Letters to the editor

Quit picking on the circus

I recently read the article “The Elephant in the Room[May 31 Xpress] and was very disturbed by it. I am sick of hearing about people going overboard about circuses. Yes, there should definitely be ethical treatment of animals, but there should also be entertainment. Just because people are “not seeing [an] animal in its natural habitat” doesn’t mean it is being abused.

The picture in your article displaying a billboard has been shown since I was a little girl. That same picture! How do we even know it has anything to do with the circus? For all we know, it could have been taken in a Third World country 75 years ago and just re-circulated.

People love to pick on the circus because they train animals to do things they would not normally do, but what is so wrong with that? [In this] society, we train dogs, even cats, to be domestic. There are shows of dancing horses. That’s not normal, but that’s also not as reprehensible to these people. We train monkeys to speak sign language. We do all sorts of training of animals all over the world — but if it’s a circus, it should be banned.

There is something to be said for a circus with no animals in it. I have seen the Moscow Circus in person and Cirque du Soleil on TV, and thoroughly enjoyed them. However, I don’t understand why it is okay for a person to be able to show off their abilities, [but] an animal has to be seen as purely instinctual. Why aren’t we allowed to enjoy the abilities of an animal and the fact that they can be taught to do something they wouldn’t normally do?

I plan to go to the circus and “get away from all the concerns … experience the release of laughter … [and] leave smiling.”

— Becky Bishop

Ban animal-based circuses


Finally, an article telling the public a little bit about the terrible situation circus animals endure for so many years [“The Elephant in the Room,” May 31 Xpress].

I commend you, and I beg you to take our cause to heart as we try to put an end to animal-based circuses and ban such shows from coming to our progressive city.

Asheville is no place for the display of tortured animals for money, and I’m sure we can find an alternative source of funding for the Civic Center that will make up for the losses from banning animal-based circuses from our city. They have been banned or restricted in Austria, Costa Rica, Finland, India, Ireland, Singapore, Sweden and a number of cities in the United States, including some major municipalities.

Please help us to put an end to this travesty.

— Shelley Townley

Old-style circuses should fold their tents

The overhaul of the Ringling Bros. circus is a clear indication that public interest in old-style circuses has eroded [“The Elephant in the Room,” May 31 Xpress]. But Ringling owner Kenneth Feld would rather go into a cage of hungry tigers than admit that the days of his animal-based circus have come to an end.

People don’t care about the number of rings; they care about animals being hit and whipped, chained and caged, and forced to perform tricks. Mr. Feld’s intransigence is preventing him from making the smart business decision to eliminate cruel animal acts right now.

Readers can learn more about the state of the circus industry at Circuses.com.

— RaeLeann Smith, Circus Specialist
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Norfolk, Va.

Facing the bicycle facts

While doing my engineering degree, I wrote all four of my summer technical subjects on air pollution. Every one of them had a tirade against cars similar to Jakobi’s in your May 24 issue [Letters, “Rolling in the Bicycle Aisle“]. Engineering professors don’t want emotional tirades — just facts — and my grades suffered. But I earned the right to be called a progressive of the left, just as Jakobi earns the right to be called a martyr of the left.

Fact: Cars are here and roads made for cars are here. They are part of our life.

Fact: Roads are for cars. Bicycle paths are for cyclists. Sidewalks are for pedestrians.

Fact: The solution for cyclists is more bike paths. The solution for pollution is lightweight electric cars, hybrid cars, cleaner fuels, driving less, and more and better bike paths.

For most people, an enclosed vehicle run by a motor is a safer, more comfortable and better way to travel, do their shopping, get to work, bring the children to school and soccer practice etc. than a bicycle would be. That’s the way it is, Mr. Jakobi. So ride the bike paths, and use your extra time to agitate for legislation that will have us build more bike paths (say two miles of bicycle path for each mile of roadway) and for car-size and exhaust restrictions.

I’d support a resolution advocating more and better bike paths, complete with comfort stations, water-refilling stations and even kiosks that sell T-shirts labeled “William Jakobi, Hero of the Revolution.” Also, let’s make gasoline more expensive and offer more incentives to people who buy hybrid and electric cars.

— Philip Ackerman

The hidden costs of hybrids

I bought a 2000 Honda Insight hybrid vehicle with 25,000 miles on it for $13,900 in 2002. Recently, the hybrid-battery module went dead, as all batteries eventually will. The car had 134,000 miles on it and was used for delivering pizzas for four years.

I took the car to have the battery module replaced. I was told the repair would be around $6,000. Not having the money for the repair, I asked if I could trade the vehicle in. I was told the trade-in value was around $5,500 — therefore the car was worth a negative value. In other words, they weren’t interested. Sadly, I sold the car to a local salvage dealer for $1,800.

When I bought the car, I knew the hybrid battery would eventually have to be replaced, but I had no idea it would cost so much. I know — I should have done some research.

Having gone through this experience, I now question the economic viability of hybrid vehicles. I did save a significant amount of money on gas, achieving an average of 50 to 60 miles per gallon, but the cost of the batteries would have effectively cancelled out these savings. I also question the environmental viability of hybrids. The fuel consumption and exhaust emissions are less than [for] regular cars, but not dramatically. Then there’s the question of the impact the batteries have on the environment.

To all of you who are considering buying a hybrid, please keep my experience in mind.

— Stephen Masse

The political evasion of the poor

My letter of May 10 [“The Plight of the Homeless Cannot Wait“] addressed oppression of the poor through the prohibition of begging. C. Tucker’s responding letter [“The Larger Lessons of Lazarus,” May 24] attacked my character rather than answer the contention (ad hominem). Worse yet, it falsely asserted: “But what is equally important is what is not said about the rich man. He is not pictured as a cruel, vindictive character — as Mr. Deile would have us to think.” Thus Tucker argues wealth is not a sin, which is not the point (but a straw argument to appear as a refutation).

My letter addressed the poor who suffer neglect due to both the prohibition of begging and extravagant nonprofit CEO salaries. Such inhumanity threatens the entire country, and politically evasive arguments like C. Tucker’s fail to address the problem forthrightly.

— Bruce Deile (homeless)
Vancouver, Wash.

Gambling with freedom

Fortunately for the gambling industry, there are plenty of people who persist in the belief that they can win, despite common knowledge of the odds against that happening. The same is true for those of us who believe that the National Security Administration will protect us from terrorists by matching up millions upon millions of phone numbers.

There was actual information available prior to the World Trade Center attacks, but we were attacked anyhow. Now a scheme has been hatched that will collect millions of telephone numbers of calls sent and received, where the odds of detecting terrorists’ communications aren’t even as good as [those in] Las Vegas.

The scheme evidently is another con by our government to have us believe people at the very top of our secret agencies know what they are doing, and that we are being made safe from terror. Should any watchdog among us try to be sure, they are sent away because it’s all so secret. It could well turn out to be one of the largest fiascos in the current record, but we’ll never know.

These people are government people — mere human beings blundering around in a political swamp. The latter seems to attract the biggest blunderers, such as the people who worked for Nixon or the man connected with the last Republican campaign in New Hampshire who hatched up a blanket shut-down of the telephones to the opposing camp. He’s now serving time.

I am concerned about the privacy issue. But for now, SWAT teams will occasionally break down the front door of the wrong house, or a family dog at a Tennessee traffic stop [will be] mistakenly shot. These are costs of our privacy and freedom — not protection from terrorists.

— Allen Thomas

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