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Jan. 17, 2009 Letters to the Editor

Ban annoying drivers

The BDN’s editorial on old people behind the wheel admits that statistical evidence is conclusive that most highway accidents are caused by young people. The only argument it comes up with to counter this fact is that old people cause accidents because they drive too slowly. And where is the statistical evidence for this assertion? My bet is, there isn’t any.

Getting stuck behind somebody who’s driving too slow for you is annoying, be it an old person, a school bus or somebody just “out for a drive.” Perhaps a law could be passed making it illegal to annoy other drivers. I hope so, because then I would have the entire road to myself.

Paul H. Gray


• • •

Obama, Bangor context

The historic event of Barack Obama being inaugurated as the first black president of the United States must be shared by another black man, James H. Williams, 23, who made world legal history in Bangor in 1865.

Williams, charged with murder of a local white man, was the focus of a momentous occasion as the first criminal defendant to ever, under oath, anywhere in the world, be authorized to testify on his own behalf. This was made possible by the enactment of a law by the Maine Legislature approved March 25, 1864.

George Fisher of the Sanford Law School refers to this Maine law in his article, “Jury As A Lie Detector” which appears in the Yale Law Journal, Volume 107, December 1997, Number 3. The article says: “Not until the second half of the 19th century could accused criminals anywhere in the common law world testify under oath at their trials. Defendants could tell stories, but they could not swear to them, and a jury torn between two conflicting stories could choose simply to credit sworn accusation over unsworn denial.”

This Bangor event was especially significant since it occurred while “Negroes” were still being brutalized and lynched in this country. Twelve white men believed Williams over the evidence presented by the state and found him not guilty.

So, when Obama takes the oath of office, the citizens of Maine can be doubly proud since they have been part of two historic world events.

Edward A. Matheson


• • •

Bush-bashing photo

The Bangor Daily News ought to be ashamed of the picture of President Bush in the Jan. 13 edition. It’s bad enough the paper chastised him his entire term in office, and then the paper ends his term with a picture that never would have been printed of Gov. Baldacci or any other Democrat.

It’s pathetic when the BDN feels it necessary to continue ignorant beatings of the president of our country. The paper should reflect back on the terror our country faced in 2001 and find one kind thing to say or picture to print.

On a side note, it looks like editorial cartoonist George Danby will be looking hard to recreate negative images of the incoming president the way he, too, has belittled our current president and his administration. I hope you’re proud of yourselves.

Ray Bryant


• • •

Older, but diligent

I am so sick of everybody generalizing about older people that they become doddering idiots after the age of 65. How many older drivers are caught for OUI? How many older drivers have you seen talking on the phone or texting while driving? Or have an iPod stuck in their ears with blaring music, oblivious to all other noises? We’re just as diligent on the road as anybody else out there!

M. Yolande Daigle

Fort Kent

• • •

With our money

Recently, the U.S. Senate adopted by unanimous voice vote S. Res. 10, supporting Israel’s ongoing actions in Gaza.

So far in this action Israel has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians, about one-fourth of them children. Israel is bombing, apparently deliberately, U.N.-run refugee centers and convoys as well as homes and facilities that keep civilians alive. The Israeli assault is killing more than 200 times as many civilians as Hamas is.

All this is being done with U.S. funds and arms most of which are provided by the United States.

Balanced-sounding calls for better behavior from “both sides” are out of order. This is not a “war,” it is a conflict in which two “sides” contend in a militarily meaningful way. More Israelis are dying each day in traffic accidents than by Hamas’ actions. What is happening in Gaza is collective capital punishment. Israel’s actions are ill-considered from a strategic point of view — badly calculated to preserve Israel itself in the long run — and invite escalating acts of terrorism directed at not only Israel but the U.S. Recently former Knesset member Uri Avnery called Israel’s actions “inhuman, immoral, totally unjustified and unnecessary.” Israel’s actions are mass murder that cannot be excused as self-defense against Hamas’s criminal but militarily pathetic vengeance rockets. If the U.S. gives Israel carte blanch to continue the slaughter, there is no chance for peace.

Hopefully, the Obama administration will take an even-handed position in dealing with the combatants, and embrace the position that the only road to peace in the Middle East through diplomacy.

Gene Clifford

Southwest Harbor

• • •

Save OB at Blue Hill

I was shocked to read of the possible closing of the obstetric service at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital due to the hospital’s financial crisis. The OB service is small, but the human heart is small, too, and no surgeon would remove it in the name of efficiency.

Blue Hill offers a truly outstanding birth experience, which is central to a healthy community. Moms and dads who have a great birth go home happier, more confident, better prepared and ready to be better parents. We traveled an hour to BHMH for our son’s birth because we heard rave reviews about their OB department. We would gladly make the trip again.

OB is the biggest draw to BHMH. During their deliveries, many parents discover a wonderful small hospital, and return for other care, bringing in more revenue. It would be a terrible mistake to close this important “door” to the hospital.

Henrietta Clews and Dr. Walker have provided decades of amazing care in the community; Suzanne Norgang, the new midwife, is a great addition. The OB nurses are wonderful. They gave me top-notch labor support, and coached us through our son’s first days, helping us learn to trust ourselves as parents.

Lives begun in this foundation of confidence are the cornerstone of a healthy community. They are the heart of this hospital, and the heart of the community. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! Please, Dr. Steele, find a way to save money without sacrificing obstetrics at Blue Hill.

Susan Dickson-Smith


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