It's Not About You, Rick
[Re Movie Review: Calvary, September 10]: I read the movie reviews as a guide sometimes — Margot Harrison's are right on. But if there's a blatant, personal tirade in the midst of them, I tend to think very little of the review or of the reviewer. "What does a man of God do in such a situation, in an age when the Church is obsolete at best and culpable at worst?" had nothing to do with the film — and all to do with a personal hatred. Shame on you, Rick Kisonak. Try to entertain and not to editorialize.
'Passing on the Left'
[Re Live Culture: "Burlington and Montpelier Make Outside's 'Best Towns Ever' List," August 21]: So bike lanes are among the things that make Burlington such an awesome place to live? Well, I'm a pedestrian. You know, one of the people that sidewalks were built for. And I am sick and tired of dodging bikes and skateboards and other wheeled conveyances. Lately I have been noticing how frequently they brush past me on the left, coming up from behind suddenly and without warning. What if I reached my arm up at that moment, or turned or stepped to the side, or stumbled? Smash.
I recently had an interesting experience. A cyclist whizzed close by me from behind. I called after him, as is increasingly my wont, "Passing on the left." A polite reminder, you might say. He turned his head and yelled back, "Wearing headphones!" I'm not sure what he meant by that. Perhaps he was indicating that if one or both of us were to end up in the emergency room, at least he wouldn't lack for tunes. But seriously, something needs to be done. We cannot leave this to the good judgment of the adolescents who flood into our town every autumn. Someone is going to get hurt.
Photo Says It All
What an absolutely splendid photograph of former governor Jim Douglas that was included with Paul Heintz's review of the governor's autobiography ["Douglas Dishes," September 3] — it appears the photographer really captured the essence of the man. Devoting so much of the real estate surrounding the photo to Mr. Heintz's review seemed superfluous. Alongside the governor's photo, Heintz could have included a photo of the book's cover and limited his review to these words: "Here's the book; here's the author. Any questions?"
No Stopping Suicides
[Re "What Stops a Suicidal Vermonter From Buying a Gun? Not Much," September 10]: There isn't any currently proposed law, or any proposals in this article, that will have a measurable effect on suicides or murders. To illustrate that point, the article states that Cheryl Hanna was released from Fletcher Allen Health Care on Friday and killed herself with a gun she purchased on Saturday. Should a reporting system be in place to put a National Instant Criminal "hold" on her, it would have had to propagate from the doctor in under 24 hours, presumably after a cursory judicial review of some sort. Even with that, you would not stop the kid who smuggled a live 12-gauge round into a gun shop and used a shotgun off the display rack, or the kid who used a stolen gun behind the Essex High School. There are limits to what you can prevent — and truly suicidal people don't advertise their intentions.
[Re "What Stops a Suicidal Vermonter From Buying a Gun? Not Much," September 10]: The gun dealer, Jay O'Brien, puts himself in an untenable position: He's quoted as saying "there could be a flag in that system that says this person has been looked at in the past 48 hours," and he currently asks customers questions to attempt to discern their mental health status. O'Brien provides a "public accommodation" under the Americans With Disabilities Act. If O'Brien decides to deny a sale to an individual because he believes that he/she is mentally ill, the individual is protected under the ADA as "regarded as" disabled. Any individual denied a sale may demand that Mr. O'Brien pay for an expert to determine whether the potential customer is currently a "direct threat" pursuant to the ADA.
Who Is Unfit?
Reading about Gun Sense Vermont's desire to increase the number of hurdles for legal gun transactions illustrates the battle of privacy issues versus safety ["What Stops a Suicidal Vermonter From Buying a Gun? Not Much," September 10]: A comprehensive mental health database that was shared with the FBI would add millions of veterans to the rolls of those "unfit" to purchase firearms. These veterans, people who served our country in foreign lands, would often return with a PTSD label that would make them feel even more victimized by their experiences at war. To avoid the federal coding as mentally ill, many would deliberately not seek out the help of medical professionals. Thus, we would have more untreated veterans who would not get the services they need and deserve.
I daresay that Gun Sense Vermont will not go after veterans' groups while they seek to make Vermont — one of the absolute safest states in the U.S. to own a firearm — like their sacred cities of gun-controlled Chicago or Trenton, N.J. Gun Sense is trying to pin a solution onto a problem that they are afraid to name. Do they dare ask for comprehensive mental health sharing with the FBI? No, they are looking only for low-hanging fruit that will make no mentally unstable person safer.
Another System Failure
[Re "Mental Health Crisis Team Failed to Assist Cops in Eden Suicide," September 17]: Once again, the mental health system failed in Vermont — this time through the nonaction of mental health crisis workers who were called to a scene where tragic bodily harm was committed by someone with severe mental illness. This time, law enforcement did not fail; our system of care did.
I recently did an interview with a British TV program comparing mental health care in Vermont and England. The reporter kept asking why we failed. I have no answers.If this had been a child in desperate need of medical treatment, there would be no lack of response. Vermont says it prides itself on being in the forefront of treating mental illness. The death of Sean Francalangia says differently. Why?