Thank you for reporting on the frightening increase in opioid use and related deaths ["Relapse in Recovery," September 16]. I was horrified by the statistics, especially the chart for opioid deaths by county, which lists Windsor, my county of residence, as increased significantly from six in 2019 to 15 in 2020. Unfortunately, the text of the article does not agree with these statistics. In the paragraph reporting opioid overdoses, three of the four statistics cited are different than what is shown on the graph. Can you please clarify which of these sets of statistics is correct?
Editor's note: The chart compares deaths from January to July of 2019 and 2020. The text explains that deaths through July of this year in some places have already surpassed total deaths from last year. The text and chart are different comparisons. We apologize for the confusion.
[Re Off Message: "Vermont House Votes to Override Scott's Veto of Climate Bill," September 17]: I have been disappointed by Gov. Phil Scott's constant references to science concerning his team handling COVID-19 while he selectively ignores the science on a heating planet, solely because of and related to its human population adding greenhouse gases. Well, no more.
We totally understand the GOP has a worldview of "whatever" when it comes to using our atmosphere as industry's open sewer without ramifications. If Scott really wanted to use the science he likes to talk up, he would consider the myriad data sets and trends on the overheating of our climate — its wide-ranging ramifications that are currently affecting Vermont — and act on it as a solution. It's high time the legislature got off the dime and we moved off fossil fuels. Vermont should add infrastructure to support more EVs and not just kick the can down the road, which it seems to do while calling itself "green."
To vote GOP is to essentially do nothing or worse.
I really enjoyed Molly Zapp's essay about walking through the cemetery ["Turn Right for Connection," May 27]. Lots of good stuff here to ponder. Thanks for publishing.
Wheat Ridge, CO
[Re Live Culture: "Survey of Young Vermonters Highlights Ignorance of the Holocaust," September 16]: A survey of books used in teaching American history in public schools over the last 13 years or so might be useful in revealing and explaining why there seems to be such a knowledge gap about the Holocaust, on many educational levels.
For younger teachers who are graduates of Vermont high schools, a paragraph to half a page was all that was devoted to the Holocaust when they were in school, and the public libraries' supplemental collections were no better.
While that situation may have changed, is it possible that this deficit, along with those in other socially significant areas, could explain the lack of a firm foundation for teaching this history?
Identifying the number and quality of available materials in school libraries and quantifying their circulation might also be informative. These supplemental resources could augment the Holocaust studies curriculum, were teachers and their students to fully utilize them.
[Re Live Culture: "UVM Sex Educator Jenna Emerson Releases New Comedy Music Video," September 18]: Jenna Emerson is a goddess and a queen! I laughed so hard! It's wonderful to see her intelligent and inclusive approach, not only focused on warnings about everything that can go wrong. Super cool.
Limited Hours for Democracy
[Voters' Guide 2020: "Voting by Mail: How to Make It Count," September 30]: Everywhere we turn, we hear and read that we should get our ballots, if we are voting absentee, and turn them in early. "Make a plan," we are told.
Meanwhile, since the U.S. Postal Service is under assault and President Donald Trump has said he will not be counting mail ballots, my plan was to get the ballot from Vermont's secretary of state, fill it out, and then turn my ballot in at Burlington City Hall.
Burlington seems not to understand that an entire election is at risk and that voters need to be certain their ballot will be counted.
I was stunned to learn that, in Burlington, one can turn in a ballot at the city clerk's office — but that the clerk's office is only open one and a half days a week.
What about a ballot box, in which one can drop off a ballot? Well, the clerk's office thinks it may be ready by mid-October. Maybe.
So my plan to vote, to drop off my ballot at city hall, is thwarted by city bureaucracy, which will go at its own pace whether our democracy is imperiled or not.
We deserve better. We deserve a city administration ready to guarantee we can vote, and vote safely, and vote early.
[Re "Soapbox Derby," September 30]: I met Molly Gray a few years ago, and our first conversation ranged from climate change, workers' rights, racial justice and women's reproductive freedom to Vermont's economy. I thought to myself: Molly Gray is destined to do great things in her life in order to better the lives of others. And here she is, running for lieutenant governor of Vermont. There is a deep, potent intelligence and wisdom that radiates from Molly. She is honest, fair, kind and brilliant. She looks at the world through an inclusive lens and broadens her reflections to account for all sides of an equation. She is strong and steady, and she uses reason in her deliberations.
Molly wants to balance her own frugality with a bold vision of investing in a new economy that will transform Vermont's economy. She will put into practice a wide spectrum of initiatives that will excite and expand our workforce and bring our youth back to Vermont. She believes in family and medical leave, accessible and affordable childcare, an increase in the minimum wage, and protecting our beautiful environment by building a renewable energy future for Vermont that will strengthen our economy.
She will commit to reforming our policing policies, ending mass incarceration and transforming our criminal justice system. Molly is a woman of the 21st century. She is a true and dynamic leader with a very exciting, enthusiastic and noble vision. I am so hopeful we get to see Molly Gray as our next lieutenant governor of Vermont.
'In What Hands'?
[Re Off Message: "Protesters Round Up Copies of Seven Days for Evening Demonstration," September 25]: My solidarity with Seven Days! I am very worried about in what hands America will be. Taking down statues, vandalizing murals, stopping police arrests, burning newspapers when the information is not favorable with its narrow agenda...In what hands will America be? Think about that at the moment you stamp your vote. All extremism is bad!
Something about Chelsea Edgar's article on the Battery Park protests rankles me ["Battery Power," September 23]. It's hard to put a finger on it because I am still learning about the characteristics of white supremacy that all we white folks unconsciously swim in.
