- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Humane treatment of livestock not 'extreme' idea

While anyone who cares about animals will welcome the McDonald's Corp. announcement that it will make some improvements in the lives of the chickens raised for the Golden Arches, the giant company still has a long way to go ("McDecent treatment for chickens," editorial, Aug. 24).

The new space allotment 72 square inches per chicken still isn't enough room for a hen to even spread a wing. The birds will continue to live in crammed cages where their feet become deformed from standing on wire. By the time they're shipped to slaughter, about 90 percent of them are crippled or have broken bones. These cages are so cruel that the European Union has ruled against their use.

Pigs raised for McDonald's live their entire lives, in many cases, in cement stalls, unable even to turn around or lie down comfortably. These stalls are so cruel that they are being phased out across the world, yet McDonald's finds no fault with them.

Shouldn't McDonald's bring its U.S. suppliers up to the same animal welfare standards that the company now uses in its European restaurants, a simple step for a $36 billion-a-year corporation that claims to take animal welfare seriously?

ALISON GREEN

Correspondent

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Norfolk

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All smirks aside, responsible members of groups that support animal rights firmly believe that decent treatment of our food animals is not extreme. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) may get laughs and little respect for its recent ad campaign of Got Beer?, but like beer, not all animal rights campaigns are the same.

One can debate whether animals are entitled to the same rights as humans, but what is so debatable about the horrible conditions that our livestock endure to feed us? Yes, for some, an all-vegetarian population would be idyllic, but most of us realize that will never happen. We can, however, ensure that the animals that provide so much to us: food, milk, clothing, medicines and medical research, etc., at least receive humane treatment and care.

If shoppers had to slaughter and bleed their meal every night, after spending weeks or months raising it, perhaps they might view this issue with a little more insight. When you go to the grocery store and pick out a nice cut of meat, think about it. That was once part of a living, breathing creature. Is providing adequate living space, sunlight and fresh air to our livestock so expensive that the industry might go bankrupt? Hardly. I do not think that caring for our livestock in decent ways until it is humanely slaughtered is all that extreme. It is not a joke, but an expression of humanity and compassion for all of God's creatures.

LAURIE KARNAY

Fairfax

Charter schools can use empty school buildings

Your editorial ("Give charter schools a break," Aug. 25) could not be more on target. The building purchase preference for charter schools was firmly agreed upon three years ago after extensive discussions between charter school representatives (AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation,FOCUS, etc.) and school officials, as well as city officials. Since then, Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Republican, and others have continually obfuscated the real issues involved: Why aren't these decaying surplus school buildings (some of which have been empty for more than 20 years, many of which are supposedly leased to city agencies with no rent collected) being lawfully transferred to those who truly need them to those who are improving education for our children?

LEX TOWLE

Managing Director

AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation

Washington

Clinton has been 'Me president'

Americans' premature acceptance of President Clinton's legacy is typical of the baby boomer "Me Generation." Today we have Generation X, Generation Y and the baby boomers, who are afraid to become senior citizens and have spent all of their time so as not to look their age (which can range from 36 to 54). They complain about being offered senior citizen discounts and make cashiers apologize for asking.

Our president is typical of the Me attitude. He speaks about tomorrow but only is concerned about holding back tomorrow. He speaks about his achievements, not the country's. Unfortunately, the Me Generation accepts this, as do the Xers and the Yers.

I see a country that never gain will come together to make the kinds of sacrifices our forefathers made for the sake of the country. Instead, they sacrifice only for the sake of their special interests. Democracy, our great experiment, is becoming a trivial, self-seeking aristocracy.

The fires in Montana are a tribute to Nero as Rome burns.

LARRY STONE

Peyton, Colo.

Public shouldn't fund private organizations such as Scouts

An Aug. 25 editorial ("No tolerance for Boy Scouts") laments the campaign to withdraw from the Boy Scouts privileges great and small, such as public funding, the use of state and town names, even access to public parkland. The editorial casts this campaign as an attempt to ostracize or even destroy the Boy Scouts simply because the group will not admit homosexual scoutmasters.

I find this perspective odd, and certainly not in harmony with the views of any activists I have encountered.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization and not subject to nondiscrimination laws. That is perfectly understandable. But what distinguishes a private organization from a public one is that it does not receive government subsidies and support. If the government is funding the Boy Scouts, permitting the organization use of public property at tremendously reduced rents, etc., then the Scouts can hardly claim to be merely another private club.

In short, activists do not demand an end to the Boy Scouts, merely consistency. If the organization is private, let it be private. If it is at least partially public, let its claims in Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale be re-evaluated in light of that fact. The government, however, cannot sponsor discrimination against U.S. citizens. That practice is far more divisive than any intolerant campaign, either of the Boy Scouts or activists.

GEORGE MCALLISTER

Montgomery, Ala.

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Recent headlines and the latest Commentary article by Maggie Gallagher ("Badgering the Boy Scouts," Aug. 26) has made one thing clear: It's time to set the record straight.

Religious conservatives have accused civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Campaign of being anti-Christian. However, these groups' claim is not that anyone with a moral conscience is a bigot, but that those people who try to impose their moral views on others are, in effect, practicing discrimination and violating the First Amendment. As a Catholic, I can't help thinking of the bigotry we faced when storefronts displayed signs banning Catholics or the Irish.

The point of separation of church and state is to ensure that no one is left out. We are all entitled to our own beliefs, but the moment we seek state support of our beliefs, we infringe on the rights of others who may disagree with them. I sincerely wonder if the ardent supporters of prayer in public schools would feel the same way if the spirit of Allah was invoked before a football game or a classroom was led in a Buddhist mantra before algebra.

It is a great shame to the liberty of our democratic nation when a valuable organization such as the Boy Scouts chooses to exclude people not because of their actions, but because of who they are and what they believe. The Boy Scouts of America claims to be a Christian organization that adheres to Christian morality, but what will happen when they choose to bar Muslims or Jews from participating? Will we still stand by quietly as public schools and halls funded by Muslim and Jewish and, oh yes, homosexual tax dollars continue to host a discriminatory organization? If so, we will have destroyed the very reason this country was founded.

PAUL SILVA

Washington

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