Vermont Democratic Party: Senator's use of the word "rape" to describe environmental impact of wind projects inappropriate
 

Vermont Democratic Party: Senator’s use of the word “rape” to describe environmental impact of wind projects inappropriate

The Vermont Democratic Party is blowing its whistle over Sen. Joe Benning’s repeated use of the word “rape.”

The Republican from Caledonia County has used the term in reference to Green Mountain Power’s 21-turbine Kingdom Community Wind project on Lowell Mountain. During a Senate floor debate on Tuesday, he defended his use of the term. For more on that story and to listen to the audio clip, click here.

On Wednesday, Vermont Democratic Party Director Julia Barnes issued a public statement.

“Using the word ‘rape’ in this context is inappropriate and desensitizes a very serious issue,” she said. “Instead of finding another term to express himself, Sen. Benning has repeatedly used ‘rape’ to illustrate his point in his public remarks.

“With all due respect to the passionate feelings Sen. Benning has on this issue, the objection is not to his use of hyperbole to defend his feelings, rather the reliance on this word particularly, which means something much different to the millions of women who have experienced rape,” she added. “If there is any confusion about when you should or should not use the word ‘rape’ in political discourse, let me clarify: You only use the term ‘rape’ when you’re talking about rape.”

Benning’s response to Barnes? “No comment.”

Andrew Stein

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59 Comments on "Vermont Democratic Party: Senator’s use of the word “rape” to describe environmental impact of wind projects inappropriate"

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3 years 4 months ago

“You only use the term ‘rape’ when you’re talking about rape.”

Yep. Nothing more really needs to be said there.

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 4 months ago

The problem is obviously that Barnes considers descriptions of what was done to the Lowell ridge as inherently hyperbolic. But they aren’t. It was indeed “an outrageous assault or flagrant violation”. It is Barnes who has been desensitized to her party’s complicity in that crime against the environment.

Timothy MacLam
3 years 4 months ago

Rape is a very appropriate term for what has happened and the corporate serial rapists will strike us again. And of course from the corner office of the Statehouse, the fox guards the hen house.

Kathy Nelson
3 years 4 months ago
Oh, please, Ms. Barnes do grow up. The word “rape” is not specific to women and you know it. Stop trying to denigrate Sen. Benning for trying to do the right thing in spite of gross obstruction from a bunch of corporation-kissing democrats who can’t read a dictionary. Lowell Mountain has been brutally stripped and penetrated. A rape of mother or father earth if you will. I have a message for you from Keith Ballack, Delegate to the Vermont State Democratic Committee and Caledonia County Committeeman: “Senator Benning is absolutely correct in his use of the word rape to describe… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

What right does some prissy-poo finger-wagger have to speak for all women?

She certainly does not speak for me.

Senator Benning’s use of the word was attention-getting, that is all. Otherwise, I did not bat an eyelash. The term was appropriate, and it may also refer to theft: see Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” (about stealing a young lady’s curl) or Peter Paul Rubens’ painting, “The Rape of the Sabine Women.”

All in all, a very clumsy attempt to detract attention from what transpired yesterday: the rape of our democratic rights.

Ellin Anderson
Browington, Vermont

3 years 4 months ago
Ellen, Rape is an understatement. It was a gang rape by a well-organized bunch of very determined folks, including toady legislators, who want to get to as much federal and state subsidies as possible, and as quickly as possible, to build their RE businesses. They dug their tunnel to the vault and do not want the vault moved. It has nothing to do with CO2 emission reduction, because if that were the case, energy efficiency of vehicles and buildings would be at the top of the agenda, as they emit 75% of Vermont’s CO2. In Vermont, doing RE first and… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

Rather than “a tunnel to the vault,” don’t you mean “a path to the trough”?

This is farm country, after all.

Ellin Anderson
Browington, VT

3 years 4 months ago
Ellen, In White River Junction, an $10 million, 2.2 MW solar facility was put up by some Boston multi-millionaires as a tax shelter. They get paid 30c/kWh for 25 years under the SPEED program; NE grid prices are about 5.5 c/kWh. About 15 acres of trees and other vegetation and topsoil were cleared and the area was leveled with bulldozers, i.e., raped. The whole is surrounded by 8-ft tall fencing. It is likely having Chinese panels and German inverters. Vermont supplied the supports, brackets and miscellaneous bric-a-brac. Few, if any permanent jobs were created. Investors and system installers are smiling,… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

Ellen, gang rape and plunder is more apt.

