Molly Walsh's article ["South End Artists Hope to Stall the Champlain Parkway," September 23] opens with a tug-of-war at the South End Art Hop, during which no one showed up to pull in favor of building the Champlain Parkway. I was one of those who did not show up, even though I have been actively involved as a proponent of the Champlain Parkway for the 30-plus years that we have lived and worked here in the South End as citizens, artists and craftspeople.
I did not show up to pull on the other end of the rope because we have watched and participated in the evolution of this much-needed road. We have worked through many changes to arrive at what we feel is a very good solution to the intolerable conditions in our neighborhood, where thousands of trucks rumble by daily on a "temporary" road not built for such traffic, and our families have sustained a great deal of harm. I look forward to riding my bike on Pine Street, when biking and walking on it is safe.
I was not at the Art Hop to pull on a rope because the Parkway went through its final public input meetings some time ago. My neighbors and I were there, year after year, discussing and compromising.
There is a great deal of misinformation, both honest and manipulated, bandied about on the evils of the Parkway, so it's difficult to know where to begin in correcting this. To me, this long-awaited solution is such a serious issue that the idea of participating in an absurd tug-of-war with those who want to stall it makes me weep.
Lyme Left Out
[Re Straight Dope, September 30]: Cecil Adams' lesson on zoonotic diseases surprised me by its glaring omission of the fastest-growing vector-borne disease in America today: Lyme disease. The oversight is even more astounding as Lyme would have been the perfect disease to demonstrate many of Adams' facts about zoonotic diseases. Deer and mice (the "reservoir") pass on the bacterial Lyme infection (and its coinfections such as Babesia and Bartonella) to ticks (the "vector") and then to us, the hosts. Adams writes that the environmental changes that provide zoonotic diseases the opportunity to spread are readily observable in places like southern Asia — missing the opportunity to mention the suburbanization that has brought Americans closer than ever to the habitats of deer and mice.
Adams misses another chance to bring the topic close to home when he writes of the cruelty of diseases that kill slowly. He describes how the slow progression of HIV enabled the world to ignore the spreading epidemic. The 15-year lapse between discovery and development of effective treatment for AIDS pales in comparison to Lyme's story — 40 years out and still no cure or even recognition of chronic Lyme in sight. And chronic Lyme, with its late-stage, syphilis-like symptoms of dementia, can kill very slowly.
You don't have to look to Malaysia to find zoonotic diseases; they're right here in our backyards. Let's stop ignoring the epidemic.
His Body, Himself
[Re the Last 7 Days: "A Cut Below," September 30, and Off Message: "How Dare You! Protesters Exclaim," September 28]: It seems totally wrong for anyone to assume the responsibility for permanently removing healthy tissue from another person's body without their consent when the presence of that tissue is neither life threatening nor an impediment to normal development. Being born with a foreskin does not constitute a medical necessity for surgical intervention.
How is circumcising your 1-day-old son showing respect for him and his rights to make future choices about his body? It certainly doesn't seem ethical. Why is it even legal?
Some link the foreskin to increased STD transmission. Maybe. But if our goal is to reduce the spread of STDs, wouldn't a more effective, ethical and civilized approach be to ensure that all children and teenagers receive comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education emphasizing the importance of practicing safe sex, respecting their partners and behaving responsibly?
Simply circumcising infants will not change whether or not they engage in risky or inappropriate sexual behavior as adults. And certainly choosing circumcision in adulthood is always an option.
Isn't it past time to start respecting the human rights of all newborns and stop subjecting some of them to the risks and trauma of unnecessary surgery on their genitals the day they are born?
At the end of Feedback, you print each week that "Seven Days reserves the right to edit [letters] for accuracy." Was it editorial oversight or choice to include the false assertion that President Obama is Muslim [Feedback: "'Rebel' Vermonter," September 30]?
There's nothing wrong with following Islam, of course, and I am proud to have lived in the Indianapolis district that elected the first — and possibly only — Muslim to Congress. But those who continue to allege that Obama is Muslim do so in an attempt to undercut respect for him and discredit his efforts and accomplishments.
By leaving that factual error in the letter, did the editors intend to discredit the rest of it (what the Confederate flag stood for is certainly questionable) and draw into question the writer's assertion that "I use my head and know my history"?
Editor's note: It was a tough call, but we decided to publish the error. It put the earlier arguments in a context that editing would otherwise have sanitized, and we think it's interesting to show that otherwise rational-sounding Vermonters continue to believe this allegation, which has been refuted so thoroughly that believing it almost seems to qualify as an opinion.
A Night at the Theater
Thank you for your review of The Hound of the Baskervilles at Lost Nation Theater [Theater Review: "Moor, Please," September 23]. With the wealth of entertainment at our fingertips on screens of every size, it's easy to feel like a trip to the theater is too much effort. But live theater experiences like Hound offer something you can't get from endless time spent searching for a movie on Netflix: community. The human interaction between actors and audience members, and the critical importance of a theatergoer's imagination in bringing any production to life, create this sense of connection. Fall in Vermont is a good time for planning indoor activities. Consider a night out at the theater, and you may find yourself not only entertained but transported.