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Letters to the Editor (5/30/18)

Seven Days Readers May 30, 2018 10:00 AM

Plane Unjust

[Re Off Message: "Despite Opponents' Efforts, F-35s Still Scheduled for Burlington," May 24]: I just had surgery, and my friend from Chicago came to support me. As the F-16s woke us up to the feeling of being in a war zone and I told her louder planes were coming, she couldn't believe it, exclaiming, "Wait! Billboards are illegal, and you have these? Didn't Bernie try to stop them?"

No, actually he brought them here, along with our other "liberal" politicians who somehow now are more into military spending than social justice. I feel extremely let down by our representatives, most recently by Mayor Miro Weinberger. "Jobs" for some families at the cost of many more jobs and lower quality of life for all. I am educated and mobile and can simply move out of state if the planes come (as far too many young people have already done for other reasons). But many families in Winooski, where I live, and South Burlington, where I am from, do not have this option and will be stuck to suffer the consequences.

Many of us choose to live here because of the tranquility and progressive politics. But if I have to cover my ears and protect kids and pets, why would I keep living here, given that I already have fewer career options? Please, Mayor Weinberger, send your kids to school in Winooski, then insulate the houses of my refugee neighbors (who came here to escape war) from the war sounds, and offer me an amazing job to convince me to live with the pollution and disillusionment.

Nilima Abrams

Winooski

Not NATO

Although I welcome Macedonian defense minister Radmila Šekerinska to Vermont [802Much: "Macedonian Connection," May 2] and support exchange programs with Macedonia, I do not support the country's entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In my view, NATO is an anachronism and no longer needed since the breakup of the Soviet Union. NATO is largely funded by the U.S. and serves only to raise the anxiety of Russia. Consider how our country would respond if we had 29 countries next to our borders, bristling with strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, thousands of troops, air bases and ships. This buildup only raises tensions with Russia.

Moreover, the constant anti-Russia sentiment that pervades the airwaves in this country and in the UK via the British Broadcasting Corporation only serves to lull our country into spending more on the military at the cost of all other pressing needs. I invite the reader to visit the NATO website and see how much anti-Russia bias it presents. And the U.S. pays most of the bill!  

Our policy seems to be to keep up animosities with Russia so as to maintain our military expenditures. Moreover, NATO has far exceeded its mandate with deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, funneling our hard-earned income into destabilization and regime change. It is time that our country uses more diplomacy and less military posturing. If we don't change our priorities soon, we will be fully and permanently eclipsed by China.

Brenda Waters 

Huntington

Marijuana Is Dangerous

Kymelya Sari's article about marijuana legalization as it applies to noncitizen immigrants ["Nipped in the Bud," May 9] mentions that "tackling the opioid crisis and related violence" is a priority of U.S. District Attorney for Vermont Christina Nolan. I once lived in a rural part of Vermont that had many marijuana smokers. I think that violence related to the smoking of marijuana is something that should be tackled along with violence related to opioids. 

I recall one teen, high from smoking marijuana, who grabbed a neighbor's helpless pet cat in front of a crowd of onlookers and broke its leg in half just for fun. They burned down a building and physically abused people, too. 

Another teen, high from smoking marijuana, grabbed helpless frogs, forced firecrackers into their rectums, ignited the firecrackers and watched the frogs explode. They also stabbed somebody. 

Still another teen, high from smoking marijuana, grabbed the nests of wild birds and smashed the eggs that were inside of them. They also threw rocks and knives at people.

In short, if Nolan thinks marijuana-related violence isn't an issue, someone with more knowledge about the dangers of smoking marijuana should replace her. By the way, thumbs-up to Burlington School District, Spectrum Youth & Family Service's multicultural youth program, and others who educate children and families about the dangers of smoking marijuana.

Elizabeth Ward

Burlington 

Sunday Best

That Catholic parishes are in an era of downsizing is not news. Maybe it's just me, but I found Katie Jickling's "Last Rites? Burlington Catholics Regroup Ahead of Downtown Church Sale" [May 16] palpably irreverent. What begins with Burlington real estate gossip morphs into a series of knocks about first communicants, priests, Bishop Christopher Coyne and the Catholic Church.

Jickling writes, "First and second graders sat, in frilly dresses and button-down shirts, near the front of the high-ceilinged cathedral." So, too conservative? The girls should wear designer jeans and the boys dress like Spock? Then she clumsily paraphrases the priest's sermon at that Mass. Including the dollar value of cemeteries into a total assessed value of church land as she did seems like something only an auditor of accounts would do.

I participated in the synod in November. In answer to "What is the Vermont Catholic Church doing well?" I said that I was impressed by Bishop Coyne's new platforms of outreach and communication.

