[Re “Vermont’s Rain-Barrel Project: Lake Saver or Drop in the Bucket?” March 27]: I find it ironic that as I’m making an effort to place rain barrels around my house in order to help protect the environment, my town is planning to place a large storm-water outfall area on the other end of the property. In the past, storm water was filtered by these mystical places called marshes, swamps and swales — nature’s own vibrant rain gardens. We need more wetlands in order to have less pollution in the lake and increased habitat for local wildlife. Private citizens can help in this effort, but municipalities need to find ways to reduce the enormous flow of storm water into the lake from roads and development.
Writing About Religion
I wanted to extend my thanks and congratulations to Seven Days for publishing a fun, fair and informative piece on the state of various religious outlooks in Vermont [“Are You There, God? It’s Me, Vermont,” March 27]. In fact, this piece to my eyes was just the latest in a string of great stories the Seven Days staff has done on the subject recently — including one on this humble letter writer [“Father to Be,” August 29, 2012].
I get the sense that everyone in Vermont is cognizant of the religious current pulsing through even this most secular of states, but that they either aren’t inclined, or are confused as to how best to address the topic. To my judgment, you’ve gone down the best route for understanding something: asking, listening and observing — all skills I picked up in the religious studies department of my alma mater, St. Mike’s! Kudos for shedding the proverbial light on a topic that always seems to permeate our society and culture, but which people seem so skittish to engage.
Brother Michael Carter
Closer Look at Leahy
Missing in Seven Days’ feature article on Senator Leahy is the dubious fact that Leahy is one of the key people responsible for our present economic collapse and financial crisis [“Seniority Rules,” March 20]. Yes, Leahy’s sponsorship of commodities deregulation with the 1997 Lugar-Leahy Bill opened the floodgates for a speculative bubble to grow in the quadrillions of dollars, based upon gambling on food coupled with an unrestricted creation of worthless derivatives, all by the 1 percent, Leahy’s real constituency.
Of course Leahy will put on a good “hoarse show” to give the majority of Vermonters something to feel smug about, like his endorsement of President Obama, who has done a fine job of giving us more war, more police state, more impeachable offenses and austerity economics against the American people, as the lies of 9/11 continue to go unquestioned by those under oath.
Perhaps the senator might seek to rectify his responsibility for the present crisis by actively advocating a return of Glass-Steagall, the closure of toxic derivatives trades and the commodities casinos, as well as making a strong hint that any administration that disregards the Constitution and Bill of Rights should be impeached.
Not a Leahy Fan
I have never been a fan of Sen. Leahy [“Seniority Rules,” March 20]. He has always been a Democrat first and an American second. Vermonters have always given him the vote. He was swept in with the Kennedy thing in the ’60s, as were others, such as Phil Hoff. With the influx of out-of-staters, they have brought their brand of politics with them. Look what they have done in Vermont. We are California lite. Enough said.
Same Old, Same Old
[Re Taste Test: The Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge, March 6]: Given all the exciting new things happening on the Vermont restaurant scene, does it best serve your readership to write a lengthy review of a place whose menu and ethos seem to have been dropped intact from the 1970s? Seared yellowfin tuna? Salad bar? What’s next week — Applebee’s? Buffalo Wild Wings?
Seven Days Made My Trip
My boss sent me to Vermont for two weeks’ training. Thought it would be dull and dreary. Can’t do much about the weather, yet my stay was sensational, in part because I’ve enjoyed three issues of your newspaper. Such creativity and great writing! No wonder prisons won’t allow it [“Did Someone Miss the Memo on Prisons’ List of Banned Magazines?” December 5]. Prisoners shouldn’t be so rewarded.
Where’s the Science?
The anti-science Left resembles the anti-science Right [“Who’s Trying to Kill the GMO Bill? February 27]. But instead of peddling myths about climate change, the Left peddles myths about the safety of genetically modified crops. There is no scientific debate in either subject.
This century, humanity needs to increase food production by 70 percent. But the reaction from some of us — the richest people in history, who have never known a day of hunger in our lives — is a demand to stop using technology in agriculture. While GM crops are here to stay, lawsuits and rich-world boycotts can increase the costs to develop them, hurting the poor.
