Letters to the Editor (3/13/18) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

News + Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor (3/13/18)


Published March 14, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated March 15, 2018 at 12:49 p.m.

One More Thing

Thanks to Pamela Polston for her review of my book, The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment ["Page 32," March 7]. The only small issue I take with it is this sentence: "The author fiercely discounts the validity of accusations based on repressed memories and therapists who have, in his view, invented them." 

This makes it sound as if the therapists were creating the memories and that they are sort of Svengalis, doing this intentionally. On the contrary, most such therapists are well intentioned and truly believe in repressed memories. They lead clients (often subtly) to believe that they were abused and forgot it and instruct them in how such memories might come back as visualizations or flashbacks, but they are not the ones who "invent" the memories. That is up to their clients.

Mark Pendergrast


Walkout 101

It was with great disappointment that I read Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe's letter to superintendents and principals that "praised student activism but sought to dissuade participation in upcoming school protests" [Off Message: "In Memo, Vermont Ed Secretary Discourages Student Walkouts," February 28].

Both the Vermont Global Citizenship and the Vermont Transferable Skills proficiencies are required for high school graduation. Showing proficiency in these requirements assumes an active and concerned citizen. How better to demonstrate proficiency in this area than to actively and responsibly use one's voice? Students in the '60s walked out of schools because the Vietnam War directly affected them. Their protests thankfully helped to end that war.

Feeling safe in school is one of the first issues since then that students feel affects them — so much so that they are moved to use their voices. I find it ironic and perhaps hypocritical for the secretary of education to be suggesting students find another way to use their voices at the one moment they are being affected by laws and spurred to action. 

Thankfully, my principal and superintendent support the walkout and have helped our students organize theirs so it is purposeful and focused. They also support students who do not agree with the walkout. I can't — but want to — assume the same will happen in other schools. 

Debra Stoleroff 


Stoleroff is an educator at Twinfield Union School.

No More Gun Laws

[Re "In Range," February 28]: We have had semiautomatic firearms since 1903. They used to be called autoloader or self-loader. We never had a problem until they were glorified in graphic video games, movies and TV. I think we have a problem with people not doing their jobs, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the local sheriff in the Florida school shooting, and, in the Texas church shooting, the U.S. Air Force not reporting the dishonorable discharge of the man who killed so many. The only thing that stopped the latter man was a law-abiding citizen with an AR-15.

Our National Instant Criminal Background Check System must be updated to be effective. Mental health records have to be accurate. We recently had a murder in South Royalton committed by a convicted felon who was currently on furlough with the Vermont Department of Corrections and had a restraining order to not be within 1,000 feet of the house where he killed his wife!

We have enough laws already. We don't need any more. The boy in Fair Haven had been in a mental facility in Maine, yet his name wasn't on the NICS no-sell list! Why not? The reason legislators go after gun owners is that they are "soft targets" who abide by the law. Legislators don't make it hard on criminals and the mentally ill because it would violate their rights.

What about gun owners' rights?

David Leggio


Hunting People?

[Re Off Message: "'Shame on You': In Milton, Pro-Gun Crowd Slams Vermont Politicians," March 7]: Kudos to those students who stood up to face an obviously National Rifle Association-organized gang that harangued Milton-area legislators for finally making a commonsense decision to rein in the uncontrolled scourge of semiautomatic assault weapons. I am both a teacher and owner of a 20-gauge shotgun, semiautomatic, with a three-cartridge capacity that I occasionally use on marauding partridge. I am sorry, but I do not believe for a moment that anyone in Vermont really buys AR-15s for self-defense. They buy them because they like guns. No one needs a 10-or-more-shot ammo clip for hunting. 

We keep hearing the NRA mantra that guns don't kill people ... blah blah blah. The fact is that any loon intent on killing innocents can be incredibly effective with an AR-15 and multi-round clips. That is what they were made for. 

I am disgusted with those who flaunt the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, while ignoring the meat of that clause and totally ignoring all the other amendments, like the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

They see Gov. Phil Scott as a traitor, while the vast majority of Americans see him as that very rare Republican who can actually stand up to the bluster of the NRA. On this topic, he is my hero!

Kenneth Saxe


'A Child Shall Lead Thee'

It was wonderful reading the cover story "We the Young People" [March 7]. I recall helping to integrate the University of Virginia back in the late '60s, and your story brought back so many memories.  

