Willette’s comments no joke

What disturbed me the most about Sen. Michael Willette’s Facebook posts was not so much what he posted, but it was that these friends of mine did not seem at all bothered by it. The County has its share of rednecks, I know, and some of them are friends of mine, but it disturbed me that they thought Mike’s post was funny and harmless. That’s what convinced me to write this letter.

Equating our president, like him or not, with such an immoral and insane enemy terrorist organization as ISIL borders on treason to me. As a Christian and an American, I am disgusted by that comparison, as I was by some of the other racial and religious slurs Mike posted against the leader of our country.

As a social studies teacher, I know that America was built on the blood and sweat of countless people of all races, and somehow in spite of it, or because of it, we managed to build a great country. Now it seems some people in the political spectrum want to lead us back to the dark ages of racial, religious, and economic separation and persecution in this country, in the guise of patriotism or “just joking” or “our way or else.”

I’m not one of those saying he should resign, although I wouldn’t be against it, but something more than a half-hearted apology seems in order. How about taking some real bipartisan legislative action toward mending the divide that exists in our state and our nation, rather than working to make it wider?

Paul Lamoreau

Presque Isle

Rockweed harvesting concerns

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has recently decided to classify rockweed as a marine fishery. While rockweed certainly supports many of Maine’s fisheries, the last I knew rockweed was a plant — not a fish. The trouble with this false classification is that the intertidal zone has been designated for public fishing and fowling but otherwise under the control of the Bureau of Parks and Lands and of private landowners to the low water mark.

With this unprecedented classification of rockweed as a fishery much is at risk for the health of Maine’s intertidal zone and the life it supports. Also at risk are the rights of individual property owners to protect this valuable resource. Property taxpayers would no longer have control as to how, when or how much anyone could harvest on their property. Such a move would essentially open wide what is public and private property to industrial rockweed harvesters.

Unfortunately, DMR has a poor record when it comes to sustainable fisheries management. Just look at the sad state of our groundfish, shrimp, sea urchin and scallop industries. It would appear that this is just another move to harvest yet another untapped marine resource without thorough research about the sustainability of the resource or the long term impact of such action.

Research should be conducted and sustainability should be the primary aim, before any sort of commercial negotiations are even considered. The sanctity of public and private property owners rights should not be subject to the whims of exploitation. Our fisheries should not be devastated by reckless haste.

Dottie Hayes

Brooklin

Willette should resign

I like to think that Sen. Michael Willette must have some conscience, however weak, nudging him to understand that his racist remarks are damaging to our social fabric. But something much stronger than conscience must motivate his remarks.

I believe that something is the cultural support of many voices in power encouraging him in his prejudices. There is widespread support among conservative leaders for such racist hatred of President Barack Obama and for other forms of prejudice against immigrants, women, LGBTs, non-Christian religions, a variety of ethnicities, workers, the poor. Though prejudice of national leaders is often more subtle than Willette’s Facebook posts, it is more damaging when disguised because it results in legislation occurring now that legitimizes prejudice such as restrictions on environmental protections, on consumers’ rights to know, on voting rights, on workers’ rights to organize, on women’s reproductive freedom, on health-care rights, and on numerous other rights.

When such prejudice is a profound threat to our democracy. It drowns out voices of conscience for equality that our Constitution promises and for love and compassion that Christ and Pope Francis call for. The only solution is a politically enlightened and engaged public who will demand better from our politicians. For this reason, I support the social reprimand of Willette and the call for his resignation. I urge his other constituents to do likewise.

Alice Bolstridge

Presque Isle

Elephants and abortion

I was saddened and disappointed to see that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has caved in to political correctness and pressure from groups like Natalie Prosin’s Nonhuman Rights Project and will eliminate elephants from their shows, thus depriving thousands of people, especially children,the joy of seeing these magnificent creatures in real life. In her Washington Post column, reprinted by the BDN on March 12, Prosin decries the treatment of elephants in captivity, where they don’t get the opportunity to walk as many as 40 miles a day as they do in their natural habitat while searching for food and water. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that they live twice as long in captivity as they do in the wild.

I object strenuously to the notion put forth by the Nonhuman Rights Project that elephants should be classified as “legal persons” with “fundamental rights.” Elephants aren’t persons and they don’t have rights. Rights are always tied to responsibilities, that’s why they refer to people, not animals.

Regrettably, this is the kind of thing that happens in a society that devalues human life (note abortion and assisted suicide). The value and respect intended for human life is transferred to animals. Thus abortion is called “women’s health,” and killing an animal is “murder.” This is the kind of thing that we have to vigorously resist.

If circus elephants are as smart as Prosin thinks they are, they may soon be carrying signs saying, “Please don’t send us back to the Serengeti!”

David Labun

Millinocket