Courier-Gazette Letters to the Editor, Feb. 7

Feb 07, 2019

Applause from Massachusetts

I applaud Virginia’s passion and clarity of vision regarding the death of the unborn and the desire to add voices to Jeremiah’s wish for legislation to stop this practice in Texas.

To the contrary, New York State has recently passed a law permitting the killing of the baby up to its moment of birth.

This should not be seen as a political or women’s health issue, but the murder of an entirely separate human being living and growing inside a woman.

In her letter, Virginia asked us to sign her petition, but did not say how. Please let us know how to add our names.

Frederic and Donna Sibley

Medway, Mass.

Wondering about new ad policy

A quarter of a year has passed since the November election. Most of us remember the nearly-useless-but-cruelly-timely Paula Sutton advertisement that viciously smeared Pinny Beebe Center, piercing beyond its falsity (which itself was not surprising, given its source).

After the election, Village Soup apologized publicly -- however ineffectually. It recognized that its publications should not have accepted such patently obvious and vile calumny.

Constructively, Village Soup also pledged review of policy and procedure that allowed its publication of that advertisement, to prevent such future mistake.

The recent article in The Free Press of Jan. 31 by Andy O'Brien reignites the viciousness of extreme views. Titled "Knox County GOP Ad Promotes Man Involved with RIght-Wing Paramilitaries", it recounts a recent letter by Paula Sutton to Sen. Susan Collins, and the fallout, including from its republication in a story in "The Buzz" and the -- in my view -- immediate resignation of Nate Davis from association with its editor and publisher on other, but constructive, purposes.

Obviously, the general issue lives on. Many of us see it as smear, without privilege under freedom of the press. Reportedly, however, this letter ran twice last week as a paid ad in the Bangor Daily News.

In this age of accused fakery directed against the media, attempting to constrain our foundational benefit from a free press, surely by now we all must appreciate the responsibility of the press to apply the highest standards of veracity and fairness to everything it disseminates.

So, back to Village Soup's pledge to review its policies and procedures.

By now, I hope that this review has been completed, and that new and effective procedures have been implemented. But I have heard nothing about what such changes have been made, and what officers are responsible for their application.

Is it not time, already, for Village Soup to tell us its story? I do hope that you can and will boast truthfully.

George B. Terrien

Rockland

Don't limit photos, videos during House debate

One of the worst things I witnessed in Augusta during my legislative service was Assistant Majority Leader Erin Herbig running around the chamber whipping votes. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means that you are being pressured to vote a certain way. We were voting on a tough issue and a few Democrats were not toeing the party line and instead were voting with the Republicans. Herbig was hovering over the desks of various members and not leaving until they switched their votes, which were plainly visible on the light board. Members clearly were being bullied. One rep who had been targeted left the chamber visibly upset and in tears after being forced to flip her vote. House Republicans were able to capture a portion of this outrageous behavior on video. Unfortunately, this session the newly elected Rep. Bill Pluecker of Warren and every House Democrat voted to change the rules to prohibit taking videos and pictures of other people during debates.

Some say the in-house recording cameras will be sufficient, but they are not. These House videos only document what is being said by the single member who is speaking at any given time. It does not show the broad overview of activity, and therefore misses such activities as chamber whipping. There have also been times when there was a technical difficulty and the cameras failed, leaving gaps in the footage, such as during the recent swearing-in ceremony.

When contacted about the changed rule, Pluecker said that we should “let the media handle the photographing.” The media is selective in its portrayal of events and we should not be limited by its narrative. Limiting transparency is unacceptable and brings up the question, what are they hiding?

Paula Sutton

Warren

Sutton does not need a megaphone

I initially thought WRFR's "The Buzz" held great potential in our community -- it would feature a grassroots diversity of local voices discussing Rockland-related issues. I have written several pieces for "The Buzz" and was glad to be part of it. However, "The Buzz" recently crossed a line by going out of its way to print Paula Sutton’s racist bigotry, giving a megaphone to her anti-immigrant stereotypes. Sutton’s letter wasn't even submitted for publication -- "The Buzz" saw it and went out of its way to print it.

Sutton had to buy an ad in order to get her fear-mongering, scapegoating words in the Bangor Daily News. The Portland Press Herald wouldn't even give quotes for printing it, and yet our small "community-driven" broadsheet printed it, for free.

The printing of Sutton's letter was designed to provoke, perhaps to stir up a so-called "spirited debate." But there can be no "spirit," no "fair debate" when people's lives are on the line. Hate crimes are on the rise, as are discriminatory policies. And bigotry has plenty of ways to be heard these days -- from the president, the TV, the internet, etc. It did not need the extra space provided by "The Buzz."

I would like to see "The Buzz" change its editorial practices to be truly democratic, transparent and inclusive. I would like the editors to understand there is a distinction between free speech and hate speech, and that first and foremost the First Amendment is about protecting citizens from the speech/actions of the state.

Think of the many voices in this community that could have been given space in "The Buzz" -- perhaps that might even have meant thoughtfully including voices of those who fear immigrants, or discussing other ideas on immigration. But the choice to find and print Sutton’s letter without comment was not thoughtful nor grassroots. It was extremely irresponsible for WRFR's "The Buzz" to go out if its way to help her spread her bigotry.

