'Rape' was the right word

To the Editor:

I wish to speak to the statement issued last month (March) by Vermont Democratic Party Director Julia Barnes. She criticized Senator Joe Benning's use of the word 'rape.' Senator Benning has used this word in speaking poignantly about the Lowell wind project in the Northeast Kingdom.

I, as a woman who hopefully defends women's issues on a social level, and who has a couple of friends who have been victimized by violence, take absolutely no offense with the Senator nor his words used in the context in which he did. In a large desk dictionary I have in my office space, I find five separate and different definitions of the word 'rape.' I mean absolutely no disrespect to my self, my gender collectively, nor to anyone who has endured the grievous atrocity of rape. I solidly believe that Senator Benning did not either. His remarks were neither callous nor disrespectful.

Quite to the contrary, I took Senator Benning's reference to the Lowell project and his use of the word rape as extremely appropriate, to describe what has been wastefully done to the mountains, the trees, the watersheds, the animals, the birds, the life of that land. By the definition that I have in the Webster's New International Dictionary p.1770, the word means 'to pillage, snatch, seize by force, plunder, rob.'

I have used this word myself often in the past year, to describe what is being done on a grievous scale to our mountains in this state. And so to this definition and its applied use here, I would personally add the meaning, "to take without being given, to exploit disrespectfully, to wrongfully acquire and shamelessly steal and cause injury."

With tremendous respect, I am, and I believe that Senator Joe Benning was, being reverent of the Earth and her resources, her protective forests and her flowing streams, her rolling mountainous land. I believe he was equating creative female energy with that of Mother Earth. And I believe his strong statement was intended as saddened and deeply respectful. I believe it was all about an angered plea FOR respect for the earth. So I thank you, Senator Benning, and all others who have called for conserving, preserving and protecting Her.

Vanessa Mills Holmquist

Pittsford, Vt.

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