Vegans on parade
Kudos to Bill Lueders for his essay "Animal rights, and wrongs" (2/6/09). He hit all the right buttons, including:
Vegans and vegetarians are a diverse bunch who love humans, too. (Remember, humans are animals). I am a vegan social worker who likes mixed martial arts.
This issue is about huge amounts of needless cruelty to (mostly) chickens, cows and pigs. This occurs because we pay. If we pay less it happens less often, and more humane options spring up. For example, the Burger King down the street sells veggie burgers, and the vendor outside of St. Vincent's sells veggie dogs.
This is not about making people feel bad or remaining pure, but reducing unnecessary suffering.
Thank you for the measured and balanced article on animal-rights activists and vegans -- how people see them, and how they should be seen. Yes, some can become irrational, but there are good and compelling reasons to be irate. As a very nonmilitant vegan myself, I appreciate calling attention to the fact that we don't all fit in the same category.
Keep up the good work. And whenever you can, consume animal products that are local and humanely raised! It makes a huge difference.
Thank you for the fun, informative article on Karen Dawn. I appreciate your paper's thoughtful and critical discussion of animal issues.
Bill Lueders did a phenomenal job pointing out humans' schizophrenic attitude toward animals. On one hand, we adore our pets and think those who commit sadistic acts toward animals should be punished. On the other, society scorns those who actively work to ease animal suffering. Perhaps this owes to people's nagging consciences.
Chantelle Wallace, Austin, Texas
Thanks to Bill Lueders for the great piece on Karen Dawn, the vegan lifestyle and her book Thanking the Monkey.
Janice McClellan, Chandler, Ariz.
I have just finished reading Bill Lueders' article about Karen Dawn. I'm going to check for her book at my local public library, and if they don't have it, I'll buy it and donate it after I read it.
Kathryn, Valley Head, Ala.
Thank you for the article and interview. Please do more articles on animals and animal rights; billions are suffering terribly and needlessly. The health benefits of a vegan diet are also important to know about.
Lisa Reff, New York, N.Y.
Karen Dawn is an exceptionally interesting character -- and what she does for the animals is of great consequence. Thank you for publishing these stories.
Bea Elliott, Winter Haven, Fla.
Not for easier abortions
I found Ruth Conniff's opinion column ("Why Not Make Abortion Easier?" 2/14/09) simplistic and wondered what it was doing in a publication like Isthmus.
Conniff vilifies her opponents (in this case, fellow Madisonians who are pro-life). But the people she depicts with such disdain as mean-spirited "shrieking protesters" often use scientific fact to support their argument that a fetus is a unique and precious human life.
I was at the pro-life rally on Jan. 31. There were strong emotions on both sides, as one would expect. It is important to educate ourselves on the questions involved and to stop framing our neighbors as irrational idiots because they think differently than we do.
Patty Wanta, Fitchburg
Ruth Conniff's column starts out by calling people who are for baby's rights "anti-abortion culture warriors who use gruesome signs." She goes on to say Wisconsin women are subjected to onerous restrictions like having to wait 24 hours and having to read literature discouraging abortion.
Waiting 24 hours or looking at gruesome pictures is trivial compared to ending a life, or what the baby endures in this gruesome procedure.
Lou Burbach, Oxford
Ruth Conniff misconstrues the opposition to performing second-trimester abortions at the Madison Surgery Center.
We oppose this plan not to increase a pregnant woman's "anguish and hardship," but because we believe pregnant women in turmoil and their pre-born children deserve better than abortion; they deserve support.
Moreover, we know that second-trimester abortions are frequently performed when the preborn child is diagnosed with a serious or fatal abnormality. Nationwide, over 80% of preborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome and other serious disabilities are aborted, despite breathtaking medical and technological advances that enable people with disabilities to live productive and meaningful lives.
Like Ms. Conniff, many of us who are pro-life have chosen to live in Madison because it is a healthy and welcoming community in which to raise our children. Some of us are the parents of children with special needs, or to children born to women in turmoil.
Barbara Sella, associate director, Respect Life and Social Concerns, Wisconsin Catholic Conference
How sweet it isn't
Re: your article ("The Sweetest Taboo," 1/30/09) and letter ("Syrup Booster Replies," 2/13/09) on high-fructose corn syrup: I urge folks to see the documentary King Corn, which explains how this commodity uses an incredible amount of land to grow otherwise inedible corn.
According to The New Glucose Revolution, foods low on the Glycemic Index (the measure of a food's carbohydrate quality) release carbs more slowly into the bloodstream, giving a feeling of fullness along with a more consistent energy level throughout the day.
High-fructose corn syrup is almost twice as high on the index as refined table sugar and, depending on one's eating habits, could affect normal insulin production in the pancreas.
When deficits matter
I am heartened that Rick Berg and his fellow Republicans have reawakened to fiscal discipline following an eight-year slumber, during which the national debt nearly doubled to over $10 trillion ("The Scandals That Aren't," 2/6/09). I was really worried when Dick Cheney announced that "deficits don't matter." Apparently what he meant was: Deficits don't matter as long as they enrich war-profiteering cronies; otherwise, fuggedaboudit.
Knute Knutson, Middleton
After multiple attempts to find a movie that was original and unpretentious, I was led to The Village Barbershop by a short review in Isthmus. It took me a minute or two to stop seeing Cliff from Cheers and appreciate the acting talents of John Ratzenberger as the curmudgeonly barber. I cannot recommend this film enough. It's original and funny and poignant. I would not have known about it if not for the comprehensive movie section in Isthmus.
Lynn A. Bucher