Where’s the Insight?
The situation between Rachel Kahn-Fogel and Michael Schultz is a serious and unfortunate matter [Fair Game, “Dangerous Liaisons,” May 25]. We are fortunate that the story is out and can now move to some resolution. I am disappointed with the way it was handled in Seven Days. While reading the 2500-word article, I anticipated the insight and informed commentary that I have come to expect. It never came. Instead, there was this crowing “gotcha” that I would expect more from a low-grade tabloid. The article was more about displaying the abundance of court information and pillow talk, without the benefit of insight or analysis. Seven Days has earned a reputation for covering stories that the big dailies are ignorant of, or choose to ignore. After reading “Dangerous Liaisons,” I feel that you are losing ground.
[Re: Fair Game, “Dangerous Liaisons,” May 25]: Talk about “dangerous”! Shame on you, Seven Days! It is really a sad day when Seven Days unabashedly joins with the sleaziest of journalistic opportunities to humiliate and expose a Vermont citizen who has already been identified as fragile and vulnerable. Seven Days has always promoted itself as doing good things for the community. Now it looks like you gave in to your basest instincts and sold out to greed. Why would you publish such intimate and private letters? Just because you could? And maybe because these sensationalized events get readers?
Relationships are private and personal issues. To expose the intimate lives of people is to participate in a kind of voyeurism that is deplorable. Did you stop and think about how you have contributed to the painful consequences you have created for the children and extended family? What could you have been thinking — or were you not thinking at all?
A sexual liaison between two consenting adults is not illegal, and fantasies are not behaviors. There may or may not be consequences of consensual extramarital affairs. Affairs may be the result of troubled marriages or mental health issues. Seldom are they actually criminal. To call these behaviors “sexual harassment” is also way off base. Responsible journalism would respect privacy and empathy for the pain and suffering for all involved.
Gale H. Golden
Golden is a licensed, independent clinical social worker.
Seven Days or National Enquirer?
Wow, what great juicy gossip. Too bad TMZ doesn’t care and won’t purchase [Fair Game, “Dangerous Liaisons,” May 25] for big bucks.
Great job of journalistic investigation, what with all the public-record and freedom-of-information stuff. Too bad the subject wasn’t worthy of great investigative work by the press. Maybe the writer is just practicing for some future time when he will have a really important thing to expose, or maybe he is hoping to get a job with the National Enquirer and plans to include this in his portfolio.
Pretty disgusting job of exposing the difficult situations that result from someone’s unfortunate sickness. Maybe the writer could take a course on how to better understand mental illness, and the strange consequences to which it often leads. You should be ashamed of yourselves, in my humble opinion.
Peter von Bergen
The Real UVM Scandal
“Dangerous Liaisons” [Fair Game, May 25] is a pitch-perfect exemplar of scandal displacement, the triumph of the freak show over the real deal, viz the corporatist mission creep into all our institutions, including those entrusted with the serious task of passing on the parts of our culture worth keeping. The real scandal at UVM and other sites of higher learning is the country-club-ification of their boards, which find it agreeable to load up on administrators whose growing numbers, pay and perks outstrip those of the dwindling faculty. How about using the Vermont Public Records Act to find out how much of the funds raised at UVM have been used to hire more fundraisers? Or whether it’s true that Mr. Fogel was promised his presidential salary to teach as a junior colleague in the English department? Any other sweet deals to be discovered that are enjoyed by ex-administrators in academic positions at UVM?
Of course, UVM isn’t alone in its capitulation to the culture of special treatment. Shay Totten’s 2009 scoop of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont’s alarming self-directed largesse woke people up in a good way. Seven Days would do us a great service if it routinely evaluated the bang arising from the bucks awarded our most lavishly remunerated bureaucrats in the nonprofit and public service sector so the next time an official defends yet another outlandish salary with “You get what you pay for,” it may be challenged as the meaningless saw that it is.
It seems wrongs do occasionally right themselves. Is there a more perfect rebuttal to the immensely sexist, and utter failure of psychological analysis, titled “Men Behaving Unsurprisingly” [Poli Psy, May 25] than “Dangerous Liaisons” [Fair Game, May 25]? A powerful woman at UVM taking sexual advantage of her subordinate, imagine that! We won’t hold our breath for an apology, though, for fear of suffocating.
Oh, and to the writing, ignoring for a moment the incredibly offensive comparisons of consensual sex to rape made in the piece, here’s a man’s take on Schwarzenegger. His groping and adultery may have been less related to thinking, Aha! I will now flex my power and dominance muscle on this girlie-woman! and more related to his being a spoiled roid-head with poor impulse control, thinking, Damn! Look at that ___!
