John Balentine’s opinions are no longer published in various editions of The Forecaster. One could rightly argue that not having his “views” from only one side of the political spectrum is a loss to and for the community.

However, if truth, compassion, empathy and decency are to be valued in our society as the foundation for discussion of important and timely issues, his departure, albeit a strangely unfortunate one, was long overdue. But why unfortunate?When Balentine’s thought pieces contained material which was not factual and generally represented the “fake news” promoted by Fox News, Tucker Carlson and others, his importance to our community was diminished, not by putting forth a different perspective, but by propagating mis- and disinformation, lies and harmful ideas to readers. What is strangely unfortunate in this scenario will be the loss of the brave voices of dedicated citizens who responded to Balentine’s dubious opinions by writing thoughtful letters to the editor, thereby providing the facts – the valid counterarguments to the fiction presented within his columns.It is easy and quite safe to offer no resistance to individuals who utilize news media to promote ill-conceived and misleading propaganda. On the other hand, to fight against such propaganda one must express the outrage and courage to speak out against such behavior. Therefore, to those readers of The Forecaster who demonstrated such outrage and courage over the course of several years, our community owes a debt of gratitude.I will not miss Balentine’s column. However, I am saddened by not being able to peruse the thoughtful responses of citizens who embraced their civic responsibility by writing constructive letters to the editor.  My hope is that The Forecaster will identify a well-qualified writer who possesses the ability to present political issues in a truthful and straightforward manner.John M. MishlerHarpswell