David Black
3 years 4 months ago

If you actually think about what is happening in Montpelier and Vermont’s ridgeline, the term ‘rape’ is appropriate.

Kevin Hurley
3 years 4 months ago

Eric, Agreed.

According to Merriam Webster, “Rape” means: “to seize and take away by force” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rape

“You only use the term ‘rape’ when you’re talking about rape?” Well, unless Barnes disagrees with the dictionary, the statement is kind of silly. Regardless of your opinion on the wind project, his use of the word is not inappropriate.

Rolf Mueller
3 years 4 months ago

Definition of rape according to the Webster-merriam link clearly is in regards to persons.
Using the term rape for taking down mountains is hyperbole.
It does diminish the meaning of raping a human being.

Then again, to make political points it seems common to employ hyperbole.

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 4 months ago

The political hyperbole is in Barnes’s expression of umbrage. Anything to avoid actually facing what they have done — and will continue to do — to the mountains of Vermont.

Annette Smith
3 years 4 months ago
One of the dictionary definitions of rape: “figurative; the wanton destruction or despoiling of a place or area.” Sen. Benning’s used the right word to describe what has happened to the Lowell Mountains and the surrounding area. What GMP did fits the definition perfectly. Why does the Democratic Party chair feel it is necessary to tell the Senator that he is only allowed to use the word “rape” in one context? It does have other legitimate contexts. I spent the day visiting with neighbors of a big wind project today. Near tears talking to a reporter about what has happened… Read more »
Rolf Mueller
3 years 4 months ago

I have sympathy for neighbors of the big windmills when they feel that they are sick because of them.
Fact is that looking at windmills doesn’t make you sick unless you believe it does.

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 4 months ago

That sounds like the sick and twisted reasoning of “legitimate rape”.

Annette Smith
3 years 4 months ago
I spent yesterday visiting with neighbors of Iberdrola’s Hoosac Wind project just over the Vermont border, including a Vermonter who is considering having to abandon his home because of sleep disruption. Iberdrola built 19 1.5 MW GE wind turbines in an area full of wetlands, way too close to homes. Just as people around the three big wind projects in Vermont are really suffering, people around this new project that came online in Dec. 2012 are also really suffering. They are awakened at night, cannot get back to sleep, get headaches. One home has been abandoned, others are struggling to… Read more »
Randy Koch
3 years 4 months ago

The fact is, my friend Rolf, that before you dismiss claims that wind turbines make one sick, you ought to, well, give it a whirl.

Jason Wells
3 years 4 months ago

Annette, Sorry but I could care less what the proper definition of rape may be. Just think what is the FIRST THING that comes to mind when you say that word? Ok can we end that one now? You say you spent all day visiting neighbors of a big wind project and I was wondering if you would care to share who paid for your visit and how many billable hours you racked up? It would be nice to know who is working for whom in this debate. One last thing are you “on the clock” when posting comments?

Annette Smith
3 years 4 months ago
Pretty funny question. Billable hours. You mean like lawyers? The least expensive lawyers in Vermont charge $125 an hour. I once calculated my hourly rate, and someone told me that is what they pay people to stand in line in Washington DC, somewhere between $14 and $17 an hour based on how many hours I work. VCE is a non-profit supported by Vermonters. Many people contribute, some send $5, some send $15,000. Your donations are welcome. http://www.vce.org/contribform.html VCE is now Vermont’s lead environmental organization protecting our most sensitive natural resources, high elevation water quality, and public health. Given the recent… Read more »
Jason Wells
3 years 4 months ago

Funny thing is I did take a peek at your website and found no mention of who you do not take money from but yet you say here you dont take it from corps, oil, nuke etc. Although I do thank you for clearing that up. However your response did not answer either of the questions that were asked. As for the recent allegations you refer to I have no idea about any of that. I will say though donations of 15,000 does not sound like the average Vermonters you refer to and certainly not anyone I know.

Steven Gorelick
3 years 4 months ago
Jason, since it seems you believe that people can be bought with donations, does it bother you that the largest single campaign donor in Vermont’s statewide election in 2012 was wind developer Dave Blittersdorf? Shumlin alone got $4,000 from Blittersdorf’s All Earth Renewables company, another $2,000 from his Georgia Mountain Wind company, and another $2,000 from him individually. Does it bother you that pro-wind enviro groups VPIRG and CLF have received $195,000 and $605,000 respectively from the John Merck Fund, whose board of directors includes the owner of Independence Wind, a wind developer from Maine? The fact is, those opposed… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago

Steven:

I think it would be great if all of the organizations on both sides of this debate were to fully and publicly disclose all of their funding sources. We should all get to evaluate who’s buying what from whom.