As the Bible says, "A child shall lead thee." The young people in those days led well, too, as de facto integration, more rights for women and an end to the Vietnam War resulted. 

For the Montpelier High School faculty and administration, I would recommend three readings in particular: Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," which speaks to the issue of responding to peer pressure; Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," which talks about how important youth leadership is; and Howard Frank Mosher's A Stranger in the Kingdom, which discusses the issue of racism in a small Vermont town.

I will end this communication by further suggesting that those concerned also be sure to "walk a mile in the other person's shoes" — a line borrowed from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird — and try to understand why a child would want to use the N-word. Children are not born to be racists, so something might be going on in their home lives — such as poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, violence or divorce — that would make one or another of their parents need a scapegoat. Perhaps such children's parents are using other people as an explanation for the insufficiency of their own lives.

James Saunders


Newtown Voices

[Re "We the Young People," March 7]: Half a decade ago, kindergarten children and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., lost their lives or were wounded in a mass shooting. The present-day seniors and lower classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., were middle-school students at that time.

While those who died at Sandy Hook have no voice, their now-grown Parkland schoolmates speak for them.

Prompted by these students, a National School Walkout is planned for March 14 all across America to remember and give voice to those silenced at the hands of a few mad men who now languish in their graves.

The largely unheeded cries of all the victims since Columbine over two decades ago now echo in the words and actions led by the students at Parkland.

At long last!

Margery G. Sharp


Health Care for Skip?

One comment made by Skip Vallee ["'The Last Minute to Play,'" February 14] struck me as particularly distressing. When, as a very wealthy person with unfettered access to the best health care, he says, "No hospital is ever going to turn anybody away," he displays an ignorance about access to health care that can easily be interpreted as a privileged disregard for those less fortunate.

Hospitals' only requirement under federal law is to offer a medical screening examination to determine if the patient has an emergency medical condition or is in active labor. If either condition exists, the hospital is obliged to provide services within its capacity to stabilize the emergency condition or to provide maternity care to the woman and unborn child. All of this must be done regardless of the patient's ability to pay.

Once the emergency no longer exists or the maternity care is complete, patients can be admitted, transferred or discharged, and the ability to pay for further care becomes a factor. This law applies only to hospitals with emergency care facilities that also accept Medicare funds. All other kinds of medical care, prescription drugs and preventive care are provided depending on ability to pay.

Patients can be seen in federally qualified health care centers, and the fees charged are on a sliding scale depending on the patient's income. But access to care doesn't mean it's free. As everyone knows, the bills for medical care can be ruinous. And while Vermont does better than most states, about 23,230 Vermonters still lack medical insurance. Many more are classified as underinsured.

Lack of adequate insurance is a major reason that patients do not access medical care, and those with undertreated medical conditions are at risk for many other social problems. These are just some statistics that belie Vallee's blithe comment and explain why such people see no need to improve our health care system.

Margaret Eaton

New Haven

Eaton is a former hospital attorney.

Hard Look at Skip Vallee

Reading your cover story on Skip Vallee left me saddened ["'The Last Minute to Play,'" February 14]. The man's thinking seems to have regressed since I interviewed him in Bratislava when he was America's ambassador to Slovakia. Abroad in 2005, Vallee championed better treatment of Slovakia's harassed Romany population, he was aware of how awry his hero George W. Bush's war in Iraq was going, and his mind remained flexible enough to learn the country's language and take him out regularly among the people. Though no George Perkins Marsh, Vallee was also no lackey locked into an embassy abroad and indifferent to the peasants outside his compound.

Vallee's bout with cancer, with which I wish him well, seems in the feature not to have softened his salesman's convictions about winning, money and checking the opposition until his last breath. If that's the truth of the matter, it seems a shame. The St. Albans native seemed to possess more grit, heart and empathy than shines through on the page.

For a while in Vermont politics, Vallee could have been a contender. Instead, his ideology hardened. His sprawling franchise, Maplefields, became just another token of CO2 emissions and erosion of Vermont's historic village centers. Instead of moderating his Republican ideology, he still preaches the dogma of wealth in the hands of the few and health care for those, like himself, who can afford it. His heroes, like Bush, who appointed him as an ambassador in large part because of political contributions, seem limbed from the same tree. Most of them will go down in history as enemies of the new millennium — one they spent far too little effort understanding and far too much effort exploiting for their own gain as our seas rose, our economic imbalances tilted and the young finally ran out of patience for their elders in power.  

Joe Sherman