Letters to the Editor: 12.18.14

Our readers' comments

A Proper Sandwich
    East Hampton
    December 10, 2014

To the Editor:
    Sandwiches are going the way of the dodo. Who under 60 years of age has the slightest idea of how to make a proper sandwich? There are still sandwich shops, I believe, manned by much younger folks, however, who don’t have a clue.
    I just fought my way through a sandwich costing a bit under $10, from a hoity-toity place famous for its — what? Luxury appeal? Let’s describe it: On multigrain bread, with lettuce, tomato, and, the main event, tunafish. Fortunately I didn’t have to eat it on my way to somewhere in my car, because 1. it was sloppy; 2. the bread crumbled the instant I grabbed one-half of it; 3. the tuna was bulging out of the larger one-half; 4. it couldn’t be pressed down without breaking the “health” bread and probably spilling the tuna; 5. it didn’t have a dollop of mayo in the mix.
    Sandwiches are made to eat with the hands. Not with fork and knife, and not with bread that doesn’t hold together. And if one is paying extra for the tomatoes and lettuce, at least a decent slice of the former and a different, crunchy form of lettuce for the latter, which here was a mere ribbon of nameless, tasteless, crunch-less greenery.
    (Another major crime was not committed, that of failing to cut the sandwich all the way through. How many times have we picked up the one half to find the other half still attached? Ugh!)

    Sincerely, and over 60 years old for sure,
JOAN TRABULSI

Neighbors Complained
    East Hampton
    December 15, 2014

To the Editor,
    Animal Control called me because the neighbors complained about my dogs’ barking.
    So I called Leaf Blower Control about leaf blower noise. No one responded to my complaint. Oh, that’s right. There is no Leaf Blower Control.
    My dogs bark six times in 15 minutes, and Animal Control calls me. Yet I am expected to tolerate 8 to 10 hours of unrelenting mental, pulmonary, and auditory rape.
    By the way, the dogs bark when neighbors on either side go in or out of the house. Since both single-family homes house more than 10 people, you can imagine the traffic-induced barking. But that is a whole other letter.
    Hopefully, my dogs’ barking is under control and the neighbors can now continue to enjoy the incessant leaf-blower growling that, surprisingly, doesn’t seem to bother them.

    Woof, woof,
    NORA KLEPS

Holiday Dinner
    Amagansett
    December 15, 2014

Dear David,
    How very kind of the Springs Fire Department to prepare, and volunteers from Meals on Wheels to deliver, on a Sunday, a special holiday dinner.
    These are the people who truly make East Hampton, East Hampton.

    Kind regards for the holidays,
    LONA RUBINSTEIN

A Must-Read
    Amagansett
    December 15, 2014

David:
    The holiday gift scene has caused me to belatedly realize that I have been receiving a gift, not just one but over 3,100 of them, for the past 60 years, without so much as a thank-you. I am referring, of course, to the venerable East Hampton Star, the voice and conscience of our town.
    From the last line of Larry Penny’s column on the last page to the news on the front page, The Star is a must-read. It will always be the “paper of record,” and what a great record it has created.
    So, David, I wish you and your talented staff a healthy and happy New Year, confident that The Star will continue its good work in the future.

IRV HIRSCHBERG

Ed Had a Gift
    Montauk
    December 14, 2013

Dear Editor,
    I’m writing on behalf of the Ashawagh Hall Writers Workshop to express our shock and sadness at the untimely death of Ed Hannibal. Ed was an exceptional writer, a generous and astute critic, never dull, always funny. Ed had a gift for putting his comments into a larger context, so that no matter who was reading, his insights helped us all. He was a member for 11 years, and inspired us in the way he kept at something he was writing until he got it right — which he inevitably did.
    A lot of Ed stories will be told around a lot of tables this holiday season, though if we’re talking about Ed, let’s call Christmas, Christmas. We will miss him greatly. We extend our sympathies to his wife, Maggie, their children and grandchildren, some of whom we feel we know, because Ed brought their voices so vividly to life in his work.

