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Letters to the Editor (5/11/16) 

History Lesson No. 1

Judith Levine's Poli Psy ["Revolutionary Democrat?" May 4] offered up a few interesting comparisons between the Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign of 2016 and the Eugene McCarthy campaign of 1968. However, there are a couple of historical inaccuracies in the piece that can lend to some misleading conclusions.

Bobby Kennedy did not win the party's nomination that year. The Democratic National Convention was held between August 26 and 29, and Hubert Humphrey received the party's nomination. Kennedy was assassinated on the night that he won the June 4 California primary. Astonishingly, Humphrey didn't win any of the 14 primaries held that year, and his national vote total from the contests he did compete in was less than 2.5 percent of all the votes cast, while McCarthy took six primaries and won more than 35 percent. This was a brutal rebuke of a candidacy by the party leadership.

Re President Richard Nixon's "impeachment": The House Judiciary Committee did vote on five articles of impeachment, passing three of them during the period of July 27 to 30, 1974. But Nixon announced his intention to resign on the evening of August 8, before those articles were ever brought to the House floor for a vote. He and the GOP congressional leadership concluded that the votes to block impeachment simply weren't there. It's useful to keep that in mind when considering the very different outcome of the December 19, 1998, impeachment of Bill Clinton.

If we are going to cite historical precedents, it is critical to be accurate; otherwise, we will have limited opportunity to learn anything from them.

Peter Cammann

Fort Lauderdale, FL

History Lesson No. 2

[Re "Senate Appropriations Wants to Give Vermont Life a Deadline," May 4]: I lecture on Vermont's environmental history throughout our state, and, wherever I go, I can count on one can't-miss laugh line: Vermont Life. This comes after I show a slide from a 1960s Vermont Life tabletop book, Vermont: A Special World. In it, legendary editor Walter Hard Jr. wrote a provocative essay dramatizing the concern over development and the destruction of Vermont's environment. The essay was titled, "Shall Her Mountains Die?" After that I ask, "Can you imagine Vermont Life doing something similar today? Now it seems the biggest crisis we face is how to make the perfect soufflé." Knowing laughter always follows.

This is not solely Vermont Life's fault. The magazine has become a metaphor for the irreconcilable gap between the palaver we peddle about Vermont — green, unspoiled, "the way America used to be" — and the facts all around us: sprawl, destroyed mountain ecology, solar fields instead of green fields. Charlie Morrissey, a former editor of Vermont Life, captured this dichotomy perfectly when he once wrote: "Vermont is different? The question is asked sardonically. The trouble with Vermont is that Vermont is not different enough." That was in 1981!

One clarifying note: Vermont Life was not created "to promote Vermont to tourists traveling the then-new interstate highway system." Wrong. The magazine was started in 1946; the interstate highway system began 10 years later in 1956, and I-91 did not come to Vermont until 1958.

Bruce S. Post


Racist View?

In "Senate Appropriations Wants to Give Vermont Life a Deadline" [May 4], Sen. Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) is quoted as saying, "From the committee's point of view, looking at the most recent Vermont Life, the only thing that speaks to Vermont is the name." What the article doesn't do is describe the cover of the summer 2016 magazine edition, which features a young black woman making a drink at what appears to be a small business stand on Church Street, with the headline "The Right Mix: New Americans, Small Business & Big Dreams."

While it's confusing that a Republican senator wouldn't think a cover story on small business represents Vermont, what is clear is that Sen. Westman and, by his assertion, the Senate Appropriations Committee don't think this woman represents Vermont. That thinking is overtly racist. The senator's comments are deplorable, but I'm also disappointed in Seven Days for not reporting on the cover and not holding Westman accountable for what really lies behind his concerns with the Vermont Life design.

Carolyn Wesley


Editor's note: Vermont Life made a presentation to the Senate Appropriations Committee on March 29. At that time, the "most recent" issue was spring 2016; the summer issue wasn't out yet. Sen. Westman said he was referring to the earlier issue — with Claudia Becker of Waitsfield's Big Picture Theater & Café on the cover — when he made his remark to Seven Days reporter Nancy Remsen.

No 'Chance'

"A Second Chance" [April 27] started out as an excellent piece of journalism. Author Mark Davis should be commended for highlighting Sheriff Roger Marcoux's courage and judgment. But he also did a grave disservice to Marcoux and the subject of the article, Tim Szad. What was the purpose of including the details of the sex assault on his young victim? Was Davis appealing to prurient curiosity? Playing the voyeur? What were the editors thinking to allow the story to be published in its current form?

It's important to bring attention to sex offenders and sex crimes — especially those perpetrated on children. As a former legislator, I worked on legislation dealing with this issue for several years. I've seen how communities want to throw the book at the sex offenders, how the media judges them guilty even before the case goes to court. Many people think sex offenders can never be rehabilitated. The truth is that these matters are complicated and very difficult.

Given the opportunity, which you had, to highlight how the parolee is working hard to start a new life, is it necessary to destroy good work done thus far by serving up to the public the details of his crime? Do we really need to know exactly what he inflicted on his victim in order to understand the effort to make amends and reconstruct a life? I fear this article will have unintended consequences of drawing attention away from the main point: that even the most terrible kind of wrongdoing can have seeds of redemption.

You may have done a great injustice to all those involved in Szad's rehabilitation by coloring the narrative with sensation.

Kathy Pellett


Editor's note: We included the details of Szad's crime for two reasons: First, the words came directly from him — which Davis noted is rare in the case of sex offenders — and could be seen as a measure of his remorse. Second, lack of specificity would have left the reader to imagine the assault to be more or less severe than it was.

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