Jason Wells
3 years 4 months ago
Steven, All campaign contributions bug the heck out of me but as far as Shumlin goes we all knew way before the first election he was pro-wind that should be no surprise to anyone. I am not really sure of the numbers you mention nor do I have time to check but the CLF is really not a major player in pushing for wind a few comments and studies here and there but they are not out pushing that agenda all day from what I can tell anyways. VPRIG does however push the pro-wind agenda and really I have no… Read more »
Steven Gorelick
3 years 4 months ago
Jason, you say with regard to VPIRG that “at least we can find out without too much difficulty where their money comes from”. Not so. Even though one can look at a non-profit’s Form 990, which shows how much revenue they received from grants and donations, the donors are not listed. I found that John Merck Fund has made large donations to VPIRG and CLF only because they were announced on the John Merck Fund’s website. If big wind developers donated to VPIRG, they wouldn’t advertise the fact, nor would VPIRG. So finding out how much money VPIRG received from… Read more »
Patrick Cashman
3 years 4 months ago

For any who are curious, any non-profit (including this website) must present their form 990 on demand.

Townsend Peters
3 years 4 months ago

One wonders if Ms. Barnes has even heard of ecofeminists and the link they make between male domination of women and domination of the earth. Are they too demeaning women?

While I don’t agree with Sen. Benning, I think the Dems are reaching with this one.

Stan Shapiro
3 years 4 months ago
Barnes obviously got the word to go ahead with her statement. The party is very disciplined and control comes from the top. The above comments are as usual well stated. It may be dawning on some that IWT ‘s and their proponents represent the worst in distorting a principle ( ecological protection) with incredible greed , unfairness , and the abuse of power. Climate change has been cooped by the smartest guys in the room. That why opposition now will only grow .The backgrounds of opponents of IWT’s in Vermont is remarkably varied.They are united by the notion that something… Read more »
Kathy Leonard
3 years 4 months ago
Stan: “Climate change has been (co-opted) by the smartest guys in the room.” Enron executives actually went to jail and Ken Lay committed suicide over that gold rush gone wrong. The drumbeat of gotta build MORE is false here. We’ve gotta use LESS and employ many solutions, including those that ask sacrifices of each of us. Vermont is choosing small farms vs industrial farms. Vermont is choosing downtowns rather than big boxes. These choices make us who we are. I don’t see how doing violence to the hills that host us so generously is the correct answer. We need to… Read more »
Jason Wells
3 years 4 months ago

Kathy: Fact Check! Kenneth Lay did not commit suicide he had heart issues and died of a heart attack.

P.S. In no way does that mean I support him or his actions. Death in prison would have been preferable in my mind.

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 4 months ago

Ken Lay pretty much created the modern wind industry after Enron bought Zond (the makers of GMP’s turbines in Searsburg). Not only did he cobble together the various tax breaks to protect profits, he also invented the “green tags” (renewable energy certificates, RECs) to sell the energy twice.

David Dempsey
3 years 4 months ago

Ms Barnes, this is an inappropriate way to mindlessly bash the dreaded enemy.

Rob Pforzheimer
3 years 4 months ago

Typical response from the dumocrats and wind shills, denigrate those they oppose rather than address the issues they present.
Shoot the messenger.
Dare anyone question the blind faith wind proponent zealots that are raping our mountains and rights for their useless “green” symbolism.
Thank you Joe Benning and the other legislators for attempting to bring sanity and reason to the debate.
A wind project near Ms Barnes home might broaden her definition of the word rape.
Use Less

Pam Arborio
3 years 4 months ago
I’M NOT A YOUNG, OR NAIVE WOMAN. I HAVE SEEN THE EFFECTS OF RAPE AND, IF OUR MOUNTAINS IN LOWELL AND SHEFFIELD COULD HAVE SCREAMED LOUD ENOUGH, PERHAPS THEIR RAPE COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED. IF THERE WERE MORE RESPONSIBLE, CARING MEN LIKE SENATOR BENNING, HARTWELL, ROGERS AND REP. STARR AMONG OTHERS S.30 WOULD HAVE RETAINED ITS INTEGRITY AND BEEN PASSED INTACT. IF I WERE YOU I’D LOOK CLOSER TO HOME AND POINT FINGERS AT THOSE THAT HAVE IGNORED VERMONT CITIZENS CONCERNS AS TOWNS AND NEIGHBORS ARE TORN APART BY OUT OF STATE/INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPERS. AND, BY THE WAY MRS. BARNES, OUR… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

The Democratic Party is inappropriate.

