Greed, in Deed
One cannot help but sympathize with the Thibault family ["Brothers' Keeper," August 31]. Losing two of three children to something as senseless as drug overdose has got to be really tough. Nevertheless, I find Robert Sand's point of view on this problem quite compelling. Sand's argument of a "souped-up motorcycle," however, could use some refinement.
Here's a better one: For years, Ford sold an automobile called the Pinto, which earned a reputation for exploding on impact in the event of a rear-end collision. The automaker continued selling it for some time despite knowing full well its problem.
Anyone buying a souped-up motorcycle knows the risks associated with previous-owner-installed "performance-enhancing-modifications." Indeed, often the buyer wants the enhanced performance of the modified product, despite the risks. On the other hand, Ford's exploding-on-impact Pinto was sold right along with other stock automobiles, with no indication whatsoever that it was more dangerous than other models, and no benefit to the buyer for accepting the risk ... just like heroin laced with fentanyl is sold right along with plain heroin as if it's all the same stuff.
This is a whole separate class of crime, or murder, if you will — ignoring the "collateral" killing of people for continued profit. What about military contractors who sell "precise bombing" technology that inexplicably misses many of its targets and kills thousands of innocent civilians? The problem is known but not fixed, because there's more profit in continuing to sell defective technology.
Whether death from consumption of fentanyl-laced heroin should result in murder charges being filed against the seller of the heroin is a good question to consider. But if we're going to punish some ghetto crackpot drug dealer for a crime we might call "collateral damage murder," we should also punish big corporations for the same crime. How often does that happen?
The September 7 paper carried an ad [page 25] depicting a helpless bobcat clamped in a merciless trap, doomed to be bludgeoned or shot, then skinned. It notified the public that Vermont's Fish & Wildlife Department is presently being petitioned by trappers to extend the season for bobcats and otters. It is preposterous to further beleaguer and decrease already stressed populations.
This petition should be rejected outright and doesn't merit even cursory consideration. Even if Vermont were overrun with bobcats, which it isn't, trapping would be an inefficient method of population control. New Hampshire bans the trapping of these beautiful, elusive animals. The only reason it's allowed in our fair state is because the trappers are getting paid big bucks for the pelts, and that's all that seems to matter here.
I went to the F&W website to learn more. How can bobcats be listed as "a species in greatest conservation need" on F&W's own website and a trapping season be permitted at all? To even consider extending the trapping deadline because the trappers want it is a travesty and simply shows how blatantly the F&W board operates in the interests of the trappers and their barbaric trade.
Fortunately there's another website, protectourwildlifevt.org, which provides information about safeguarding animals and urges the public to speak up for Vermont's wildlife. Please, if you care about animals, learn what you can do — and do it.
Ski Bum Rap
Kevin J. Kelley overstates when he notes that 40,000 flatlanders moved to Vermont in the 1970s and brought with them a freak flag to fly ["Remaking Vermont," August 31; Live Culture: "Vermont Historical Society Talks Freaks, Radicals and Hippies," September 11]. Most of them were decidedly not freaks, radicals or hippies. He leaves out one extremely large cohort: ski bums.
Ski bums knew all the words to the Crosby, Stills & Nash song — and some were Deadheads — but it was skiing that brought them here. In fact, nearly everyone I met in Vermont from 1974 to 1980 came to ski and stayed. Many, like myself, were day-tripping hippies with long hair, beards and a few ounces of pot. They loved the Vermont air, landscape, ambience and the casual, free-floating lifestyle; they only looked like hippies. These "ski bums" got jobs in order to get a free ski pass at Sugarbush, Mad River, Killington or Stowe. The Mad River Valley was wall-to-wall ski bums working as waiters, busboys, lift operators, ski instructors, firewood stackers, house painters, bartenders, carpenters and anything else that promised a free ski pass. I suspect that ski bums outnumbered communards by five or even 10 to 1.
The ski bums stayed, matured, started families, built houses, started businesses, became selectmen, drank PBR until craft beer was invented and read Seven Days' predecessor, the Vermont Vanguard. The Vermont Historical Society should honor the ski bums who made a much more lasting contribution to Vermont than a short stack of misguided and underwhelming communards.
[Re "Remaking Vermont," August 31]: Oh, pooh, your three-page article was disappointingly clinical, more concerned with historical context yet leaving out some litmus-test facts: assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, plus the Vietnam War that triggered a mass exodus outta college and city life and into the hills and farmlands of Vermont. I was one of those young people who arrived in 1967 (for a job at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe) and got booted out by Momma von Trapp for owning an underground newspaper. The next two years were spent wandering around northern Vermont until settling in Caledonia County.
Of the hundreds of young people I met, no one thought themselves a part of a "movement" or philosophy, but they definitely wanted a life with more value and meaning. We didn't know what the hell we were doing, thankful that neighbors were willing to teach us Survival 101. We scrounged for materials, food to eat, used clothing and supplies for winter, always sharing info as the months turned into a year. The whole thing was very organic, even after pregnancies gave women the idea to birth at home, scrub soiled diapers by hand or learn about brown rice being a cheap but healthy food source.
The whole experience was magical yet terrifying. It felt right, made us happy to be alive. As drugs or alcohol took over, everything soured and became shabby. We didn't realize the effect until too late.