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Animal abuse merits serious punishment

Thanks to Donn Esmonde for his June 26 commentary on animal abuse. As an animal lover and SPCA volunteer, I have had similar reactions to the baffling legal decisions in recent animal abuse cases.

In New York State, domestic animals are regarded as property. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it seems as if the judges presiding in these cases could be making decisions based on concepts of property rights rather than the pain and suffering endured by the animals. In the Beth Hoskins case, her Morgan horses are not just property. They represent wealth. In a capitalist country such as ours, very few things seem to trump individual property rights. A bias in the legal system may favor such rights.

With respect to Diamond, the dog whose beating was recorded, some may argue, "it's just a dog." Dogs are made of the same stuff as we are, and their capacity to experience pain is roughly equivalent to our own.

Anyway, it's not the target of the cruelty that is the point. It's the cruelty itself. In the end, this case is more about us than the dog, which doesn't have our capacity for moral judgment. Cruelty isn't behavior we want to encourage under any circumstances. And the tendency to such behavior has a way of escalating and seeking other targets, such as children. I hope the perpetrator in this case receives the harshest punishment possible.

Many who are connected to this case deserve praise: the individual who had the presence of mind and courage to record the beating, tenacious SPCA investigators and Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, who recognizes that cruelty to animals is a crime and should be included in the penal law. The rest of us can help by contacting our state representatives.

Nancy Barnes

Grand Island

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Vilifying government accomplishes nothing

Usually, after reading an article by Leonard Pitts, I say, "Yes, but " I often agree with his premise, but have some caveat; some reservation. However, his June 27 column, which starts with, "I pay my taxes," has gained my unqualified agreement and support.

There is nothing to be gained by just generally vilifying government. Apparently, there is political gain to be had by casting all government action in a negative light. However, to be helpful, the criticism must be specifically identified and alternative solutions presented. Blanket criticism, made popular by the tea party, is not a basis for human progress. Some of the criticism borders on hate, which is never a good place to start.

Charles P. Mowatt

Williamsville

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Clergy should not force religious views on others

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been saddened to read some of the letters in this column. Not surprisingly, many of the letters condemning the right for any New Yorker to marry any other New Yorker were written by men of the cloth. One hundred and fifty years ago, people used the Bible to justify slavery. One hundred years ago, they used the Bible to stop women from voting. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

These men skip over the scores of passages that clearly advocate misogyny and slavery to find the few passages that may or may not condemn homosexuality. What really gets me is the hypocrisy that goes along with their preachings. Have you ever heard a priest advocating the stoning of women who were not virgins when they were married? How about the stoning of misbehaving children? The list goes on and on, but you'll never hear about these passages on Sunday because nobody wants to hear them.

What do these men fear? If their gut feelings tell them that these ancient writings are the work of a deity, then more power to them. If they are right, then their God will reward them and punish those who chose not to believe their book. In the meantime, they have no right to suppress the rights of others based on passages from an ancient text that they selectively choose to follow.

Adam C. Morgan

Grand Island

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Many feel vulnerable when cancer care ends

I read the recent My View by a nurse at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. She talked about some type of "graduation ceremony" for those who complete chemotherapy and/or other cancer treatment. After having had two bouts of breast cancer, I found the completion of treatment to be a very somber time, and the idea of some sort of ceremony would have seemed inappropriate.

Although there is relief after one's last treatment, it is also a time when one feels extremely vulnerable -- no longer being "protected" by chemo drugs and/or radiation, and no longer having the attention of nurses and doctors on a weekly or more frequent basis. In fact, most cancer patients I know experience depression following the end of treatment.

I hope that the staff members at Roswell Park feel that these ceremonies really provide solace and hope to their patients.

Ginger B. Maiman

Buffalo

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Group aims to revive waterfront property

In a recent letter, the writer commented about the unused land at the outer harbor. I am involved with a group that is dedicated to seeing that land is used for the common good without the usual interference of our sometimes misaligned politics.

This group, On the Water Productions, was formed by two guys who see the potential in Buffalo's magnificent waterfront and have been working closely with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to open the property to public use. The NFTA knows what the property can be, and it gave these guys the chance to show everyone that progress can be made when the public and authorities work together.

If you haven't noticed, the property where the Pier used to be has been cleaned up and looks like a park. Check it out the next time you drive over the Skyway. At the end of July, a large festival will be held there, and in September there will be a large concert -- all funded largely by these two guys who brought an idea to the NFTA.

Earl Springborn

Eden

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U.S. needs to take care of its own citizens first

On June 26, CBS' "60 Minutes" featured a story about homeless and hungry children in the Orlando, Fla., area. In one segment, a group of approximately 20 children were asked if they frequently went to bed hungry. Most said, "yes." How and why can this happen when the United States spends billions of dollars each year in foreign aid? Why not focus on our own needs first, especially those of our children?

Michael Morse

Attica