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Letters to the Editor 

Crazy Ad?

As I was casually checking my horoscope, as I do every week (right after I check the I Spys), the bright-red 1/3-page ad on the opposite page caught my eye [March 21, page 72]. Being a stickler for grammar and spelling, the first thing I noticed was that “trafficing” and “greatful” were spelled wrong. Second, part of the ad contains a sentence that grammatically makes no sense (“The Vault S&M Club, the women complain about this club through the movie Single White Female”). Upon closer examination, however, I noticed that in fact the entire advertisement makes zero sense to me.

Can someone please explain to me what is going on in that ad besides assertions that “Fire Island of Cherry Grove is a sight of DAY-SEX SLAVERY?” What does that have to do with the picture of a woman petting a cow (deer? dog?)? Googling the person whose name graces the ad, Johan Joseph Lally, yields no cohesive result but for some reason lots of hits for “John Frusciante” (of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) shows up. My only logical conclusion from this is “WTF?” Am I supposed to decipher this, Da Vinci Code-style, and solve the mystery? Help!

Cayla Tepper

Sheldon

Editor’s note: The ad was placed by a man who is “running for President” of the United States. He is against the sex trade and heroin use. The image is actually Alicia Silverstone petting a cow. The image is significant to him, though we aren’t sure why. Does an advertisement have to be logical? Discuss. We accepted Lally’s message on “free speech” grounds, but cannot defend the spelling errors. The ad did not go through the usual Seven Days proofreading process.  

Don’t Blame Sorrell

“Dollars and Sense: Has Attorney General Bill Sorrell Earned His Keep?” [March 21] quotes Vermont Law School professor Pat Parenteau’s statement that Attorney General Bill Sorrell should have done a better job advising the Vermont legislature that its campaign-finance law was doomed to fail in the courts. This comment misses two key points.

First, the AG’s office fully advised the legislature of the risks of adopting the campaign-finance law, warning that it ran contrary to Supreme Court precedent in Buckley v. Valeo. Nonetheless, concerned about the influence of money in politics, the legislature made the bill a top priority. It knew that the law would be challenged in court but chose to take that risk. Rep. Lynn Bohi stated on the floor of the Vermont House: “As the bill went through all six committees in the House and Senate, each committee had to decide whether to challenge Buckley or not. Each of the six said yes, because spending and contribution limits are both worthwhile changes to make to the system. If this is to be true reform, it needs to challenge Buckley.”

Second, the attorney general’s office regularly provides sound advice to the legislature on the difficult legal issues it faces. However, it should be noted that the campaign-finance law was passed in June 1997, after more than 65 legislative hearings starting in January 1997. Bill Sorrell was not appointed attorney general until May 1997, when the legislative process was nearly complete. Given this history, professor Parenteau’s criticism of AG Sorrell’s work advising the legislature is unfounded.

Eve Jacobs-Carnahan

Montpelier

Jacobs-Carnahan is an assistant attorney general.

Biology 101

Your article about the campaign to require labeling of GMO foods addresses an issue that is dear to my heart [“Unnatural Selection,” March 14], and I’m glad to see it getting some positive press. But I was dismayed to read the slice of an interview that got the facts totally wrong. Both the farmer interviewed and the author apparently have no clue about the difference between GMO crops and the breeding of animals — in this case, turkeys — that is accomplished through “normal” processes. “Monsanto and company” have no role in creating or promoting these breeds, which are not “genetically modified animals” as was stated in the article. This is too important an issue to give an easy score to the marketers of GMO technology, who are quick to point out that labeling will only arouse consumer fears based on scientific ignorance. This article blatantly displays such ignorance and should be corrected immediately.

Grace Gershuny

St. Johnsbury

Editor’s note: Gershuny is correct that Monsanto has not been actively involved in the selective breeding of turkeys. We should have clarified the farmer’s statement quoted in the article. Monsanto is often identified — rightly or wrongly — as the figurehead of genetic engineering in agriculture, and in fact has sought to patent selectively bred pigs. However, the term “genetically modified” is applied broadly to selectively bred turkeys, whose genetic makeup is vastly different than it was decades ago.

There’s Worse Than Wind

I am a lifelong Vermonter and very much appreciate the state’s landscape and understand some of the concerns that the opponents of the Lowell wind project have. It bothers me, too, seeing trees cut, animal habitats ruined and hillsides dotted with houses. Kathryn Flagg’s article “Blow Hard” [March 14] was very informative and gave a clear view into both sides of this battle. However, I’m less troubled by land being used for renewable-energy projects.

The world has to move away from burning fossil fuels to produce electricity. And do it fast. The emissions are contributing too much toward climate change, and that poses a significant risk to the amenities in life that we all have grown accustomed to. Is the wicked weather around the country in the last month a mild preview of things to come? Will there be a time when we wish that we had acted much sooner? I sure hope not, but I’m worried, because there are some troubling scenarios with climate change. So while citizens and our elected Republicans and Democrats bicker about this and the oil industry pointing to a cleaner future, [more time passes]. That’s too bad, because there is a lot at stake.

