Regarding the article "Milking It" [March 13] and its subsequent amusing letters to the editor [Feedback: "How Now, Cow?" March 27]: Once I finally waded through the combination of "boo-hoo" and "who gives a shit" letters — and the one from an apparent vegetarian sun and wind worshipper — I came away with the impression that about 95 percent of the comments came from, shall we say, ignoramuses. Dairy farms make shit, and it gets on you. Large farms, like smaller ones, have long hours. You are dealing with living animals that require 24-hour care. Some farmers' language can make a sailor blush. So can mine. Get over it. Jesus Christ.
Where's the Outrage?
I read with interest the letter upbraiding Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan for not taking stronger action against the persecutor of former state rep Kiah Morris [Feedback: "Wrong Message From Donovan," March 13; Fair Game: "Donovan's Dilemma," February 20]. I am grateful to Rose Lazu for speaking up. She makes a good point in saying that there are steps he could have taken to signal censure even if criminal charges might not hold.
Later in the letter, I was disappointed to read that the writer is a person of color. Where are similar letters of outrage from people of pallor, like myself? I know little about law or politics, but all of us should be alarmed and outraged if our laws — or is it our lawyers? — permit an individual to intimidate an elected official out of office.
Paying for Plastic
[Re Off Message: "Vermont Senate Backs Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags, Foam Containers," March 29; "Vermont Senate Bill Would Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags," March 13]: As a student at Bennington College taking a new class being offered on plastic pollution, I have been appalled to learn about the irreversible damages being caused to the environment as a result of single-use plastics. The impacts of global plastic production, usage and disposal are as alarming as they are unnecessary, and they pose a threat to the land and ocean environments that are to be inherited by successive generations, including my own.
I was therefore excited to read about the new Vermont legislation that would ban certain single-use plastics in Vermont. It is my hope that those in positions of power will choose not to ignore the crisis at hand due to distractions from wealthy industry and lobbyist groups, and will think instead of those of us already experiencing the impacts of this environmental crisis.
When it comes to reducing our waste and environmental damage, a ban on plastic bags, straws and polystyrene packaging is the first of many steps that represent the only way forward. Lawmakers and Gov. Phil Scott have a choice: Adopt laws that reduce plastic pollution or leave a planet choked by past excesses for our younger generations to contend with.
McKibben Nails It
[Re Book Review: "End Times?" March 27]: In 1988, when James Hansen explained the threat of global warming to the U.S. Congress, only a few people realized what an existential threat it represented. In fact, it was clear at that moment that humans would be helpless to stop it. Why? Because to do so would mean remaking our evolutionary history, reforming every culture in the world and turning our backs on the idea of unending growth.
Still, many have dedicated themselves to accomplishing those things and turning us back from the cataclysm. Bill McKibben has been one of them. In his writing and speaking, he has made a heroic effort. No doubt his deep humanism and love of nature have sustained him, but now the time has come for him to acknowledge that those things can't be enough. The powerful physical realities of this planet are irrevocable, and our scattered, ephemeral lives will never align to reflect that fact.
So his new book shows that dark admission, even if he must maintain some faith in a future. He is not the only one who is coming to this stage. Barry Lopez, in his new book Horizon, reconsiders much of the ground he has covered in his books over the years, facing mortality both personal and global. Even Yuval Noah Harari, the historian who has compellingly captured the arc of our species from prehistory to present, finds ecological collapse as one of the three gravest existential threats for the future.
It's no longer possible to call anyone a doomsayer.
Christopher Hayden is a problem, as noted in the article by Derek Brouwer ["You've Got Hate Mail: Are This Man's Awful Screeds Protected Speech?" March 20]. I used to work in the mental health system with a person known at the time as "the most difficult individual in Vermont." He was belligerent, but he didn't focus on certain people and call or write them repeatedly, and he never entered city hall to spew hate speech. Mayor Miro Weinberger, Police Chief Brandon del Pozo and City Councilor Ali Dieng all have my sympathy. I don't think they should have to put up with years of unrepentant bad behavior.
Threats are not free speech, and neither is harassment. Hate speech is now illegal, and much of Hayden's behavior can be classified as such. If no one can persuade him to stop wasting the resources of the city — by repeatedly taking up the police's time — then he should face the consequences of his actions.
How can he call himself a persecuted dissident when he says what he says and does what he does? He has a problem, and because he knows nothing of it, it has become society's problem — our problem. He needs to be where he cannot continue to make innocent people's lives miserable. The law of free speech does not protect his right to threaten others. His speech imprisons others.
Editor's note: In a follow-up blog post [Off Message: "Harassing Emails to City Councilor Are Protected Speech, Judge Rules," March 29], Brouwer reported that Chittenden Superior Court Judge Kevin Griffin threw out the hate-crime charge against Hayden on grounds that harassing a public official is protected by the First Amendment.