Fine, don't goat for it

Letters to the Boston editor, January 4, 2008
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  January 2, 2008

Beneath your “Earth-Friendly Charities” article, you printed a picture of a goat with a bow on its head. The caption read, “Goat for it: A donation to Mercy Corps can buy a poor rural family a farm animal.”

As World Land Trust director John Burton points out, “the goat campaign may be a pleasing gift and a short-term milk and meat fix for a few individuals, but in the long term the quality of life for these people will slowly be reduced with devastating effect.”

Farming animals is a very inefficient, expensive, and environmentally destructive way of producing food and money. As it is now, we are wasting resources by feeding farm animals soy and water that could be going directly to poor people, polluting the land and water with animal waste that is not properly disposed of or filtered, and adding to global climate change by helping to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

If we are really looking for sustainable answers to poverty, lack of clean water, and malnutrition, there are better options than giving money to perpetuate something as horrible and inhumane as the gifting of animals. Groups such as Mercy Corps and Heifer International promote violence and “KIDnapping” while labeling it as “doing good.”

David Havelick

Spoiled rotten
Thanks loads, James Parker, for gratuitously describing the final scenes in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy in your “Mutiny in Heaven” article. At least it saves the would-be reader from having to deal with all that annoying suspense and anticipation. Why not throw in the ending of Witness for the Prosecution, too?

Thanks to the editors, as well, for failing to at least include a spoiler alert.

Christopher Burke

Matters of opinion
In light of your recent labeling of Reverend Ray Hammond of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church as a “homophobe” in “Menino’s Hit List," it is clear that you must never have spent even a few minutes in the reverend’s company. I would not normally respond to such a baseless characterization in a publication as biased (though occasionally interesting) as the Phoenix. But I was compelled to respond in defense of my pastor, as I was irked by your boldly ignorant description of him.

Simply because a man takes a strong view that opposes yours on the issue of same-sex marriage does not make him a homophobe. I would give you the benefit of the doubt, but I find it nearly impossible to imagine that, by the term “homophobe,” you meant anything other than a person who hates gays and lesbians. If you truly think Reverend Hammond is a man who hates other human beings of any orientation or creed, I sincerely invite — dare I say challenge — you to come and visit us some Sunday morning at Bethel AME Church.

After spending some time at Bethel, I believe you would be hard-pressed to associate even the notion of hate with Reverend Hammond, a profoundly decent and gracious man who gave up a career as a surgeon more than 20 years ago to help heal broken lives and spirits through his ministry. I pray that you, as a fairly established political journalist in this city, will someday lose your quickness to label and vilify other local citizens so brazenly in your columns. This kind of impetuous, uninformed character smear is the lifeblood of the politics of ugliness — and hate — that continually poisons America’s democracy and the exchange of ideas in its public square. Get to know your neighbor before you insult his name in print before thousands of local readers.

Christopher Harris

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