[Re "The Backstory: Story With the Longest Legs," December 28]: At its last monthly meeting, the Vermont Will Miller Chapter 57 of Veterans for Peace voted to support the City of Rutland's invitation to host 100 Middle Eastern war refugees.
The national VFP statement on Syria says: "We oppose war. We are against the targeting of, as well as the failure to protect, innocent civilians caught up in war, or any other conduct by an individual, group or nation that could be classified as a war crime. We oppose U.S. military involvement in other countries that violates international law."
Millions of people have fled fighting in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan amid war, bombings and the spread of Islamic extremist groups. Veterans for Peace recognizes that many of the refugees are a result of the U.S.'s role and involvement in those countries.
The VFP also recognizes the long history of accepting immigrants and refugees in Vermont, many of whom have been settled in Chittenden County since the 1980s. Vermonters know that we are all a nation of immigrants. With a declining population and slow economic recovery, Rutland will only benefit from an infusion of working families from diverse backgrounds.
The Will Miller chapter of VFP, whose members have seen war up close from Korea to Iraq and know personally the pain and destruction of war, welcomes these most recent refugees to our state. The group meets monthly at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier on Saturday morning.
Your recent obit on Paij Wadley-Bailey was an inspiration for me ["Life Stories," December 28]. I read about a very strong woman with very strong beliefs in human rights and choices. In Vermont she found her niche and dedicated her life to a positive and far-reaching activism. When she developed renal failure requiring daily dialysis, she chose to stop her treatment after about a year. She then utilized Vermont's aid-in-dying law, Act 39, to die peacefully at the time and in the setting of her choice.
I am a Vermonter and a physician who has returned to my home state postretirement. I have always believed in patient choice in end-of-life decisions, but I have never been a voice until I learned from the magazine Compassion & Choices that Act 39 is under attack in Vermont's federal court. Two groups, one based in Vermont and one based in Tennessee, have jointly filed a suit. Their argument is that merely having to tell a terminally ill adult patient that aid in dying is available or having to refer them to a physician who will is a violation of their constitutional rights. What about the rights and choices of the terminally ill?
I am now a voice further fueled by Paij's story. I think that she would be as appalled as I am that Act 39 is threatened and that her voice would be there with mine were she still alive.
[Re "Cutting Edge," January 11]: I've seen Silver Bridget a few times, and I think they are fantastic.
No Good Graffiti
[Re "Vermont Artists Become Activists, Raising Consciousness and Funds," December 28, 2016]: I know nobody likes a stick in the mud or a party pooper, but I have to say Seven Days is wrong to glorify graffiti or trivialize its effects. Graffiti in public places increases the workload for public employees and increases taxes for the community. Graffiti on small businesses hurts the small-business owner. Even graffiti on the property of big, seemingly faceless corporations makes more work for the lower-paid employees and increases costs to consumers. At no point is a representative of the patriarchy or the 1 percent on his hands and knees cleaning graffiti and saying to himself, "Boy, was I wrong. This graffiti taught me a lesson — now I know I should be making America nice again."
Graffiti also increases crime. The University of Groningen in the Netherlands conducted an experiment using a freshly painted alley with a mailbox and an envelope sticking out of the mailbox. Money was visible inside the envelope. Thirteen percent of passersby took the money. When the experiment was conducted in the same alley deliberately covered in graffiti, 27 percent of passersby took the money. Graffiti may not encourage more people to vandalize stuff, but it will encourage people to violate norms of behavior. In this case, it doubled the number of people who would steal from their neighbor.
People who like to paint walls should be free to do so, but they should paint their own walls.
Can't Go It Alone
The economy of Vermont would completely collapse without the massive amount of federal funds that prop up our fine state ["If at First You Don't Secede: Trump Could Revitalize Vermont Movement," January 11]. Moreover, secession is contrary to what democracy stands for. I, for one, am so tired of the polarity of both the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump parties. They both have valid points to make but are horrifically misguided in their incessant finger-pointing and unwillingness to compromise. Don't let these two polarizing fools divide us. Take the best ideas from both sides, discard the worst and have the courage to compromise.