I enjoyed traveling the written road provided by Andrew Young (“Forum: Balentine provides a vital service to Forecaster readers,” July 30), until he came to a fork.

To the left, Young stated:  “… I find (Balentine’s) commentaries so consistently at odds with reality and facts that I sometimes wonder if (he) actually believes any of what he writes.” To the right, Young opines: “However, what … (Balentine’s) critics failed to do … was to point out his courage” and “Balentine is doing Forecaster readers a vital service by expressing his opinions.”

A vital service without facts – is this really useful?

Aldous Huxley said, “Facts do not cease to exist (simply) because they are ignored.” Facts do matter, Mr. Young, requiring courage to express them, especially in a hostile environment.

Notwithstanding Young’s judgment, Balentine acts in a cowardly manner. Why? His misguided “opinions” are mostly constructed on propaganda, not facts. Case in point: Balentine complains  “ … Olympic venues are going completely fan-less and … (without) … in-person spectators” (“My Olympic frustrations abound,” July 30).

Does Young believe Balentine’s absence of public health expertise is a valuable contribution to our pandemic discussion? Given the extremely high number of COVID-19 infections, Japanese government officials possessed the courage to safeguard the health and safety of its citizens and guests by only allowing the games to proceed without in-person spectators. If Balentine had the courage, his column could have provided readers a “vital learning service,” by placing the spread of COVID-19 into a proper context, thus supporting Japan’s decision to eliminate in-person spectators.

So, Mr. Young, did Balentine offer us this “vital learning service”? No. Mr. Balentine and other right-wing propagandists have monetized the spread of misinformation. If The Forecaster wants to offer a vital service, demand truth from its contributors. That would be courageous.

John M. Mishler
Harpswell