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Sanders continues to refuse to give a clear answer regarding his position on civil unions.

Bernie Sanders

Published January 26, 2000 at 8:34 p.m.

What’s the big deal with the UVM Men’s Ice Hockey Hazing Scandal? So there was a little hazing. A little drinking. A little initiation. Boys will be boys. I mean, it’s not like all that fuzzy pubic hair is protecting you from something. It doesn’t keep you warm. Nothing wrong with a smooth clean shave.

As for the other stuff, hey, since when is nudity a big deal? It was the left-wingers that made obscenity and homosexuality legal. Not our little hockey pucks.

Give me a break. All this holier-than-thou crap about hazing being so bad for you is enough to make one guzzle warm beer and puke on one’s skates. So what if the UVM student rulebook says it’s a no-no? Rules are made to be broken, right?

Hey, you catch the piece in the Freeps Saturday written by former Catamount Captain Aaron Miller? He said it’s all part of hockey. Said he’s been through “15 hockey initiation parties,” from high school to college to pro. (I thought Coach Mike Gilligan said this stuff didn’t happen in the past? Fuggedaboudit.)

Wonder if Miller, now with the Colorado Avalanche, ever performed the UVM elephant walk? You know, hold a teammate’s wee-wee while marching in line? Or put on nail polish and slip into women’s thong underwear? Or park his johnson in a beer mug while doing pushups — then chug it down? Just mano-a-mano team, building activity, by jeezum. Besides, beer tastes bad to begin with.

In fact, it was heart-warming to see Gilligan’s old charges sticking up for their college coach. John LeClair (Philadelphia Flyers), who’s still a few credits short of getting his Groovy UV degree, Martin St. Louis (Calgary Flames), Ian Boyce (retired from the IHL) and Jerry Tarrant (son of UVM trustee and IDX whiz, Ritchie Tarrant).

Yeah, the hockey pucks might have fudged on the truth when interviewed by Athletic Director Rick Farnham and later by the outside lawyers, but hey, they stuck together like a team, didn’t they? The pucks maintained the lie all the way into the third period, when Attorney General Bill Sorrell started playing referee. That’s positive, isn’t it? It shows the hazing was a team-building activity after all, just like Coach Mike Gilligan suggested way back when. I mean, it takes a lot of team loyalty for two dozen hockey pucks to stick to their phony stories under such intense pressure. Give ‘em credit, will ya?

And now with the hockey season canceled, some wimpy critics are complaining because the university is allowing the hockey pucks to continue workouts on the Gutterson ice. With the season canceled, the critics sarcastically ask, what the hell are they practicing for?

Hey, c’mon. These are “professional,” elite Division 1 athletic specimens on full scholarship. What are they supposed to do — hang out in the frickin’ library? Read books? Study? This is UVM, remember?

In fact, the men’s hockey practices are open to the public around 4 p.m. If UVM had any brains and marketing sense they’d get a choreographer, charge admission and have Charlie Catamount lead this Liars Club around the ice in an elephant walk. Hey, we’re talking a better show than the Ice Capades.

Okay, okay, let’s get serious for a moment. The bad news is, UVM officials still don’t get it. They still are going all out to protect their athletic elite and hang onto their jobs. At present, no action is underway to hold the pucks accountable under the university’s judicial system for their dishonesty during the investigation or their violation of UVM’s prohibition on hazing. The view of these blockheads is that the team has already been punished enough.

Governor Howard B. Dean III, however, isn’t buying it. He understands how important UVM is to the state of Vermont, even if some officials at the school don’t.

“Let me be very, very clear about the university and my concern about this,” said Ho-Ho. “The university is an extraordinarily important part of this state, much more important than, I think, most people realize. It is very important to me that this university be respected and succeed because it is a very important part of this state. I deeply care about this university.”

According to Dean, “When you have an institution that gets itself in trouble, you’ve got to have somebody step up to the plate, assign responsibility, take responsibility, take the steps that are necessary to deal with the problem, do it in a timely manner, get it behind you and move on.”

Should heads roll?

“I am not going to answer that question today,” said the Guy. “You may ask my opinion about that after February 1 (when the attorney general’s report is due to be released), but I believe the university deserves its own opportunity to make things right. It has not yet done so.”

No, it hasn’t. The denial is running deep up on the Hill. Bold actions are not in the UVM game plan. They’ve defended the hockey team and the athletic department every inch of the way.

Outside the University of Denial, there’s plenty of talk over who UVM’s next hockey coach will be. Bill Beaney of Middlebury and Mike McShane of Norwich are the leading contenders. Both are class acts who’ve run first-class programs. Beaney’s the favorite.

And Groovy UV’s Hockey Hazing Scandal should be getting a little more national exposure soon. A Sports Illustrated piece is anticipated shortly, and Joe Lapointe, hockey writer for The New York Times, is already in town. Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer is due today, and so is ESPN. There’s talk of Dateline NBC getting interested.

Meanwhile, if watching the canceled elephant walkers practice in the afternoon for their non-season doesn’t excite you, how about the UVM women’s hockey team?

