Letters to the Editor (8/14/19) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (8/14/19)

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Fact-Check, Please

In [Feedback: "Guns in America," July 31], one of your letter writers wrote: "As Nancy Pelosi has been quoted as saying, 'We can not control the people until we control the guns.'" It was hard to believe that Pelosi had said that. Even if she or any other politician agreed with that statement, it would be an incredibly careless thing for a seasoned politician to say. I searched the internet for that quote and could not find it.

The experience made me curious about how Seven Days fact-checks letters to the editor. It may be an unrealistic expectation for the public to cite their sources or adhere to journalistic standards. But in choosing to publish letters, such as this one, that include statements presented as facts, does Seven Days have some responsibility to fact-check those statements and include a disclaimer if the editors are unable to verify their accuracy?

Not doing so makes it likely that publishers will spread misinformation, even if unintentionally. Some people will accept anything printed as true, regardless of the author — especially in a source they trust. But due to both the amount of information and the rate at which we all consume it in the smartphone/social media age, critical readers, too, can fall victim to misremembering where they read or heard information, therefore misremembering how trustworthy that information is. 

That makes it even more imperative that responsible publications such as Seven Days fact-check everything that is printed. Thank you for publishing opinions from across the political spectrum, but I also respectfully ask that Seven Days do more to fact-check the statements from the readers it publishes.

Sean Fitzsimmons

Richmond

Editor's note: Every story in Seven Days goes through a fact-checking process. Letters to the editor do, too, but reader feedback tends to be more subjective and is not always supported by provable facts. In this case, however, Fitzsimmons is correct: The letter referenced above appears to contain an erroneous Pelosi quote that should have been edited out prior to publication. We've removed it from the online version.

Not-So-Great Guns

Alan Hatch's "Guns in America" comments are offensive [Feedback, July 31]. Referring to early settlers — our founders and their descendants — as "hayseeds" is demeaning. They needed firearms to put food on the table and, yes, they provided protection also. Obviously, those days are long past.

If Nancy Pelosi's statement is quoted correctly, it is only partially correct. The actions of terrorists, white nationalists, the mentally ill and criminals are unpredictable and therefore uncontrollable without strictly enforced gun safety laws to help save the lives of innocent schoolchildren and citizens. Why do law-abiding citizens need military assault weapons? Why should anyone be allowed to purchase guns without background checks? Why are guns available via the internet?

Gun safety laws benefit all and need to be enacted and enforced on a bipartisan basis, followed with stiff penalties on all who violate them. National Rifle Association lobbyists protect no one; they line their pockets by maintaining the status quo, unfortunately enabling the daily mass shootings. Money and power are obvious goals of the NRA — selfish, greedy goals they attain by peddling the myth that gun safety laws infringe on Second Amendment rights — despite undisputed proof that more guns result in more deaths, both in and outside of the home.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and others of like mind are not the quacks here, and we are not among the "1 percenters." We all want to reduce gun violence. To that end, we must demand strict gun safety laws as a start. Enough is enough!

Lynn Stecklare

South Burlington

Color Blind?

Fact or fiction: A columnist decries the lack of "people of color" in Vermont journalism — and doesn't interview any one of the six currently on the job to get their take on the whole thing [Fair Game: "Ethnic and Racial Diversity Lacking in Vermont Media," August 7].

Not one, folks. 

He could have asked at least one of them a multitude of questions. Examples: 

• Do you think minorities are underrepresented in Vermont journalism? Why or why not?

• If they are in short supply, why do you think that is? How would you increase hiring diversity, if you think it is necessary?

• Do you think there should be an unspoken minority hiring quota? Or should staffing levels be accomplished based purely on merit? Why or why not?

None of those questions was asked. The columnist, instead of presenting a diverse perspective (pardon the pun), interviewed all white people. (And worse, never asked any of the questions above of any of them.)

It would be funny if it weren't so ironic.

Ted Cohen

Burlington

Dairy Don't

Every time Seven Days runs an article about Vermont's dairy industry ["Big Vermont Dairy?" July 31] I have to brace myself, because I know there will be four pink elephants taunting me with their imperviousness to scrutiny by this dairy-biased publication.

The implicit assumption promulgated is always: Dairy, good; challenges faced by farmers, bad. 

The pink elephants? First, dairy is not good for you. Second, the industry is fundamentally inhumane. Third, the industry is polluting Lake Champlain and other water bodies. Finally, the dairy industry is a potent contributor to our climate crisis.

While it is sad to see farmers struggling to make ends meet, in every other industry that does not produce our ice cream and pizza (and their attendant love handles) we join in lockstep to the market logic of supply and demand.

Seven Days rushes to defend dairy from "competition from a proliferation of plant-based, milk-like beverages," as if oat milk or soy milk were a disease and not the natural, market-based solution to all of dairy's problems, demanded by people who see past Big Dairy's epic, decades-long campaign of deceptive advertising.

If Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont legislature really want to help dairy farmers, if they really want clean water, if they really want to address the climate crisis and rising health care costs, then they should incentivize and aid those Vermont dairy farmers who want to transition to crops that yield a superior, alternative milk. 

Marc Beaudette

Windsor

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