The curious mantra of the anti-GM movement seems to be “no famine in modern times was caused by lack of food.” Even if this strange statement were true, there has never been a population of 9 billion people, and there will be in 40 years. Why, as we seem to be headed toward increasing drought, wouldn’t we want crops that grow with less water, or better yet, salt water? Why wouldn’t we want crops that produce more on less land, to save what is left of the planet’s wilderness? Instead, “progressives” look back to a golden age that never existed and demonize scientists who work in agriculture.
Everyone remembers Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal quote “A bread shortage? Let them eat cake.” The sentiment of the anti-GM movement seems to be: “Humanity is facing water shortages, erosion and expensive grain? Let them eat more kale grown organically at their local CSA farm.”
Peter Du Brul
[Re Facing Facts, March 6]: Apparently Seven Days is in favor of the Vermont Beverage Tax. Well, I’m not! At a penny an ounce, this tax is not going to break me. Truth be told, I drink very little of the targeted beverages. It’s the principle of the thing. Governments need to stop their insatiable inclination to tax us — Montpelier, are you listening? This is a great place to start. I am not a member of, nor do I have any affiliation with, the Tea Party, but we are damn sure taxed enough already, sugar Nazis: Please stand down!
Yesterday, a friend sent me an article about the Wildflower Inn’s potential to be voted “favorite New England family resort” on About.com, the very inn that paid to settle a lawsuit when they refused to host Ming and Kate Linsley’s wedding reception [Off Message, “Wildflower Inn Up for Family-Friendly Award — Lawsuit and All,” March 4]. They are defended by people who want to separate out the personal opinions of the owners from their desire to run their business, even though the owners do not do so themselves.
I care deeply about Vermont businesses. I want them to thrive and help keep Vermont a great place to live. What I do not understand is, given all the inns in Vermont, why anyone would vote for one that so meanly defines “family?” The Wildflower Inn owners claim, as the article stated, “We treat them all, everybody, the same.” After the lawsuit, they appeared in a television ad opposing marriage equality. I do not trust that I would feel comfortable sleeping and eating at a place where the owners went to so much trouble to let the public know they do not approve of my family. I would not want to spend my money someplace that will turn that money into ads against my family.
We still live in a society where our earnings are lowered and where many of us pay out of pocket for insurance for our spouses because the Defense of Marriage Act allows state-sanctioned discrimination against us. We still live in a society where we need hate-crime legislation to help protect us, where our LGBTQ youth are bullied and our LGBTQ elders live in fear of abuse. Surely we can find a better option than the Wildflower Inn to represent our definition of “family friendly.” Vermont, we can do better.
Fountain is executive director of the RU12? Community Center; Wildflower was a runner-up in the About.com competition.
Full of Boar
[Re “By Dodging the Law, a Captive Hunting Park in Fairlee Could Become a Disease Destination,” March 6]: Andy Bromage’s article on captive hunting parks failed to mention that wild boar — aka black swine, wild hog, feral pig, razorback and piney-woods rooters — also pose a major threat to Vermont not related to chronic wasting disease. These less-than-attractive beasts are yet another invasive “exotic” species with no known predators in the U.S. Their extremely destructive behavior is a major problem, and there are established populations in 38 states, including New York, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
Vermont F&W Wildlife division director Mark Scott writes about this problem in his article in the Agency of Natural Resources’ newsletter, Ripples. It’s the fourth or fifth article down the page. Check out the video, “A Pickup Load of Pigs: The Feral Swine Pandemic (Trailer).” Do we really want “Aporkalypse Now” in Vermont? It’s time to exterminate the remaining stock in these Dick Cheney-style captive hunting parks in Vermont and close them up for good. After all, most Vermont hunters don’t require that their prey be in cages, because they lack Mr. Cheney’s aiming handicap.