Becca Shaw Glaser

Rockland

Grateful for Pies on Parade

On behalf of the AIO Food Pantry, Utility Assistance and Child Hunger Programs, we would like to thank everyone involved in providing the most successful Pies on Parade fundraiser to date! This 15th Annual Pies weekend was incredible! And we are grateful.

To the Pies on Parade Planning Committee, Historic Inns of Rockland and area businesses, you have again masterfully pulled off an incredible weekend of events. We very much appreciate the time you spend organizing every detail, arranging publicity, putting together the silent auction, creating a scavenger hunt, opening a shop or facility that might not otherwise be open on a January weekend, and so much more. We thank all of the pie chefs -- we know you invest a lot of your own resources in baking and spend long hours creating your delicious treats. The work you have all done will make a huge difference in many peoples’ lives.

To our AIO volunteers who don our red aprons so beautifully, greeted eager pie-goers at each of the venues, answer questions about our organization, and hand out tickets at the Lighthouse Museum, you are our most valuable asset, this event could not run without your volunteer energy.

To the participants of the Pies on Parade events -- Friday night silent auction at the Rock Harbor Brewery, the Saturday Camden Scavenger Hunt and the Sunday Pies on Parade in Rockland -- your silent auction bids, ticket purchases and donations of heating oil support the AIO Programs and your neighbors across Knox County. Thank you for spending time in Midcoast Maine in January enjoying our wonderful community. (Mark your calendars for next year's event, Jan. 24 to 26, 2020)

On behalf of the AIO board, clients and volunteers, our sincere thanks,

Marty Shaw and Linda Pieper

AIO Pies on Parade Volunteer Coordinators

Library says thanks for help with Coast Guard dinner

On Wednesday,  Jan. 30, the Thomaston Public Library hosted local Coast Guard families at a lasagna dinner. During last summer many of these men and women joyfully offered programming for our 40 Days of Summer program, and this seemed like an ideal time to celebrate and thank them. It was so much fun seeing families and service people gathered at the Federated Church in Thomaston enjoying an evening out, a time to relax and share a lasagna dinner and about a ton of yummy donated desserts!

My thanks go out to my wonderful library staff: Caroline, Missy, Toby and Blake, and to Janet, Lee, Jane, Chris and John for their kitchen prowess and to John for salting the icy parking lot. The kindness of the Thomaston Grocery, Hannaford and Walmart helped to defray the cost of the groceries, and the generosity of Thomaston Random Acts of Kindness and a number of substantial donations from patrons and neighbors allowed us to purchase food and will enable us to facilitate some gift cards for these important Coast Guard people.

Tuesday evening before the dinner, a crew helped assemble the lasagnas and cut veggies for salad, allowing the overall project to be organized, efficient and smooth, a real cooperative event. The Federated Church graciously let us use their great hall and kitchen, and so many friends baked cookies and brownies, I am sure there were some substantial sweet overloads happening post-dinner!

Thank you to all participated in this truly fun event. What an evening, what a great community we live in.

Diane Giese

Head Librarian

Thomaston Public Library

Legislators call for preservation of Title IX protections

As the state representatives of Knox County, we recognize the historical and present-day impact of sexual violence and harassment on our community and students. While all people and communities are affected by these acts, we also recognize that this is a symptom of our society that disproportionately affects women in our communities.

Because this is a societal issue that affects the fundamental structure of our schools, workplaces and community institutions, it must be addressed in a comprehensive way that requires the involvement of the federal government. Our federal Constitution mandates that the government protect the individual liberties of our citizens, and sexual violence and harassment fundamentally threaten these liberties.

We recognize that it is fundamentally more difficult to be a survivor of sexual harassment and violence than it is to be accused as a perpetrator. While recognizing that all people have the right to defend themselves in front of an impartial judge before being convicted, as a society, we should encourage people to give voice to their experience of violence and harassment, and to have the strength to confront the perpetrators. As more people come forward with their stories of abuse, our society will become more adept at responding empathetically and professionally to their experience.

This is the role that Title IX has played in our legal system for the last 30 years, and its work is not yet done. It is remarkable that in this time when we are seeing so many people come forward with their stories of the role of sexual violence and harassment in their lives,  rule changes are being proposed to make it more difficult to pursue legal remedies under Title IX. It gives the appearance that these changes are based on a political motivation to quiet the survivors and protect the perpetrators. Even if this is not the intent, this motivation is being clearly communicated by the timing of these hearings.

It is time to double down on our 30-year legal commitment to the rights of students who are coming forward with their own stories of surviving sexual violence. It is time for us, as a community, to welcome and really hear these stories in a way that brings compassion and commitment to changing the societal ills that give space to these attacks. These are fundamentally hard stories to hear for both those who have experienced a sexual assault and those who see how they did not step forward to speak out when given the opportunity. This is our opportunity to speak out. This is our time to step up to the challenge of sexual violence and harassment in our schools and community, and not let our past define our future.

As the state legislators of Knox County, we call for Title IX to be protected in its current form, with its protections for the liberties or all people, accused and survivor alike.

Sen. David Miramant

Senate District 12

Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos

House District 91

Rep. Anne Matlack

House District 92

Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center

House District 93

Rep. Vicki Doudera

House District 94

Rep. William Pluecker

House District 95

Rep. Genevieve McDonald

House District 134

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