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Democracy Now! Host Urges VLS Grads to be "Sword or Shield"

May 25, 2011

Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, urged Vermont Law School graduates at the school's 36th commencement on May 21 to join the forces fighting for truth, justice and openness.

Image of Amy Goodman"You have to decide whether you are going to represent the sword or the shield," she said.

Goodman, who received an honorary degree, spoke of VLS's history of preparing students to be successful litigators, public interest attorneys, environmental and land use experts, civil rights advocates and activists in a range of fields, including climate change.

She also spoke of Vermont's leading role among U.S. states in promoting equality and protecting its citizens and the environment -- the Green Mountain state was the first state to abolish slavery in its Constitution; the first state to approve gay civil unions and  same-sex marriage through legislative action instead of a court ruling; and the first state to require its approval for nuclear power plants within its borders.

Goodman, whose independent journalism is considered a counterpoint to corporate media consolidation, recalled her experiences covering the 1991 massacre of protesters in East Timor and the 2008 crackdown on protesters at the  Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. She said both instances were examples of government, military and police abuse of people gathered peacefully to seek truth, openness and justice.

Watch Goodman's commencement address.


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