Once an Evangelist...
[Re "Good News?" September 25]: I am from Marble, N.C. I was raised in an evangelical household. And I am alarmed by the present influx from the South. That's South with a capital S. As in, "The South will rise again," a sentiment I heard preached as fervently as the gospel in my youth.
I was lucky enough to escape both the South and my evangelical upbringing. You see, I am not just a Southerner in search of white winters. I came to Vermont for a number of reasons, foremost among them the similarity between New England's philosophy and my own, the Witches' Rede: "Do as you will, harm none." There is little compatibility between this and the atmosphere I endured in the South, namely: "Do as we say, or suffer God's wrath."
Now, I am sure most migrants to the Green Mountains will respect Vermont's culture and seek to complement rather than convert. There are no doubt other cultural refugees like me. I am writing this in hopes that the culture we sought is one most Vermonters are prepared to protect.
My wife and I have put down roots here. And, though she is a Vermonter by birth, neither of us has done so lightly. We consider Vermont our home and stand ready to defend that home against any who come seeking to impose upon rather than respect their neighbor.
To all who have come intent upon altering the spirit of this place, join me in sending in a very clear message: Evangelize elsewhere.
Jimmy on Bernie
[Re Off Message: "Sanders Walks Back Suggestion That He'll Scale Back His Campaign," October 9]: It's a shame that Sen. Bernie Sanders not only experienced chest pains while campaigning and reluctantly let himself be taken to the hospital, but then Jeff Weaver had to pile on by failing to diagnose an infarction before the doctors did, and then Bernie admitted that he "misspoke" about exactly how he planned to forge ahead on the campaign trail, but with his health in mind, for once. What an imperfect politician!
Former president Jimmy Carter last month voiced his own concerns about Bernie's age, saying he himself wouldn't have wanted to undertake the mental strain of the presidency at 80.
'"The things I faced in foreign affairs, I don't think I could undertake them at 80 years old," he continued, before adding with a smile: "At 95, it's out of the question. I'm having a hard time walking."'
A few weeks later, Jimmy busted his forehead open, so on his way to hammer together another Habitat for Humanity home, he stopped by the ER to pick up 14 stitches. And he's worried about the agility of Bernie's mind when it comes to negotiating with our world partners? Bernie's mind is especially fit for that task, and he has the modern advantage of seeing beyond religion. He's an honest peacemaker, like Carter.
Anyway, let's assume Bernie's elected president, and he keels over the week after his inauguration. VP Elizabeth Warren takes over, and a wise Jewish man once inhabited the Oval Office for five days. Is that really so bad?
A Different Response
I couldn't believe what I was reading in [Feedback: "Enough About Addiction," August 28]. The written words jumped off the page as if they were striking me in the face, taking my breath away and leaving me in complete disbelief. How can someone feel like saving the life of an addict is a waste of resources? Mark Szymanski claims we are losing many of our first responders to PTSD, as if he's suggesting it's from administering Narcan to a dying addict more so than any other traumatic call that required lifesaving measures. Last I checked, saving lives was part of the job description of a first responder.
It's ironic that he mentions PTSD. Most addicts actually suffer from PTSD and began using in an attempt to relieve its symptoms. Most addicts have endured trauma and loss and struggle within themselves to fight a battle that most people who haven't been there could never truly understand. Hope should never be lost that an addict can recover and become a productive member of society.
My suggestion is: If at any point it becomes a question of who should be saved and who shouldn't, then perhaps it's time to look for alternative employment. I also pray that if, in fact, you are a first responder, your employer has an opportunity to read your letter and terminate your employment, along with that of anyone who shares your ridiculous views.
Conte is incarcerated at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.
New Relationships With Forests
The Seven Days article entitled "Carbon Quandary" [October 9] did an excellent job of portraying two contrasting visions of Vermont's two primary human relationships with forests.
One vision sees forests as resources that need to be managed and used. The other vision sees forests first as ecosystems that require lots more space from human intervention to preserve the inherent, continued capacity for self-renewal.
The article features two publicly held enterprises, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the Burlington Electric Department. Both are forest resource managers calling for more careful use of Vermont's forests for renewable, carbon-based energy.
Members of two privately held institutions based in Vermont — Bill Keeton of the University of Vermont and Jon Leibowitz of the Northeast Wilderness Trust — are joined by author and environmental advocate Bill McKibben in advocating for putting forest ecosystem health first in Vermont by leaving more wood to mature and to rot in support of forest ecosystem health and natural services.
The climate crisis and global heating are demanding bold new relationships with forests that put forest ecosystem health first. Public, private and common interests and associated policies must advance forest ecosystem health as the top priority. As UVM professor Justin Brande used to preach: "Without ecology, there is no economy!"
