Pubdate: Thu, 15 Aug 2002
Source: Caledonian-Record, The  (VT)
Copyright: 2002 The Caledonian-Record
Author: Stephen F. Kline


To the Editor:

Back in the beginning of the 20th century, William Randolph Hearst, the 
publishing magnate, was in a circulation war with a rival.

He almost single-handedly started and fostered the "Reefer Madness" 
anti-drug furor in order to sell more newspapers. Out of this cynical ploy 
to make more money grew the concept of a "war on drugs": the entire 
consciousness of a nation was changed by one greedy man. Drug use was 
ultimately separated from alcoholism, although both are diseases.

We now treat alcoholism as a disease, but "war on drug" users, those being 
our families, friends and neighbors.

That is, we condone, not just tolerate, alcohol use and treat its victims 
for their illness, but prohibit drug use and lock its victims up, unless 
Merck can make an obscene profit on a particular drug.

In addition, Hearst also sensationalized the sinking of the battleship 
Maine, blaming it on the Spanish and helping to start the Spanish- American 
War, just to sell more newspapers. New evidence has come to light showing 
that the Spanish probably didn't sink the Maine, and that Hearst knew it, 
but the loss of life inherent in an imperialist war didn't deter him in the 

There were profits to be made: "Damn the torpedoes, and full speed ahead."

Similarly, the new breed of CEOs of the ilk of Ken Lay of Enron and Dick 
Cheney of Everywhere care little for the truth, what's best for their 
stockholders and employees, or the country.

There's obscene amounts of money to be made: "Damn the economy, and full 
speed ahead."

Either these people are ignorant, which begs the question of how they got 
to be CEOs and vice presidents, or they know that what they do will have 
adverse consequences for the vast majority of people involved, and they 
don't care as long as they make a whole lot of money. Ignorance or 
culpability, the results are the same.

Which brings us to our own publisher: Mr. Smith, do you know anything about 
substance abuse and its consequences? From your editorials and the slant of 
your feature articles, I would think not. We have not seen you at any of 
the meetings or events of the concerned citizens and groups in the 
community, a strange situation for one who expresses so much supposed 
concern for the community.

Perhaps it's the task of those born with a silver spoon in their mouths to 
remain barricaded in their castles, passing judgment on those of us less 

Perhaps the silver spooners just get to ignore society's problems (most of 
which are created by those too greedy and spoiled to care about their 
fellows), and chastise and denigrate the very people they put in charge of 
dealing with those problems with inadequate resources.

Let's see, your list is growing.

Greg MacDonald is the devil incarnate; the Department of Corrections is 
plotting against you. The Community Justice Center and Lyndon State College 
won't open confidential records and proceedings to your scrutiny.

The Department of Health is "asinine and arrogant." Now we add Umbrella, 
Tri-County Substance Abuse, and the St. Johnsbury Police Department. No 
wonder the state police aren't available for comment!

Who's next? Do you want to have an underwear check?

It always amuses me that the so-called "new conservatives" (a real 
conservative wouldn't allow them in the same room) make the most empty 
noise, know the least about the subject, and have the least regard for 
other people's rights and privacy.

Of course, as I've stated, we haven't seen you anywhere where there's 
grassroots community involvement, so I really can't claim personal 
knowledge of your compassionate concern or lack thereof.

Nor should I perhaps include you in that infamous cartel of those greedy, 
know-nothing, uncaring, quasi-neo-conservatives we presently see looting 
our country and preparing to cover their tracks with a $100 billion war 
with Iraq that no other country in the world supports.

I bet you that if they ever get to try Ken Lay in court, he'll blame it on 
Saddam, not that Saddam doesn't deserve whatever he gets. But it's good to 
have a scapegoat around; Arafat's just not big enough!

Mr. Smith, who's next? Will you now station your reluctant employees 
outside of Jake's, taking snapshots of drunks as they stagger down the 
street? Perhaps cancer patients will be fair play; you can take pictures of 
their hair falling out and floating to the ground after chemotherapy. I 
know! You can wait outside of Umbrella and get close- ups of battered wives 
and children - bruises, split lips and all! And think of the possibilities 
inherent in an AIDS/HIV death - emaciated, pus-covered corpses surrounded 
by the grieving family.

Or best of all, you could send your staff out to document and photograph 
philandering spouses; it shouldn't be too hard to find some of them right 
here in town - everyone knows one of them.

Jeesum crow - I hope you're just one of the ignorant ones and not trying to 
make a quick buck on the misery of others.

Yes, many of the civil servants and concerned citizens you denigrate make a 
living dealing with social ills, but they also have to live daily and 
suffer along with the people they attempt to help. And then you and certain 
elected officials dare to insult them.

Your lead article with picture of Aug. 6 starts: "Public debate has been 
heated." What heat? I read the paper, watch TV and listen to the radio daily.

Aside from a few out-of-state letters to the editor, the few local letters 
have been balanced out. There's been no public furor other than that which 
you've tried to stir up ... talk about tabloid yellow journalism! Maybe you 
should sell out to the National Enquirer, or extract that silver spoon from 
your ear so you can hear the voices of your fellow Kingdomites; who knows 
where else that spoon's been since childhood.

Or hide it; you never know when a junkie might need it to cook up. If you 
succeed in killing the needle program I wouldn't be surprised if all the 
addicts started dropping off their dirty needles on the doorstep of your 
newspaper; both are biohazards!

Can I please be put on the same list as Umbrella, Chief Devenger, Greg 
MacDonald, the Community Justice Center and all the others of whom you're 
so paranoid.

Maybe you should be ... maybe we're all plotting against you. My dog still 
loves to peruse your editorials, and thanks to you!

Stephen F. Kline, St. Johnsbury
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