Saturday, August 25, 2012
Editorial: Short takes
Quick views on some of the week's news.
From the RoundTable blog
Read the latest entries
Dogging the pound
Pet owners' attachment to their animal companions can fall appallingly short of the devotion that dogs and cats show to their people. Human perfidy accounts for many, if not most, of the thousands of stray and abandoned animals that land each year at the regional pound in Roanoke, where more than half will be killed.
Most people quickly put aside any thought of their fate. Animal advocacy groups like the Roanoke No Kill Coalition are filled with people who, to their credit, do not. The coalition's allegations of mistreatment of a dog and more general concerns about pound operations have generated three ongoing investigations. The results surely will be of great interest to participating localities, which should be ready to exercise whatever oversight is deemed necessary by the findings.
Till then, further agitation is unwarranted. No reasoned action can be taken without having gathered all the facts. Yet the chance of precipitating unreasoned, unwanted action is always a danger when stirring the cauldron of public outrage.
There's no way to know if coalition Facebook posts inspired threatening calls that prompted the pound and affiliated Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter to close on Tuesday. The heavy breather, of course, remained anonymous. But SPCA board president Barbara Dalhouse pointedly noted how closely the latter followed on the former.
Animal welfare advocates would be wise to note it's possible to maintain both vigilance and patience.
A step toward equality at Augusta
One small corner of America where bigotry prevailed finally caught up with the rest of the country this week. Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, home of the Masters tournament, admitted its first two female members.
Augusta was not legally obligated to admit women, just as the Boy Scouts need not admit gays or atheists or girls. Private clubs may discriminate in membership if they wish.
Yet Augusta represented all the worst of such discrimination. It is a club for the wealthiest and the most powerful. Excluding women denied them access to the business deals and relationships that develop in such an environment.
That it remained men-only for so long was in part a clash of personalities. Former club chairman Hootie Johnson and women's rights activist Martha Burk famously and publicly quarreled over this issue a decade ago.
Times change, though, and finally women will have access to one of America's most elite clubs. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore can tee it up with the men at Augusta as members. They long ago proved they could take the men on everywhere else.
Don't just reach for the remote
Summer vacation season is winding down, affording us few remaining opportunities to plan a respite from the campaign to one of the so-called "safe" states. Whether in the red column or the blue, safe-staters can plop down in front of the TV without the constant barrage of political ads junking up the airwaves as they are in our swinging state.
The next time rapid-fire ads come at you louder than a sitcom's laugh track, don't just sit there scratching your head, wondering who are these people trying to convince you to believe things you know just aren't true. Don't just pick up the remote and hit "mute." Instead download the Ad Hawk or Super PAC app, grab your smartphone and let it listen in and figure it out.
The Sunlight Foundation developed Ad Hawk (works on a Droid or iPhone), and Glassy Media came up with the Super PAC app (iPhone only) to help voters figure out the organizations behind all these campaign messages. Both were announced this week. The apps listen in and then tell you which shadowy group is behind a particular message. It can't always tell you who the people are, though, behind that group, because the Citizens United decision drew a curtain over campaign finance disclosure. We played around with the Ad Hawk and found it isn't always on target, but it does have links to follow that just might help you follow the trail of political intrigue and separate fact from fiction.