3 years 4 months ago

I don’t think Barnes has ever peeped into a dictionary. Either that or her mind has been squeezed shut to the multiple and wonderful definitions of an English word.

Ross Laffan
3 years 4 months ago

Part of the Webster’s definition of “rape” should be “rape has many definitions and can be offensive depending on one’s political views and the issue being discussed.”

ALEX BARNHAM
3 years 4 months ago

Poppycock.

Lisa Boisvert
3 years 4 months ago
The cruz of the problem is that Ms. Barnes does not recognize the gravity of the situation for the land. Susan Miller thoroughly explores this topic from a feminist perspective in her book Women and Nature. I am grateful to Senator Benning for making the connection, it is indeed valid and accurate from a feminist and literary perspective. We need more creative imagination in the world to make it a better place and to understand our own errors. From Amazon, “In this famously provocative cornerstone of feminist literature, Susan Griffin explores the identification of women with the earth—both as sustenance… Read more »
Stan Shapiro
3 years 4 months ago
Mr. Mueller , Looking at turbines won’t make you sick. Noise,infrasound, sleep deprivation ,excacerbation of hypertension,and worsening of cardiac arrhythmia due to adrenergic surge certainly will. Gag orders from courts have accompanied just about every settlement of those compensated because of living in proximity to wind turbines . (Just one more violation) .The visual issues have not been an issue. The noise and health are and emerging evidence is there, at least enough to merit a moratorium on further projects. I hope if you are ever stricken with a malady that no one would be so insensitive to say it… Read more »
Rolf Mueller
3 years 4 months ago

If you think that noise, infra-sound, electro-sensitivity etc. makes you sick it does.

Check out “What you think matters most when you’re ill” at http://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/faculty/newsandevents/news_details.aspx?Id=904

.

Randy Koch
3 years 4 months ago

On the other hand, a family member of mine who farms in the flatlands of Illinois was quite gung-ho in favor of the many dozens of wind turbines being installed several miles away from his house where they were visibile but inaudible. That is until his sleep was completely disturbed and other symptoms appeared of exposure to infrasound.

Rolf Mueller
3 years 4 months ago

Can Expectations Produce Symptoms From Infrasound Associated With Wind Turbines?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23477573

Annette Smith
3 years 4 months ago
Jim Cummings is an acoustician who is trying to find the middle ground on the wind noise/health issue. He did a thorough evaluation of the two so-called studies that the Wind Spinners are now waving around. http://aeinews.org/archives/2305 About the “study” you cite, he notes: “the infrasound exposure source was a 5Hz tone at 40dB. This is so low a volume that it could also be considered a sham signal; typical human perception curves suggest infrasound must be over 100dB at 5Hz to be perceptible, and no symptoms are expected unless exposure is over that level. Wind turbine sound at 5Hz… Read more »
John Greenberg
3 years 4 months ago
I find it curious that Annette Smith would cite the AEI critique of the Australian wind studies. While Mr. Cummings expresses reservations about the 2 studies (some of which are his reservations are questioned by HIS commenters), his conclusion points very much in the same direction as the Australian studies: “I can easily accept the idea that the negative experiences being highlighted by community groups are indeed one of several factors that increase the anxiety and stress levels of residents, which may itself cause many of the symptoms reported, as well as fostering negative expectations, which has been recognized and… Read more »
Bud Haas
3 years 4 months ago

Benning is an opportunist using wind to propel himself into Vermont politics. Was he also waving his copy of the “constitution” in the air?
He’ s a blowhard.
We need to find a way to replace him in the Senate.

3 years 4 months ago
Ms. Barnes, while you’re looking up the definition of the word “rape”, take a look at the word “inappropriate”, and you’ll find a description of precisely your own most “unfitting, improper, unsuitable and improper” response to Sen. Benning’s language. On whose authority and with whose encouragement do you condemn and define the use of the word “rape”? Could it be the corporate developers who fund Democrat campaigns, who (like rapists) commit their crimes on helpless victims, overwhelming them with power and control, exercising intimidation to the point of silence wrapped in utter fear? Well, Ms. Barnes, like pornography, we environmentalists… Read more »
Joy Karnes Limoge, Esq.
3 years 4 months ago

This is what lawyers call a “red herring”. This is nothing more than a poor attempt to deflect from the issue. While Senator Benning’s choice of words may have had an inflammatory effect the fact is it was an appropriate choice for what is happening to the ridge line. Let’s stay focused on the issue instead of getting lost in the weeds!Thank you Senator Benning for defending your position and not backing down.

