Don: Mighty As Apple Pie

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Thank you for running Beth Moore-Love’s fascinating and thought-provoking letter in last week’s issue [“Temporary Insanity,” Feb. 7-13]. The vast majority of the criminally insane are free and running our streets. We need look no further than the Whitehouse and our society that supports this outlaw fratboy regime. Maybe those of us who expect something better are forgetting that this country was founded by Europe’s undesirables, criminals, religious weirdos and mentally challenged. Don Shrader may be mighty eccentric, but he is as American as apple pie.

Miss Manners Thinks You're A Jerk

I thank Beth Moore-Love for her recent letter to the Alibi [“Temporary Insanity,” Feb. 7-13]. I note with great dismay the eagerness in American popular discourse to commingle the concepts of mental illness, eccentricity and social deviance and apply them en bloc in our arrogant scrutiny of others’ behavior. It is not a failing of psychology, but rather society, that we do so.

The problem originates from a growing cultural timidity in America. We pay lip service to issues of independent thought and dissent, but as a herd, we have an exquisite sensitivity to nonconformity. Perhaps this is a vestige of Paleolithic tribalism hard-wired into our species, against [which] we must always struggle.

There is an occasional correspondent to this paper whose writings seem orderly in grammar, lucid in thought and eccentric by self-affirmation. I enjoy his writings and am untroubled by them. But I am troubled by our dreadful lack of societal manners, that we should sit in judgment of another’s soundness of mind and fitness of character, upon such wispy and insubstantial evidence.

I invoke the radical authority, Miss Manners, in differentiating manners, which deal with issues of fundamental human respectfulness, from etiquette, which are merely cultural conventions that inspire mannerly behavior. An eccentric may not conform to societal etiquette; but to intrude upon others, to offer unsolicited criticism and speculation as to soundness of mind or fitness of their character, is shocking bad manners–a far worse breach of social behavior.

I can cheerfully consider Don Schrader an eccentric, because I infer from his letters that he would be disappointed if I did not. And eccentricity can indeed be a harbinger of mental illness. But I do not speculate on the soundness of his mind, simply because he has not asked me to do so–and thus it is none of my business.

And I throw down the challenge to Don to acknowledge Miss Manners as a bodhisattva in his spiritual journey.

Feeling Cross

[Re: Letters, “Red-Light Cameras are the Devil,” Jan. 31-Feb. 6] Stephanie Porter thinks red-light cameras are the devil because they caught her running a red light. I want her to know that I was the senior citizen trying to cross in the pedestrian crosswalk that she almost hit. I walk all over town, and one of the most dangerous places to cross the street is in the crosswalk. Cars are always running red lights to turn right without regard to pedestrians. So if that camera makes me a little safer, then I say we keep them.

Besides that, I have never met an impoverished college student. Impoverished people can’t afford college, dogs or vets.

What Would Jesus Eat?

Last Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period preceding Easter when Catholics and other Christians would abstain from meat and dairy products in memory of Jesus’ 40 days of fast and prayer before dying on the cross. With religious devotion yielding to self-indulgence, this devout tradition gradually gave way to meatless Fridays, and, eventually, no dietary restriction at all.

Yet Jesus’ powerful message of compassion and love for all living beings applies in our time more than ever.

It’s a time when animals are raised for food under abject conditions of caging, crowding, deprivation, drugging, mutilation and manhandling–when they are trucked to the slaughterhouse for days without food or water, then bled, skinned and dismembered while still conscious. It’s a time when wastes from factory farms foul the water we drink and the air we breathe. When meat production accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. It’s a time when most chronic killer diseases are linked to consumption of animal products.

Each of us has a personal choice to make. We can continue to subsidize these sins against nature and Jesus’ teachings with our food dollars. Or we can show our respect for his message by embracing a wholesome, nonviolent diet of vegetables, fruits and grains first mandated in Genesis I:29.

Lent provides a splendid opportunity to explore the rich variety of meat- and dairy-free foods at our favorite supermarket.

Loch Ness Monster, For Nick B.

[Re: Blog, "Rowdy’s Dream Blog #35," Feb. 8] Nessie wants to hear about you too, Nick! Seriously, in 1957 ( before LSD), I was on the south shore of the loch with my parents and sisters when we all saw a large, submerged object moving northeast against the wind and waves. My father, an ex-Army Royal Artillery gunner, estimated its size to be about 30 feet in length and 10 feet broad at the thickest part. No dramatic heads rose from the water, but we all watched this "sighting" for over five minutes. Oh, yes, from staying in the Shetlands and on Fair Isle, we were well used to whales, porpoises and seals. What was it? No idea!

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