the effect of our hatred on others as well.

Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik noted several times the “vitriol” in our society as a contributing factor to this tragedy. I agree, and sadly include myself.

While it is easy to look outward and justify our hatred, in the end the responsibility for our feelings is with each one of us.

Tom Negron
Portland 

In the light of the recent shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, I am troubled by those who believe that vigorous opposing, polarizing political views play a causative roll in such events.

The next, often unstated, sentence is that confrontational speech should be somehow curtailed. Such an argument, I believe, misses the point and is damaging to our concept of free speech.

I recently listened to a televised debate in which the atheist and philosopher Christopher Hitchens and the former prime minister of England and Christian Tony Blair argued the question, “Is God a force for good in the world?”

The arguments were cogent, well-stated and certainly very polarizing. It was a highly spirited and emotionally stimulating discussion between worthy opponents.

At the end of the debate, Blair stated the value of arguing important opposing views in public. Such experiences, he said, help both sides to more clearly understand the sources of conflicting opinions and the people who represent them.

He said that he respected Hitchens and was honored to be able to participate in a balanced discussion.

Balanced debate of potentially inflammatory opposing issues will modulate extreme stands and lessen the risk of extreme behavior such as is represented by the Arizona shooting.

A key word in a discussion of public debate and free speech, of course, is “balanced.” In my opinion, our sources of media-sponsored information should heed more closely this principle of public discourse.

David Scotton
Cape Elizabeth 

Tragically, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat from Arizona, was gunned down, along with several others, in Tucson by a mentally unstable 22-year-old man.

And yet predictably, the spin from liberal sources such as MSNBC and others, has already begun, attributing the event to the “vitriol” and anger in today’s political discussions.

What? You mean like Nancy Pelosi’s accusations that tea party members act like Nazis? Or, as President Obama stated, before all of the facts were known, the Cambridge Mass., police “acted stupidly”?

Talk about ginning up the vitriol!

No one in his right mind, on either side of the political spectrum, wants to make his point with a violent act.

So far, it looks like the shooter is a mentally deranged individual who was looking to actualize some twisted viewpoint, his own whacked-out reality.

In response, do we as a society over-react by locking up all other mentally unbalanced men and women? Of course not.

So, before the liberal media starts to blame tea party members and other conservatives for this tragic event, I suggest we wait until all the facts are known in this case. Then we should all work together to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Dennis Gervais
Portland 

The muse prompts readers to give own prose on poetry 

Memo to Bill Nemitz: Your interview of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on poetry was brilliant. So good, in fact, that you should spend the next four years interviewing other statues around the state of Maine.

Paul Anderson
Scarborough 

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in Rockland in 1892. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.

One wonders what she might have thought about Republican Paul LePage’s gubernatorial inauguration. No poetry was read at the inauguration. No chorale singing either.

“We’re trying to make it a little more interesting to the Maine people who are attending so that it’s not completely dry,” an adviser said before the event.

If they had read the poetry of Maine’s most famous poet, LePage and his adviser might have appropriated one of her quotes for their cause when Millay wrote, “It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it’s one damn thing over and over.”

Gov. LePage might be interested to know that a study commissioned in 2009 found that children who sing in choruses have greater academic success and more advanced social skills than children who don’t sing. Approximately 10.1 million American children sing in choruses today.

The Army Band of the National Guard and Downeast Brass performed at the inauguration and are, no doubt, fine musical organizations. But, the voices of Maine people, in poetry and song, also deserved to be heard.

Paul Black
South Portland 

The thing that bothers me most about the new Gov. LePage is that he apparently does not like or value poetry, at least not enough to have any read at his inauguration.

I hope he doesn’t decide to try to eliminate poetry from Maine’s public schools.

Harold Blaisdell
Portland 

There’s much to like about paper’s helpful columns 

I am very grateful to you for carrying the monthly column by Bernie Reim titled “What’s Up.”

I am also a fan of the food section in Wednesday’s paper and want to compliment you and Avery Kamila for her article this week on the couple who have spent a year eating locally.

The article is a great way to compliment folks who are trying to eat more local foods, as well as a way to promote those who are growing it and fishing for it.

Best in 2011.

Madge Baker
Shapleigh

 


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