[Re WTF: “Why don’t CCTA buses give change?” February 13]: While I respect and, at various points, have shared Andy Bromage’s frustration over the fact that buses do not dispense change, there’s a very simple solution to this problem. Bus drivers and fellow passengers are generally pretty accommodating, even on shorter bus rides with lower fares. So if you don’t have exact change, find someone else paying with cash, get change from them and pay for two fares together. Or simply tell the driver that you don’t have exact change before you put money in the machine — they’ll sometimes have a reserve of ones or will give you change if a passenger gets on later and pays with cash. Ask and ye shall receive.
‘Respect of Guns’
Andy Bromage could have said some things differently and more on others [Fair Game, February 27]. How many of the six deaths in two years were perpetrated by police and how many were accidental? Vermont’s “school shooting” wasn’t about school, so use of this term isn’t justified and is misleading. A mandatory safety course would not have protected those that have been killed by guns; police have the most comprehensive weapons training, yet they routinely shoot humans and pets.
Mandatory mental health reporting will deter those who would seek help — returning veterans come to mind. Police handling of mentally confused folks has proven fatal and injurious, and mandatory reporting would put them in danger.
Who are the legislators that cosponsored H124, with Linda Waite-Simpson? Sen. John Rodgers cites Hitler’s gun program as reason to fear gun registration. Can anyone argue with that? Government tells Americans to eat cake — on every issue! I’ve been to health care, transportation, wildlife, pre-Act 60 and agriculture hearings, and Vermonters are ignored, over and over.
Governors Dean, Douglas, Shumlin and representatives Gaye Symington and Shap Smith refused to hold legal hearings on unconstitutional wars. Welch, Sanders and Leahy give lip service to the issue.
Pro-gun advocates should promote gun locks, store ammunition separately from guns, prevent children from accessing violent videos and television, and teach absolute respect of guns.
Anyone who believes women’s rights have even begun to progress to an acceptable level must certainly become disabused of the notion after reading your article, “Vermont Law Allows Rapists Parental Rights; a Pair of Bills Would Change That” [March 6]. The details of your story can be summed up to its pathetic conclusion: We are still in the Stone Age as far as the rights of women — and in this case, children — are concerned.
The idea that men who assault and rape women have any kind of entitlements as a result of their acts is ludicrous and archaic to a sickening degree. I’m pretty sure every rapist’s final thoughts at the moment the unwanted sperm is forced to its destination is not, “Wow! This is my chance to become an exemplary father!”
Thanks to Representative Kesha Ram and the other 44 cosponsors of the bill to end visitation and custody rights of rapists.
Stephanie Calanthe Victoria
Rape Law is More Complicated
The proposed legislation described in [“Vermont Law Allows Rapists Parental Rights; a Pair of Bills Would Change That,” March 6] is a misguided “solution” to a very real problem. While both the legal community and the general public has become much more sensitive to the rights of women victims of rape, this kind of legislation ignores the complexities of this issue.
There may be a variety of reasons a woman would choose to bear a child of rape, including moral strictures against abortion, but the fact that a woman carries and gives birth to the offspring of an alleged forcible rape raises legitimate questions about motives.
There have been many studies of false rape accusations over the years, with widely divergent outcomes. In a 1994 study at two large Midwestern state universities, of the 50 percent of accusers who fabricated the rape, more than half did so to serve as a cover story or alibi, following consensual sex with an acquaintance that led to some sort of problem for the accuser, such as contracting a sexually transmitted disease or becoming pregnant. The next most common reason was revenge, rage or retribution. A 1985 Air Force study also found that spite or revenge and the need to compensate for a sense of personal failure were the primary motives for the 27 percent of rape reports determined to be false.
Vermont Senator Peg Flory, who practices family law, questions the standard of “clear and convincing evidence” of rape, which is much lower than the standard for conviction. Such a low bar can make it too easy for a woman to demand child support without granting paternal visitation rights, even in highly questionable cases of partner, acquaintance or date rape, which are already so loosely defined that the law virtually sanctions female victimization of men. If a woman truly wants no interaction with her alleged rapist, why would she bear his baby?
The name of a Hebrew prayer was misspelled in the “Judaism” portion of last week’s cover story, “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Vermont.” What Ohavi Zedek identifies as the “Shema” is also known as the “Shma” and even “Sh’ma” — but not Schema, as we called it.