Sign of the Times?
I am a big fan of your publication. But I was bummed to see the cover of your latest issue, in which you replaced a man's sign with your logo ["Betrayed," May 16]. Clever and cheeky? Yes. Consistent with your flavor and style? For sure.
But it made me cringe to see you deprive a citizen of his First Amendment rights, rights he was exercising in the photo, by photoshopping the title of your weekly in place of his message. The image itself seems to mock the man with the sign, which feels like a cheap trick. Paul Heintz's story on the inside is good journalism, in my opinion, but the cover image undercuts that serious reporting.
Personally, I loathe the overreaching interpretations of the Second Amendment, an opinion I did not hold until I began to understand how deeply my high school students — and, more immediately, my elementary school-age children — are traumatized by the prevalence of guns and, by extension, gun violence in the U.S. Even so, as a civil libertarian, it pains me to see you take liberties with others' thoughts and beliefs. We need those to maintain civil discourse in this bastion of civil society we call Vermont.
Editor's note: The message on the man's sign was not visible in Josh Kuckens' photo, so the Seven Days logo didn't replace anything. The art director chose the image for the cover because the man's expression perfectly captures the fervor of gun-rights advocates in Vermont.
Trees Are Telling
[Re Off Message: "Cambrian Falling: Trees Felled at Burlington Development Site," April 10]: If a tree falls in the city, do we hear it? Unlike in the forests, when trees fall in Burlington — specifically the tall, noble old trees that were brutally felled on the site that was once Burlington College — we not only "hear" but grieve their loss and pay a price. It's a war zone out there on North Avenue. Go look at it if you dare, if it isn't already paved over. They are working fast. Go witness the destruction, the shockingly hacked-up tree bodies, before the evidence is gone. What was once verdant, calming and beautiful acreage is now a messy, muddy development site.
Though it is too late for these trees, it is not too late for us to come together and demand that this never happens again. I thought Vermont was green and that green meant we protected our wildlife, valued our trees and built with a conscience, with care. We need land and parks and green space here as much as those who live in the country do. This devastation cannot — must not — be forgotten.
Scott's 'Phony' Pledge
I personally like Phil Scott, but his performance as governor has been abysmal [Fair Game: "Governor No," May 16].
For the second year in a row, after months of not engaging in the legislative process, his administration has dropped a take-it-or-leave-it proposal on the legislature regarding budget, tax and education issues. Now he is calling for a special session, at more cost to Vermont taxpayers — all so he can say he has met his phony "no-new-taxes-or-fees" pledge.
His administration, in an unprecedented manner, has attacked the nonpartisan Joint Fiscal Office, after its analysis showed the governor's budget proposals were woefully inaccurate.
The Senate passed a fiscally sound budget by a 29-0 margin, with all Senate Republicans in support. The tax bill passed by the Senate also had strong tri-partisan support and would reduce income taxes by approximately $30 million.
Gov. Scott's proposal to use $33 million of onetime funds to ease property taxes is like putting education on a credit card and is very irresponsible. The Senate-passed plan pays down our pension obligations, saving Vermonters more than $100 million over several years.
Gov. Scott can still do the responsible thing and sign the tax and budget bills supported by a tri-partisan legislative majority. I urge him to do so.
My Vermont, Too
In "Betrayed" [May 16], Paul Heintz outlines the nativist narrative that weaves through the gun-control debate in Vermont, noting the echoes of the "Take Back Vermont" movement. At the time of that campaign, I was in high school — a young, native Vermonter. Born and raised here. And gay. That advocacy for my rights to safety and self-determination was viewed as anti-Vermont was deeply painful. It was the first time in my life I felt an outsider in the home that I love so deeply. I still remember the visceral experience of fear that I felt driving by barns draped in massive "Take Back Vermont" signs. I was not inconvenienced, not politically offended; I was afraid.
For many of us "native" Vermonters, gun control is not an issue of nativism but one of safety. As a gay woman, I am at greater risk than a straight male of dying by interpersonal violence or being victimized by hate. Therefore, I am more aware of risk. It is often the case that those leading the cause for gun control are most at risk of dying by violence: women, LGBTQ and — most notably — people of color. We don't lead the fight because we want to change the identity of Vermont; we, too, love Vermont. We love our right to live here and our right to live, period. We do it because our lives depend on it.