Archive for June 24th, 2006

PETA Claims Circus Cruel to Critters

3

PETA activists are cracking the whip on Springfield-based
Merriam-Webster, demanding that the definition of "circus" be rewritten
to label the big top as cruel to "captive" animal performers.

The dictionary currently defines a circus as "an arena often covered by
a tent and used for variety shows, usually including feats of physical skill,
wild animal
acts, and performances by clowns."

But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – known for caging naked women
to protest the wearing of fur and protesting the living conditions of pet store
iguanas – wants a new entry.

PETA’s proposal defines a circus as a "spectacle that relies on captive
animals" who are "forced to perform tricks under the constant threat
of punishment." It also wants the definition to say that "modern circuses
include only willing human performers."

from the Boston Herald

As an English teacher and a linguist, we are shocked that PETA would
take their campaign to the editorial offices of a dictionary, of all
places.  While opposition to animal cruelty is all well and good,
applying political editorial alterations to dictionary definitions
would be somewhat akin to publishing a cookbook with politically correct
admonitions after key ingredients (Beat 4 eggs **WARNING – Consumption
of more than two eggs per week can lead to dangerous levels of cholesterol**
Next, melt 8 tbs of butter (1 stick) **WARNING – butter contains saturated
fats, which have been shown to produce hardening of the arteries**,
etc.).

Hey, PETA, quit messing with the English language! The Merriman
Webster
dictionary happens to be our favorite on-line
dictionary
to
use with our students because of the concise definitions and
the free and fast pronunciation button – click it and hear a clear,
US Evening News prouncation of any word. But it is not WIKIPEDIA. No
user editing.

If you feel that some circuses are cruel and exploitive, by all means
expose them – hold a press conference, publish shocking pictures on
the internet, organize a protest, write your Congresspeople, march
outside the Circus sites, create a blog, sneak cameras behind the scenes
and
post
the video
on
a videoblog,
make a movie, publish a book, a pamphlet, a tract, a flyer, a glossy
magazine or your own dictionary, organize a concert, enlist animal-loving
celebrities,
go on Oprah, but for Webster’s sake, leave the language alone.

PETA Claims Circus Cruel to Critters

1

PETA activists are cracking the whip on Springfield-based
Merriam-Webster, demanding that the definition of "circus" be rewritten
to label the big top as cruel to "captive" animal performers.

The dictionary currently defines a circus as "an arena often covered by
a tent and used for variety shows, usually including feats of physical skill,
wild animal
acts, and performances by clowns."

But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – known for caging naked women
to protest the wearing of fur and protesting the living conditions of pet store
iguanas – wants a new entry.

PETA’s proposal defines a circus as a "spectacle that relies on captive
animals" who are "forced to perform tricks under the constant threat
of punishment." It also wants the definition to say that "modern circuses
include only willing human performers."

from the Boston Herald

As an English teacher and a linguist, we are shocked that PETA would
take their campaign to the editorial offices of a dictionary, of all
places.  While opposition to animal cruelty is all well and good,
applying political editorial alterations to dictionary definitions
would be somewhat akin to publishing a cookbook with politically correct
admonitions after key ingredients (Beat 4 eggs **WARNING – Consumption
of more than two eggs per week can lead to dangerous levels of cholesterol**
Next, melt 8 tbs of butter (1 stick) **WARNING – butter contains saturated
fats, which have been shown to produce hardening of the arteries**,
etc.).

Hey, PETA, quit messing with the English language! The Merriman
Webster
dictionary happens to be our favorite on-line
dictionary
to
use with our students because of the concise definitions and
the free and fast pronunciation button – click it and hear a clear,
US Evening News prouncation of any word. But it is not WIKIPEDIA. No
user editing.

If you feel that some circuses are cruel and exploitive, by all means
expose them – hold a press conference, publish shocking pictures on
the internet, organize a protest, write your Congresspeople, march
outside the Circus sites, create a blog, sneak cameras behind the scenes
and
post
the video
on
a videoblog,
make a movie, publish a book, a pamphlet, a tract, a flyer, a glossy
magazine or your own dictionary, organize a concert, enlist animal-loving
celebrities,
go on Oprah, but for Webster’s sake, leave the language alone.

Where’s the Fire?

1

An ocean speed limit proposed by the federal government
yesterday could help protect endangered right whales, but is expected
to face stiff opposition from the shipping industry.

The migration paths of the North Atlantic right whales significantly
overlap with major East Coast shipping lanes, and ship strikes and fishing
gear entanglement are the commonest causes of death for the whales.

from the Boston Globe

At the risk of sounding stupid
(a risk the Dowbrigade has been know to take on in his sleep) can
we ask
why
ships
don’t
use some sort of high-frequency warning horn to tell those pesky
whales to get out of the way? We always thought that whales had exceptional
underwater hearing, what with the Whale Songs of the Seas and all
that.

With all of the pork barrel projects getting milked
like zits on an adolescent by lawmakers of all stripes and political
persuasions these days (see this
Boston Herald article
for juicy details
on line items such as $150,000 for a UMass study of the winter moth
worm,$50,000 to restore a stagecoach in Barre and $40,000 for Seine
Boat replicas in Gloucester), one would think the government could
spare a couple of hundred grand to figure out what kind of sub-sea
sounds
whales just hate, to clear them out of the area. Hell, if we have an
"ultrasonic teenage repellant", why not one for whales?

How much could it cost to mount one of these sonic
cow-catchers on the prow of every cargo ship and liner plying the Atlantic
shipping lanes. A lot less than this proposed "speed limit"! How much
would it cost world business and shipping concerns if all of our steel,
Toyotas and fashion footware took longer to get to the US because of
a mid-ocean speed limit! Think of the rock-hard avocados and rotting
mangos we would be facing on supermarket shelves! Think of the added
costs in labor and maintenance when 10-day trips become 15-day trips.

Think of the fiendish complexity alone of the necessary
efforts to enforce the limit! Maritime troopers on jet skis flagging
down million-ton oil tankers? Submarine speed-traps hidden beneath
the waves? A fleet of confiscated cigarette boats passing out infractions?

How about we impose a speed limit on the WHALES, huh?
They’re supposed to be smart – aren’t their brains even bigger than
ours? Why can’t they slow down by 5 or 10 knots, and watch where they
are going? What’s their hurry, they late for choir practicce? They aren’t on the clock.  What
right do they have to impede the wheels (or screws, in this case) of
commerce and cost tax-paying businesses millions?

We think it is time for the Whales of the World to
step up and do their part to keep the shipping lanes free. We all have
to share this planet, after all.

Nobody wants to see the whales get hurt.  But
of you insist on playing in traffic, sooner or later you will be hit.