Our grandchildren and our one and only planet are demanding that we move boldly and quickly on this. There is no choice, and time is running out.
Tree Hugger's Lament
[Re "Carbon Quandary," October 9]: What century is Seven Days reporter Kevin McCallum living in? And what editor let slide into print the characterization of people working to stem and reverse the destructive forces of climate change as "hippies and tree huggers"? WTH?
Not that there's anything wrong with "hippies" nor with "tree huggers"; I count myself as a member of both those tribes. But McCallum's flip use of that phrase — straight out of the last century — demeans and devalues the current work of thousands of well-informed, serious activists and scientists, and anyone not aware of that ought to be headed off at the pass by an awake editor.
No Hypocrites Here
Susan Clark's recent letter [Feedback: "Bad News for Vermont," October 9] was spot-on. I lived for eight years in Mississippi, where southern Baptists were extreme and invaded the privacy of those with different views and beliefs. They have no understanding of the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment.
I worked as a teacher in their public schools. Students would ask me which church I attended and what did I think about gay marriage. Individuals there attended church for two hours on Sunday mornings and returned Sunday evening. They then returned every Wednesday evening. Talk about proselytizing!
Alan Hatch's letter [Feedback: "Blame Congress for Detention Centers," October 9] reeked of right-wing extremism and un-Christian opinions. Maybe he'd be more at home in Mississippi. Vermonters do not want to be saved by hypocrites.
Your otherwise excellent article on lack of shelter-rescue oversight ["In the Doghouse," September 25] neglected to touch strongly enough on the issue of law enforcement's ignorance of industry standards. In the case of the bogus equine "rescue" referred to in the article, for example, horses from an ongoing situation in West Topsham were initially deposited there but subsequently removed once humane authorities were alerted. The trooper involved gave the alleged abuser the option of surrendering the remaining horses to the "rescue" of her choice; it appears that it did not occur to them to check with area vets or other equine professionals as to the appropriateness of that choice.
Aside from the questionable judgment of allowing an alleged abuser to decide where she would like her victims to be sent, why did officials rubber-stamp this absurd arrangement? Because law enforcement is either woefully uneducated about standards of large-animal care or unaware that anyone who chooses to call themselves a "rescue" qualifies as one under our current system. And, since no one wants to bear the costs of caring for seized animals, law enforcement routinely encourages voluntary surrender to avoid the expense of removing and re-homing.
Some might argue that law enforcement has far more important things to do than to police animal shelters; I could not agree more. This is why it is incumbent upon Montpelier to create a new agency, or charge an existing one, with the mission of protecting both animals and the public trust.
The time to stop hoarding and neglect disguised as "rescue" is before law enforcement is needed.
Berger is an instructor of equine studies at Vermont Technical College.
Having thought long and hard about Margot Harrison's review of Joker [October 9], I remain almost completely flummoxed. Just one mention of The Dark Knight and "Why so serious"?!
Admittedly, Todd Phillips' film suggests there are many among us with more than a little in common with the iconic villain. But taking the time to contemplate the director's provocative thoughts on and insights into the Batman mythos does nothing to undermine the premise of the movie otherwise.
Consider, for instance, how Bruce Wayne's father is not portrayed as a paragon of virtue, as he's usually depicted in other story lines: Here he's an oily rich guy all too reminiscent of the current resident of the White House. Then there are the plot elements revolving around the unresolved mystery of whether the future Clown Prince of Crime is, in fact, the illegitimate offspring of Thomas Wayne and Arthur Fleck's mother: There's an irony even more lethal as the one arising from the coincidence that the killing of Bruce's parents occurs the very same night the Joker goes public.
Can't wait until Margot writes about Robert Pattinson's upcoming interpretation of The Batman, with Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman!
[Re "Next Stop: Budget Cuts," October 9]: With concerns for the climate and efficiency, the time has come to move toward "free fare" local transit, which promises at least a 40 percent or more boost in passengers without expanding existing services.
In spite of trials and tribulations, publicly run Green Mountain Transit remains one of the highest quality transit services in North America — quality that includes the professionalism and courtesy of its drivers and staff, a tradition going back to its beginnings as a private company in 1926.
Vermont's regional local transit providers derive only about 12 cents on the dollar for operations through the fare box, itself costly to administer and stressful and time-consuming for drivers. For many years, Rutland transit operated fare-free, and today Rural Community Transportation, which serves the upper Connecticut Valley, offers the best deal: round-trip from Montpelier to St. Johnsbury, absolutely free. The legislature could easily find a formula for fare-free services statewide.