It’s a sad state of affairs when free speech is curtailed and censorship rules the day. I am referring to last week’s policy change at the Mountain Times wherein local political cartoons will no longer be published. I read the article entitled “Local cartoons offend readers who criticize lack of evidence, authorship; policies changed” in the Sept. 28-Oct. 4 edition written by from the publishers. It offers thin gruel for suspension of the local cartoons. While I agree that the cartoons are in questionable taste, they are after all cartoons. As to the argument of lack of authorship its pretty obvious that Jim Haff, whether he drew the cartoons or not, is the person responsible for them. History is replete with artists being commissioned to do work on others behalf.
As to evidence — certain business people in town own significant property and are buying up property and other businesses, expanding their operations not only in Killington but to other towns and even out of state.
Are these people in need of financial support from the taxpayers? If they have multi-million dollars in assets why do they need the town to do marketing for them? And why do they need to use economic extortion to silence one of the few outlets for dissension to their political aims.
It’s obvious to me that these cartoons have struck a nerve, as they say “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The statement that these cartoons are, “a jab at the KPAA and specific businesses without offering facts or explanation” needs further elucidation. There has been plenty of statements, debates and even letters published in the Mountain Times which detail the concerns people have with the town feeding a private organization that is the KPAA. As to specific businesses being targeted the only one I’ve seen in these cartoons is the Green Mountain National Golf Course, a public entity subsidized by the taxpayers. There is no question GMNGC is being paid for with taxpayer dollars. There is not enough space in this newspaper to document the facts regarding GMNGC’s dependence on taxpayers.
These businesses and people who are using economic extortion to silence the Mountain Times need to look at themselves and answer why they are so defensive—maybe its because there’s more than a kernel of truth in these cartoons.
If these businesses contend that these cartoons are falsehoods why are they not responding in kind or in writing instead of resorting to economic blackmail by threatening to pull, and in the case of GMNGC pulling, their advertising from the paper. Are they afraid of exposing themselves?
And to boot this is not the first time this extortion has taken place—a certain petition signee was targeted not long ago with the same malevolent tactic because the petition did not fall in line with a certain business’s interests. And no, I am not giving evidence because I don’t want this party to suffer further economic damage. The people involved know who they are. Many people in town know the story. It just cannot be stated in detail publicly due to possible further retaliation.
As far as I am concerned this economic extortion is malevolent behavior. The taxpayers should really reconsider if these entities deserve to be subsidized with taxpayer funds if they continue with such brazen malevolence while on the public dole. Never mind they are stifling free speech and engaging in censorship.
What’s next if we allow these kind of strong arm tactics to be unfettered and threaten our access to communication channels with which we can exercise our freedom of speech?
If this kind of behavior persists and this fascism is not curtailed the townspeople should really consider eliminating subsidies to the KPAA, elimination of the EDTC, and some sort of sound economic disposition of the GMNGC. There is questionable need for subsidizing these ventures now that Powdr has jumped in and increased Killington Resort’s summer appeal by expanding its offerings. The capital investments by the Resort have increased summer business by a far greater margin than the town’s efforts.
The taxpayers should not be paying to be silenced!
Vito Rasenas, Killington