In issue 12
What a Zoo!
Each week I scour all forms of media to find little tidbits that titillate, rile my sensibilities or otherwise motivate me to want to share. While I may not always cover what some may consider the most important stories, I hope that they amuse or inspire you to participate in the process (or at least laugh at the idiocy of some who are trying and getting it wrong).
Politicians Behaving Badly
The Senator from Louisiana has apparently not learned how to behave. Senator David Vitter, of the New Orleans Madame client fame, was involved in an incident at the airport last week that caught the Transportation Security Administration’s attention. In conflicting reports, Vitter either accidentally went through the wrong door and set off a security alarm in his rush to get home to tend to the country’s business or threw a good old fashioned hissy fit because he arrived 20 minutes too late for his flight and still tried to board, resulting in a confrontation with an airline employee that invoked the old “do you know who I am” argument. While Vitter acknowledged that a conversation did occur, he claimed “it was certainly not like this silly gossip column made it out to be.” How did he know I was going to bring it up?
A South Carolina newspaper reported last week that a man barely escaped when a tanning bed he was using caught fire. No one was injured and it is hoped that the news report should dispel any rumors that House Minority Leader John Boehner was in town.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Two weeks ago we brought you the story about legislation proposed in the House of Representatives called the Captive Primate Safety Act that was precipitated by the unfortunate mauling of a woman by a chimpanzee named Travis. A more recent Associated Press report goes into greater detail about the depth and breadth of problems associated with wild animals being kept in captivity by private citizens. According to the report there were efforts in Connecticut to crack down on citizens that own wild animals. In this particular case the citizen was a president of an oil and gas company that reportedly owned a menagerie that consisted of dogs, a siamang (an ape), 12 monkeys, a tortoise, large iguanas and an otter. The crux of the issue, where the oil and gas president is concerned, is that he did not have the necessary permits and has “a history of improper care and control of both exotic and domestic animals.”
As I stared at the article with my rainbow-colored glasses on I saw a more heinous mistreatment of animals revealed. As a higher order of primates we allegedly possess characteristics that on the whole are uniquely human: empathy and compassion toward each other and lower order animals, conscience and a structured sense of right and wrong. All of the uproar that has risen to the importance of public outcry, federal investigations and proposed legislation should be heartwarming, except when you consider that some of us have been viciously attacked by other humans because of who we are. While respect cannot be legislated, the façade of respect can be. Some of us don’t want a menagerie. We only want the ability to commit ourselves in a loving relationship with another consenting adult and know that we have the right to direct their healthcare in a medical emergency, to inherit their property without contest when they die and in general live our lives in a committed, legally recognized relationship with the person we love. We’re even willing to get the necessary permits, though we’re mostly denied that right. Where is that human compassion, empathy and conscience? Better yet, where is the outcry by those who aren’t even affected by our plight? How do people justify their outrage toward the care and treatment of wild animals when we don’t even treat each other right?
After that rant it is only fair to point out that progress is being made. There are those out there, aside from us, that are looking out for us. A lesbian couple in West Virginia that were denied adoption of their foster child and were ordered to surrender the child they loved to the Department of Health and Human Resources were spared the pain of separation by the state’s Supreme Court (pending their hearing and decision on the case). State Representative Nan Rich of Weston has introduced legislation to repeal Florida’s ban on same-sex couples adopting. A domestic partner bill has passed the Senate and has worked its way to the House in the state of Washington, the conversation on domestic partnerships has begun again in Hawaii and West Virginia has its first LGBT civil rights advocacy group. Even the election of openly gay Anthony Niedwiecki to Oakland Park City Commission (vice mayor in 2010 and mayor in 2011), while local, is still a victory. There is hope for humanity after all.