Letters to the Editor (1/27/21) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (1/27/21)


Published January 27, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated February 23, 2021 at 3:01 p.m.


Y Missing?

[Re "Raising the Barbell," January 20]: Your article on health clubs responding to the pandemic left out the Greater Burlington YMCA, a wonderfully diverse and financially and physically accessible facility. The Y opened a brand-new facility on January 1, 2020. After closing for the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, it reopened following all the Vermont mandated guidelines and has remained open since then, adapting protocols as necessary when guidelines change. A variety of online classes are also available to members.

In addition to great facilities, the staff of the Y is consistently welcoming and responsive. I recommend checking it out.

Deb Lashman


Tobacco Kills

"I have always acted on principle: I would rather lose money than trust. The integrity of my faith in the quality of my goods and in my promise have always meant more to me than mere transitory gain." —Robert Bosch, from his 2010 tool catalog.

Is there a parallel between what you are doing by accepting tobacco money and the mother who risks her infant by smoking while pushing a baby carriage? Is this just a passing fancy, something you'll grow out of soon, or will you come to do this like the person who needs nicotine? Are you saying to me what the tobacco companies say to their victims: "My survival is more important than yours"?

Is rationalization an adequate substitute for truth? Are you selling advertising space — or your integrity?

Roland Blais


Publisher's note: Seven Days rejects advertisements that promote illegal products, hate and violence. We refrain from dictating or censoring the messaging in ads we do publish, as long as they don't include discriminatory language, make fraudulent claims or spread misinformation.

Debating Religion

[Re Feedback: "Old-Time Religion Department," December 30]: Justin Lane's letter professing an unwillingness to support the University of Vermont's religion department until it reintroduces "an emphasis on science of religion" presents an unfortunate, minority view within the huge international field of religious studies.

Last time I checked, religion was not a science. The scientific study of religion is a recognized subfield within the scholarly study of religion, making up a small fraction of the field. In the world's largest religious studies association, the American Academy of Religion, it is mainly represented by a single section devoted to the "cognitive science of religion." It has its own international association, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, which represents about one-twentieth the membership of the AAR. The vast majority of the field understands that "interpretive paradigms," which Lane disdains, are essential to understanding something as complex and culturally variable as religion.

It's unfortunate that Lane's blinkered view of the field gets so much column space in Seven Days. UVM's religion department has a fully rounded, globally relevant view of what religion consists of, in all its human and cultural complexity. The importance of its study in the 21st century can hardly be denied, nor can the excellence of its scholars. UVM's proposal to close the program shows a lack of foresight that speaks more to a push "from the top" to announce something, anything, at a time when faculty and students are too preoccupied with the end of the semester and the ongoing pandemic to be able to resist. Change of this nature requires much more consultation, planning and vision.

Fortunately, the response to the announcement has shown that the decision needs to be reconsidered. As a member of UVM's structural reorganization committee, I am committed to making that happen.

Adrian Ivakhiv


Ivakhiv is a University of Vermont professor of environmental studies who used to teach religious studies.

Rush to Judgment?

[Re Live Culture: "Rough Francis Fire Bassist for Allegedly Attending 'Terrorist Insurrection' in D.C.," January 16]: Rough Francis have the right to publish their outrage. I agree with their outrage, and I think they are right to take it public. Seven Days should not have rushed that article out without speaking to bassist Dan Davine and perhaps a couple other people. You could have done a thoughtful article about how people get sucked into these ugly places and how to get them back. That article read like gossip and called out a single individual without giving him a chance to respond. It added no new information and did not expand the conversation. It was piling on.

Mark Mulqueen


Editor's note: Seven Days staff writer Dan Bolles repeatedly tried to reach Davine before publishing his online story. Rough Francis had already made the news of his firing public on Instagram.

'These Cuts Make No Sense'

[Re Off Message: "UVM Faculty and Students Reel From Proposed Cuts," December 17]: The University of Vermont proposes eliminating classics, religious studies and geology, as well as German and Italian. These cuts make no sense. UVM's vision statement has "comprehensive commitment to the liberal arts" in it. The cuts clearly betray that vision and are perpetrated by the very administrators whose duty is to protect, promote and prioritize UVM's official vision.

What's more, the cuts make no sense financially. The classics department, for instance, has averaged a 10 percent profit for at least the past four years. Moreover, humanities lecturers let go recently were cash cows: They are paid the least and teach the most. But the administration says these programs have low numbers: The thousands — yes, thousands — of students who take their classes are the best metric for that, and they give the lie to that claim.

The College of Arts and Sciences makes millions for UVM from undergraduate tuition, enough to transfer millions every year to the Larner College of Medicine, which offers no undergraduate degrees.

In this time of crisis, UVM does need to adjust, but not by abandoning its vision. Learning the ancient roots of our civilization (classics), human spirituality and religious practices (religious studies), foreign cultures (Greek, German, Latin, Italian), and our Earth (geology) is not optional for Vermonters. We need to have not just the superficial knowledge of introductory classes, but also the deep knowledge about these things that departments and programs offer the state and our students.

Jacques Bailly


Bailly is an associate professor in the UVM classics department.