I don't support attempts at censorship, but I feel we are in a delicate time of negotiation and recognition between BIPOC and white communities. For Edgar to make her article about the fissures or questions among the leaders of the protest in order to make her story more "interesting" strikes me as unnecessarily insensitive and undermining.
Undoubtedly, there can be misunderstandings and mistakes among the leaders. Leadership is a messy business at best. Imagine trying to shepherd a varied and changing group of individual personalities of different ages and agendas and daily make decisions and strategies, staying flexible and responsive in a very charged situation.
As I attempt to educate myself on the experience of BIPOC in the dominant white culture, I understand better the pain of being continuously misinterpreted, BIPOC's credibility questioned or dismissed. I believe that is what Edgar has perpetuated in her article. It might be helpful for her to read Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad and dig deeper into the question of: "Why are BIPOC leaders so wary of the media?"
As an old former Vermont newspaper reporter, I'd like to briefly comment on the reaction to Chelsea Edgar's lead story on the Burlington demonstrations ["Feedback: "Hear Our Voices"; From the Publisher: "Words' Worth," September 30]. First, many movements, such as Black Lives Matter, tend to misunderstand the role of journalism in the United States. Most U.S. reporters subscribe to a code of ethics requiring that they report the facts "without fear or favor" toward any group or person. When an organization attempts to manage the news by insisting a reporter be an advocate or do public relations or propaganda, some pushback, if not outright hostility, can be expected.
During much of the 20th century, reporters scrupulously avoided "I" narratives in news columns in the name of objectivity. That changed with the popularity of "new journalism" writers such as Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion and others. These writers also made snarkiness — like Edgar's "white girls" observation — a feature, to the secret delight of readers. So the "I," the snarkiness and the refusal to be used may be unattractive to some, but in Edgar's story it is, at any rate, traditional in today's journalism.
On another note, the Black Lives Matter leaders should remember that the elimination of segregation and other legal obstacles to Black equality was accomplished by people who used their intelligence, self-discipline and immense personal courage. Vandalism, gutter language and totalitarian tactics like burning disapproved literature were never part of the successful work of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall and many other civil rights activists.
A fan of Chelsea Edgar, I eagerly read "Battery Power," subtitled "How Black Lives Matter protesters occupied a park, captivated a city — and got some of what they wanted" [September 23]. Its lofty subtitle had me seeking the type of solid journalism I've come to expect from Edgar. However, what unfolded came across as petty. In that pettiness, Edgar confusingly dismissed the larger issue of racism in Burlington and what it takes to move our proudly progressive city to repair the injustices that our BIPOC community has experienced.
Edgar could have covered any angle about the calls for racial justice, from a human-interest story about the victims of the Burlington Police Department's violence to how it was civil disobedience, not the polite dialogue of years past, that moved Burlington leaders into action. Instead, Edgar and Seven Days delivered a confused swirl of mockery with the seeming intent of stripping the authentic voices and power of BTV's BIPOC community. In case you're wondering, that's racism.
Further, Paula Routly's assertion that protesters represent the "authoritarian behavior they are protesting" is an attempt to deflect attention from the larger issue, which is Seven Days' role in distributing what is essentially propaganda for Vermont's dominant, white culture [Off Message: "Protesters Round Up Copies of Seven Days for Evening Demonstration," September 25]. Seven Days may hold up the First Amendment as a shield, but when the nearly all-white staff and editorial leadership poke fun at BTV's BIPOC community, they have abused the responsibility that comes with the First Amendment. What are you to do about it?
Many thanks to Chelsea Edgar and Courtney Lamdin for the fine reporting of the Battery Park encampment and protesters ["Battery Power," September 23; Off Message: "Protesters Round Up Copies of Seven Days for Evening Demonstration," September 25]. What a heap of vitriol hurled at you! Every other letter to the editor threw the misogyny card. Really? Two young women writing about other women, and you get tagged with hatred of women? I don't buy it. You reported the facts. The sour letter writers didn't like your tone, your approach, your attitude, the color in your words, but I suspect they were mostly rattled by the truth of your writing: The organizers and protesters failed the righteous cause.
They failed to identify themselves at the city council meeting. Refused to talk policy and substance with the media. Chased the public from Battery Park. Took over the streets at their own whim. And then danced like autocrats on the flaming issues of Seven Days in their $200 Blundstones! To quote singer Jenni Johnson in Chelsea's article: "Go to city council, with a document, with a proposal, and take it to Montpelier. Go to where the power is." For the sake of the movement to honor Black lives, time to pack up your tents.
Chelsea and Courtney, keep up the good writing.
Apologize for Story
"Battery Power" [September 23] does not accomplish what the author told the protesters she was trying to accomplish. She frames BIPOC females in a horrible light and frames a male as a hero in a strange way. It does not tell a story of the protesters or really a story of Anthony Marques. It is obvious the journalist did not take the time to watch and learn and observe and listen to the protesters. I am disappointed and disgusted with how this article was written. The opening paragraph is disgusting and rude to all women. I don't understand what a TikTok demographic is, but it is insulting to compare women to a social media platform as their demographic. This should be taken down, and an apology letter should be published.
As someone who has done my share of marching and protesting, I was disappointed to see the negative reaction to "Battery Power" [September 23] from the Battery Park organizers, particularly when it took the form of hoarding issues of the paper, defacing the paper and burning it in the street. The article wasn't particularly flattering of the movement, but journalism does not exist to flatter. Seven Days is one of the last holdouts of the free press, and suppression of the free press is never the appropriate response to what has been published. If journalism is expected to do nothing but parrot ideologies, our democracy has truly failed, no matter how right or just those ideologies may be.