Steven Farnham
3 years 4 months ago

If we can’t use the word “rape” with out the Democratic Party Chair’s permission, then what are we to call the source of canola – “molestationseed”? As far as I know, trying to hamstring one’s ability to communicate is forbidden by the bill of rights. Come on people. Many Democrats are really trying to make Vermont a better place, and agree with him or not, so is Sen. Benning. Let’s not subvert the momentum of the work done by both parties by engaging is petty censorship.

3 years 4 months ago
NEXT IN THEIR SIGHTS: The matchless ecological treasure of the Unified Towns and Gores of Vermont (Averill, Avery’s Gore, Ferdinand, Lewis, Warner’s Grant and Warren Gore): http://www.utg-vt.org/ To the UTF town fathers and mothers: You have been chosen as stewards of something rare and beautiful beyond belief. If you let the rapists in, if you admit the vandals through the gate, you will have destroyed something so precious that you may be cursed by God as well as man. Instead, you can choose to become a byword for wisdom and fortitude. Remember that scene in “Gone with the Wind,” when… Read more »
Don Henley
3 years 4 months ago

Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught ’em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought ’em
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea
-The Eagles, “The Last Resort”, 1976.

Eric Rosenbloom
3 years 4 months ago

Here’s a cartoon by Jens Hage showing the rape/murder of Mother Denmark: http://hage.dk/2010/04/08/mord-danmark/ The CEO of Vestas is saying “As long as it’s green, it doesn’t hurt!”

Pete Novick
3 years 4 months ago
It’s really a shame to see piecemeal wind farm projects go up, ridge line by ridge line in Vermont. There is a better way to “do wind”. The two most northern provinces of Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, offer some of the best wind envelopes for RE in the western hemisphere. These are sparsely populated areas as well, for reasons that should be obvious. Wind farms consisting of thousands of towers could easily be built and tied into the grid. The energy industry already has the business model for operating and maintaining large scale energy production systems. Just like the… Read more »
3 years 4 months ago

Ms. Barnes’ party is frequently referred to as the “D’s”. Now we know what the “D” stands for……Dynamite, the tool of choice of big wind for improving he environment.

As for Ms. Barnes’ outrage, it’s nothing more than a effort to distract from the real issue, her party’s pitiful performance on S.30.

Jennifer Brown
3 years 4 months ago

Doesn’t it bother anyone that instead of focusing on resolutions, time is wasted defending a choice of words? I imagine that if officials we allowed to do so, we might actually have solved some issues.

Jon Walker
3 years 4 months ago

Rape – Transitive Verb
a : to seize and take away by force
b : despoil

I’d say Sen. Benning’s use of the word was both accurate and appropriate.

noreen hession
3 years 4 months ago
RAPE: An act of plunder, violent seizure or abuse, despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside; to plunder (a place); despoil; From the Latin rapere to seize, plunder. Has political discourse been so reduced that the Vermont Democratic Party Director sits silently while pristine wilderness is plundered (for investor and multinational corporate profit) yet is compelled to protest the language used by opposing party members who merely describe the desecration? I’ve come to expect this of the AM radio shock jocks and Fox Cable News, but I hope for more from the Democratic Party. Ms. Barne’s complaint is an unfortunate… Read more »
Daniel Dolan
3 years 4 months ago

Hi,
Although I appreciate the sentiment of many of the above,and prefer Solar to all other means-I must remind you all that roads are being built everyday in almost every town to accommodate logging.Also I wish to remind you that Every breath you take is filled with particulates(soot,nucleotides,heavy metals)from the other means of power generation(coal,diesel,nuclear),invisibly affecting all.My small point being that what you are Not seeing is what’s killing you.I welcome towers, mostly in Your backyard, haha.
Don’t want to see Wind towers everywhere?
then
Let’s build a solar array along the median of I89.

3 years 3 months ago

That is a horribly offensive way to use the term. I think people should think about what they are about to say more. Bad comments are always causing problems for politicians these days.

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