Letters to the Editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the Editor

Daily Staff Writer

Civil society?

I am responding to Dan Smith’s commentary of Feb.19 and Tom Hopkins’ rebuttal of Feb. 25 concerning the local bumper sticker “Illegitimate President, Illegitimate War.” Dan Smith pointed out that the political season had arrived in our valley.

In all my years, I have never witnessed a more toxic national atmosphere surrounding an upcoming presidential election. Is it now invading our valley? Conspiracy theories abound, ad hominem attacks on others’ character are the rule rather than the exception, hatred is on the loose, and rational discourse has seemingly been abandoned.

In his famous essay of 1869, “On Liberty,” John Stuart Mill emphasized long ago that freedom of expression and liberty of the press was essential to the functioning of a free society. The premise was that there is no such thing as absolute certainty on any issue (this is despotism), that wise and useful answers can only be reached by allowing any and all opinions to be expressed.

If I absolutely must revisit the Florida election, which Tom Hopkins insisted upon, I would tend to side with Dan Smith that the Constitution is the issue, and avoid post-election conspiracy theories.

Many would like to abandon the Electoral College, but I am not one of them. (A reminder: Clinton was far from achieving a popular majority in either election.) Many have not read the Constitution in years, myself included. I should do so, and I would very much enjoy attending Dan Smith’s political science class.

Smith’s column was a bit strident, I agree, but it was not an ad hominem attack on any particular person’s character. Anyone who knows Dan Smith knows that conversations with him are always lively ones, as I have heard his classes are as well.

Similarly, Tom Hopkins is a serious and thoughtful man on many individual issues. Both of these men have contributed a great deal to our community. Therefore I was surprised, not to say shocked, at the tone of Hopkins’ letter, and the implication that Smith should not be teaching “our students” at the college.

Many of us are old enough to remember another toxic period in our history, in the ’50s, when a certain senator attempted to rid American universities of politically wrong-thinking teachers, even including professors of mathematics and physics. Is this what Hopkins is suggesting? And is he to decide who is wrong-thinking?

Please, gentlemen and gentle ladies, let us have rational discourse, not strident arguments and ad hominem attacks upon character. It is the foundation of our free society.

Carolyn Cage

Mardi Gras thanks

With the inaugural Vail Mardi Gras now behind us, I would like to recognize all the merchants and vendors who participated in this successful event. We encountered a few hiccups along the way, but overall I have received positive feedback as we ended the event with a great parade and King & Queen party.

I enjoyed working with the following merchants who made every effort to make this event a success: Moe’s Barbecue and Grill, Flying Burrito, Garfinkel’s, Lions

Den, Blue Moon (Eagle’s Nest), Bogart’s, Vendetta’s, Red Lion, Sanctuary/Taproom and Manor Vail. Your efforts were greatly appreciated. I would like to thank the following for their generous participation in supplying door prizes at the varies events. Vail Sports, Double Diamond, Vail Athletic Club, Eye Pieces in Vail, Town of Vail and Pazzo’s. KTUN’s Linda (I know, but that is how I know her) Honey, thanks for the gumbo crawl. It was fun. All the participants of the parade, Vail Fire Department and Ryan and Trista, thanks for making the parade such a success. I would like to thank First Bank, Subway and Vail Mountain for their support and prizes for the Heuga Center raffle. To the folks at Coors Light, thanks so much for your generosity and energy. Without you we could not have successfully pulled this event off. I also want to thank Safeway and City Market for supplying door prizes for the Mardi Gras opening night event. Thanks for your support.

Most of all I would like to thank Christian Knaap and Liz Herr of Vail Resorts for their tremendous hard work and introducing this event to Vail and to VR’s money to help promote this event. It shows that the community and Vail Resorts can work together in putting together an event that benefits all parties.

It is not too early to start the groundwork for next year’s Vail Mardi Gras event. Those merchants and people interested in participating next year, please e-mail us at vailmardigras@yahoo.com.

Most of all, to all the locals and our guests who participated in the varies events, thanks from all of us for your support. Without you, we do not have an event.

Paul Donne

Preaching ground

I feel compelled to respond to Tom Hopkins’s criticism of Dan Smith’s commentary, “It’s the Constitution, Stupid.”

Mr. Hopkins tries to demean Mr. Smith by using the tired issue of Florida and Katherine Harris. I’m not interested in refighting Florida. It’s over.

What does bother me is Mr. Hopkins’ concern about the fact that Mr. Smith teaches at CMC. It seems that Mr. Hopkins doesn’t want someone teaching at our colleges who doesn’t espouse the liberal point of view. The fact that someone with a conservative background would be teaching political science is an anathema to Mr. Hopkins’s way of thinking.

As someone who has spent a fair amount of my life in political science classrooms – on the student side and on the teaching side – I find it refreshing that students at CMC have the opportunity to be taught and mentored by someone who tries to present all sides to an argument and, to paraphrase Fox News, let the students decide.

There are entirely too many professors at our colleges and universities whose main interest is not in developing an educational dialogue of differing views, but who actually demean those students who presenting a view somewhat to the political right of their own.

The college experience is supposed to be one of “learning,” not indoctrination. Over the past 20 years it has evolved into a preaching ground for the liberal message by tenured professors, the vast majority of whom have no experience in the real world.

I think it is a rare opportunity that CMC students have to take courses from someone with worldly business – and life – experiences and is more interested in presenting arguments for thought and discussion rather than dictating only one side.

Garrett Fonda


Support Local Journalism