"Hunting With a Rat," Feature, 6/25
Not All Hunters
I appreciate your cover story on boar hunting. I also believe we have become too distanced from what is actually required to provide the meat that we (who do eat meat) regularly consume — either hunting, or slaughtering domestic animals like fowl, goats, cows, and pigs.
I think that while having a notorious motorcycle club leader be your guide in this process might make for an interesting story, it is not a good way to present hunting in the media. There is enough of a problem already with opposition to hunting without the Express representing hunting with a man who goes to hunt a boar, while the guide casually slaughters other animals. This does not represent all hunters, and there is really a crying need for the more ethical hunters to be shown front and center, given the urban liberal sentiment against hunting. When I took a hunter education class over a decade ago, the man who taught it told a story of how when he went with a buddy to hunt deer, he ended the outing when that man blasted away a chipmunk for no reason at all. His ethics were such that he refused to associate with someone who would waste life like that.
I was able to learn to hunt without the need for anyone to show me how. I bought a couple of rifles and went to the range to learn to shoot. After my hunter education class I just went into the wilderness and learned to hunt. I already had experience in the wilderness, but hunting presented new challenges. As you found, the animals you want to hunt don't just run by and wait for you to pursue them. Hunting isn't easy, and it can involve a considerable amount of physical discomfort. I am a woman, and I learned to shoot, and then to hunt small game, and then to dress and skin and cook the kill, all without anyone teaching me anything. I have successfully hunted rabbit, squirrel, marmot, quail, and rattlesnake.
I bring this up because I think it's important for women to know that we can do whatever we set our minds to, without needing men to accompany us and show us how.
Alice Mikuteit, Oakland
I can understand the killing of feral pigs for meat, but the whacking of the coyote and the skunk just for the hell of it is beyond reprehensible, bordering on the pathological. These people need help.
Eric Mills, Coordinator, Action for Animals, Oakland
Promoting Animal Cruelty
I was absolutely disgusted and appalled at your story on hunting a wild boar. How can you possibly think it's okay to promote animal cruelty even if in the end the writer questioned the whole thing? You should be ashamed of yourself!
Warren Jones, San Francisco
Highlighting the Wrong Hunter
The article by Kathleen Richards raises some very important issues, such as whether it is immoral and/or hypocritical to eat meat if you are unwilling to kill animals for food yourself. However, there were some serious inconsistencies in the article that need to be pointed out and some bigger issues that were only mentioned in passing or not mentioned at all.
The article is about killing at least some of the meat that you eat yourself. However, at the beginning, the guide on the hunting trip, fueled by alcohol and obvious mean-spiritedness, kills a coyote. This killing was totally immoral and apparently based on gross ignorance, as well as an inherent meanness. Coyotes are native animals here and should not be killed for any reason (the guide was upset that they eat fawns, young members of a species that is probably overpopulated here (as it is in most places in the United States due to humans' removal of their natural predators such as coyotes). If we agree that the only legitimate reason to kill is to eat, with a few rare exceptions like self-defense, the guide has no excuse for killing this coyote. If this were a moral society, the guide would be in prison for doing that. Then this same jerk kills a skunk, using the lame excuse that it had sprayed dogs. Again, skunks are native animals, dogs are not, and again this idiot should be in prison for killing the skunk.
Regardless of what we eat, we all "live on death," as Mr. Spock put it. Even vegans have to kill plants or at least benefit from that killing. Because most of us grew up in urban areas and did not hunt, we find killing animals abhorrent, though we don't have the same feelings toward plants, even though a decades-old study showed that plants feel some semblance of pain and react negatively to threats of being killed, just like animals. Because animals look and act a lot more like us than plants do, humans relate to them much more. But as a Native American once explained to me, there is no moral or logical reason to discriminate against plants or other different forms of life.
Mark Batcheler seems to have the proper attitude toward all this and the article would have been much better had he been featured instead of some mindless jerks who like to drink, shoot guns, drive around wasting gas, making noise and polluting the air, and kill animals that they don't like. Mr. Batcheler obviously gets that we all have to kill to live, but he does it in a way that respects the natural world — on foot and with a bow — unlike the jerks in their motor vehicles with guns and with whom Ms. Richards went on her hunting trip.
