"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dennis Anderson's 8/2 column uncalled for

I scavenged for various sections of the Star Tribune Sunday evening at McDonald's. Generally we don't have to fight over these anymore. Newspapers have stabilized better than many people expected maybe a decade ago. It's probably through cuts and consolidation more than anything.
Whatever, we still have copies of the old "Strib" coming to our community daily. I personally got my checkbook out to make sure the Senior/Community Center could keep getting the paper. The Senior Center had decided not to renew but I intervened.
I'm sorry that I paid any money to support a paper that would include the Dennis Anderson column. I paged through the Sunday Strib and came upon Anderson's column in sports. Anderson has ruffled feathers before. I remember reading the suggestion that his column should be placed on the editorial pages. Yes, sometimes a "column" can be so incisive, it can't pass muster anywhere outside of a position clearly labeled opinion.
Anderson writes about hunting and fishing. That makes his stuff pretty harmless most of the time. It's easy for me to ignore. I'm not enamored of the pastime of killing wildlife. These matters can get political like anything else. I regret greatly that we cannot feel some common sense of revulsion about the killing of that lion, "Cecil." Does this issue, like so many, have to follow the typical dividing lines of left-leaning and right-leaning?
The dentists of America must be concerned. The "brave" lion-killer is famously a dentist, a profession where customers increasingly feel concern about prices charged. And now we're seeing how that money gets spent?
I read the Anderson column twice. He seems to thumb his nose at many of the hunter's critics by implying, well, we just don't understand. We don't have all the facts. We might not even understand hunting.
The hunting proponents always talk about the need to "manage populations." Well, I sort of thought the "ecosystem" took care of that. Things balance out. Michael Crichton talked about the "war" among the many forms of wild things, a situation we can easily overlook. I'm not sure God had in mind bow and arrow hunters for being part of this. I have always wrinkled my forehead over bow and arrow hunting. What do you prove using this method? Do you feel kin with Fred Flintstone or something?
We now hear the story of Cecil the Lion's prolonged and obviously miserable death at the hands of that dentist/hunter. We legitimately wonder: what pleasure could any human take in doing this? Why can't we simply reach a consensus on this basic human reaction? The way we treat animals is a reflection of the state of our civilization. I remember when Marv Levy, the old football coach, took the anti-hunting position in comparison to Minnesota's famous hunter/coach Bud Grant. Levy wasn't hostile to anyone and said he wasn't advocating any outlawing of hunting, but he just didn't understand the impulse. He didn't understand any satisfaction in shooting a defenseless animal.
You don't have to think deeply about this. For me it's pretty fundamental. But Anderson has to get all irritated and bend over backward trying to get us to understand "the hunter's side of the story" in connection with Cecil.
The death of a single lion is minor in the scheme of things. Nature can be cruel in and of itself. But human beings have this mechanism called conscience. We would expect dentists of all people to recognize it. I'm writing this on Monday morning and I don't know yet if there will be serious blowback to the Dennis Anderson column. Maybe it will pass quietly. Or, maybe there will be public pleas to stop supporting the Star Tribune, as if the Strib is in any position to absorb that.
Technically we shouldn't blame Anderson at all. We blame the editors. It's like when Jim Souhan wrote that insensitive piece about Jerry Kill and his health issues. Souhan was a bull in a china closet. But we need to blame the editors who take the responsibility of allowing things into print.
I don't think it's necessary at all to print a column suggesting we need to calm down on the Cecil the Lion matter, to respect the hunter's position more and to "get all the facts" before commenting. We have enough facts now. One fact Anderson thought was important: the dentist used a "compound bow" and not a "crossbow" as had been reported. Yeah, that's real important. Or, some drivel about how it was best to wait until morning for finishing the lion off, lest he wander off and suffer even more - something like that.
It is a fact that this poor lion suffered unreasonably. And for what end? So the hunter could chalk up another "big game" kill? For boasting purposes?
Extreme political conservatives are always on the other side of the coin from me. I always hope I'll be pleasantly surprised by these people, but no. Political conservatives erupted with a chorus of wondering why we can't be similarly revulsed over the Planned Parenthood videos. Well, I think there's a reason: most of us don't want to go back to a time where we battled continuously over the fundamental question of abortion itself - whether it should be outlawed. We basically consider the matter to be settled law.
If we should be mad at anyone, we should be mad at God. Yes, I'll assert that. Why did God create us with these sex and reproductive issues that cause so much pain and tragedy? Why did God create pedophile priests? Why did he create Jerry Sandusky and Dennis Hastert? We're supposed to feel rage making us want to utterly condemn such people, but what was in their biological nature making them inclined to their unacceptable behavior? Why did God render our species this way? Why so many unwanted pregnancies?
Sex is more trouble than it's worth, wouldn't you say? I'm inclined to think there's no God at all. All our mysteries can be laid at the doorstep of space aliens, I suggest, who bred with Earth primates and created that curious specimen called "man." We have fought massive wars resulting in the miserable deaths of untold numbers of us, including collateral damage. Look at World War II. And why? Politics?
I am disappointed that Dennis Anderson is a graduate of UMM. And yes, his column should have appeared as an op-ed. I remember when my Morris Sun Tribune newspaper ran a pastor's column on the editorial page rather than where it would normally go. It was soon after 9/11. I laud Jim Morrison for his decision to put the contentious piece on the op-ed page, because it suggested that certain devoted Christians had gotten sort of a subliminal warning on the morning of 9/11, encouraging them to stay out of the twin towers. The non-Christians might be engulfed in the tragedy, including Jews. I'm tempted to type the name of the pastor here but I won't. He's still in Morris. He's not a Lutheran -  he's more fundamentalist.
Christians should be revulsed by what the dentist/hunter did in Africa. I suspect there's only one way out for this Walter Palmer, the great white hunter or whatever: he can redeem himself only by pledging to commit the rest of his dentist career helping people on the economic margins, kids especially. Heaven knows Africa needs help. He can provide his service for the least cost possible. Perhaps he could live in a spartan sort of way. If he follows such a path, he could go to heaven with a saintly level of self-worth.
As for Dennis Anderson, his Sunday column was uncalled for and should have been spiked. His outlook makes me want to puke.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

No comments:

Post a Comment