    Sincerely,
    LAURA STEIN

Would Have Loved It
    East Hampton
    December 12, 2014

To the Editor,
    I was so glad I went to Jack Morelli’s memorial service at the Stephen Talkhouse. Charles, April, and Dylan Sanicola, with help from Jack’s family and friends, gave him a great service.
    I’ve never been to a finer memorial service.
    There were friendly people, great food, and greater music.
    The music was provided by Dylan Sanicola, Dylan’s band, Red Sky, and Jack’s brother. They were all fantastic!
    I didn’t know Jack well, but I’m sure he would have loved it.
    I am glad I was part of it.

CATHY McGARTY

The Community Won
    Montauk
    December 14, 2014

Dear David;
    I wish to thank the Montauk community for participating in the recent election of the Montauk Fire District commissioners. The turnout by our residents to vote in this election was the largest in more than 10 years.
    The issue regarding the availability of advanced life support 24 hours a day for our winter residents, just as we provide for our summer residents, became the cornerstone of this contest, and the majority of the voters demonstrated what they wanted to see happen. The community won, hands down.
    Also, giving due credit to the current five commissioners who, even before the election, reconsidered the issue in the interests of the community and did the right thing. During their meeting, which commenced two hours before the polls closed, the commissioners voted 5 to 0 to provide funds to enable the 365/24/7 medic program to be made possible in Montauk. The commissioners displayed their sensitivity to you, the community, and gave us what the majority wished to see implemented.
    In addition to thanking the community and the commissioners, I also wish to thank my opponent in this election, Ed Sullivan. His campaign effort was totally aboveboard, without any mudslinging as is often present in election campaigns. The constant theme from both sides always focused upon principles. It was principles above personalities.
    It is my hope that I can continue the program and success which Ed initiated and provided the Montauk Fire Department in maintaining the equipment and apparatus used to protect Montauk. At 73 years of age, I remain teachable. 
    I love the Montauk community. Thank you!

DICK MONAHAN

Springs Expansion
    Springs
    December 14, 2014

Dear David,
    Regarding the expansion (and increased taxes) for the Springs School: I’d feel more comfortable about paying for this if I knew that everything possible has been done to address illegally overcrowded single-family homes. When I was on the long-term space needs committee years ago, it was projected that the school population would go down.
    I also hope that this expansion will include septic upgrades, since the school is the greatest contributor of nitrates to the Accabonac Harbor, affecting water quality and aquatic life. 
    Regarding the donation of sports lighting to the high school: I hope they will consider Softlite, the type of system that is used out west and is more neighbor-friendly. It uses less energy, costs the same, causes less skyglow and light trespass, lowers maintenance costs, and provides better color rendering and vision for the players than the type now employed in the town and village. I’ll give the school information about this system (in which I have no financial interest).

    Fingers crossed,
    SUSAN HARDER

Out-of-Control Airport
    Wainscott
    December 15, 2014

Dear David:
    Now that the East Hampton Town Board has a raft of measurable data validating the antipathy of the East End community toward our out-of-control airport, it is time for our leaders to lead.
    No one officially “led” us into this mess that threatens the very way of life for thousands of afflicted, innocent citizens — all of whom were here first, long before the airport morphed into a major regional destination for virtually every kind of aircraft, other than F-111s and lunar modules. But our current board members can lead us out of the mess — and do our community a great service.
    Ban the hated helicopters. Ban the seaplanes that will replace the helicopters otherwise. Ban giant jets that roar over our villages, beaches, and woodlands, often with a single, absurdly insensitive, overtly polluting passenger. And tightly curfew the remainder.
    We want our outdoors returned to us.

