Fighting Intolerance Not “Uncivil”
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to the letter from John L. Watkins printed in the Correspondence column of the May-June 2007 issue [which criticized Dan Savage’s contest to assign a vulgar definition to the word “santorum”). I found it disquieting to think that any homosexual or gay-friendly person could chastise members of our community for “uncivil” comments about a bigot of the religious Right like [former Senator]Rick Santorum. Santorum’s views on the civil rights of gay people are tantamount to the Bible-backed arguments used in support of slavery in this country 150 years ago.
Rick Santorum’s despicable views and manipulation of religious sensitivities are reprehensible and worthy of the vilification that Doug Savage’s campaign has waged. Social outrage is the only proper response to the hubris of Santorum and others who insist on excluding us all from their narrow definition of who is worthy to receive social justice.
I say, right on to Savage’s brashness in today’s all-too-complacent gay community! It is time to attack and expose the self-righteous bigots that are yard-by-yard taking away the civil liberties of millions of Americans. I think we have not yet begun to become uncivil! It is time that we reread Thoreau’s On Civil Disobedience and take back the initiative in this fight.
Joseph R. Cecil, Kansas City, MO
The Gay Case for Animal Rights
To the Editor,
Thank you for the intriguing interview with PETA VP and author Dan Mathews [July-Aug. 07]. Dan is a shining example of a member of our community using his talent, charm, humor and wit to make the world a kinder and more compassionate place for all beings—human and nonhuman alike.
Along with many gay and lesbian youths, I share Dan’s experiences of being teased, taunted, and bullied when growing up. These early experiences taught me that “might does not make right” and helped instill in me a sense of empathy for the suffering of others—including animals. As Dan pointed out in his interview, the attitude of indifference and dominance that leads bullies to chastise and oppress gays and lesbians is often the same mindset that leads to cruelty and indifference toward animals.
The single largest cause of animal cruelty in our country is our food choices. Every year billions of cows, pigs, chickens, and other farmed animals endure unimaginable cruelty at the hands of the meat industry. Today, the majority of meat, dairy, and eggs come from animals crammed into tiny cages, stalls, and crates so small they cannot even turn around, stretch their limbs, or lie down comfortably. Family farms have been replaced by massive factory farms, where animals are treated as commodities and production units. Little or no consideration is given to their well-being. In egg production, for example, five to eight egg-laying hens are packed into file-drawer size cages for their entire lives. Each bird is given less space than a notebook sized piece of paper to live her entire life—too confined to even walk, spread her wings, or dust bathe. Farmed animals are also subjected to painful mutilations—such as castration, tail docking, debeaking, and branding—all without anesthesia. The end is often just as grim, with many animals having their throats slit at slaughterhouses while still fully conscious. When we choose to eat meat, dairy, and eggs, we are harming others without their consent. In essence, we become the oppressor rather than the oppressed.
Thankfully, every time we sit down to eat we can choose kindness over cruelty. Adopting a vegetarian diet is simply a matter of living in line with the values so many of us already hold dear—such as being fair and kind to others. The true test of humanity is our ability to extend consideration, respect and compassion to those among us who we relate to minimally. Though animals do not share our language and vary in their intellectual abilities they, too, share our capacity to love, care for their families, and, most importantly, suffer. It’s time our community include animals in our circle of concern and compassion.
Nathan Runkle, Executive Director, Mercy For Animals, Chicago