I do not find any humor whatsoever in animal cruelty, so I was shocked by how Chris Davis turned a horrific story of animal abuse into a mocking bit about the Pound Puppy gang (Fly on the Wall, May 1st issue). It shows a lack of compassion for animal welfare that I didn't know the Memphis Flyer condoned.
I invite Davis and your readers to view the disturbing images of "Mack" — the 4-month-old shepherd-mix puppy who was recently tortured in our community and left for dead — at Memphishumane.org.
There is nothing humorous about these images or the suffering he has endured over the past weeks. Animal abuse should never be tolerated, and any attempt to make fun of animal abuse is irresponsible at best. This dog was tortured and should not have been victimized again by your columnist.
Laughing At Ourselves?
During The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Steppin' Out, April 24th issue), a character made fun of Willie Herenton's vacillation between wanting to be mayor and school superintendent. The audience, mostly white, laughed in approval of an outsider who could recognize that many Memphians are disgusted by Herenton's showmanship.
Moments later, a bee participant was asked to spell "Mexicans." The definition provided was something like, "A slang term used by Americans to refer to persons from Haiti, Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela, and Alaska." The audience laughed again. But this time, the reaction wasn't as unified.
When you make fun of Herenton, you can guarantee that everyone gets the joke. But, when subtly criticizing the racism at work when Americans refuse to correctly identify someone's nationality, it's no longer guaranteed. Some playgoers understood that their own ignorance was the butt of the joke; others didn't pick up on the depth of the satire. They just laughed.
Many Americans feel they have the right to label everyone from Asia as Chinese and to refer to all people who speak Spanish as Mexican. Ironically, I know Americans who get offended when someone mistakes what sorority they belong to. This "can't be bothered" attitude reveals our ignorance about other cultures, which is symptomatic of our national sense of supremacy.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee did not teach us to spell "xenophobic," but it certainly did encourage us not to be xenophobes.
The YouTube Menace
Thank you for Bruce VanWyngarden's column in the April 10th issue regarding the ubiquitous YouTube and the loss of innocence for our young people.
His last three sentences said it all ... and very well.
Tourist or Terrorist?
Well, it looks like paranoia has set in in Memphis (Tourist or Terrorist?, April 3rd issue).
I will take Memphis off the agenda for our upcoming three-month photographic trip to the West. As someone once wisely said: People willing to give up freedom for security deserve neither. Do not forget the rights of photographers!
Closing Loopholes of Ignorance
Once again, Memphis government chooses to embarrass us. MLGW officials apparently are unable to define "residency." So they are changing the "previous language" concerning the word "residency" to include "insertion of the language 'shall live in and maintain' when identifying what constitutes a residence."
What's next? The insertion of "must make a mark in the 'yes' or 'no' box to constitute the word 'vote'" or "must walk into and sit in a chair" to constitute the word "attend"? Or "open mouth and insert foot" to constitute the word "speech"?
Do we have to spell out everything for our politicians to ensure they won't try to avoid basic rules? I suggest we just give them all a copy of Webster's dictionary and not waste our time trying to close loopholes that arise due to ignorance of definitions.