Letters to the editor, Nov. 17

Saying 'No' to 'The Bachelor'

To the Editor,

In response to last week's article "Will you accept this show?" regarding "The Bachelor" filming in Manchester, my answer is "no."

The Bachelor is the among the most irritating shows on television. Everything wrong about Hollywood's male-dominated, Weinstein potted plant culture is present in "The Bachelor." I denounce the manipulation of people's emotions and the exploitation of people's lives that these "Reality TV" shows traffic in. The scandalous history of this show awaits you with a Google search. There have been several very dark chapters in this franchise's history. I make TV at GNAT-TV. I'm not a purist. But I'm also awake to social justice issues. I view the descent upon Manchester by an amoral TV industry with great trepidation. As a local, life-long Manchester resident, I say to the TV industry, you are not welcome here to use our town as a backdrop for art that exploits people. We live here, this is our town, we aren't just backdrop to your icky TV. Don't come here and make art that ends up hurting our women.

The new Vermont Production Council has made a big mistake by welcoming one of the ugliest franchises in TV to debut their project in Manchester. What a bait and switch: greet us with Indy TV and then serve us rape-culture Reality TV!

If "The Bachelor" does try to film on Manchester's Main Street in early December, you are invited to join a #Metoo flashmob rally to oppose the casting couch culture of corporate TV coming to roost in Manchester. Join us for a women's speak out against the sex-predator culture that suddenly is getting its day in the court of public opinion. TV people who want to use Manchester as a backdrop should expect grumpy locals to demand high-standards on the content, or face protests — because this is Vermont, and we care.

Theo Talcott, Manchester

Burr and Burton Academy: Premier high school?

To the editor,

Four years ago, I retired from my teaching position of twenty-three years at Burr and Burton Academy. In that time, I served as a woodworking and drafting instructor and was the proud parent of two BBA graduates. From 1993-2008, under the leadership of Headmaster Charles Scranton, enrollment tripled, an impressive campus expansion occurred, and BBA developed a well-deserved reputation as the premier high school in Vermont. I was proud to be associated with BBA, both as a teacher and a parent. However, in recent years, I have become deeply disturbed by the news emanating from the school.

In September, a recent BBA graduate was arrested for dealing drugs just steps from campus. He then informed police that half of his drug purchasers were BBA students. In 2016, a documentary entitled "Divided By Diversity" depicted the deplorable behavior that occurred during a BBA basketball game when a number of BBA student spectators chanted racist remarks at opposing players. Unfortunately, this abhorrent behavior cast a negative shadow over many good students at BBA who find such conduct reprehensible.

The depth and breadth of BBA's educational offerings has also declined. Highly successful, well established programs such as Field Study, Drafting, and Computer Drafting have all recently been reduced or eliminated. These programs had a profoundly positive impact on hundreds of students, from non-college bound to class valedictorians. If this were done for financial reasons, how can one justify the Mountain Campus Program having 4 faculty members for only 15-20 students? When valuable programs are eliminated, the overall educational experience diminishes and, unfortunately, the students are the ones who lose. In fact, according to the Vermont Agency of Education, from 2010-2016, BBA failed to place among the top 10 Vermont high schools on the SAT Critical Reading Test and placed only once in the top 10 on the SAT Writing Test. In 2014, they ranked only 33rd in Critical Reading and 26th in Writing Skills on the PSAT.

The overall culture and climate at Burr and Burton Academy has also greatly deteriorated. There have recently been several teacher-filed grievances and unresolved legal matters. Many longtime employees have departed under what can politely be described as "less than desirable" circumstances. Understandably, others still employed at BBA have chosen to remain silent, opting not to risk jeopardizing their own professional futures. One highly respected, retired teacher recently stated, "Working at BBA was once a career. Now, it can only be called a job."

All of this leaves me deeply troubled. How can a school once regarded as the premier high school in Vermont devolve into a state of such steep decline? The answer can be found quickly by starting at the top with an examination of the leadership, or lack thereof.

Bruce K. Regan, Chester

Why does Manchester need a gun show?

To the editor,

As we mourn the loss of Sandra Casey in the Las Vegas shooting massacre, it is appropriate to ask why Riley Rink hosted a gun show mere days after Ms. Casey's demise.

It was bad enough that neither the gun show organizers nor Rink management recognized the terrible optics of promoting a weapons celebration shortly after 55 concert goers were shot down, and many others maimed. The larger question is, why does Manchester have to have gun shows at all? Understanding that Riley Rink hosts these events to fund its operating expenses, why can't other more legitimate events be booked instead? If there is not outrage, isn't there at least embarrassment? Why haven't our leaders and State Representatives spoken out against this?

We can hold all of the candlelight vigils we want - and there will be more, as there will be additional mass shootings - but at least until we take this simple first step by getting rid of gun shows at Riley Rink, we won't have accomplished anything.

Bradley D. Myerson, Manchester

Beyond Silence: United Counseling Services

To the editor,

The United Counseling Service hosted its first UCS Presents event on Wednesday, November 8 with the showing of the documentary "Beyond Silence." Close to 100 community members attended.

"Beyond Silence" celebrates the strength, perseverance and dedication of three individuals determined to break the silence often associated with mental illness and help others along the way. The short documentary film was followed by a discussion facilitated by Dr. Alya Reeve, UCS Medical Director.

One in 5 adults will be diagnosed with a mental health issue in their lifetime. Therefore most people are affected by or know someone with a mental illness. The stigma often associated with mental illness may prevent people from seeking help and they often feel isolated and alone. Presenting the film is a step toward helping people understand mental illness, supporting those in our community who have a mental illness and reducing stigma.

The need for promoting the discussion of mental health was apparent during the showing of the film. Courageous members in the audience shared their stories, their own struggles, and what has helped them in their recovery. It became evident during the discussion that the responsibility to help destigmatize mental illness lies with all of us.

To those of you who felt alone in your struggle when you entered the theater to see Beyond Silence, my sincere hope is that you felt a part of a supportive community by the time you left. To those of you who live and work in the Bennington Community, thank you for engaging, learning and supporting your friends and neighbors during the discussion.

I look forward to continued community engagement in UCS Presents events in the future. Thank you for a wonderful night. Together, we are building a stronger community.

Lorna W. Mattern, Executive Director of United Counseling Service


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