Letters to the Editor - Feb. 1, 2013
Teach respect, compassion
Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART) just learned about the cat dissection taking place at McMinnville High School, and were shocked to hear the rationale used to justify its ongoing practice.
We are a youth advocate-based organization, and our mission is to foster compassion and respect for all living beings and the environment by educating youth and teachers in humane education. We believe that dissection goes against those principles, perpetuates a cycle of inhumane perspective and treatment of animals, represents poor science and squanders precious resources.
We are urging school officials to end this practice in perpetuity. As an advanced biology high school student, I was faced with a choice to dissect a sheep’s heart. When I refused on ethical grounds, one student sneaked one of the specimens out of the classroom and smashed it on my car windshield.
Student ridicule was the least of my concerns, as the teacher had threatened to lower my grade and gave me a much more challenging assignment than my classmates received. I took the alternative because it was the right thing to do, and I scored a 100 percent on the exam by using a three-dimensional model of a human heart.
These types of experiences are replicated across the United States. It’s no surprise that so few students believe they have an alternative. I have spoken to countless students who feel uncomfortable going against the grain, expressing their true sentiments. There’s a complicity that comes with authority, and a peer risk in dancing to the beat of one’s own drum. No student voice should ever go silent.
Biology is the study of life. Dissection ultimately teaches that killing in the name of science is acceptable. Shouldn’t we spend more time teaching respect and compassion, critical thought and inquiry, the very essence of science?
Need global warming debate
After a campaign in which global warming was all but absent, President Obama put the topic front and center at the inaugural address.
Both sides succeeded in shelving the issue for months, but the record-hot summers and receding glaciers do not attend to the needs of politicians. Obama seems ready to thrust climate change back into the public discourse.
The debate has changed in recent years. The flat denial of global warming, so much the flagship of conservative thought, seems to be petering out. The annual summer shrinking of the northern ice cap is too obvious and profound to admit denial.
So now, instead of saying the planet is not warming, the mantra has changed.
Former deniers have adopted the platform that either 1. Global warming is not due to human activity but to natural causes, or, 2. Maybe it is caused by humans, but it’s too expensive to do anything about.
Argument Two got a real pounding when Superstorm Sandy came through and racked up more than $60 billion in damage in a couple of days. Even if Sandy was not directly due to global warming, it powerfully makes the point that doing more of the same is a path to economic ruin.
Global warming has the potential to cost vastly more than any measures we take to restrain it.
Argument One isn’t doing much better. We are pouring vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and, just by coincidence, the planet is warming rapidly. Weird, huh? That line of reasoning will seem increasingly silly.
Obama will have a strong hand as he pursues the issue of global warming.
It still will be contentious, but he seems to be willing to go to the mat. It’s a debate we need to have.
Close ‘gun-show’ loophole
I have a potential solution regarding closing the so-called gun-show loophole, which I believe is mislabeled. The solution, in real terms, means requiring a background check for all firearm sales between individuals: family, friend and stranger.
Most, if not all of us who have concerns with this issue are worried about government intrusion into the basic rights granted to us by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
However, we also are concerned with keeping firearms out of the hands of people without a background check. By existing law, it is already illegal for them to possess firearms.
The possible solution I offer might be as simple as issuing a license card to individuals after a thorough, complete background check, as is already being issued with our concealed-weapons-carry permit. It would remain good for an extended period of time: I suggest 10 years before renewal.
A firearms purchaser would present this card to the seller, and the transaction could take place. Simple, safe, effective and not terribly intrusive.
What do you think?
Develop community rights
Community rights vs. corporate rights — the choice is ours.
People across the United States are beginning to organize their communities to ban corporate fracking, agricultural harms and dumping. In 150 communities in eight states, community rights laws stopping unwanted corporate activities have been passed.
Corporations have painstakingly fabricated a system of law through the courts, state legislatures and Congress to ensure they get their way and punish us when we try to stop them. A key element of this system of law is corporate personhood.
In the 1800s, federal judges began to consider corporations as “persons” with constitutional rights. Corporations wield these artificial rights today to override community lawmaking. They even demand compensation when communities challenge their authority to engage in harmful activities.
The problem isn’t GMOs (genetically modified organisms), gravel quarries or dumping; rather, it’s that laws enable corporations to impose harm on communities without the citizens’ consent. If we’re going to stop them, we need to change the system itself.
Faced with unwanted corporate activities, communities have asserted their constitutional rights. Corporate rights were invented. People can adopt local laws to redefine the problem and stop unchecked corporate behavior.
This kind of activism, a nonviolent civil disobedience that pits government entities against each other, is being pursued with the understanding that structural change will occur only when we draw attention to a bent legal system by refusing to comply with it.
When folks in Benton County were threatened with the possible invasion of canola and GMOs, they drafted a Food Bill of Rights law that establishes a right to sustainable food systems. The law re-defines corporate rights. The Benton County proposal and others like it nationwide force corporations to expose the uneven playing field in current law.
For information about a local workshop on Feb. 9-10, see http://bit.ly/CR-YC.
Archery field needed here
I propose an archery field for McMinnville. Why not? It’s a skill followed for more than 5,000 years. It’s a sport that takes 20 minutes to learn the basics, but if you enjoy it, you will spend the rest of your life trying to perfect it through practice.
It is one of the Summer Olympic sports, and there are a lot of archers here in McMinnville. I’m one. I was scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 241 in Carson, Calif.
The Boy Scouts promote archery, offering a merit badge for any scout who wishes to pursue it. But we don’t have any place in McMinnville where a scout can practice to achieve the skill needed to acquire the merit badge.
We have a skateboard park, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a swimming pool and a dog park. So why don’t we have an archery field?
If you would like to see one here, let the Parks and Recreation Department know your feelings. Send them an e-mail, letter, text, or drop by and let them know. I did.
Stars to honor lost lives
When I was shopping recently at the Newberg Fred Meyer store, I was pleased and grateful to see that they are honoring the lives lost at Clackamas Town Center and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
For a $1 donation, customers may purchase a star and leave a message on it to be posted in the store. The money raised will purchase gift certificates through the International Star Registry and enable families to name a star in the heavens in remembrance of their loved ones who lost their lives. The goal is to collect $1,820.
Please contact any of the managers at the store to purchase the stars. There is no limit.
May the light of these victims shine on forever.
Gassing cats deplorable
McMinnville School Board will continue to allow dissection of cats. This is a bad enough decision, but for a school board to not care whether the cats are killed by gassing is deplorable. Gassing is totally inhumane, causing terrible pain for 30 minutes until the animals die.
We should think about replacing these board members with people who care about how animals are put to death. Why would anyone support a company or a state that kills animals in this manner instead of a quick injection?
My dad is very educated. He went to Willamette University’s law school and has a master’s degree in teaching. He taught high school in the ’70s. As my brother and I were growing up, he told us we would come in contact with educated people who had no common sense, which is how the term “educated idiots” got its start. Well, this is certainly one of my many times of proving him right.
There is even a money donor in our community to pay for the computers instead of real dissection, or, why can’t the high school kids visit vet clinics and observe on a live animal?
Editor’s note: Cats are not euthanized by the company that supplies McMinnville High School, but rather delivered to the company by North Carolina shelters that follow state law in their practices, which allows gassing by carbon monoxide.