F-35 Not Part of Plan
[Re Off Message: "Burlington Voters Approve Anti-F-35 Ballot Initiative," March 6]: As one who has shuddered and recoiled from the sound of a squadron of F-16s flying overhead in Burlington, I urge Mayor Miro Weinberger and the city council to take immediate steps to refuse the basing of F-35s at the airport in South Burlington and to request the basing of aircraft with much lower noise profiles.
Information available on the F-35's extreme noise levels describes their harmful effects on our neighbors in large sections of our community. It appears to me that allowing F-35s to make large sections of Chittenden County unlivable, unhealthy and unmarketable would be in direct conflict with the Chittenden County Regional Plan. Why doesn't the military have to comply with our regional plan? And what about our elected officials?
My profound thanks go to all the brave folks who have worked for several years to stop the basing of F-35 aircraft in Chittenden County!
Flatlanders Love Vermont, Too
It's been my privilege to live, work, raise children, earn a degree, get divorced, fall in love, remarry, own property and pay taxes in Vermont since 1990. I love Vermont's natural beauty, obey its laws and respect its heritage. However, according to letter writer Thomas Manley, I'm just a "guest" here ruining "his" state [Feedback: "Flatlanders' Fault," March 7]. Although I've met people like Manley, I am grateful that the vast majority of native-born Vermonters do not share his bigoted, repulsive and, as much as I understand the religion, un-Christian beliefs.
As sad as I find Manley's statement, the fact that he was not afraid or ashamed to publicly share his disgusting views — fueled I suspect, by corporate, right-wing propaganda and xenophobic paranoia — against Vermonters supporting sane, commonsense gun laws is a disturbing reflection of the reactionary times we are living in.
Brian J. Walsh
Thank you for your cover story on Kristina Stykos ["Finding Her Voice," March 14]. In a field dominated by hard-driving masculine energy, women producers have been frequently left out of the show by design. Most recording artists still get produced by males simply because the music industry, from the inception, was the creation of men. In the recording business today, only 5 percent of the producers of audio for music, movies and other media are female.
Kristina's Pepperbox Studio was the birthplace of my own recorded music. The off-grid, back-road hilltop location added some authenticity to the "made in Vermont" Thunder Ridge Records label. My performance was artfully captured by an independent female producer who helped to shape my sound and delivered a fine recording. In the modern music world, women are too often typecast into the role of delivering only vocal melodies and harmonies, while the men appear to take care of everything else. On my recording project, Back Road Benevolence, we reversed those stereotypical roles with excellent results.
Kristina served as a sessions musician, producer and recording engineer. Her many talents have helped me to write, arrange, record, release and distribute a representative collection of my own songs that serves me well. She has generously elevated my sound through the practice of her own craft. Her gentle soul became a driving force in my musical evolution. Our uncommon partnership delivered an extraordinary experience. She helped me find my voice.
Armed, but Not Dangerous
[Re "In Range," February 28]: I am a middle-aged, female college graduate and registered Democrat. I stand behind you in line at the store with a smile on my face ... and a gun in my purse. You are none the wiser, yet you are safer for having me near you. I won't shoot you. My gun will not pull its own trigger. It is secured in my purse, and it can't just "go off."
If a lunatic walks into this store with a rifle, I will pull out my pistol and attempt to protect myself — and you. I might freeze up, I might get shot, but I won't die helpless, begging for my life as a victim of a massacre. I choose not to be.
I do not ask you to carry a gun. But there is evil in this world, and if evil has a gun, I want one, too — to defend myself.
[Re "In Range," February 28]: Bullets for automatic weapons in Vermont should cost $5,000 apiece — about the cost of the initial emergency room visit for someone injured by a bullet.
The money could go into any fund the legislature chooses. This could solve a couple of problems.
[Re "In Range," February 28]: The current talk about banning AR-15-type assault rifles betrays both ignorance and hysteria. Possession of an AR-15-type rifle doesn't mean that the millions of people who own one are planning to massacre their fellow citizens. Vermont has one of the lowest gun-homicide rates in the U.S. despite having the most liberal gun laws. The teen recently arrested in Fair Haven was allegedly planning a school shooting with a 12-gauge shotgun. Many of the past school shootings involved .22-caliber pistols.
The problem is not guns; it is culture. This country has a culture of violence. We have been in one war or another ever since I was a child. Turn on the television. How many programs are fantasies about serial killers and terrorism? Fox News addicts often end up too paranoid to maintain family relations. The proliferation of AR-15s is not just based on paranoia, but also on the desire to have enough firepower to defend one's home and family in the event of societal collapse, whether from environmental catastrophe, pandemic, nuclear holocaust or fascism.
I see the root cause of school shootings as smartphones and social media, not guns. Today's adolescents are increasingly unable to relate to one another face-to-face. They hide behind texting. They bully and ostracize each other on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Is it any wonder that the most rejected and emotionally vulnerable act out with murderous rage?
A Teacher's View
[Re "In Range," February 28]: I am a Vermont teacher who, along with every other educator in this country, is grappling with the reality of school violence. While the near miss in Fair Haven has jolted the equilibrium of Gov. Phil Scott and our legislative leaders, they are just catching up with teachers who have been carrying the daily weight of this crisis for years. We routinely practice lockdowns, aka sniper drills, huddling silently with students while trying to calm their anxiety. We examine the vulnerabilities of the windows and doors in our classrooms, looking for a spot that will keep our students hidden from an attacker. We review emergency protocols during faculty meetings and process the emotional toll with colleagues before or after school. After each new incident at yet another school, we imagine the same at our own place of work, imagine our own students' faces among the victims and wonder which vulnerable, angry teen we are not supporting adequately.
This is the reality of being a teacher in America today. The constant presence of traumatic stress is now embedded within our profession. If this is the impact on adults, imagine what it is doing to our children.
Rarely mentioned in gun-control debates is the responsibility of the firearms industry. Since the mere threat of new limitations on access to guns drives up demand, mass shootings are good for the bottom line of these businesses. I wonder if there is a special layer of hell reserved for those who profit from the massacre of children.
Brigham is a teacher at Twinfield Union High School.
Spend Money on Kids
In your recent article on Vermont gun politics ["In Range," February 28], you cite Gov. Phil Scott calling for $5 million in additional funding for school security and other legislators calling for gun legislation and increased security measures. In reading the article, I am reminded that this is in response to a report of a Vermont kid who was hungry, homeless and insufficiently cared for. I wonder how many kids $5 million could find homes and care for.
These legislators may be well-meaning, but are their actions just another example of "might makes right," with the powerful able to take away the guns of the weak? Could the actions of our legislators in this area in fact be exacerbating the problem and continuing the process of "other-ing" those disenfranchised and reinforcing their pain? What's that really got to do with "safety and security" for all?
Your simple cartoon by Tim Newcomb in the same issue cuts much closer to the point: If we want to stop school shootings and gun violence, let's focus our attention on the ills that drive children — and others — to the point that they would resort to such hurtful and dramatic actions of violence. Rather than attempt to take away anyone's ability to hurt anyone else, which is futile at best, let us instead encourage our legislators to spend the money of our government on resolving the pain that leads to these hurts.