MAKE THE SWITCH
Al Gore's riveting documentary An Inconvenient Truth has focused public attention on the looming disaster of global warming and the associated flooding of coastal communities, extreme weather conditions, and destruction of wildlife habitats.
Most of us blame automotive and industrial emissions for global warming. But animal agriculture is a major culprit as well. Carbon dioxide is emitted from the burning of forests to create animal pastures and from combustion of fossil fuels to operate farm machinery, trucks, refrigeration equipment, factory farms, and slaughterhouses.
According to a recent University of Chicago study, a meat-free diet reduces greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year -- as much as switching from an SUV to a hybrid car.
Folks who care about the future of life on earth would be well advised to consider switching to a meat-free diet even before they switch to a hybrid car.
In the June 15th "Fly on the Wall" column, I found it interesting that Roscoe Dixon pleaded with church folks to pray for his entanglement. If he is seeking Christians who appeal to the Bible, then I don't think their God will listen too attentively. Consider Amos 5:12: "For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right."
It doesn't sound like their God is on his side.
SHAME ON YOU
Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks was right to be ashamed that President Bush is from Texas, and we Tennesseans should also be ashamed that Senator Bill Frist hails from our state. As a physician, I am doubly ashamed of this man who has abandoned his medical and scientific training and knowledge in the service of a rigid partisan agenda that is frequently "ignorance-based." Frist's notorious long-distance misdiagnosis of Terri Schiavo was partisan grandstanding of the worst possible sort, using his medical license for political purposes and mocking the ethical principles of medicine that he swore to uphold when he took the Hippocratic oath.
But Frist's latest shenanigans may be even more embarrassing. Last Sunday he actually tried to claim that our most important national priorities are banning flag-burning and gay marriage. That's right. Instead of worrying about terrorism, poverty, or the mounting casualties in Iraq, Frist has nightmares about gays and lesbians who are burning American flags during their wedding ceremonies. You expect this type of nonsense on right-wing rant radio, but this is a man who graduated from Princeton and Harvard Medical School.
Personally, I'm against flag burning, but that doesn't mean I think we need to amend the U.S. Constitution to outlaw it. I support the right of gays and lesbians to marry, but I understand that plenty of well-meaning and thoughtful people disagree with me (in addition to the bigots whose angry and hateful rhetoric on this issue often poisons the discussion).
I have more trouble understanding how anyone thinks it is fair and just to deny gays and lesbians the partnership rights that could be provided by civil unions. But if any heterosexual marriage is "threatened" by the possibility that two gay men or two lesbian women might be able to get married, that couple needs counseling instead of a misguided constitutional amendment to "protect" them from those mythical gay people who supposedly want to "destroy" marriage.
George W. Bush may well be the worst president in our nation's history, but I'm afraid that a President Frist might be even worse. Luckily, that scenario becomes less and less likely every time Senator Frist opens his mouth.
B. Keith English
Memphis' local tax burden is the highest in the state, exceeding Nashville's by a whopping 48 percent. It was no surprise to learn recently that Memphis has the highest property taxes in Tennessee. Having two governments, both city and county, is extremely costly and wasteful. But hey, so what? It keeps more corrupt politicians and employees on the dole.
If you are going to be number one, you might as well lead the pack in bankruptcies, crime, political corruption, racism, poor schools, strip bars, hypocrisy, and urban flight.
Go Memphis. You're number one.