Regarding the Seven Days article "Cranked Up" [August 8], in which Rough Francis' Bobby Hackney comments, "It's about the color of our skin," is it OK for a black guy to tout race and color but unacceptable for a white guy?
A friend stopped me as I described another friend as "a black guy." Attractive, intelligent, black and a consultant on racial and equality issues, she asked why I referred to Jesse as "black." I said, "Because he is black." She reprimanded me for my error.
I once sang backup with Little Joe Cook and the Thrillers. Would it be racist to mention Joe was black, or the dynamic involved in a white guy performing in a black music group?
In the early '80s, I appreciated the excellent work of The Cuts, a Burlington band. Their composition "Nigger in New England" was notable for its edgy yet compassionate inquiry into race issues in Vermont. As I sat at Nectar's with an interesting (black) woman, I offered a comment on The Cuts' song, live on stage just a few feet away. My bar mate cursed and stalked off into the (black) night.
It appears verboten to reference race or skin tone in the workplace, though ironically, apparently meaningful in the arts. An unconscious double standard is struggling to resolve itself. To the extent we continue failing to reconcile this complex riddle, we all remain racist. We must dig deeper within ourselves to truly understand the values and implications of race and culture.
Cartoon Nails It
For his "ghost of Richard Nixon" cartoon, I nominate Robert Waldo Brunelle for a Pulitzer Prize ["Mr. Brunelle Explains it All," August 22]. It seems that they do not get Fox News in hell, so it may not be so bad.
Transphobic Depiction Is Not Funny
I am incredibly disappointed in Seven Days for printing Tim Newcomb's political cartoon depicting Gov. Phil Scott considering wearing a dress in response to Christine Hallquist's Democratic nomination for governor [Newcomb, August 22]. It is transphobic, period. A man putting on a dress is not funny. This cartoon perpetuates the kind of hate and ignorance that Hallquist and transwomen have to deal with daily and to varying escalations, including death threats. Make no mistake: Making trans identities a joke very much lays the foundation for the dehumanization and violence trans people face.
When I tweeted at the paper, y'all ducked behind your policy of "we allow our cartoonists, and our columnists, to express their opinions in our pages."
Would you print this same cartoon if Scott was up against a candidate who was a person of color and the final panel showed Scott putting on black face? If his opponent used a wheelchair and the final panel was Scott preparing to do the rest of his campaign in a chair? Ableism and racism would be opinions to you, too? Slippery slope there, right?
Own your mistake and update your policy on what "opinion" pieces make it to print. We need freedom of the press. We also need responsible media in these times, when Hallquist is getting transphobic death threats, and state Rep. Kiah Morris has withdrawn her House candidacy due to racist violent threats. Please stop giving a stage to storylines that make jokes out of marginalized people's lives.
Trapping Takes Skill
Re [Feedback, "One for Wildlife," August 22]: As a Vermont transplant who is close to our people and way of life since moving here some 49 years ago, I offer the following: Dr. Michael Haas, are you familiar with the requirements to obtain a trapping license in Vermont? Have you any idea of the value of prime pelts? Have you any idea of the amount of work it takes to run a trap line or process pelts? Are you familiar with the rigors it takes to run such a trap line? To obtain a trapper's license in Vermont, one must undergo a Trappers Safety Course, which covers trapper safety and animal welfare.
Foothold traps set on land must be checked every 24 hours. Underwater body gripper traps must be checked every three days.
To trap on public or private land, all traps must be marked as to who owns them. Landowner permission is required to trap on private land. You state in your letter "animals languish for days." That is untrue. A responsible trapper will be checking his or her traps daily, as required by law, and either releasing the animal or dispatching it, if necessary.
Your letter runs roughshod over a lot of ground you appear to have no knowledge of. It would be to your benefit to educate yourself in these matters.
Once and Future Weed
Re ["School Administrators Get a Crash Course in Spotting Drug Use," August 22]: Detective Sgt. James Roy's drug recognition "school" seemed kosher until he left the rails when "teaching" about cannabis, veering into the absurd by stating such "facts" as "pot today is more potent than it was decades ago" and "incredibly genetically engineered plants." Really? Does Roy have any samples of this "less powerful" 30-year-old weed we can test? Did he ever smoke any back then?
I distinctly remember some incredible varieties imported from Jamaica, Thailand, Hawaii, Vietnam, Colombia, etc. that may have been even better than what's available today. And there is no "genetically engineered" cannabis as yet. What has been happening is breeding: good, old-fashioned plant selection and crossing them with other strains to see what develops, like every real farmer used to do with all their crops — and organic farmers still do.
I'm sure Roy could teach his "class" without the demonstrably false scare tactics that can be debunked by a quick fact-check, and, as for wimpy weed from the "old days," I can vouch, anecdotally of course, that there once was spectacular cannabis sliding into the U.S.A. in the days before enhanced border surveillance, X-ray scanners, drug dogs and nosy customs officers — some even arriving in untouchable courier pouches exempt from search by embassy personnel with diplomatic immunity, especially from the Mideast and Iran pre-1979.
Final Grade: Incomplete
I was surprised that Bennington and Landmark colleges were not mentioned in the article about Vermont's changing enrollments ["Survival of the Smartest," August 29].
Editor's Note: The article didn't cover the enrollments at every Vermont school, but the accompanying graphic did. Enrollment at both of those schools appears to be pretty stable.