BARRY RAEBECK

Parking on the Dune
    Amagansett
    December 15, 2014

To the Editor:
    In his response to me in the letters column of last week’s Star, I sense Mike Bottini of Surfrider is writing as a politician, not an environmentalist, in the sense that his words don’t mean what they purport to.
    The topic was Surfrider’s support for parking on my tiny, narrow street, Dolphin Drive. An illegal sign change last Aug. 22, ending 40 years of “No Parking Any Time” signage, has already led to a significant number of cars parked on the fragile dunes of the South Flora Nature Preserve on the east side of the street, with visible damage to the native vegetation.
    Mr. Bottini writes, “We do not advocate parking on a dune.” But he immediately adds that his organization supports “roadside parking on the east side of Dolphin Drive.” This is where I sense the politician; there is no shoulder on Dolphin, and parking entirely on the paved surface blocks a lane of traffic on the 20-foot-wide street. Parking on the east side therefore inevitably means parking on the dune, as Mr. Bottini, who claims to have visited and be thoroughly familiar with the area, must surely know. 
    Mike, it’s time to change Surfrider’s position on Dolphin Drive, which is clearly antienvironmental and harms Surfrider’s reputation as a protector of the East End dune ecosystems. I am also very curious to know how you first heard about the controversy involving our obscure street, if someone asked you to weigh in, and why you agreed to do so. 

    Sincerely,
    JONATHAN WALLACE

East Deck Land
    Montauk
    December 13, 2014

To the Editor:
    This is in response to Russell Drumm’s article “The Soul of Ditch Plain.” Although I agree with most of what he had to say, such as maintaining the spiritual value of the beach, keeping it open for public use, and preserving the natural state of the land around it, I don’t share his vision of a public park.
    To me, there is no spiritual value to his plan, which would include restroom facilities (there are existing facilities 100 yards away), showers, public grills, a public pool, and surf lockers. It also calls for paving “dirt lot” and charging out-of-towners to park there, bringing even more people into an already overcrowded beach and exacerbating the currently overflowing refuse sites.
    Rusty’s plan contains all the characteristics and amenities offered in the ED40 private beach club proposal, except they are lower-end versions that are open to the public: pool, eating and drinking facility, surf cabanas, restrooms, showers, and paved parking.
    I am all for the town purchasing the former East Deck land but if its highest spiritual value is to be maintained and truly enjoyed by the public, it should raze the existing structures and preserve it in its natural state.

LOUIS CORTESE

Senior Transportation
    East Hampton
    December 9, 2014

Dear Editor:
    Ms. Mary Ella Moeller spoke at the town board brown-bag meeting on Dec. 2. Ms. Moeller presented what she thinks seniors need, telling the board to study their senior transportation needs. We are very fortunate to have excellent senior transportation in the Town of East Hampton. I am one of the seniors who use this service.
    East Hampton has the best services for seniors. To the best of my knowledge Ms. Moeller does not use any of these services. She did come to the senior center three times when she was running for East Hampton School Board.
    Ms. Moeller should not be on any senior service committee, and the board should not take any advice from her. They should speak with the people at the senior center who work with the seniors. I have been serving lunch as a volunteer at the center for 15 years.

JULIA KAYSER

Stuck in the Snow
    Patchogue
    December 11, 2014

Dear Star:
    Peace on earth is like listening to hear sleigh bells stuck in the snow.

