Exposing cruelty to women

When you were so poor you had nowhere else to go, it used to be you went to the workhouse. Think of Charles Dickens. In Ireland, for more than 200 years, legions of poor women and girls were consigned to workhouses called Magdalene Laundries. The last one closed in 1996.

Penitents they were called. Fallen women. Prostitutes and destitutes. Unmarried. Some

pregnant, forced to give up their children at birth. Sentenced without trial to indefinite terms in the Magdalene Laundries. Imprisoned there for being women.

There is a movie that tells their story, “ The Magdalene Sisters.” Now fast-forward. Think about the millions of #MeToo posts exposing harassment, sexual assault. Think about what’s different now.

Think about that phrase, those words, me too. That is different. It’s the sound of reinforcements, a bugle in the midst of battle. Others who have suffered, endured — who have witnessed suffering, who have themselves endured — will come to our aid. Will speak out. Speak up. Stand up. Take action.

Please join us for a discussion of Ireland’s Magdalene asylums and their connection with today’s #MeToo campaign at 6 p.m. March 6 at Orono High School. The events is sponsored by The Humanities Collaborative, Orono High School, Stephen E. King Chair in Literature, Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center.

Come hear James Smith speak on “Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, Academic Advocacy and Restorative Justice” at 7 p.m. March 7 at Minsky Hall, University of Maine.

Claire Moriarty


Don’t weaken fuel efficiency standard

Our transportation sector is reliant on fossil fuels and is also the single largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, the primary cause of climate change.

Yet, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, has introduced a bill that could effectively weaken the corporate average fuel economy standards for the auto industry, set to go from 30.3 miles per gallon to 46.3 mpg by 2025. The Blunt bill allows automakers to bank additional credits from already sold vehicles while chipping away at improved mileage and emissions targets. The Blunt bill has the cynical support of automakers, even though they have the technology available to meet these goals — electric vehicles.

Maine’s transportation sector consumes over 15 million barrels of oil, exporting over $2.4 billion petro-based dollars in the process. Any effort to reduce Maine’s oil dependence bears huge dividends in greenhouse gas emissions reductions and enhanced economic vitality. Strong standards have already saved Maine residents $190 million at the pump and by 2030 each household will save an additional $2,950. Pumped back into the local economy, this savings drives innovation and job growth.

Most major automakers have pivoted to electric vehicles while working to increase efficiency in combustion engines. Electric vehicles now get over 200 miles of range and over 700,000 plug-in vehicles are being driven on U.S. roads. Globally, half the world’s auto market will end sales of new gas cars by 2040. Be sure to thank our Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, who do not support this bill and want a cleaner transportation future.

Barry Woods

Director of electric vehicle innovation

ReVision Energy

South Portland

Gun law quandary

As a licensed hunter in Maine for more than 40 years, I am legally able to carry an AR-15 fitted with a 30-round magazine, sound suppressor and bump stock, except during deer season.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s 2017 hunting law summary book states, “It is unlawful to hunt any migratory game bird with a shotgun originally capable of holding more than 3 shells unless the magazine has been cut off, altered, or plugged … so as to reduce the capacity of the gun to not more than 3 shells.”

It begs the question, why is it more important that the law restrict the possibility of poaching than restrict the possibility of mass murder?

Robert DeFarges


End gun violence

We are writing to address the upcoming school walk out taking place at Orono High School on March 14 in solidarity with the victims of the Parkland shooting. As students, we believe we should have the ability to attend school without the threat of violence, and want to raise awareness about the gun violence epidemic in our country. This is an issue that has cost many people our age their lives, and as we are unable to vote, we see this as an opportunity to demand that our voices are heard.

We have lived our whole lives with gun violence in schools as a given. The sheer multitude of attacks has normalized it to a disturbing degree. This is not a fate we want for the generations to come.

Our politicians are tasked with representing our best interests, and there comes a point at which our lives must be taken seriously. We believe that this should no longer be a partisan issue. No one should have to live in fear because of the inaction of our elected officials. The time to act is now. Enough is enough.

Liza Gallandt

Katie O’Brien

Jessie Walker


Outlaw female genital mutilation

Last year, Rep. Heather Sirocki’s female genital mutilation bill, LD 745, was labeled as a “hate bill” instead of giving full consideration to the fact that immigrant women and children are being tortured.

Gov. Paul LePage reintroduced LD 745, now LD 1819, against female genital mutilation this session after the Democrats voted to let this torture of children continue last year. LD 1819 is making the distinction that all people involved in the barbaric cutting of little girls are to be held responsible. Instead, the bill, LD 1822, introduced by the opposition party says we need to just educate the community instead of giving the legal system the tools that the prosecutors need for enforcement.

America welcomes many immigrants who are looking for freedom from persecution. Surely female genital mutilation would fall into this category. This doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to forms of child abuse that is unacceptable in our culture. We must send a strong message to protect little girls and women from all forms of violence. We should join with 26 other states that recognize the need for clear language to prohibit the torture of female genital mutilation.

Beverly Cowan