Yes, I was a teacher in a former life, but no, I am not talking “Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmatic.” I speak for Rights, Responsibility and Respect.
Jim Haff and his (so called) Justice League have been paying for spots in the Mountain Times to put in their “political commentary” cartoons for the last five weeks. To say that these cartoons are not only wildly inaccurate but a slap in the face to the town, local businesses and the Resort would be an understatement. Please don’t say “this is only humor.” That would be like poking someone in the eye and laughing. Only the bully who poked might find it funny, the pokee, not so much.
People have a right to voice their opinions and disagreements about what happens in their town, and to have a format in which to do so. With that right, come the responsibilities: that information is at least somewhat accurate, and ownership of one’s message is taken (not hidden behind a front-man).
I am glad to see that The Mountain Times has stepped up and instituted a policy regarding this. No doubt, as a local newspaper, they strive to make their paper a format that people feel comfortable in expressing themselves and balance that with responsibility of being fair and unbiased. In doing so they stepped in a pile of, well, you know what, created by an “advertiser.”
I have no doubt there will be several letters to The Mountain Times screaming “freedom of expression!” because of the new policy. And they will complain about advertisers who may have pulled their ads in protest of these cartoons (or draw more cartoons in other venues). But, pulling ads as protest is also a right. And The Mountain Times policy going forward, to keep the format of these ideas as written so that actual facts (not innuendo) can be debated, is a move I applaud.
The collateral damage these cartoons have, and continue to cause in town, though, is real. They have insulted and perpetuated lies about the town, its policies, the golf course and a lot of businesses (including the Resort). It has fractured business relationships and caused distrust.
I for one think the responsibility for this travesty should lie squarely on the shoulder(s) of the person(s) who gleefully started it all: Jim Haff and the “Justice League.” Now that would be TRUE justice.
And let’s find the answers to some important questions. Who is the Justice League who creates and pays for these cartoons? Who exactly benefits from creating this chaos, breaking down respect for people, businesses and organizations, rather than building it up?
Let the rest of us get back to rebuilding the respect for each other that we once had, and should have. KPAA/Resort have a sound philosophy (which contributed to the Resort hosting the World Cup): the Town + the Businesses + the Resort = One Killington.
We are all stakeholders in this town and we can do so much more together than we can divided.
This letter is based on my impressions of the matters before the town and are not approved, nor have they been reviewed by, the full board. As always, you can reach me by email at email@example.com
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Patty McGrath, Killington Select Board chair