    Sincerely,
    FRED GASREL

He Will Be Vindicated
    Springs
    December 14, 2014

To the Editor:
    I have written the below partly in reply to an article that appeared in The Star on Dec. 11, “Aftermath of an Accident” by T.E. McMorrow, another mean attempt at journalism. About the sentencing of my client William Cuthbert, before East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky, on Dec. 4.
    My last letter in The Star, on Dec. 11,  “State v. Cuthbert,” was partly in response to Mr. McMorrow’s first article about the case, “Police Brutality Claim Dismissed by Jury.” The best response to a fool is silence. This is an exception. I never intended to reargue the case in my first letter, merely to convince you that I believe Mr. Cuthbert is innocent and was wrongfully convicted. Now I believe I should write more about the case and his sentencing.
    The arrest, trial, and sentencing of William Cuthbert stem from a minor vehicular accident at the intersecting Accabonac Road and Abraham’s Path on Jan. 23. The temperature was below freezing. The roads were covered with ice and snow. The record is clear that Mr. Cuthbert was not at fault. Almost immediately after the accident, he called his girlfriend, Jana Nishida. Told her he was in an accident. To call the police, but not to use 911. She did.
    East Hampton Town Police Officer Frank Trotta, in uniform and driving a Marine Patrol vehicle, was the first officer to respond to the accident. He testified at trial that while seated in his patrol vehicle, William Cuthbert walked up and said, “I am waiting for the fucking police.” He responded by telling Mr. Cuthbert to move his van from the intersection. Then Officer Trotta, while William Cuthbert was walking back to his van, drove closely by Mr. Cuthbert.
    Officer Trotta testified that William Cuthbert, while walking to his van, elbowed the passenger-side mirror of the Marine Patrol vehicle. Then he pulled around William Cuthbert and parked on Accabonac Road. Mr. Cuthbert got back into his van. Then turned right and parked in front of the patrol vehicle. In my opinion, Officer Trotta’s version of his first encounter with William Cuthbert is incredible as a matter of law. A phrase used when a witness lies under oath. Particularly an officer.
    Mr. Cuthbert testified that while he was walking back to his van, Officer Trotta drove closely by. Hitting him on his left arm with the passenger-side mirror of the Marine Patrol vehicle. He then got in his van and made a turn onto Accabonac Road. Then parked in front of the Marine Patrol vehicle. William Cuthbert got out of his van and walked over to Officer Trotta. He requested that Officer Trotta call for a field sergeant. Then said, “Do you realize you hit me?” Officer Trotta did not respond. Mr. Cuthbert repeated, “Do you realize you hit me?” Officer Trotta replied, “I don’t like your attitude, you are under arrest.” And handcuffed Mr. Cuthbert to the rear in a way that immediately caused severe pain to his wrists, arms, and shoulders.
    Now William Cuthbert was upset. He cursed and pleaded with Officer Trotta to loosen the cuffs. To no avail.
    Police Officer Trotta and Police Officer Barry Johnson kept Mr. Cuthbert on the frozen ground, after he had been handcuffed, for almost 40 minutes. That is torture. William Cuthbert was the only person injured during his encounter with the police. He suffered numerous injuries. Evidenced by many photos. Some taken, at his insistence, while in police custody. Other photos taken, by Jana Nishida, after he made stationhouse bail on the evening of his arrest.
    On Oct. 16, a jury found William Cuthbert guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But not guilty of harassment. The jury did not believe that Mr. Cuthbert did any of the following charged acts under the Penal Law Section re harassment: intend to harass, annoy, or alarm Police Officer Trotta. Strike, shove, or kick the officer. Engage in other physical contact. Nor attempt to, or threaten Police Officer Trotta.
    Then how did William Cuthbert resist arrest? He did not.
    The law requires that a person convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, resisting arrest in this case, report to the Department of Probation for a presentence interview. The interview is an integral part of presentencing, prepared for a judge to aid in sentencing. On Nov. 4, William Cuthbert and I went to the Suffolk County Probation Department for his presentence interview. I sat in. To answer questions about the case and trial.
    The interview was both in depth and wide-ranging. Covering Mr. Cuthbert’s entire life and his criminal case. It was also intense and moving. Lasted well over an hour. Near the end of the interview, the probation officer said to William Cuthbert, “I believe you were mistreated by the police officers and that you are innocent.” The probation officer continued, “I will not recommend probation. I will recommend a conditional discharge.”
    The probation officer submitted to Justice Steven Tekulsky a written P.S.I. recommending only a C.D. I have never seen a probation officer, after a jury trial, recommend a C.D. That means the probation officer found no reason for jail time or probation.
    On Dec. 4,  William Cuthbert appeared before Justice Steven Tekulsky for sentencing. When asked by Justice Tekulsky if he wanted to say something before sentence was imposed Mr. Cuthbert said, “Yes, I am innocent. I did not take a plea because I am innocent. I went to trial because I am innocent. I will appeal because I am innocent.”
    Justice Tekulsky then followed the recommendation submitted by the Suffolk County Department of Probation and sentenced Mr. Cuthbert to a conditional discharge for one year. And added that William Cuthbert complete eight hours of anger management counseling within that year. Not an anger management course or anger management program, as was erroneously reported by T.E. McMorrow in The Star.
    In my experience, as a defense counsel for 41 years, many people who demand a trial are innocent. Some are found guilty. Then again, some people who are guilty are acquitted at trial. William Cuthbert is an innocent man. Wrongfully convicted. He will be vindicated on appeal.