Surprised at Seven Days
I am a huge fan of Seven Days. I look forward each week to seeing what Dan Bolles and Lauren Ober, to name a couple, have contributed. Your publication has a sense of humor, is culturally broad minded, and also possesses a decency that I admire and support. This decency is so very important to me, because I feel that it is so rare in the news. Our society’s overeager appetite for dirt is fueled by insensitive reporting, and it’s disheartening.
So I was particularly dismayed to read the “Fogel Fallout” piece [Fair Game, June 1]. I support freedom of expression, but you do have a choice over what you print. The story may not violate any laws of speech, but I feel it intentionally violates the privacy of the people involved, and sharing it was unnecessary. There is something seedy and disrespectful about this story, and it left me surprised at Seven Days.
I cannot imagine a justifiable benefit to our community in detailing someone’s divorce proceedings the way you did. If you’re looking for material, why don’t you further explore some of the global problems facing us, and how we can help? If you want lighter substance, expand on your amazing food pieces, but please don’t continue down the sordid road, Seven Days! What’s next, excerpts from Halperin’s The Governator?
Mad About Mac
[Re: “Mac’s Missing Millions: Plot Twists Abound in Film Fundraising Probe,” May 25]: As a source in Shay Totten’s article regarding Mac Parker, I’m dismayed to see him make a glaring omission and go on, as a result, to build a “report” rife with known distortions, trite phrasing and an inflammatory callout.
Foremost, unmentioned in his reporting is the fact that Shay inquired of and received direct confirmation from Mac’s attorneys that Mr. Parker held the only copyright for Birth of Innocence. In light of this, to report on Horace Williams’ illegal effort to wrest control of Mac’s film as anything remotely legitimate is blatantly irresponsible. Regardless of the drama he continues to stir, Horace Williams is not, and has never been, the film’s “cocreator and creative partner” as Shay claims. He was a hired editor and, since his firing, has proven himself to be bitter and vindictive, stopping at nothing to derail Mac and his completing the film.
To be clear, lenders, including myself, have rights to be discouraged. Mac Parker made terrible decisions. Money was squandered and an ingratiated mentor broke all of our trust by absconding with millions. Yet the decision to make such a loan was ours; that is our responsibility. Lender Robert Finkle has never once taken such responsibility — and this from a man who considers himself an investor. What investment is without risk? Finkle’s tommyrot of Mac’s “bragging” about the lack of a federal indictment is incendiary and shameful, yet Shay runs with it.
Mac Parker has been laid low by both state and federal cases, yet he’s never played the victim. He’s shown humility and real contrition about the gross errors in judgment leading up to these inquiries. And not once has Mac wavered from his commitment to finish his film and to dedicate his every effort to repaying each and every lender. And progress is being made toward this end. Hundreds of these very lenders continue to stand by and with Mac Parker, knowing him to be a good and well-intentioned man who, yes, made real and grave errors. Rather than hanging him, these same folks have expressed unwavering support every difficult step of the way — supporting Mac’s legal defense, raising contributions to finish his film and countering the negativity of an overblown employee.
Birth of Innocence is an extraordinary film that speaks to the very best in each of our potential. Contrary to Shay’s glib contention that it “drips with New Age sentiments,” the film offers a grounded yet lofty message of real relevance needed now perhaps more than ever before. How ironic those who might benefit the most are so eager to tear it and its creator down.
This is a difficult situation [“Mac’s Missing Millions: Plot Twists Abound in Film Fundraising Probe,” May 25]. As a former — repaid — investor, I hope that Mac is given the chance to finish the film according to his vision. It is his movie, not Horace Williams’, and Horace was fired because he was not a team player. Mac’s vision of the film is complete, and the film should be allowed to be completed. Then, as he has always intended, Mac will repay the lenders with the income from the sales of the film, etc.
Tax the Rich
[Re: Fair Game: “Rich People to the Rescue?” March 30]: The University of Massachusetts Amherst has released a study of taxation that disproves Gov. Shumlin’s reasons for refusing to consider raising taxes on the wealthy to help with the budget problem. Now it’s time for the governor to begin acting in all our best interests. As this article reflects, the wealthy are asking to be taxed more, they are the group most able to pay more, balancing the budget by laying off people is counterproductive, and wealthy people do not decide where to live due to taxes. In fact, the study shows that wealthy people are moving into states with higher taxes because they like a society with better state services: better schools, good roads, safe bridges, low crime. It’s time to raise taxes on the wealthy.
In the May 25 issue, Alice Levitt wrote that Uncle Tony’s Pizza in South Burlington had replaced Lee’s Chinese Restaurant. In fact, the new pizzeria opened behind Lee’s in a spot formerly occupied by Kui’s Asian Foods Market.
Last week's caption on the story "Why So Many Independent Vermonters Are Joining Hospitals, or Closing Up Shop" misidentified one of the two people shown. It was Paul Taheri, not Paul Harrington. Seven Days regrets the error.