Mary Anna Towler's column, "In the Name of Security..." (May 17) is a masterfully accurate and complete summation of the mess we're in. However, she fails to mention the secret weapon that makes her point moot and that the Republican Party undoubtedly will unleash to win in November: the "wedge issue."
Why face harsh reality when you can fret about abortion and gay marriage? Americans would rather meddle puritanically in other people's business than deal with the nation's total meltdown at the hands of the Bush administration.
William R. Wagner, Hollybrook Road, Henrietta
In a world filled with pain and suffering --- the war in Iraq, genocide in Darfur, poverty in the City of Rochester --- we seem unable or unwilling to stop any of the misery. There is pain and suffering on a massive scale that we all have a part in, however. We Americans turn our heads away and are afraid to look at where our animal food comes from.
We know deep down that it is not a pretty picture. It is brutal, violent, ugly, bloody. What happens to the chickens, cows, pigs in our nation's factory farms is pure evil. The only people who do know what happens at these farms are the corporations who make millions off of these animals --- and the animal-rights advocates who have chosen not to look away.
Ninety-eight percent of our animal food comes from factory farming. More than nine billion animals are slaughtered each year in this country. A corporation can do anything it wants to a factory-farm animal; in some states, these animals are exempt from virtually all cruelty laws.
When someone like Adam Durand of Compassionate Consumers decides to commit civil disobedience --- sneaking into Wegman's egg factory farm --- to document and bring to light the pain and suffering of 750,000 chickens --- he should be applauded, not vindictively sentenced to six months in the Wayne County jail for the low-level misdemeanor of trespassing.
When the plight of animals has been brought to a whole new level --- when we acknowledge that they feel pain and fear --- we will all benefit. Think how inconceivable it will be to wage war, to let someone needlessly die of starvation in Africa, or have homeless people wandering the streets of Rochester, if we aren't even harming animals anymore. Then the selfless acts of people like Adam Durand will be viewed in the proper context.
Andrew Dunning, Rosedale Street, Rochester
Thank you for your May 10 article, "Of Food and Felonies." Adam Durand, who sneaked into one of the state's largest egg-producing operations, received a six-month jail sentence. This punishment seems very severe; the district attorney does not seem interested in real justice.
Mr. Durand deserves to be recognized for his courage to record numerous animal-cruelty violations at the plant. Consumers have a right to know about how the eggs they buy are produced. This egg farm supplies eggs to Wegmans.
William McMullin, Mt. Morris, Michigan
Remember when the Lilac Festival was a nice sunny spring weekend celebrating the incredible beauty of the Highland Park lilac collection? There would be a handful of vendors selling hotdogs and popcorn and lemonade. The County Parks Band performed on the stage set up near the pansy bed.
I used to live within walking distance of the park and have attended festivals my whole life. The festival has grown with the times and with the demand for more entertainment and more variety for concessions. The weekend has grown into a nice nine-day stretch. Craft shows and area artisans have been added, and the county developed the land on South Avenue to accommodate the increase in the festival's size. Great job!
But I went to the festival this year and was shocked and appalled. In a tent was a guy hawking kitchen wares. Then there were the new cars and dealers trying to lure you in.
I walked by a tent, and a guy offered me a free T-shirt. All I had to do is fill out his credit-card application. This is shameful! I can't believe the county has lowered its standards to let debt hawkers into the festival. There were tables with two other credit-card companies doing the same thing. These people have no good reason to be at an event like this.
Maggie Brooks, get rid of them. Raise your standards for these events. Give the festival back to the lilacs and lilac lovers.
Jonathan Dubner, Chesterfield Drive, Rochester
The May 24 letters column failed to properly identify one of the writers, Ryan Merkley, who commented on Adam Durand's trial for trespassing at the Wegmans egg farm. Merkley is a spokesperson for Compassionate Consumers, the activist organization of which Durand is a member.
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