    Semper fi,
    JOSEPH GIANNINI

‘I Can’t Breathe’
    East Hampton
    December 1, 2014

Dear Editor,
    Where are the cold, snide, racist responses of the Fox Network class of less than moral idiots like Hannity, O’Reilly, Goldberg, et al., and their responses about the Garner case?
    They all were seen and heard pooh-poohing the shooting death of the young 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo. They all said it wasn’t racism, it was an antagonistic big man accosting a police officer and no indictment was required.
    They maligned the dead boy, his upbringing, black families, and history, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the attorney general, the president. They just went 100 percent in favor of the killing of another unarmed black man by uncontrolled police.
    So where are the comments about the Garner killing? Unarmed, nonthreatening, less than petty criminal violation of selling loose cigarettes, surrounded by five or six police officers who couldn’t or didn’t want to defuse the situation in a police-trained manner — they jumped the man and killed him, using tactics usually seen in a professional wrestling match. The victim’s last words were “I can’t breathe.”
    I’m sure the police don’t give a damn about this father and grandfather they killed, or his wife or his children, and I’m more certain that the D.A. in Staten Island couldn’t care less either; after all, he wasn’t white. But where are the comments from Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and that group of right-wing jackasses?
    Oh yeah, and that fountain of civic pride and virtue Rudy Giuliani. You know, the user of such phrases as “incendiary racism.” Where is he being heard about Mr. Garner? Nowhere! Maybe he is too busy finding ways to get his crooked sycophants onto the federal payroll or betraying his marriage vows again or belittling those less fortunate than himself. He is despicable and always has been!

RICHARD P. HIGER

Use of Torture
    Sag Harbor
    December 11, 2014

David,
    A dozen Nobel Peace Prize laureates are urging President Obama, also a peace-prize winner, to make full disclosure to the American people of the extent and use of torture by the United States, including the release of a long-delayed Senate report about the C.I.A.’s torture of terrorism suspects after Sept. 11, 2001. Senator Ron Wyden of the intelligence committee said, “I’m not giving in on the question.” Sometimes it takes committed politicians to get the task accomplished while others are out raising money or bribing those who are wealthy. Legal as is torture, some believe in both.
    The laureates, organized by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who helped change the world we live in, and from Jose Ramos-Herter of East Timor, and 25 other Nobel Peace Prize winners from around the world. It’s no longer just the U.S.A., as some would say, exceptionalism. This has brought the United States to a crossroads and Mr. Obama must do more to bring disclosure to an era when the United States set an example that will be used to justify regimes anywhere. ISIS might be another current example.
    Our nation’s track record is horrible. For decades torture techniques have been taught at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning in Georgia in secrecy, until Secretary White of the Army acknowledged the torture manual.
    It’s been so long ago, I almost forgot I was arrested for civil disobedience at the School of the Americas. At the time, we were expected to get three months in prison. Fortunately, Charlie Litker, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, was with us and saved my butt from going to prison. When fingerprinted by an Army sergeant he said, “When I get out of here I’ll be on your side.”
    Finally, it was all part of a long journey by many committed people, all of whom I give thanks to, especially Archbishop Tutu. Archbishop Tutu survived through many years of horrific violence and torture. During that time his wife and children were never harmed. One of the most significant men of our time.