Yes, there is a women’s team at UVM, and they’re hot, hot, hot! The women have a 7-1-2 record and are in third place behind Middlebury and Colgate. And they’ve got an awesome freshman goalie who’s putting up numbers that any NHL netminder would die for.

Tiffany Hayes made 22 saves in a 1-0 shutout of Colby Saturday. Tiff’s got a .951 save percentage and a .87 goals-against average. Wow!

And they don’t even charge admission for the women’s games.


God Takes Sides — Quite the PR poker game between supporters and opponents of gay marriage. Last week the opposition cut the cards and bet one Roman Catholic bishop of Vermont, Ken Angell. Angell believes in a supreme being, but not a supreme court. Supporters replied swiftly. “We’ll see your one Roman Catholic bishop and raise you one rabbi and two Protestant bishops — Methodist and Episcopal.”

But how can Almighty God be backing both sides?

Our question is, oh, Great Religious leader of the Apostolic Church of the Sanctifying Bingo Night and the Pedophile Pastor, if there are gay and lesbian Catholics, and gay and lesbian Protestants, and gay and lesbian Jews and gay and lesbian Vermonters, then surely there must be gay and lesbian angels in God’s Holy Heaven?

And how are our leading political ducks lining up.

We now know Gov. Dean opposes gay marriage but supports equal rights through domestic partnership. Gay marriage just makes him a bit “uncomfortable,” he said. Poor guy.

U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, a fellow champion of the political center, agrees. Give gay couples equal rights. “You could do that without necessarily saying it is a ‘marriage,’” said Jeezum, “and that would be the best way to make it publicly accepted and provide the protection they deserve.” That way, said Jeezum, we’d avoid “problems.”


“The problem,” he said Monday, “is you’ve got 1000, maybe 2000, people going to be at the Statehouse tomorrow night, arguing over the question.” He was referring to the call from Vermont’s Roman Catholic pulpits Sunday for a holy militia of anti-gay-rights protesters to descend on the Statehouse Tuesday evening (Angell’s protest was cancelled due to the snowstorm. Act of God?). Sen. Jeezum, widely acclaimed as the most pro-gay-rights senator in the Republican Party, urged a “peaceful solution” for Vermont. According to Jeezum, the key is “avoiding whether or not the term ‘marriage’ has to be used.”

Cool. Let’s all just bury our heads in the sand and maybe it’ll just go away.

The two Democrats running for Jeffords’ senate seat disagree with him on this. No problemo, they say. Ed Flanagan and Jan Backus both support gay marriage. Like Associate Justice Denise Johnson, they say it’s time for Vermont town clerks to provide marriage licenses to all couples who pay the fee.

“I believe marriage is simpler and fairer than attempting to create some new “separate but equal” category,” said Backus.

U.S. Sen. Pius J. Leahy, er, sorry, Patrick J. Leahy, belongs to the flock that has Most Rev. Kenneth Angell as CEO. But St. Patrick’s not marching to the drumbeat of Vermont’s Bingo Bishop. Nor is he marching with fellow Democrats Backus and Flanagan.

According to a finely crafted statement issued by St. Patrick’s Washington, D.C., office Tuesday afternoon, “The Vermont Supreme Court produced a thoughtful and well-grounded decision. I believe the best solution now would be legal protections through a comprehensive domestic partnership law, but I respect those who support other remedies.”

At least he took a position.

Obtaining Congressman Bernie Sanders’ position on the gay marriage issue was like pulling teeth...from a rhinoceros. Last month, shortly after the decision of the Amestoy Court was issued, Mr. Sanders publicly tried walking the tightrope — applauding the court’s decision and the cause of equal rights without supporting civil marriage for same-sex couples.

This week we were no more successful getting a straight answer. All we did get was a carefully crafted non-statement statement via e-mail from Washington D.C. And Bernie’s statement wins him the Vermont congressional delegation’s Wishy-Washy Award hands down.

Once more he “applauds” the court decision but won’t go anywhere near choosing between same-sex “marriage” and domestic partnership. “By all accounts the legislature is approaching this issue in a considered and appropriate manner and I support the current process.”

Supports the current process, does he? What a courageous radical!

That’s as far as Ol’ Bernardo would go. It’s an election year, yet despite the lack of a serious challenger, The Bern’s gut-level paranoia is acting up. He’s afraid to say something that might alienate his conservative, rebel-loving rural following out in the hills. Something that could be interpreted as “Bernie Loves Queers!”

And finally, Progressive Peter Clavelle, the Mayor of Burlington. Asked this week if he supports gay marriage, Clavelle quickly answered, “yes.” No political double-speak. No attempt to try to be all things to all people. No obfuscation.

“This is not about the sacrament of matrimony,” emphasized Clavelle. “This is about civil marriage. The Vermont House and Senate,” said Mayor Moonie, “should work toward extending the rights and responsibilities of legal civil marriage to all Vermonters.”

My God, he’s going to Hell. Wonder if they have bingo in Hell?

Besides, Clavelle said, his church, the Unitarian Universalist at the top of College Street, already performs wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. No big deal.

Something the legislature might consider when the state of Vermont fully implements the decision of the Amestoy Court is bumping the Vermont marriage license fee for out-of-staters, like we do on hunting licenses. It only seems fair.

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.


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