Joe Benning | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Joe Benning 
Member since Jun 5, 2015


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Re: “Obituary: Steve E. Wright IV, 1941-2020

I first met Steve on a hike up to the top of the Lowell Mountain Range, part of a group investigating what was being done to the ridgeline prior to the turbines being installed. We shared a view that destruction of intact, high altitutde carbon sinks was appalling to the generation that fought to preserve those very same ridgelines from acid rain. It is a shame that he (and those of us like him) were somehow perceived as opposing renewable energy or somehow anti-environment. He knew the difference between a right way and a wrong way when attacking climate change. I'm glad he lived long enough to see the last petition for an industrial sized wind tower in Vermont withdrawn. He will be missed.

Posted by Joe Benning on 01/29/2020 at 6:56 PM

Re: “Vermont Senate Seeks to Revive Vetoed Gun Waiting Period Bill

John Greenburg: Even you must admit this "small inconvenience," is a technical obstacle placed in the path of exercising a constitutional right. How "small" and whether any life is saved is an improper shift of focus to one based on emotion.

The 16th Article of Vermont's Constitution is explicit. Every citizen has the right to bear arms for the purpose of self defense. Handguns are the most commonly used device for practicing that right. Your shift continues a dangerous trend: that all potential encroachments on constitutional rights should be based on the political winds of emotion. This is troubling.

For instance, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have a constitutional right to free speech. There are those on each side of the aisle who argue the opposite's tweets are inciting violence. (Whose are worse or more frequent is irrelevant.) If researchers found violence less likely with a waiting period, are we then justified in placing a 24 hour obstacle between draft and publication?

All of us have a constitutional right to privacy. I support a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion as an exercise of that right. Yet we know almost 100% of abortions terminate a fetal life. (Measure that to the comparatively small and speculative numbers proponents of S.169 are using.) Abortion opponents also claim that a waiting period is just a "small inconvenience" that may save a life. The only difference with S.169 is the subject matter.

No constitutional right is safe if the measuring stick by which we examine potential encroachments is the emotional one you argue we should adopt here. That may not be politically popular at the moment, but it's the only way our constitutional rights will be preserved.

16 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 01/26/2020 at 4:06 PM

Re: “Leahy Fears ‘Farce’ as Trump Impeachment Trial Begins

I completely agree with Senator Leahy that this whole thing is a "farce." I first became concerned about that when House leadership rushed Articles of Impeachment through that body as an emergency and then promptly sat on them instead of immediately turning them over to the Senate. I became convinced of that when Majority Leader McConnell blatantly announced there would be an acquittal. I became alarmed about that when Senator Leahy, who had just taken an oath to be a fair and impartial juror in the Senate's upcoming trial, published an op-ed piece in VtDigger outlining why his suspicions of guilt were now confirmed by an outside-the-courtroom report and explicitly concluded that Trump "broke the law."

Both McConnell and Leahy have taken oaths to be fair and impartial jurors. Impeachment proceeding rules require them to sit silent and listen to the evidence presented before rendering a verdict. Suspicion, press reports and rushed House proceedings are not "evidence" in a trial that hasn't even started yet. Even President Trump is entitled to a "fair and impartial jury." Our country is entitled to (at least) a proper following of its constitutional precepts, especially by those chosen to represent us. No matter what side of the Trump argument one is on, it is crystal clear that no fair trial can take place because political grandstanding has clouded the courtroom. History will not judge this "farce" kindly.

42 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 01/20/2020 at 4:25 PM

Re: “Vice President Mike Pence to Return to Vermont

Whatever ones thoughts are about someone we disagree with politically, Vermonters should never simply declare someone not welcome here. That attitude only sinks us all into a level of contempt that reasonable people should have no tolerance for. It also deprives us of the opportunity to have civil debate. Vermont has a lot to offer to those who visit here. Personally I hope the Vice President feels welcome here and takes the time to experience our values.

43 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 08/30/2019 at 11:12 AM

Re: “Elephant's Lament: VTGOP Ranks Are Deeply Divided

Bob Orleck's contention that a "True Republican" is only one who is "Conservative and Christian" (both spelled with a capital "C") should not go unchallenged. The Vermont Republican Party Platform contains no such litmus test.

As Minority Leader in the Vermont Senate, I truly do lament our dwindling numbers of elected representatives. Mr. Orleck's remarks do nothing but repel those social moderates and those of different or no faith who would otherwise choose a party that believes in less government, low taxes, a strong educational system, a thriving economy, individual liberty and personal responsibility. A party that insists on such capital "C" ideological purity, especially in a state with Vermont's demographics, cannot survive. All Vermonters should know that we VTGOP members given the privilege to serve in the Senate abhor any such litmus test.

9 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 04/14/2019 at 3:17 PM

Re: “Bill to Create Waiting Period for Gun Sales Advances in Senate

Tiki Archambeau: Last year victim's rights groups made it very clear to us that the most dangerous time in a domestic violence victim's life are the five days immediately following a breakup. For that reason I worked very hard (with them) to develop H.441, a bill that enabled a court to immediately remove weapons from the household of a domestic violence situation and keep them out of the hands of the abuser. My efforts centered around ensuring there was due process involved when such an order was issued. Eventually the bill passed unanimously through the Senate, almost so in the House and was signed by the Governor.

I acknowledge that presence of guns increases the likelihood of lethal results. But some of those victims choose to immediately buy their own handgun for self-protection just in case the abuser returns to abuse them in spite of a court order. Self defense is a right specifically provided by our state constitution in Article 16. The most common weapon of self defense is a handgun. I take an oath upon election to do no thing injurious to that constitution.

As I saw it today, we impeded that victim's constitutional right on the speculative hope (and even though I voted against it I truly do hope it works) that it "might" prevent the suicide of someone else. I'm uncomfortable making that leap.

I agree with you that impulse buying can be a lethal choice, but who's choice is that to make when it comes to dealing with one's own body- government's or the individual's? I'll be asking that question again soon when we debate reproductive rights. I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts then.

40 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 03/15/2019 at 7:43 PM

Re: “Our Towns: Can Rural Vermont Communities Survive in the Age of Amazon and Act 46?

I'd like to thank Seven Days for leaving its normal comfort zone to closely examine life's challenges in rural Vermont.

19 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 12/05/2018 at 4:34 PM

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