Kudos to Bill Maher for declaring, “It is no more acceptable to abuse a pig than it would be to abuse a dog,” and for calling on Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to sign legislation that would make it illegal to cram mother pigs into tiny crates where they cannot even turn around (“Free Pigs From the Abusive Crates,” Op-Ed, Oct. 18).
Indeed, all farm animals are individuals, just like cats and dogs. They have personalities and interests and they are, as Mr. Maher notes, both behaviorally and cognitively complex.
The fact that farm animals are no morally different from our pets is a strong argument for making cages and crates illegal, of course. It’s also a strong argument against eating them in the first place.
BRUCE FRIEDRICH Washington, Oct. 18, 2014
The writer is director of advocacy and policy for Farm Sanctuary, a national farm animal protection organization.
The 2014 World Series begins in less than two hours. I'm neutral as regards the Kansas City Royals. I dislike the San Francisco Giants because they beat my Texas Rangers in 2010 and my Detroit Tigers in 2012. So I guess I'll be rooting for the Royals. As for a prediction, I think the Giants have better starting pitching, and it's usually starting pitching that makes the difference; so I'd have to give the edge to the Giants. Feel free to add your own commentary.
It’s interesting that nearly half a century after the end of the Vietnam War the debate over commemoration still seems to ignore the primary victims of the war: the civilian population of Vietnam. It is inevitable that the Pentagon would like to put a spin on the war that emphasizes the heroism and sacrifices of American soldiers. But the central, enduring moral horror of that conflict was that countless civilian noncombatants died as a direct result of our intervention. There are also many thousands in Vietnam today, including the victims of our use of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange, who continue to suffer.
Perhaps the best way to commemorate the war would be for our country to move to alleviate the horrors they and their families endure.
DAVID HAYDEN Wilton, Conn., Oct. 10, 2014
To the Editor:
There are two good ways to honor Vietnam veterans.
The first would be a commemoration-long apology for sending them into a hellish, unjustified war in the first place. Second would be to spare no expense in taking better care of veterans, including today’s, by giving the wounded, the spiritually damaged and the traumatized all the help they need so they can live decent lives as civilians.
VIRGINIA PASTOOR North Muskegon, Mich., Oct. 10, 2014
To the Editor:
It’s an axiom that history is written by the winners. But in this case, it appears, history is being rewritten by the losers.
Some time back, I said that the word "surly," rather than "burly," has a history of use as a descriptor of black men. I think Mark Spahn denied it, or at least wondered aloud whether it was true. I just did a Google search for "surly black man." I got 5,570 hits. A search for "surly white man" got 2,320 hits. I rest my case.
I hope Republicans are taking notes on the executive actions Barack Obama is taking. Here is his latest slap in the face of Congress. Talk about an imperial presidency! When Republicans regain control of the executive branch, as they surely will (perhaps in January 2017), they can and should do exactly what he is doing. It will be said that two wrongs don't make a right. Maybe so, but two wrongs (if that's the way you want to see it) are better than only one side (Democrats) committing the wrongs.
Contrary to Ross Douthat’s assertion (“The Last Right,” column, Oct. 12), establishment of the right to medical aid-in-dying is not proceeding slowly. The Oregon death-with-dignity law was passed only in 1994 and didn’t take effect until 1997. But since 2008 the right to aid-in-dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults has also become established in Washington, Vermont and Montana.
In June of this year, the Canadian province of Quebec passed a groundbreaking, far-reaching bill establishing the right to aid-in-dying as part of a broader right to compassionate care at the end of life. In Europe, aid-in-dying has become a human right in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. And the worldwide movement for the right to death with dignity is advancing in many states and in countries around the world.
Despite what Mr. Douthat suggests, it’s not a “tragedy” when a mentally competent, terminally ill adult takes advantage of this right. Life is precious but it’s not infinite, and palliative care can only do so much. When death is inevitable and suffering intolerable, it can be a fully rational choice to hasten your death a bit, to avoid living through the final, oh-so-horrific stages of your bodily disintegration.
Conservatives like Mr. Douthat should support the right to aid-in-dying. A principled conservatism supports individual rights, and there’s no right more fundamental than the right of the terminally ill to control the manner and the timing of their death. No one is ever obligated to hasten his or her death, and each of us can choose to suffer. But Mr. Douthat and others should respect my right to make a different choice.
ED GOGOL President, Hemlock of Illinois Chicago, Oct. 12, 2014
Note from KBJ: "A principled conservatism supports individual rights." Really? That sounds like liberalism to me. If I claim to be a conservative but oppose individual rights, then, according to the letter writer's logic, I'm unprincipled. How convenient for him! He gets to define conservatism in such a way that only the unprincipled conservatives disagree with him.
This afternoon, at a Shell station in Fort Worth, I paid $2.959 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. With my Kroger card, it came to $2.859. What're y'all payin' in your neck o' the woods?
By the way, do you suppose the lower gas prices have anything to do with the fact that an election is weeks away? There are things a president can do to alter the oil supply. Would Barack Obama do such a thing?
The intelligence of a crowd is less than the sum of the intelligences of its members. I paraphrase a famous sociologist from memory. The saying applies to this. Perhaps dismantling the football program might bring a degree of self-control to the students?
I didn't do so well in my upset predictions. See here. With yesterday's losses by Baylor and Notre Dame, there are only four unbeaten teams in Division I: Florida State, Marshall, Mississippi, and Mississippi State. How weird is that?
Addendum:Here is the latest ranking. My Arizona Wildcats, who were idle, rose from 16th to 15th.
Addendum 2: Here is how the conferences stack up:
Pac-12: six teams
SEC: six teams
Big 12: five teams
Big Ten: three teams
ACC: two teams
Top to bottom, the Pac-12 is stronger than the SEC. Six of the 12 Pac-12 teams (50%) are in the top 25; six of the 14 SEC teams (42.8%) are in the top 25. On the other hand, the Pac-12 is 29-5 (85.2%) in nonconference play. The SEC is 38-3 (92.6%). Let's call it a draw.
In March 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke these great words: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
The Republican Party has often gained power through exploiting paranoia: in McCarthyism, a fear that destroyed our civil liberties in the 1950s; in Reaganism, a fear that undermined our government; in George W. Bush’s wars that still torment us, a fear rooted in falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction.
Now we see the same tactic, exploiting fears of new enemies who may destroy us. We must not let such fears overwhelm us.
We must determine which of those supposed enemies are real; so often they are false, but projections rooted in the darkness of our unconscious. We must prepare to meet those real enemies steadily and unafraid, beyond all paranoia. But this is not our central task. As once we did in the era of President Roosevelt, we must begin to look after our own again and provide all Americans with equal opportunities: for work, for a living wage, for health, for housing, for education.
In so doing, we will, once again, fulfill the promises of our democracy.