Good for Gram

I was delighted to read that Dave Gram has joined Seven Days [From the Publisher: "'Fair Game' On," January 13]. As a WDEV Radio listener, I can say that he has been missed! And how wonderful to have "Fair Game" back! That has also been missed. Congratulations on both counts.

Jill Smith


Morale-Boosting Menu

Thank you so much for the article about University of Vermont Medical Center executive chef R. Leah Pryor ["Kitchen Prescription," January 20].

In the fall of 2018, I was hospitalized for several days at UVM Medical Center with pneumonia. Initially, I was very sick and wasn't sure I was going to make it. Thanks to excellent care, I was able to begin a rapid recovery. And as my appetite returned, I was astounded by the choice and quality of food the hospital offered. Before every meal, I placed my order from a several-page menu, which, I was happy to note, included lots of vegetarian choices. (I am a vegetarian.) And when I placed my order, the person on the other end of the phone would often make helpful suggestions, just like a server in a fine restaurant.

It's no fun being sick, but it's hard to describe what a wonderful morale booster it was to have great meals as I started to get better. Thank you, chef Pryor!

Leigh Dolin 

South Burlington

Social Disorder

[Re "In Trump They Trust," January 13]: Recent events, such as Donald Trump's inflammatory tweets, have highlighted the need for greater control of social media to prevent foreign interference in elections, publication of fake news and expression of extremist political views.

The federal government needs to step in and establish guidelines for what can and cannot be posted online. Violations would result in severe monetary penalties and/or jail time, depending on the severity of the infringement. This would require the creation of a new agency, perhaps named the Department of Information, to monitor social media and other news outlets for compliance.

While this would be costly, it would be an investment in freedom and democracy and would ensure that only accurate news and mainstream political views were published. Only with these changes can the U.S. join the ranks of other great nations, like Russia and China.

David Maher


Two More Jane Stories

What a great piece on one of our most talented and authentic Vermont luminaries ["Radio Head," January 13]. I'm sure many Vermonters have a story about their interaction with Jane Lindholm. Mine is when she came to Green Mountain Coffee and effortlessly slid into fluent Spanish, delighting the coffee farmers from Columbia whom she was interviewing in the cupping lab.

She went to my husband's shop at Burton to interview him for a "But Why?" segment about the connection between snowboarding and skateboarding. Her first remark — that he wasn't wearing any shoes — made it to the air.

It is wonderful stories like this that help get us through.

Sandy Yusen


Recruit Lindholm

[Re "Radio Head," January 13]: Wouldn't it be great if we could get Jane Lindholm and her varied talents into Vermont state politics?

Dave Crane


Radio Feet

Jane Lindholm at the VSO concert - COURTESY OF JAY FURR
  • Courtesy Of Jay Furr
  • Jane Lindholm at the VSO concert

[Re "Radio Head," January 13]: Any article about the inimitable Jane Lindholm is incomplete without mention of the totally stylin', kickin' shoes she showed off at the Vermont Symphony Orchestra concert at Higher Ground on October 26, 2019. We are not worthy!

Jay Furr


Beck Versus Billado

[Off Message: "Republican Lawmakers Call for VTGOP Leaders to Condemn Trump or Resign," January 12; Fair Game: "Grand Old Parting?" January 13]: Rep. Scott Beck (R-St. Johnsbury) has found a way to alienate and divide Vermont Republicans. He's "calling for the resignation of the Trump-loving leaders of the state's GOP if they can't support removing the president from office." Probably Gov. Phil Scott set the stage for the insanity of turning against Trump, but Beck is taking a bad idea and making it worse.

If state party chair Deb Billado did not support the Republican president, then Rep. Beck might have a point in asking her to move out of her position, but to call for her resignation because she does support the Republican president is contrived insanity! The same kind of self-immolation of the Republican Party is going on right now in Washington, D.C. 

Trump gave the GOP new life by broadening the base and reflecting the concerns of average Americans. His accomplishments on behalf of the American people put the accomplishments of his critics to shame. "Trump lovers" see that he has steered America away from totalitarian "globalism" and back to putting the interests of America first. 

Rep. Beck's idea of his leaving the party sounds good, because the path blazed by Trump is one of more prosperity and freedom (local control, not global control). Beck's path is one of infighting. 

If Billado supports the grassroots voters of Vermont by championing the vision and actions shown for four years by Trump, then she's in just the right spot. I wish her well in the crazy chaos caused by Vermont never-Trumpers.

Mary Adams

Garland, Maine

Adams is the 40-year Republican town chair of Garland, Maine.

Taking Names

[Re "Nothing to Siege Here," January 20]: The reasons given by those Vermont legislators who voted against condemning the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol abound in gross denial of civic responsibility and in abject denial of truth and the rule of law. These comments befit one who turns their back on the U.S. Constitution and an America that suffered a bloody Civil War against slavery and another bloody World War II against racism and fascism.

I urge these legislators to reflect deeply on the consequences of what they say, both as humans of the privileged class and as Vermont lawmakers, and on their purpose in their one precious life. 

Hugo Liepmann