The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

August 17, 2011

VALLEY: Let's use last week's headline, here


The Journal-Register

MEDINA —  

The headline of last week’s column was “Where do you draw the line?” and this week’s article could very well have been called the same thing. It deals with those gray areas where lines are drawn and how those lines seem suspect when a broader perspective is added to the equation. It sounds confusing but you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Knowing where to draw the line — somewhere between two ill-defined areas — usually comes down to a matter of priorities … more or less. And priorities are as subjective as opinions. And let’s face it, opinions are the fruits of our prejudices.

Now before I get started, let it be known that I am merely pointing things out. I’m not taking sides on thorny issues because that will create a log-jam of “you heartless, jerk” e-mails. In other words: Don’t shoot the messenger! I am here as your loyal scribe willing to condone nothing irrational … unless, of course, a fee is involved.

In early June of this year, the demolition of the Lockport Mall was halted because of seagulls. Seagulls: You may know them better as naval pigeons. They decided to take up residency in the abandoned parking lot. Immediately, some folks deemed the birds were in danger. They worried that unnecessary “stress” caused by the workers was bothering these avian homesteaders. (Please hold your laughter.)

So let’s cut to the chase: Bird stress takes precedent over the time and money that people have invested into a project. Did the protesters not think there was stress with those involved in this operation? Did they not think that the stress was compounded by shutting down the operation? Does human stress play second fiddle to that of an invasive bird?

We go out of our way to alleviate mental anguish for seagulls but butcher chickens for chicken-wing eating contests! We make a sport out of blasting graceful ducks into mincemeat in mid-flight — but we can’t interrupt an intrusive water bird? What if they were rats? Would people come to their rescue?

Yes, the government says they are “protected.” But why? There surely isn’t a shortage of them. Where do you draw the line?

Moving on.

Michael Vick has become a lightening rod for vilification because of his association with dog fighting. Yes, it was a heinous crime. And as a result, he’s become one of the most hated and reviled athletes this side of O.J. Simpson.

Vick spent a year and a half in prison. Think about that: a year and a half in a prison. He lost his job, his endorsements and his status as a well-admired superstar. All because he was involved in a dog-fighting scheme. Disclosure: I love dogs and find mistreating any animals totally repulsive.

But let’s put that in perspective and look at some of our presidents and politicos who — for dubious reasons — have sent men and women into combat, never to return. Did the same people who campaigned so vociferously against Vick act as fervently in those situations? Shouldn’t the sanctity of human lives draw as much attention as that of the animal kingdom?

Sure, I’m over-simplifying things — but that’s how I roll. Understand that I’m not saying we should neglect and mistreat animals, I’m just asking where you draw the line.

As a final note, I ran this column by my dog, Maggie, before I submitted it. If she found it offensive, she sure fooled me — she never said a thing. I ask that you be kind to all animals, but be just as considerate to people. Remember, I’m just the messenger. I’m merely calling it as I see it.

Because … that’s the way it looks from the Valley.