Letters to the Editor

May 07, 1999

State must take cruelty to animals much more seriously

On April 11, the Salisbury Police Department lost a valuable member. Danny, a veteran police horse, was maliciously attacked in his pasture.

It appears that the attackers viciously hacked at two of Danny's legs with either an axe or chain saw. Mortally wounded, Danny was left lying in his own blood, suffering for hours.

The irony of Danny's death is that just before his attack, Maryland legislators passed a law making the deliberate injury of a law enforcement animal an aggravated cruelty offense.

While this legislation takes cruelty more seriously, it goes only part of the way toward protecting animals. The original bill, sponsored by Del. George Owings (Calvert County) and a bi-partisan group of 15 cosponsors, would have made all intentional acts of cruelty, including organized dog fighting and cock fighting, a felony offense.

Under Maryland law, all animal cruelty offenses are misdemeanors.

The connection between animal cruelty and human violence is well-documented. People who abuse animals rarely stop there. Most serial killers say they abused and killed animals before turning their violence on humans.

Households where animal abuse occurs have unusually high rates of child and spousal abuse as well.

Given this connection, 23 states, including neighboring Virginia this year, have enacted laws making certain types of animal abuse a felony offense.

To keep our communities safe for both animals and humans, it is crucial that Maryland follows suit.

Wayne Pacelle, Gaithersburg

The writer is senior vice president of government affairs for the Humane Society of the United States.

Paper needs to get its large rodents right

In a short item "Busy Beavers" (May 1), The Sun said that beavers are the largest members of the rodent family.

The largest member of the rodent family is the capybara, a South American animal that grows to be 4 feet long.

Tom Gill, North Beach

Let's elevate our culture instead of censoring it

The recent tragedy at Columbine High School has led many politicians and talking heads to again bemoan the violent nature of our popular culture. One of the ironies here is that many of the same people who deride what the entertainment industry churns out worship the free market in nearly every other context.

It should be no surprise that pop culture often appeals to the least common denominator. But censorship is a dubious solution, not to mention an unconstitutional one.

Since trying to remove things from the cultural stew isn't sound or practical, we must attempt to add influences rather than subtract them. I'm suggesting investing in the arts.

The argument against arts subsidies usually suggests that the market should be the arbiter of quality, and good work will rise to the top. But, look around, flip around: This is emprically untrue.

I'm a fan of much that popular culture has to offer, but subsisting on it is like living on a diet of cola and chocolate bars: It tastes good, but after a while, you get anemic and your teeth fall out. We must subsidize more nourishing cultural meals.

If we don't invest in the humanities, how do we expect our children to have any humanity? If the arts were a greater part of the fabric of everyday life, empathy would be, too.

Tony Tsendeas, Baltimore

Violent music, culture not cause of teen violence

I am 16-year-old who can not believe the tragedy in Littleton, Colo., but wanted to write in support of the April 23 Opinion Commentary article, "Don't blame music for school tragedy" (April 23).

I will listen to a Marilyn Manson song now and then, or watch "Natural Born Killers" and MTV, but that doesn't mean that I am going to shoot up a school or go out to kill people for pleasure.

Just because some teen-agers are killing people doesn't mean that the music or the movies are the reason or the problem. It just means the shooters didn't have a good head on their shoulders.

Leslie Hampton, Parkville

Should students treat everyone as a threat?

Since the Littleton, Colo. shooting, everyone has been urging us students to report anything that seems suspicious to the authorities. But what sort of burden does that place on students?

One "expert" comes along and says to watch out for the quiet types -- those are the followers. Then another says that those who are disruptive in class and try to be in charge are the threat.

Should I report all these people? How do we students keep from becoming a paranoid bunch of tattletales?

It seems the more stereotypes we apply, the less we know about the people we've labeled.

Victoria Gelfman, Columbia

It's guns, not images that foster violence

Wendell Harsanyi's April 30 letter,"It's media images, not guns, that foster violence," blames the school shootings on TV and the movies, with their daily depictions of mindless violence.

His evidence? Guns have been common in the United States for 200 years, but the shootings are a recent phenomenon.

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