Tuesday April 16, 2013

Legal language will
stand the test of time

Editor of the Reformer:

It was with a sense of horror and dread that I read the article which appeared in the Friday, April 12, issue of the Reformer -- titled "Vermont bill would remove outdated language from laws."

Apparently a group of presumably well-intentioned individuals have been going through our state’s statutes with their erasers and pencils, vetting our statutes for political correctness.

While I agree that in general, "the language of the law should not be repulsive to the people it talks about," I can easily imagine numerous cases in which this is unavoidable. Many of our statutes involve criminal law, and anyone facing the prospect of imprisonment will certainly be repulsed by the language with which their actions are judged. Is a thief now going to be a person suffering difficulty discerning the difference between meum and tuum? Is a murderer or rapist now going to be an individual suffering from boundary issues?

One message that was permanently and indelibly impressed upon me at Law School is that the outcome of any number of very serious cases frequently turns on the interpretation of a single word in a statute. So now, apparently, we have a small number of probably very nice people rewriting a couple hundred years’ worth of legislation in order to make it sound nice, based on their personal interpretations of what nice is at this particular point in time.


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If this is allowed, it will almost certainly result in another hundred years or so of litigation interpreting this revised language, by the end of which time the current sense of nice will most certainly have changed.

While there probably are many instances where the language could be altered in order to express a more humane attitude towards our citizens without doing damage to our legal precedents, we must exercise the utmost caution in rewriting our statutes so they continue to reflect the longstanding, democratically and judicially established law of our land. I strenuously object to the notion that a small handful of individuals should be allowed to take their pencils and erasers to over 200 years of well-established law without more oversight, transparency and democracy.

Samuel Griffis,

Dummerston, April 12

Our government does not support elderly

Editor of the Reformer:

If Obama has his way, Social Security as we know it will not exist as long as earlier predicted. By 2014, our pay checks will be cut in more than half. Rents are sky rocketing, everything is out of sight, and the elderly are the ones taking the biggest hit.

According to an article in the Reformer, a person of 85 will loose $1,000 a year from their Social Security check. How are they supposed to live, better yet, where are they supposed to live?

The way I see it is our government will start population cleansing by getting rid of the poor, the elderly and the sick. After all, how will we/they live? The rich keep getting richer, and we are paying the price. This country is supposed to be the land of opportunity. For who? Our government sends more money to other countries, and ignore it’s own people’s needs, and then we are expected to pay for it. We are constantly telling other countries how they are supposed to live and act, yet we are getting just as bad as them.

Eventually, our citizens are going to get fed up, and we will have a war right here in the good ole U.S.A., and we can blame it on our government, the same government that is selling us out, and it’s being done at the expense of our seniors and youth.

Roger Andrews,

Brattleboro, April 12

Creating an unbiased dialogue about energy

Editor of the Reformer:

I’d like to respond to the unsubstantiated claims put forth by Charlene Ellis and Fred Taylor ("Beware of ‘wind warriors,’" April 6, Letter Box) that the Industrial Wind Action Group is part of a shadowy enterprise aimed at promoting fossil fuel by disparaging wind and renewable energy. For the record, the Industrial Wind Action Group has existed since 2006. We receive no funding or direction from outside entities as the letter asserts. No one affiliated with the Industrial Wind Action Group attended a so-called "gathering of wind warriors." We have no association with the American Tradition Institute. And accusations by the Sierra Club, which are repeated by Ms. Ellis and Mr. Taylor are completely false,.

While we cannot control what others say about our work (without costly legal action), there is no basis for the claim that we "hype anti-wind rhetoric." The intent of the Industrial Wind Action Group is to provide information that will, hopefully, lead to a more open, unbiased dialogue about our energy choices. Unfortunately, the topic of wind energy has become so divisive and controversial that finding middle ground in a state like Vermont is not easy. Regretfully, some are choosing to react with personal attacks which serve no good purpose. I suspect Ms. Ellis and Mr. Taylor are wedded to their opinions and nothing I say will change their minds but for others in Vermont, I hope you can see through the attacks, put them aside and let’s get down to discussing real energy options.

Lisa Linowes,

executive director,

Industrial Wind Action Group,

Lyman, N.H., April 8

More on recent
’wind warriors’ letter

Editor of the Reformer:

Charlene Ellis and Fred Taylor write in "Beware of ‘wind warriors’" (April 6, Letter Box) that: "Only with a concerned effort by all of us to formulate renewable energy policies based on science, rather than propaganda, will be able to protect the Vermont landscape we cherish." Yet they ignore that call and only defend their smearing of those fighting to protect Vermont’s ridgelines from energy development with smearing them some more.

Despite their call for science, they simply ignore the possibility, let alone the clear evidence, that giant wind turbines erected on sensitive ridgelines do more harm than good. Instead, they accuse anyone who questions such industrial development as dupes of fossil fuel, as if the biggest wind developer in the U.S. isn’t coal giant Florida Power and Light (aka Nextera), as if the biggest turbine manufacturer isn’t nuclear and gas plant (and military weapons) giant General Electric, as if Enron and George W. Bush weren’t the ones who more than anyone created the modern U.S. wind industry.

Science rather than propaganda seems to be precisely what Ellis and Taylor do not want, as they cite only pro-wind hype and demonize all who disagree with them. One is reminded of Joseph McCarthy more than Rachel Carson, of an enthusiasm for censorship and slander more than honest discussion.

Their need to explain it as an "ultra-conservative" plot hatched last year in Washington also apparently prevents them from learning much about their neighbors fighting big wind in Vermont, particularly that the fight goes back more than 10 years, with the seeds planted after the erection of 11 Zond turbines (bought by Enron the next year, then by GE in 2002) in Searsburg in 1996. The statewide advocacy group Energize Vermont arose from the fight to protect the ridges west of Rutland which began at least five years ago. They build on the work of the Kingdom Commons Group, the Glebe Mountain Group, Ridge Protectors, and many others that have brought Vermonters of every political leaning together in common cause. And there are countless other such groups around the world, from Oaxaca (where Reporters Without Borders last week condemned international companies and the state for the harassment, arrests, and physical abuse of journalists covering wind energy development on Zapoteca land) to Denmark (where virtually no new onshore wind capacity has been added since 2003), New Zealand to Germany, India to Ireland.

The fight to protect our landscapes from poorly considered, profit-driven, big energy development that does such clear harm to the environment, to human and other animal habitats, has always represented -- and does so still -- a concerted effort by informed citizens to use science guided by the heart rather than profit or tribal dogma.

The provision of S.30 that most scared industry was for greater involvement of host and affected neighboring communities in the permitting process. Informed citizens thinking for themselves seem to be exactly what they don’t want, or more cynically, can’t afford.

Eric Rosenbloom,

Hartland, April 8