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April 16th Letters to the Editor

Treaty a priority

President Barack Obama signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), a historic arms control treaty, on Thursday, April 8, that will make significant cuts in nuclear weapons arsenals of Russia and the United States.

To me, nuclear weapons represent the ultimate threat to this country’s security and I want my representatives to make this vote a priority.

Without New START, the United States will not have a right to verify Russia’s nuclear weapon stockpiles. This treaty enables the United States and Russia to build mutual trust by having people from both countries verify that both countries are being honest in the process of disarming some of their nuclear weapons.

We also need to ratify the New START treaty in Congress to make sure that non-nuclear weapon states understand that the days of the possession of nuclear weapons are numbered. The longer we cling to these relics of the Cold War, the more that other countries will feel that they too need nuclear weapons to keep their citizens secure and safe.

If we do not make abolishing nuclear weapons a priority then we will increasingly face a world filled with nuclear weapon-capable countries.

I urge our senators to strongly endorse and vote for this treaty.

Dr. Kathryn Bourgoin

Member of Physicians for Social Responsibility



Social workers’ ethics

As a social worker in Maine, I have had the honor to have worked with Maine’s diverse populations. It is my professional duty to help support and advocate on behalf of all my clients, regardless of their differences. These basic tenets of social justice and the promotion of social change are what my profession was founded on.

We who chose social work enter this vocation knowing that it comes with a code of ethics that clearly states that “social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination and other forms of social injustice.”

Our code affirms that “social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status or mental or physical disability.”

On behalf of my social work colleagues in Maine and the clients to whom we have dedicated our professional lives, I assert that the actions of Don Mendell do not represent the practice of social work that I as well as hundreds of others believe in. Despite what a mere two individuals from the licensing board have recently said (“Counselor complaint dismissed,” BDN, April 12), professional social workers put their biases and personal or political agendas aside and join the tireless fight on behalf of those that need our voices the most.

This is the social work I know and will continue to practice.

Christopher McLaughlin



The name deceives

Tom Franklin, president of the board of directors for Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, was quoted in the BDN’s April 10-11 article about concealed firearms permits as saying, “I’m concerned about the bad image that gun owners are getting because of extreme claims by other gun owners.”

Having been to Augusta in the past as MCAHV introduces and-or testifies in antigun legislation, I can tell you gun owners are getting the majority of bad press from organizations such as theirs. Despite the name changes — Handgun Control Inc. to The Brady Campaign — gun owners know who they are.

I have tried several times in the past to join Maine Citizens against Handgun Violence. After all, who isn’t? Maybe being an NRA pistol instructor and range safety officer prohibits me from joining the organization.

Terry Shortt



Questionable ruling

The ruling by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to disallow Husson College’s planned law school is disappointing and deeply disturbing. Time after time, just when it looks like Eastern Maine might have something promising in the works, there always seems to be an “official” entity that comes along to scotch the deal.

On the surface, the high court’s rationale for rejecting Husson’s plan has that proper, respectable patina, but, having been burned so many times by political power brokering from the south of us, it’s hard not to be cynical.

There seems to be an exasperating Catch-22 component to the supreme court’s “tenure” concern that evokes suspicion. The court is not giving Husson a chance. The litmus test for Husson’s efficacy as a legal school should be whether its graduates would be able to pass the bar exam. One cannot help but wonder: Is Maine’s “legal community” a Southern-style good old boy network that extends all the way up to the state’s highest court? A brotherhood of lawyers sticking together to protect the Portland Law School’s state monopoly?

Of course, those kind of dots are hard to connect and we can hope that our high court would never stoop to this brand of judicial despotism.

Still, the question will linger.

V. Paul Reynolds



Dangerous subtext

The BDN is right to urge care and thoughtfulness in international politics. It is right to call for great caution when warfare is threatened by anyone. However, the anti-Jewish subtext of the April 12 editorial “More Warmongering” must not go unremarked.

The caricature of Jews perpetuated is persistent. It is also persistently and dangerously wrong. If only the world could be rid of the Jews, it would be free from war and oil would flow plentifully again. To think such things on any day is bizarre; to suggest such on Holocaust Remembrance Day was simply obscene.

Holocausts and genocide are serious matters. We should expect governments to do what they say they are going to do. If they claim these as policies of state, attention is required.

Do the quotation marks around “terrorist organizations” suggest that such organizations are legitimate, moral actors, equivalent to all civilized nations? If so, please consider not using such marks. Hezbollah, Hamas and others have earned all that makes them distinct. They do not need — nor would they want — such patronizing and naive markings setting off their premises or techniques. They are who they are.

James L. Haddix



Pre-existing condition

I read with much interest in the April 9 BDN that the man accused of threatening House Speaker Pelosi 48 times (because of her efforts toward health care reform) was judged to possess a mental disorder.

Perhaps now that the health care reform bill has passed, he will receive the needed medical treatments, even if it was a pre-existing condition.

Leonard Kass


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