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Friday, July 19, 2013: North Korea and Zimmerman verdict

Thoughts on North Korea

I found Joseph Ferris’ observations about North Korea interesting in the July 14 BDN article, “An American in North Korea: Maine Maritime grad sees the world.”

Nine years after the Korean War, I also spent some time in South Korea at the request of Uncle Sam. At that time, South Korea was just beginning to recover from the war caused by the North Korean invasion.

The children I saw were begging in the streets for food, and many of the women had been forced into prostitution to feed their extended families. Poverty was everywhere, caused by the influx of people who fled from the north at the start of the war.

On Ferris’ next trip, I suggest he visit South Korea, especially the military cemetery just outside of Seoul where 55,000 crosses mark the graves of American and United Nations troops that died fighting the North Korean invaders.

Rodger L. Johnstone



Road to nowhere

The state of Maine is preparing to spend $3 million to widen a 0.8-mile section of road in the tiny village of South Bristol. The village straddles the gut between the mainland and Rutherford Island at the end of Route 129.

The state has told residents that this short stretch of road needs to accommodate 2,450 cars per day. The entire zip code, of which the village is a small part, has 255 year-round cars, and as far as I know, its population is decreasing. The island has barely enough water for the existing population.

The state also cites pedestrian safety as a justification. As far as anyone alive today knows, there has never been a pedestrian accident on that stretch of road. The widening won’t increase the capacity of the road but will increase traffic speed.

The state’s excuse for the road project is the scheduled replacement of the gut bridge. There is no reason for the road to be wider than the new bridge or wider than the rest of Route 129.

The state may have to take land from almost every property in the village. Some people could lose their yards and even porches. Some very old historic buildings could be permanently damaged and much-loved trees cut down.

The state of Maine is preparing to spend millions of dollars fixing something that isn’t broken to ruin the character of the village. The result will be a $3-million road to nowhere. Every Maine taxpayer should contact their elected representatives about this expensive misuse of power.

Catherine Bruce

South Bristol


System failure

It is inconceivable to me that a young black boy, barely a teenager, out for a bag of skittles, without a weapon, a gun, a knife or hand grenade, would assault a white man twice his size and wind up dead in the scuffle.

There is something wrong with the picture, and what is wrong is the missing ingredient of a provocation justifying lethal force. Did Trayvon Martin really go after Zimmerman with such life-threatening outrage as to place the fear of extinction in Zimmerman’s mind? Ridiculous. Absurd. Ludicrous.

The people on the jury that set that self-anointed force majeure on the loose should all be given lobotomies and set adrift in a leaky skiff.

Phil Tobin



Blind justice

According to the law, George Zimmerman was rightfully acquitted of criminally killing Trayvon Martin. Yet, Martin was wrongfully killed. Society is left with a wrong without a remedy.

Two reasons for this are the endemic vestiges of racism in our culture and the Florida statute that allows a person who fears for his safety to shoot his perceived assailant.

I believe racial stereotyping led Zimmerman to accost Martin as the first in a chain of events, ending with the killing of the unarmed boy. Had Martin been white, Zimmerman wouldn’t have suspected the worst of him.

Many of us, as whites in a largely white society, in spite of our best educations and enlightened humanism, harbor some form of stereotyping of black kids. It’s naive to think that Zimmerman, a product of a small-town gated community in Florida, is race-blind.

The trial showed that Zimmerman approached Martin, and an altercation followed. It doesn’t matter who started the fight. It only mattered that Zimmerman feared for his safety and shot Martin.

I am a large white male. If I should approach another person on a dark, deserted street where there had been a spate of muggings, that person, if armed, might be frightened enough to shoot, especially if I were black. In Florida, the shooter would not be criminally responsible.

Florida’s foolish “stand your ground” law is a recipe for more wrongful but legal killings, especially where stereotypes induced by racism give rise to irrational fear.

Daniel Harris



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