Kevin Bessett

Richmond

Parents’ Rights

Making condescending comments regarding Jesus and Christianity in regard to vaccines is reckless and shows extreme bias [Fair Game: “Want to Avoid That Measles Vaccine? Find Jesus,” March 21]. First of all, several religions claim the religious exemption based on real facts: Hindus refuse vaccines due to cow’s blood being an ingredient; Jews claim that the contents are not kosher; and many Christians do not believe in using fetal cells from aborted fetuses. You may not agree with these religions, but we do live in a country that protects individual religious rights.

What I find appalling about this whole attempt to remove philosophical rights from parents is the lack of respect toward the parent. We give birth to our children and, as their parents, we do have some very important elemental rights — one of which is whether or not certain medical care has more risk than we are willing to take for our children. I am not willing to sacrifice my child for the herd notion. In fact, if one looks up where the whole herd notion came from, you will see it was about natural immunity, and 69 percent was considered enough.

Parents involved in this issue are extremely well educated and at times more informed than local medical professionals in regard to the facts surrounding vaccination. Parents should have the right to delay, or avoid, any drug that could damage their child.

Jennifer Brandon

South Burlington

Immunize, for Everyone’s Sake

It is a scary time, as I realize that our society may be suffering from its own successes [Fair Game: “Want to Avoid That Measles Vaccine? Find Jesus,” March 21]. After decades of the use of immunizations, it is obvious that the benefits are incredible. And considering the millions of vaccines administered during this time period, no long-term harms have clearly been identified. And so it is disappointing to hear that many families are putting themselves and their neighbors at risk by deciding not to immunize.

We have all benefited from vaccines, whether we have received them or not. When nearly all individuals in a group are immunized, the whole population is likely to be safe. Relatively few individuals that I know have suffered from serious preventable diseases during my young life as a result. But we are living precariously on the edge, because too many individuals are not immunized against the common preventable diseases. Our health and that of our families depends not only on the choices we make but also on the choices made by those around us.

When my child goes to kindergarten, I want to be assured that he is going to a safe place. He will be immunized. But if there are too many others around him who have not been vaccinated, there is still a risk of serious disease that I would rather not think about. Please understand the possible consequences to you and your neighbors if you decide not to have your children vaccinated.

Jesse Coenen

Burlington

Doctor No

Fair Game [“Right-to-Die Legislation Gets New Life,” March 14] was right for a couple of days regarding the end-of-life-choice bill. However, Sens. Dick Sears and John Campbell have now decided that the wishes of thousands of Vermonters don’t count, and they plan to shelve the bill for this session. I can’t take credit for the following, but the words sum up my thoughts on this issue nicely:

“Many medical practices are not soundly based. They are sustained by an inertia supported by fashion, custom and the word of authority. The security provided by a long-held belief system, even when poorly founded, is a strong impediment to progress. General acceptance of a practice becomes the proof of its validity, though it lacks all other merit. Once a new paradigm takes hold, its acceptance is extraordinarily rapid and one finds few who claim to have adhered to a discarded method. This was succinctly captured by Schopenhauer, who maintained that all truth passes thought three stages: first, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and finally, it is accepted as being self evident.” From The Lost Art of Healing by Bernard Lown.

Denise Connally

Berlin

Comments on Kiss

I read with interest the Bob Kiss exit interview [“Kiss Goodbye: No Apologies From Burlington’s Departing Mayor,” March 21] and came up with the following comments. Bob Kiss is free to run for any elective office he chooses at this point, and I support his right to run for any office. With that said, I would add a few comments that people could question him on in a future run.

Kiss continues to support BT and not admit that if he had simply brought this directly to the people, the people probably would have supported financial relief, such as happened this year with a rather large school tax increase. But no, it was hidden, and now we’ve got the $50 million mess.

Some may say his finest move in office was defusing the Occupy City Hall Park mess. I would say he defused the situation he created when he waived the City Hall Park overnight ordinance, thus being at least partially responsible for the bloodshed.

Ordinances really never seemed to matter. Kiss was seen soliciting for the 2008 Moran Plant proposal directly in front of a local business with a sign that read, “No soliciting allowed in this area.” That was a heads-up, I guess, that he would use his mayoral power in enforcing ordinances, and would do what he wanted.

I support Bob Kiss’ right to run but will not be voting for him in anything he runs for.

Dale Tillotson

Burlington

Correction

We got two things wrong about 13-year-old musician Lee Cyphers in “French Horn Players Congregate — and Geek Out — in Plattsburgh” [March 21]. She lives in New York, not Vermont, and is one of several horn players in the Vermont Youth Orchestra, not the “principal.”

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