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Tuesday, June 21, 2011: Guns, voting rights and fairness

A gun may have helped

In an article on the safety efforts that failed to save the Lake family in Dexter, BDN reporter Christopher Cousins wrote, “Amy Lake did everything she could …”

I beg to differ. There has been no indication that Amy obtained a gun and learned to use it. If she had, she and her family might be alive today.

Several years ago a man came to my house and yelled that he was going to kill me. He started beating on me, and since he was nearly twice my size, he might have succeeded. Fortunately a friend distracted him long enough for me to get a gun. I didn’t even have to point it at him; as soon as he saw it in my hand he decided he had better things to do elsewhere.

The Dexter situation demonstrates once more that despite their best intentions and efforts, the courts and police can’t protect everyone from a determined killer. Personal safety finally comes down to what you can do for yourself. Guns were called “equalizers” in the Old West, and they still can be, when all else fails.

Lawrence E. Merrill

Better way than fighting

In the beginning, God decided the serpent’s brain needed an amygdala (a mass of nuclei in the temporal lobe of the brain) that would warn him of danger from other critters. Then, seeing what the serpent did to Adam, he installed one in Adam’s head to warn him of troublemakers.

Since then, the human race has used its amygdala whenever it thinks it sees troublemakers. It is the flight or fight response.

Flight or fight was pretty handy back in saber-toothed tiger days. But we still use our amygdalas. What are we afraid of now? The short answer is each other. Especially in politics, we see troublemakers to fight.

To keep from fighting each other over the things that make democracies run, we came up with the vote. In Maine, we have universal voting rights to encourage people to vote, and for the last 38 years we have had the right to walk in on Election Day, tell the clerk who we are and vote.

Republicans want to change these rights. Are they scared somebody may cheat?

There have been only a couple of incidents in those 38 years (of maybe 15 million votes cast).

Why do the Republicans want to change the rules? It is going to make it much harder for young folks, wage earners, the poor and elderly and anybody who needs help to get to the voting booth twice instead of once.

A democracy is only as good as the people who vote for it. Abraham Lincoln said something like that.

Jim Loomis

Family not property

I feel sympathy for a man who has lost his child and grandchildren, as George Lake did earlier this week. No one should have to suffer such a horrible loss. But as a community, we need to recognize that the act of Steven Lake was not that of a good and caring father. Good and caring fathers do not murder their children and their children’s mother nor subject them to the torture that they must have endured in the hours before their deaths and that we know they endured the last time he held them hostage and threatened to kill them.

Steven Lake could not accept the fact that his wife and children were not his property; that’s why he killed them. This is a common threat of abusers to their victims; “If I can’t have

you, no one will.” I feel sad for Steven Lake’s father and sadder still for the three people whose lives were cut short out of one man’s sense of entitlement and vengeance.

Rebecca Hobbs

Lake chose violence

In the wake of last week’s shooting in Dexter, my heart goes out to the victims, their families and the entire community. In reading the BDN, however, I have been appalled to see the number of excuses being made in Steven Lake’s defense.

Referencing the couple’s “marital troubles” minimizes and distorts reality; a well-documented history of domestic violence does not equal “marital troubles,” and no matter how tough the divorce was or how much he missed his children, it does not excuse or mitigate his choice to repeatedly use violence.

This wasn’t a “bad relationship;” it was an abusive relationship, in which Steven abused his wife and children. Some — including the BDN — have stated that not being allowed to attend his son’s graduation led to the shooting, but not being allowed to go somewhere does not cause a triple homicide.

Steven is not a person with a bruised psyche who got pushed over the edge—he chose to use violence against his family more than once, and tragically this time he chose to kill them.

In all our discussions of this tragedy — in the news, at work, around the dinner table — we must use language that holds the abuser accountable and the victims blameless. We must not be confused into thinking Steven is a victim in this situation. His choices caused these deaths — not his wife, not the divorce and certainly not how much he missed his kids.

Regina Rooney
Old Town

Fair to whom?

The Legislature has approved a budget it considers fair. I would like to know for whom it is fair.

Is it fair to me that the state is willfully reneging on the retirement package that I was hired under? Is it fair to me, a retired teacher with 37 years faithful service, that I can’t get a cost of living increase for five years?

I defy anyone to show how the cost of living hasn’t risen over the past three years, for which I haven’t received a cost of living increase in my retirement, and apparently won’t over the next two years either. Or is the legislature now saying I won’t get a COLA for another five years (which would be seven years of no increases).

Is it fair that retired teachers cannot collect the Social Security they worked summers for in order to support their families when teacher salaries were insufficient for a comfortable living? If you say that reducing taxes for the richest citizens in the state at the same time you are freezing my benefits is fair, perhaps you had better go back to school to relearn the concept of “fair.”

Fair doesn’t mean failure to follow up on promises that were made and fair isn’t a willful decision to unilaterally abandon contractual obligations that were freely made and agreed to.

Donald C. Roffey

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