    In peace,
    LARRY DARCEY

CO2 Foolishness
    Wainscott
    December 15, 2014

Dear Editor,
    Last week there was mention that a writer had decided to state that rather than check my sources, he was willing to accept the supposed 3,000 “scientist” consensus. There was no consensus, it was an elaborate falsehood. Exposed over one year ago.
    Investigation has shown that of the polled, .05 percent agreed that human-generated carbon dioxide caused dangerous warming. That leaves 99.95 percent who disagree. Somehow this has been ignored by the majority of the media. The lack of reporting is symptomatic of the continuous news on television and radio. They blithely skip from story to story. Almost never do they refer to a previous story in detail and state why it was incorrect and provide correct information.
    This link is to one site where the facts concerning this are printed: prisonplanet.com/climategate-3-0-blogger-threatened-for-exposing-97-consensus-fraud. html. Within that article and at the end there are a half dozen more links to related stories, including the Dr. Michael Mann/East Anglia fakery that was part of the original fear of CO2 foolishness. You all realize that Al Gore made a pretax profit selling his bankrupt TV network to Qatar for $100 million, don’t you?
    The average reader is wondering why the fakery. The reason is, as a knighted actor once stated when he took a bad part in a bad movie, “for the money.” There are billions of dollars in the pot for a science study saying CO2 is bad and none for saying it is good. It is human nature that some are more than willing to take part in the deception to get research grants. Universities are not immune, as the school’s administrations skim about 35 percent from grants. Everybody’s a winner, except the taxpayer — that’s you and I.
    In fact, the earth would be much more pleasant for all if CO2 were increased substantially higher than today. At 1,200 parts per million, most crop yields would increase by an average of 30 percent. The growth would be faster as well, making two mature crops possible in some areas. Paradoxically, the larger root balls and fewer stoma in plants would make the plants more drought-resistant, use less added fertilizers and less water over all. This is not based on a computer program but on actual experimental fieldwork spanning over a century.
    There is a petition signed by over 30,000 accredited people in science that states plainly that human-caused CO2 is of no danger here: petitionproject.org/ purpose_of_petition.ph.

    Yours truly,
    PETER C. OSBORNE

Never Thanked
    Southold
    December 15, 2014

Dear Editor,
    More on my being sole creator of “Ryan’s Hope”: Any other claimant who helped my story along were writers. It didn’t take very long to write. I would zero in on characters, their names, story lines, casting. To read my “Ryan’s Hope” story was just hilarious!
    One story, much later on, was about a motorcycle ride. Trees above enveloped the road. It looked like Ascan Avenue in Forest Hills in about 1945, envisioned from a fast-driven bike that crashed. That person was Delia Reed, Ryan’s son, who was driving. That was one of my favorite stories.
    I was never thanked, or paid, and was too housebound to go in to Channel 7. I wrote Mr. Hard and left messages at the ABC building. Even a token gift, a smaller token amount of money, would be appreciated.
    By not writing or calling, it made me feel that they were cruel, rude, toughs who knew me and just didn’t want me to be paid. Many people were happy with my work.

