As I indicated on someone else's blog (sorry, I can't remember whose) quite a while ago, I think writing letters to the editor is a wonderful and worthwhile endeavour, but not something I want to do myself. Which is a bit odd given that I like writing, am opinionated enough and feel other animals need to be given a voice, yet am reluctant to do so.
Maybe it's because I live in a small conservative town and the opinions published thus far in our local papers tend to be the exact opposite of mine when it comes to reproductive freedom, gay rights, animal welfare, and well, just about everything else. In fact, some of the expressed opinions raised my ire so much that it caused me to stop reading the papers altogether. Maybe it's also because I'm employed in a Christian organization that doesn't share most of my political views, and while I would never lie about those views if asked, I don't go out of my way to share them. In short, I don't always feel like I have the freedom to publicly express whatever it is that I want without thinking about the potential consequences on both family (my mom and siblings all go to church weekly) and work.
So how did it get to be that I decided to do some scribbling anyway? Well, I stumbled across an opinion piece as I was cleaning my cat's litterbox (we're allowed to dispose of litter in newspaper in the compost bin here), and got annoyed enough to respond. And it took a certain amount of editing as I wanted to make sure it wasn't too reactive, too insulting, too inflammatory, too whatever. Imagine my disappointment then when it wasn't even published! To be fair though, I was a couple of weeks late, and there had been two other negative responses (here and here), so I can't really blame the editor. What galls me though is how this columnist gets to have his jerk-like opinions aired anyway, because this isn't the first time he's railed against "hippies" who care about animals.
In retrospect though, maybe it wasn't a bad thing to have my letter ignored. I don't think it was the best letter anyway as I WAS being reactive, was riled up when I wrote it, and it may not have served the best interests of those I was trying to represent. No, if I'm ever going to do this again, I should probably read the chapter and tips on letter writing in Mark Hawthorne's Striking at the Roots book first.
But because I did spend time on it (which I truly don't have enough of these days), and I can (within reason) say pretty much anything I want on a personal blog, I will let you read what I wrote, and perhaps you can let me know how to formulate it better next time for an audience that isn't my blog readership. Here goes:
Re. Lazy hippies have too much free time to troll online, Column, Feb. 12:
Ah James, you do think you’re clever, don’t you, what with all the cutesy capitalized names for folk who care about animal captivity and exploitation. But you might be surprised at the demographics of those you mock. Some of us are middle-aged or older, most of us are gainfully employed, more than a few of us are busy with child or elder care or both, and I would say that practically all of us wear deodorant. You see, what we’ve simply done is recognize that compassion can and should be extended to all living beings. (Even newspaper columnists, snort, so I apologize for those writing mean things to you on Twitter, although I can understand how a flippant and dismissive attitude such as yours would not inspire much friendliness.)
I’ve been vegan for almost seven years now, but in retrospect, I believe it was my first (and last) trip to Marineland as part of a school trip almost forty years ago that set me on this eventual path. Because watching the spectacle of magnificent beings reduced to performing silly circus tricks for humans struck me as sad and wrong, rather than fun. And while it took a long time for me to stop eating and wearing animals altogether (societal indoctrination supporting animal use is strong indeed), once I did, there was no going back.
Luckily, the number of people who believe that animals do matter (all animals, not just cats and dogs) is on the rise, and veganism is becoming more mainstream by the day. More specifically, the success of films like Blackfish indicates that it’s not just “hippies” who care about orcas and other captive animals. No, the writing is on the wall my friend, and one day archaic institutions like Marineland will become as extinct as the dinosaurs, and hallelujah to that I say.
So what's the verdict? Too personal? Too long? Not enough facts? Ah, at least no one can say I didn't try. :)