From: Martha E. Gagnon
I am writing in response to the May 8 Scene you published by Lowell Sunderland.
(Howard County Sun, The Scene, "The stubborn fact about donkey ball: It's just plain fun").
You state in your Scene advocating donkey basketball that this "sport" is "f-u-n".
I ask you, for whom is it f-u-n? I doubt that the animals are having the timeof their lives.
I would also ask you, would you accept a "job" with the following conditions?
1) You must travel year-round each week, regardless of your desire to do so.
2) You are denied food andwater while traveling and for a period before and during your "work"activities.
3) You stay in dirty, cramped "hotels."
4) You arepunched, kicked, jerked, choked, pulled, slapped and screamed at by your "employers."
Of course, I would expect you to dismiss this anthropomorphism as being silly, since many people who think as you do consider these creatures to be "just animals."
But don't animals like donkeys have the right to simply be left alone, to graze and enjoy the open air and green pastures as nature intended?
Do people have the right to exploit animals for profit? Although "games" like these have been going on for years, this does not make the practice "right" or acceptable.
Animals have no place in school gymnasiums, night after night.
I personally can think of many other ways for schools to raise money.
How can schools teach students the concepts ofrespecting the earth and all the creatures on it and then turn around and schedule an event where this philosophy goes right out the window?
It's inconsistent, hypocritical and outdated.
The times "they are a-changin," Mr. Sunderland. It's now time to renew our spirit of respect for life and all living creatures.
By the way, you apparently also missed the point made by principals, Dr. Patillo and Mr. Streagle. These are two dedicated educators who are showing compassion, sound business sense, and they're setting an excellent example fortheir students.
Editor's note: The writer, an educational consultant, was involved in the recent demonstration at Centennial High School against donkey basketball.
AND IT'S RISKY, TOO
From: Beckie Peyton
As animal rights activists from Howard High (which will no longer hold donkey basketball games), we are appalled that anyone could think donkey basketball is "fun"and "amusing." (Howard County Sun, May 8, The Scene, "The stubborn fact about donkey ball: It's just plain fun," by Lowell E. Sunderland.)
Maybe it's fun for you, but it's no fun for the animals.
These harmless and usually docile animals are subjected to painful procedures just for human amusement or fund-raisers.
The donkeys, unaccustomed to the screaming crowds and bright auditoriums, are transported all over the country in small cages and denied sunlight, room to run, stable diets and contact with other animals.
Biologically, the donkeys' hooved feet don't allow them
easy movement on slippery gymnasium floors.
They could fall and hurt themselves or the rider. Donkeys are large animals and are capable of accidentally crushing a human if they fall.
If provoked by eager fans or kicked and pulledby riders, they may charge or kick.
Most of the riders aren't experienced with large animals and don't know how to handle them. There are no weight regulations.
Many people have fallen off donkeys in these events and been seriously injured -- cracked ribs, broken arms,legs, wrists, etc.
When this happens, the school is financially responsible for any injuries. There is always the risk of lawsuits. With our education budget, this could be devastating.
Hopefully, these "games" will continue to be canceled around the country as more people realize that it's not a sport -- it's merely a heinous display of cruelty toward donkeys.
We express our sincere thanks to the Howard County Sun for the article on opposition to donkey basketball.
Editor's note: The writers are ninth-grade students at Howard High School.
D'ADAMO'S LETTER REVILED
From: Martin G. Madden
One of the great strengths of Howard County is that we have traditionally worked together to solve our problems. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people who will exploit tough situations for their own personal or political gain.
It is sad that Democratic Central Committee member Dennis D'Adamo has decided to inject partisan politics into the current budget crisis debate. That he would also use falsehoods to do so is even more reprehensible.
Mr. D'Adamo stated in his May 5 letter that "the Republican Delegation successfullypassed legislation to allow County Executive Charles Ecker to receive a $40,000 pension from the Board of Education."
This is simply not true.
There were two bills passed in the General Assembly this year which allowed Mr. Ecker and other elected officials to receive their state pensions, Senate Bill 235 and House Bill 80. Neither were Howard County nor Republican delegation bills.