ANITA FAGAN

The Keystone Species
    Amagansett
    December 11, 2014

To the Editor:
    To hear the lion’s roar blasting into the jet black night of the birthplace of humanity is to hear a primal reverberation, a memory of the supreme African predator that is contemporary with the evolution of the human species. The majesty of the lion is not in doubt. They adorned the fabulous caves of Chauvet, and they inhabit an entire mythology in the human mind, but their continued survival is threatened as habitat destruction and poaching take their toll.
    There used to be about 400,000 lions about 50 years ago. Today there may be no more than 20,000 lions roaming the entire continent, and maybe no more than 3,000 males! The world is on the brink of losing the West African lion, where only about 200 still roam. The lion of Narnia, the lion of MGM films, the lion statues that guard the facade of the New York Public Library are still alive and we cannot allow ourselves to consign them to oblivion!
    “Lions are more intelligent than some men. A lion will fight for what he has and for what he needs; he is contemptuous of cowards and wary of his equals,” wrote the aviator and writer Beryl Markham in “West With the Night.” It is the cowards of our kind who pursue vainglory and male lions for trophies. Several hundred are shot every year in Africa, especially South Africa, for so-called sport, therefore depleting the gene pool. Lion bones are sought by poachers to be passed off as tiger bones for the Asian market, bones that have strictly no merit medicinally but that carry the aura of potency.
    How many predators are we threatening across the globe? Must we continue to slay the innocent out of boredom? What would happen to the vast ecosystem of Africa without the carnal role of the king of beasts?
    For the Maasai, the taking of lions was a rite of passage. It was done with spears and shields, and they risked their very lives. In Kenya today, the Maasai, who understand the lion best, are becoming its guardians. They know that people will not come to the game parks without the lion. For the Bushmen of the Kalahari, the lion was considered a brother and respected as the ultimate hunter. There was a truce between the species. A truce is what we need to return to, if lions are to survive. For conservationist groups like Panthera and Lion Aid, the lion must be saved. It is the linchpin in the matrix of what is left of the African savannah.
    The predators of the world, their ineffable stride, beauty, and grace are necessary to the human soul, for those are parameters that reach beyond the boundaries of the calculable. Predators are counterweights and foils to the human species. They are also parallel keepers of carnal evolution. As the ecologist Paul Shepard wrote, “The great beings . . . are purposeful and ongoing expressions of a meaningful world.” The poet Rilke wrote, “Somewhere lions still roam, all unaware, in being magnificent, of any weakness.”
    Our weakness, our killer rage, is a lackluster blood lust fueled by boredom because the saber-toothed cats and cave lions no longer threaten us. Canned hunts, in which several hunters aim their guns on a newly released caged lion, begs the question: Which is the savage and immoral species? Elspeth Huxley, the grand matriarch of East African literature, put it best, ”You say it was man’s skill that invented the high-velocity rifle. True enough. It was his skill, too, that invented machine guns, aeroplanes, bombs, and poison gas. Why don’t you tackle elephants and rhinos, then, with those products of human skill? You wouldn’t pretend that was sport, but why is it more unsporting to bomb a herd of elephants or turn a machine gun on to a pride of lions than to drive up to them in a motor-car and shoot them with a high-powered rifle?”
    And, as we know, there are those who still look for elephant ivory with automatic weapons! The two grandest species of the continent are being hounded. The lion is still being treated as vermin, or trophy items to brazenly adorn the walls of spineless thrill-seekers. Recently some Gulf sheikhs have come into conflict with the Maasai for wanting happy hunting grounds to shoot lions. There are still hunting concessions that exist for those who want to bag something on their “safari.” These hunters are cowards because they are exterminating not just the keystone species in the entire ecology of the place where man was born, but they are also abetting the fantastic roar of silence that will bear upon humanity’s place on earth.
    Isak Dinesen said it best: “Once the wildlife is gone, the next biggest thrill will be found in the midst of the biggest cities.” Never mind having to tell the children of the future that these species disappeared by our hand, and went the way of the dinosaurs. Whether we have been to Africa or not, other beings walk the outback of our brain — mountain lions, wolves, sharks, eagles, bears, tigers, a legion of beings without whom the word loneliness will not be able to approximate the new condition we will have created. The responsibility to these beings and to the peoples of Africa becomes overwhelming. We owe these beings our devotion, because they have given us the gift of life. Wolves give us the voice of freedom and what remains of the wilderness. Wonder begins childhood. Lose these creatures, you lose wonder and childhood in one step. Why do we overwhelm our fellow beings with guns, like depraved, lonely, and crippled outcasts of creation?
    They are the carnal immune system of the world! Beware the karmic boomerang (a term never used in conservation because that would admit mystery, the unknown, and the unquantifiable), lest we, in our savage ignorance, become solitary self-cannibalizing members of a once upright race, now moral dwarfs, human hyenas scavenging for the last traces of the other, alone in the Fields of the Lord.

CYRIL CHRISTO