To "What could the church be doing better?" I said the church needs to speak up for itself; unanswered, unsubstantiated attacks numb and dishearten its members. I remember the excoriating articles on St. Joseph's Orphanage in the late 1990s, how scores were moved to challenge them, and that the orphanage abuse lawsuit was dismissed. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington moved into the vacant buildings, and the 33-acre orphanage site was eventually sold to Burlington College.

I also suggested that the diocese verify for members what the media reported in 2015: that the diocese lost between $1.5 million and $2 million on the loan settlement after the college defaulted.

Roger Donegan

Hinesburg

Ready, Aim, Fire

Readers react to Paul Heintz's May 16 cover story "Betrayed," about gun-rights advocates in Vermont.

I am surprised that Seven Days provides a five-page platform to whine and tantrum about the introduction of commonsense gun laws. "I need an assault rifle to kill a deer" is nothing a real hunter ever said. Meanwhile, 420 people were killed by gun violence in Vermont between 2011 and 2016. For all their outrage, have your gun lovers ever considered anyone who has lost a loved one by gun violence? They feel betrayed that Gov. Phil Scott broke his promise not to touch their beloved guns? Guess what? The majority of this country feels betrayed by the Electoral College!

They want to prove that they are responsible people, capable of owning guns without harming other human beings. Guess what? Waving your guns around when your feelings have been hurt isn't going to prove your point.

I am not against guns, and I am not against hunters. I am against guns in households with domestic abusers. I am against children being massacred in this country in places of learning. In a country where lies are touted as "alternative facts," Seven Days should avoid providing a platform for crazy conspiracy theorists like Robby Mazza if it wants to keep some sort of credibility.

Edna Brown

Montpelier

Gov. Phil Scott is to be commended for his foresight in making a change to Vermont's gun laws. It takes courage, especially for a Republican governor, to take such a stand. His decisive action will help bring Vermont's gun laws into the 21st century. Do we really have to wait until a massive school shooting occurs here for this to happen?

Wake up, "Take-Back Vermonters" — times have changed! Ask yourself how many innocent schoolchildren and adults have to die violent deaths before gun owners, thinking primarily of themselves, their sport and the fun they have with their dangerous "automatic toys," are able to examine the broader issues?

Strict enforcement of background checks in Vermont and across the country is long overdue. It is obvious that gun-reform laws will not solve the gun violence in this country, but they are, unquestionably, a step in the right direction.

Carolyn Stecklare

South Burlington

I first drafted this letter on the Wednesday that Seven Days published the cover story on enraged gun-rights advocates ["Betrayed," May 16] but decided to let it digest. Two days later, we were faced with yet another school massacre; the time to digest is over.

I am among those who are pro-hunting and pro-gun ownership but in favor of some reasonable measures to reduce gun violence, such as requiring a minimum purchase age for people who have not taken a hunter safety course.

There can be rational, civil disagreement about the Second Amendment, the intent of the framers, and constitutional originalism versus non-originalism. I am tired of the tactics and rhetoric of the most fervent gun-rights advocates. The stunt of giving away empty gun magazines at the state capital as part of a protest was a confrontational and intimidating action that enraged me — and probably many others.

I, too, have an action that like-minded Vermonters can utilize.

The greatest threat to Vermont hunters is not modest changes to gun-control laws. It is access to land as more people not invested in traditional rural values buy up land and post it. 

Constitutional originalists would certainly agree that I have a right to do with my property as I see fit. I support hunters and have never considered posting my land against hunting, but now I am having second thoughts. Perhaps if owners who are pro-hunting but support reasonable gun-control laws posted their land, it might move people toward civil dialogue on this issue.

Brian Norder

Morristown

I've just finished the article "Betrayed," about gun-rights advocates and their reaction to Gov. Phil Scott.

OK, I admit it, I'm a "flatlander" and I don't know anything about guns. But perhaps I am unusual in that I am willing to learn, and I defer to those who own guns as being the experts in that area. Which guns do what? Which guns can create the greatest "carnage," as one gentleman in the article termed it, and which are meant only for hunting or target shooting? Are there any weapons so deadly that no one at all should own one? I'd be willing to learn.

But what I'd also like to learn is what the Second Amendment advocates propose that we do. They are very vocal about what they don't want. They say the current legislation is "poorly crafted" and "ineffective." That implies that they have other ideas about how to address the 30,000 people who kill themselves or others with guns in our country each year. Given that there will always be mentally ill people among us, and given that we already have the highest level of gun ownership in the world, where do we begin trying to bring that number down?

Gun-rights advocates: If the current situation is acceptable to you, then you and I have nothing to talk about. If the number of gun deaths disturbs you, what ideas do you have? Where do we begin?

Adina Panitch

Williston

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