Then there's the issue that on a grossly overpopulated planet, if everyone hunted, there would be little or no prey animals left. While it's far better ecologically and nutritionally to eat wild meat (it tastes much better too, in my opinion), the overriding issue of human overpopulation must be solved before we can get everyone back into hunting their own food.
Finally, Ms. Richards failed to mention an extremely important issue, except in passing: The wild boars that they were hunting are non-native and cause great harm to the native plants and animals in California. Wild boars are actually a big problem here and the state should be making major efforts to eradicate them. This is a much bigger and more important issue than whether people kill their own meat.
Killing to eat is necessary in order to live and it's the way life works on our planet, regardless of whether one eats meat. However, that killing should be done with a respect and care for the land and the animals, not by driving around and killing anything that you decide you don't like. There are right and wrong ways to hunt, and Ms. Richards clearly showed both in this article. Unfortunately, she highlighted the wrong way, her comments about it and her partners notwithstanding.
Jeff Hoffman, Berkeley
"It's Time for Civilian Oversight of OPD," Opinion, 6/25
Earning Hearts and Minds
There are many good reasons to support this very moderate ballot proposal, which won't cost the city any additional overhead costs, most of which were given in the article. To me a sufficient reason to get this on the ballot and approve the amendment is to start the work to gain the "hearts and minds" of many residents who won't cooperate with the Oakland Police Department because they don't trust them to police them fairly, let alone to protect them if they do cooperate (as in snitches and stitches). As much as affluent, likely-to-vote voters demand more police, the city will not have the money to hire a substantially higher number of police without ignoring looming retirement and infrastructure debts, cutting vital services, or competing with the Oakland Unified School District for yet another much higher parcel tax. Oakland can't hire enough police or buy enough surveillance equipment to compensate for the lack of cooperation from residents. OPD has to break out from its weak attempts to occupy the many "hot spots" of Oakland and instead earn the trust of residents. Only then can OPD efficiently deter crime before it happens and improve its abysmal investigation closure rate.
Len Raphael, Oakland
Need New Breed of Overseers
Actually, the Oakland Police Department has always had civilian oversight: the city council, the mayor, and the city administrator. The problem has not been structural, but rather functional. The civilian overseers of OPD have not been up to the task assigned to them.
What kind of assurance will we have that yet another bureaucratic salad-tossing will improve on our miserable record of incompetent oversight? Especially in light of the fact that the proposed law leaves final decision-making regarding budget, policies, and major initiatives with the current group of electeds who have failed us all these years?
For me, the bottom line is that we need a whole new breed of council members, mayor, and city administrator.
Michele Ocla, Oakland
"Kaplan Stumbles Out of the Gate," Seven Days, 6/25
Sturdy A's Fans
I am happy to introduce the City of Oakland to the sturdy crew of A's fans who routinely keep score at every game, thus saving the city $5 million.
Carol Denney, Berkeley
"The Art of Neighborhood Creation," Local Economy, 6/11
Great Community Vibe
Thank you for writing the great article about the White Building. My business moved in on the top floor in November (across the hall from Shine Wellness Center) and it has been a joy to share the building with all the colorful artists on the bottom floor. The community vibe in our building is starting to feel like a very cohesive network and we are all enjoying the energy of the newfound feeling of cleanliness and safety. We love our new downtown location and my clients have poked their heads into the galleries, commenting on how wonderful it is to see this part of town feeling lighter, cleaner, and safer. It's great! We think it will be the next 17th street.
I appreciate seeing articles with an uplifting message about our beloved town.
Laura Martin Bovard, Oakland
Our July 2 feature story, "There Is No Such Thing as a Child Prostitute," misstated Stacey Katz's professional affiliation. She is the executive director of the WestCoast Children's Clinic—not of the Child Welfare Council. Also, our July 2 music story, "Where's the Beef?" misstated when Ronnie Spector was to perform. She performed on Sunday, July 6, not Saturday, July 5.