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Who the Hell Are We?

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It never ceases to amaze me: just when I think we're actually starting to turn the corner where humanity is concerned, we about-face and start dragging our metaphysical knuckles again, and the God-given right to raging ignorance is suddenly everywhere you turn: it's down in Gainesville Florida, where a supposed
(in Nazi Germany, the holy book was the Talmud; in Gainesville, it's the Quran, making the Abrahamic religions even
more
alike in a whole
new
way). It's in Lower Manhattan, where the now-infamous
(actually a few blocks away) has nay-sayers screaming "sacred ground! sacred ground!" even though the existence of betting parlors and a sex shop seems to be just peachy in the neighborhood. (For the record, I'm one of those crazy-ass liberals who believes that the location of the Mosque
is
ill-advised; then again, I also think that building
anything
on the site of Ground Zero other than an international center dedicated to peace, meditation, and reflection is ill-advised.)

It's easy to equate this sort of obvious ignorance with big Federal things, but sometimes, all it takes is just a peek around your own neighborhood to see that Big Stupidity comes with what Ronald Reagan would have called Trickle Down Righteous Ignorance, which is the stuff that happens in your backyard. Go ahead--take a look; pick up your local newspaper and dig a little bit, and the stuff you'll find will be both astonishing, and pervasive. It's simple enough: why should Big Stupidity get all the limelight? Why should those people have all the fun? if stupid people are showing up on the front page of the New York Times, why not have local stupidity run them a close second? After all, stupidity has to start somewhere; how about at the grass roots level?

I live in a beautiful, bucolic New England town, close enough to be just this side of commutable to Manhattan, and far enough away for it to feel like you're really in the country. Newtown, Connecticut was founded in 1705 and has always had something of a conservative streak, right down to its being a Tory stronghold during the American Revolution. Nevertheless, it's got a great school system, is downright adorable, and is generally speaking a very nice place to live. But recently, there have been screaming matches at the town meeting over whether or not to have what is lovingly called a "deer cull" in an attempt to reduce the population of this "pest," and, theoretically, reduce the incidences of Lyme Disease. This "cull," which has been scientifically proven over and over again in similar environments to not have any impact on the spread of Lyme Disease, is inhumane and ineffective. It also increases the possibility of injury and death to hikers and tricycle riders, to trail runners and dog walkers, and makes me worry about my big, sweet yellow Lab, who could be mistaken in a flash by a high-powered rifle-wielding yutz marching around in camo. Hyperbole, you say? Ask a neighbor on the next street, who found bow hunters on her property, along with her dog and kids, and asked them to leave; they called the local DEP and threatened her with arrest for interfering with an "open land" hunt...which spilled over into her back yard. So much for private property.

A few months back, an acquaintance who lives in Michigan found himself embroiled in the Tri-Lakes Geese slaughter, or what I call the Tri-Lakes Geese Gas, wherein a flock of the winged creatures were going to be rounded up and "euthanized" ostensibly for public safety. In fact, their droppings were starting to annoy the decision-makers, and there was real estate involved.

The folks who are in charge of these "round ups," take note: those of us who are paying attention know (as do you) that Lyme Disease isn't the issue where the deer of Newtown, Connecticut are concerned; we also know that too many geese can turn a golf course into a fetid mess. Therefore, the inclination to "round up" and "euthanize" these so-called pestiferous creatures because they're relieving themselves on the lawns of our gated communities, or munching on mummy's prized Nikko Blue hydrangeas is naturally on the rise, because it's the easy thing to do. What's the answer? Relocation (which is what should have happened to Prospect Park's beloved resident, non-migratory geese who were recently rounded up and gassed), should you honestly care enough to not simply destroy these animals just because they're in your way.

Self-righteous ignorance, alas, is never against the law; it starts (as it does in any corporation, or any government) at the very top, and dribbles down from there, until it gets into our local communities. Granted, it's a long way to travel from a book burning, riot-inciting lunatic in northern Florida to too much goose poop in Michigan and hunting Bambi in residential New England. But the fact is, they all stem from the same thread: the belief that, because we have thumbs and walk upright, we automatically have God on our side, and we can do what we want without giving a fat rat's behind who, or what, we're hurting. In fact, we're proof positive of Darwinian, and moral, failure.

This isn't survival of the fittest; it's survival of the cruelest.