Cruelty at Home
However much I enjoy reading endlessly about today's soapbox politicians ["Trump Roast," January 13], what got my attention in that issue of Seven Days was the ad from Protect Our Wildlife VT [on page 35] showing a bobcat caught in a leghold trap. How is it possible in 21st-century Vermont that leghold traps are even legal? Why is it still OK to use a brutal, medieval device to impose death by torture on animals? The ad suggests that conservation is the rationale.
Rather than worry about Donald Trump's sanity, maybe we should revisit the status of our own. Mohandas Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." It's important to keep this in mind as the politicians blather on about how to make the nation great once again.
File This Away
I greatly enjoyed [WTF: "What's the Story With Burlington's Tower of File Cabinets?" on December 16]. My wife and I recently traveled to Burlington from Sydney, Australia, to attend a friend's wedding. As a lover of odd tourist attractions the world over, I was particularly excited to glimpse this mighty tower firsthand. Although we were particularly busy during our four-day stay in Vermont, two carloads of Australian tourists converged on the impressive landmark at 1 a.m. early one Saturday morning in July.
I believe that our local hosts were particularly confused about our obsession with the obscure obelisk; some had never even heard of it themselves, despite living their whole lives in the area. And here we are, traipsing around the globe in the hope of catching sight of such a magnificent structure!
Reading your article was particularly informative — it was great to get a bit of background on the thing, as its present location offers few clues about its history or purpose. Knowing only too well my taste for tourist oddities, my now-married friend posted the article all the way back to me in Sydney.
Oyster Bay, NSW, Australia
A Death Foretold
While the officers who shot Kenneth Stephens will say that they acted in self-defense, from a moral point of view what they did was premeditated murder ["A Fatal Drug Raid Raises Questions About 'No-Knock' Warrants," January 13].
Burlington Police Chief Brandon Del Pozo told the Burlington Free Press that the standard procedure for searching Stephens' apartment would have been to detain him on the street, where he would surely not be carrying his antique rifle, and then calmly search his apartment. Instead, 16 officers, some wearing black ski masks, smashed down his door and shot him when he allegedly pointed the muzzle-loader toward them.
The result was predictable, and I believe the term "police lynching" is applicable.
It never ceases to amaze that the electorate of Burlington wishes to live under a police state [Off Message: "Burlington Pushes Anew for Gun-Control Charter Changes," January 22]. The Vermont Constitution states quite clearly that all citizens are entitled to bear arms for their defense; those residing within the bounds of the city are not entitled to those rights? Are they minors? Not able to exercise those rights due to incapacity? Do the city fathers feel that their "subjects" are somehow not able to behave and must not be allowed to exercise the responsibility the rest of the state takes for granted?
And, of course, you may not smoke outside!
[Re "Will They or Won't They? Decision Nears on Legalizing Marijuana," January 20]: Legalizing recreational marijuana will have an outsize impact on Vermont if 3.2 million nonresident users living conveniently within 200 miles, in states where it remains illegal, are added to 80,000 resident users — equating to five marijuana users per Vermonter — the legislator-commissioned RAND Drug Policy Research Center report warns.
State by state, legalizing recreational marijuana is creating a national marijuana industry like the tobacco industry where, at least initially, there may be a niche market for premium Vermont marijuana.
Seizing their opportunity for riches, marijuana entrepreneurs and their financiers will outbid thrifty, conventional Vermont farmers to lease or buy agricultural land and buildings for their very valuable crop that must be grown, processed and sold here to an influx of marijuana tourists displacing other tourists, especially families.
Dibs on diversifying to individually grow and cooperatively process and wholesale premium Vermont marijuana and marijuana products would protect and reward experienced Vermont farmers working so long and hard to preserve our cherished rural Vermont and their livelihoods.
They could employ former clandestine marijuana growers and processors, who lack necessary knowledge and experience of professional agriculture, legal and regulatory compliance, environmental stewardship, and ethical marketing.
Like voters elsewhere, Vermonters should decide by Australian ballot whether to legalize recreational marijuana for residents or for nonresidents and give dibs on marijuana agriculture to conventional Vermont farmers. There is a precedent: In 1936, the governor and a majority of legislators endorsed the ridgeline Green Mountain Parkway but allowed Town Meeting Day voters to decide whether it should change Vermont.
No Butts About It
I noticed that New York City has banned smoking in Central Park [Off Message: "Council and Parks Commission Fume Over Rejected Smoking Ban," January 13]. I wonder if the Burlington city councilors would think that Mayor Bill de Blasio is discriminating against homeless and the indigent by not letting them smoke in Central Park? Or is he trying to protect them and everyone else who uses the park?