Fitting into the publisher's 'pigeon hole'

To the Editor:

This responds to the Editorial Comment..."Who Cares What He Says" by TMS. published in the Oct. 4-5, 2014 issue concerning Mumia Abul-Jamal giving the commencement address at Goddard College. It is not my cup of tea to take on those in high positon and esteem, but sometimes one earns a trip to the woodshed.

You have every right to your personal opinions, Mr. Smith, and since you publish the paper, you have every right to print what you wish. Do you have the moral right to disparage an individual and an institution in such an inflammatory a public forum? Give that some thought.

If the name Mumia Abul-Jamal is odious to you, you could call him by his birth name, Wesley Cook. He was convicted of murder in 1982 and has spent every day since then in prison. He will spend every one of the rest of his days there as well. He is paying his debt to society and those he harmed. As far as I know, silencing a prisoner's voice is not part of our penal code. Each of us gets to decide if we care what he says, or not. I see no need for any further vindictiveness beyond life in prison without parole.

Much of the controversy swirling around Wesley Cook/Mumia Abu-Jamal does not stem from his innocence or guilt of the murder, but from the interference of COINTELPRO (an acronym of Counter Intelligence Project) which was formed in 1956 during the communist fear era, directed and managed by the FBI. It was/is a covert operation against domestic political (and other) groups considered subversive by them, and their definition of subversive was/is quite elastic. The Black Panther Party and its members were extremely high on their list. Lower, but still on it, was the Women's Movement among many others. Their methods were often badly soiled. About 1971 the covert cover was blown, and much....much....has been written about it since. I strongly suggest everyone do a little research on the subject before pontificating on men and women convicted during those years.

I am not anti-law-enforcement. My husband was a deputized officer, who took five bullets, two of which should have been fatal, and left for dead. His assailant was convicted, did his time, got out, and everyone went on with life. Our paths did not cross again. What I am against is perpetuating hatred in any form, by anyone. Enough already.

I should like to know what part of the First Amendment is going to help "quickly determine what isn't worth listening to," as you assert. The First Amendment does not establish a religion or prohibit the free practice of one; it forbids the abridgment of free speech, press, and peaceable assembly; plus it gives the right to petition the Government for redress of grievances. I am happy it allows everyone to speak and write freely....and says nothing about where it originates, or its content, or how I should feel about it.

What really riles me though is that you extracted a miniscule part of Cook/Abu-Jamal's life spent attending Goddard College in order to vilify that institution. Inexcusable, that! Goddard College (no, I'm not an alumna) is accredited by the very same folks who accredit colleges more to your liking.....whose business it is to assess educational standards. Goddard instituted a system convenient for tax-paying wage-earners to receive an education; it accepts a diversity of students, helps them learn in a way they can learn, and a way to question and discuss the facts they are being taught. So what, if this is not done your way?

It seems that you have a whole set of personal pigeon holes into which every person, every institution, and every thought must fit. Anything or anyone that doesn't is a ripe candidate for snide, hostile remarks....made public. The whole tone of your article appears bigoted and inflammatory. Democracy, and Christian principles, demand better.

There is a bit of Old Farmer's Wisdom that may be appropriate here, "Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none." Vermonters understand that.

Phyllis Donovan

Wheelock, Vt.


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