Letters to the Editor (9/12/18) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (9/12/18) 

Published September 12, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated September 12, 2018 at 10:32 a.m.

Howe Now?

[Re "Bye-Bye Bailey? UVM May Drop Library Namesake for Supporting Eugenics," September 5]: I have spent several years studying the eugenics movement in Vermont, most recently as chair of the State of Vermont Board of Libraries when it recommended changing the name of the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award. Eugenics is a dark stain on Vermont, and too many contemporary Vermonters have a blind spot when it comes to reexamining the conduct of many prominent Vermonters who were, to varying degrees, "enablers" of eugenics. Guy Bailey was definitely one of them. So, too, was David Howe, longtime owner of the Burlington Free Press.

In March 1931, the Free Press published several editorials justifying, defending and advocating sterilization. It rebutted arguments that sterilization defied Christian principles, claiming, "We have yet to find any scriptural teaching which forbids men from taking such steps." It equated stopping the "transmission of diseases of the mind" through sterilization with "vaccination and inoculation" as "remedies against the spread of contagious diseases." As the pivotal legislative vote approving sterilization approached, the Free Press justified it as a way for the State of Vermont to save money.

Unfortunately, some Vermonters pardon the eugenics enablers, anointing them with the exculpatory balm that "we cannot judge actions of the past by our ethics today." Yes, we can. As no less than Raul Hilberg, the late, renowned University of Vermont expert on the Holocaust, told a 1996 audience in Oregon, "There is no such thing as situational ethics. It is the same for everyone everywhere, and we know it."


Bruce S. Post


Marijuana Is Not the Problem

[Re Feedback: "Marijuana Is Dangerous," May 30]: Elizabeth Ward's letter about marijuana being linked to violent behavior is unsubstantiated, the result of having watched too many propaganda films like Reefer Madness.

It's more than apparent that Ward has never inhaled marijuana, or she would be aware that the only nexus between marijuana and violence would be to her pantry, refrigerator and monthly food bill.

When I was a teenager, smoking weed was mostly a way to relax, listen to some Led Zeppelin or Little Feat, and escape the mundane drama that was the '70s disco era. Teens performing heinous acts upon small animals were more likely to be potential serial killers or future S&M enthusiasts than marijuana smokers.

Naturally, as all humans do, we proffer pros and cons to all that we accept as good or reject as evil, and even to those subjects we are afraid to understand.

Alcohol and opiate issues far outweigh the need to waste economical resources on marijuana studies, because there has been no evidence of Vermonters passed out in their cars with a joint between their fingers and the kids in the back seat screaming for help. Nor has it been conclusively identified as a component of domestic abuse or vehicle fatalities.

Ward should be applauded for her good intentions but would be better off focusing her attention on the serious threats that beset our state, like counterfeit maple syrup and where to find a truly good IPA.

T.J. Lang


Editor's note: Lang is an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, Pa.

Ignoring Art Hop?

As a weekly reader of Seven Days, I find it really weird that the issue of September 5 had zero coverage of last weekend's South End Art Hop. The paper had tons of coverage of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. 

Travis Nutting


Editor's note: The Art Hop was the subject of two articles in last week's paper. It was also mentioned in the calendar, gallery listings, music column and two of our newsletters.

Modern Opera

[Re "Barn Opera Director Josh Collier Adapts Mozart for the #MeToo Era," September 5]: The common assumption that Mozart's Così fan tutte is misogynist has always perplexed me, when it would seem clear — certainly in our time — that it's the men in this opera who are jerks. There must have been a production or two where the director allows the women to make clear that they know exactly what's going on but play along, but I've yet to see one. Look: The men intentionally deceive the women, and the women succumb to repeated pressure. In other settings this is called entrapment. Who's unethical? Who behaves the most badly? The trickers or the tricked? (The maid Despina's role is more complex and also the most interesting.) Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist, leaves the ending open. (Thank you, Amy Lilly; I did not know this.)

If marriage to the men is indeed "punishment," perhaps the option most in sync with the opera's lighthearted spirit is for the same-sex couples — evidently the only ones who can trust each other — to go off together. Perhaps that's what Barn Opera's new version will show us.

Suzi Wizowaty


Bernie's Voice?

You claim to be "Vermont's independent voice." Yet you have a department named after U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Are you truly an independent voice or Bernie Sanders' voice? Perhaps this is why you are not covering other candidates running for Vermont's U.S. Senate seat.

Steven Isham

St. Johnsbury

Editor's note: The "Bernie Sanders" link on the Seven Days website brings you to the landing page for Bernie Beat, which collects all of our coverage of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. It includes a timeline chronicling the senator's early years in politics as well as our comprehensive coverage of his presidential campaign. One important measure of Seven Days' independence: Sanders has refused to talk with its reporters for more than four years.

Another Kind of Diabetes

[Re Feedback: "Fooled Again," August 29]: Ginger Vieira writes "there is no such thing as a 'water diabetic'" and that police officers observed a man on a street corner who "really did get away with injecting ... an illegal substance."

Apparently that reader presumed the man was an insulin-dependent diabetic, a condition known as diabetes mellitus. However, there is a condition in humans and animals deficient in anti-diuretic hormone known as diabetes insipidus ("water diabetic," if you like to use that term). Treatment involves the medication desmopressin that may be administered by mouth, nasal spray or injection — including the intravenous route.

I believe the police officers and the individual injecting himself may well have acted in a prudent and appropriate manner.

William K. Kruesi, DVM


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