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A Shirker's Paradise?

When an organism becomes sick and weak, it attracts parasites. The same must be true of nations. America appears to have become a host that supports human parasites. Based on your excellent “Hardly Working” report (Feature, June 1), I grieve over what we have become.

I would never want to deny benefits to the truly disabled, but as a retired worker who has paid into the system for more than 40 years, I do resent those who claim pseudo-disabilities to avoid getting a job. And I certainly resent the growing number of lawyers advising and assisting slackers about how to game the system.

In 2007, you report, nearly 11 percent of the Baltimore City population aged 18 to 64 collected disability benefits. Now the numbers have increased. Why has Baltimore become a magnet for spongers and shirkers? Sadly, your article did not compare our situation with similar American municipalities. And even more disturbing, there was no mention of cities in other developed nations and how they cope with these problems.

Your example of Nathaniel Jackson Jr. is tragic. However, I don’t think he is the real problem, since he would like to find work. Jackson’s lack of education and his criminal record have contributed to the man’s dilemma, and these issues must be addressed. But it is that hard core who despise work and responsibility that is so bothersome. Also, all the lawyers who aid and abet this parasitic population should be encouraged to leave town.

More importantly, Baltimore needs to address why it is so difficult to find a good job in our city. What does “Charm City” do that discourages industry from moving here? Why do we have a school system that provides only a marginal education, at best? And why have we created a “Hon” culture of self-worship and constricted vision?

I’ve worked hard all my life, and at some pretty wretched places—but I always wanted to find employment and pay my own way. However, if there had been a system entrenched to have made it possible to avoid the hassles and nastiness of the work place, might I too have been tempted to take advantage? Years ago, being a parasite and sponging off the labor of others was condemned; today it is accepted and often encouraged. Is it any wonder America is in hock for $14 trillion?

Rosalind Nester Ellis


Who Are You Kidding?

“One Tuesday morning in 2004, we decided almost at random to put the number of American military personnel killed in the ‘War on Terror’ up to that date on the cover of the heading-for-press paper. The Nov. 9 issue featured four unannounced, unexplained digits just above the big city paper: 1,134. It was the issue after George W. Bush’s re-election, but there’s no lingering memory of it as a political decision.”

I can’t tell whether you think you’re kidding us, you’re simply kidding yourselves, or you’re suffering from the “selective amnesia” that conservatives say is so rampant among liberals in the mainstream media. It was entirely a political decision and reaction, and you know it. You failed to note that you moved the numbers off the front cover and “buried” them inside only after Obama’s election, and I have no doubt whatsoever that if a Republican wins the Presidency in 2012 and this war is still “ongoing” in any sense those numbers will be right back on the front page with the Nov. 14, 2012 issue.

Prove me wrong. Find the room to put them back on your front pages now, and add yet a third number category for Libya (even if the number is zero so far). Just throw a sticker with the numbers randomly on the front page somewhere. We’ll notice it more there and then. Otherwise, it looks just like the political opportunism it (probably) is, even if your motives are entirely sincere and pure.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV


It’s Still Killing

I am sure the author of “Gone Killin’” (Eat Me, June 1) would love the readers to applaud the infinite courage it took to slice the throat of a chicken. And I am also certain that such a thrilling tale of personal sacrifice gave the many “hipsters” of Baltimore the permission to ride their “fixies” to the nearest sustainable butcher to enjoy the sausage and bacon they’ve always loved, but were afraid to seem uncool. Meat is apparently the new vegan, since the author relegates vegan- or vegetarianism to the effluence of adolescence. It is now the trend to reassert our supposed carnivorism by emphasizing how animals can be raised sustainably and given the good life. That is, until they’ve reached slaughter weight.

Many authors, that of “Gone Killin’” included, feel the need to constantly justify their meat eating while simultaneously diminishing the efforts of those who choose not to consume animal flesh, as if it’s some kind of naive and impossible ideal like world peace. Given that we have a wealth of very easy alternatives to animal products in the United States, the only logical reason one would need to consume flesh is for taste. Our survival in a modern society such as ours does not hinge upon the killing of animals, yet the author gives some kind of pseudo-spiritual credibility to the slaughter by noting the simple “prayer” offered to each animal before its throat is cut.

We’re all very impressed.

Taste, however, to me sounds like an unbelievably selfish and immature reason to go through the lengths of raising and killing animals for food. Many, including this author, placate themselves by touting the pipe dream that is sustainably raised animal products. Carnivorism is a passing phase, a thoughtless and infantile embrace of values we learned as children. Sure, we have the right to taste things we enjoy, and for now, bacon is one of those things. But spare us the self-righteous commentary that actually putting knives to throats makes the consumption of animal flesh anything other than for taste. And it is for taste, and for handbags, that millions of animals are put to slaughter each day.

Shaun Johnson



As a vegan, and lapsed animal-rights activist, I have to commend the author for her willingness to, at least for one meal, kill the animal that she will eat. If everyone had to kill the animals they ate, I believe there would be more vegetarians and vegans. However, I want to correct a couple of statements that the author made.

First, her assertion that “living takes life” is patently untrue. Witness the millions of vegans and vegetarians. In fact, by virtually all studies not taking life is better for living. Eating meat is associated with increased risk for the most common ailments, diseases, and infirmities that afflict and kill humans, such as heart disease, diabetes, strokes, etc. So, not only is killing animals not required, it’s actually not as healthy as not taking life. Maybe in the past, humans had to eat meat to live, but not now.

Second, the author implies that vegans and vegetarians are at least as equally complicit as meat eaters in animal death because they don’t take into account “collateral damage,” by which I assume he refers to the field mice, worms, insects, voles that inadvertently get killed in the harvesting of crops. What the author fails to understand is that meat eaters are directly responsible for many times the amount of collateral damage that vegans and vegetarians are. This is because so much grain and other feed must be produced to feed the animals that get consumed for their flesh. It is a fact that eating meat is an incredibly inefficient way to produce protein. It takes about 10 times the amount of acreage (not to mention water, energy, chemicals) to produce protein via animal production as it does through eating a plant-based diet. In other words, one acre of plants grown for human consumption produces 10 times as much protein as one acre used to raise animals for consumption. (Saving the environment is one huge benefit of being vegan and vegetarian.) Think about it: we feed animals enormous amounts of perfectly good protein and they convert only about 10 percent of it to flesh. Most is excreted as waste or goes into non-flesh growth such as bones, hair, ligaments, etc. So the more meat that is eaten the more collateral damage there is. Vegetarians and vegans are saving lives in this manner as well.

Stewart Lyons


Editor’s note: On June 1, a packed house at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson watched the 10 finalists in City Paper’s third-annual Shoot. Score. Baltimore short-film contest, voted for its favorites, and applauded as the winners were named. The $500 grand prize, as voted by contest judges Rahne Alexander, Jonathan and Rick Robinson, and KJ Mohr, was awarded to Chris LaMartina’s “Holy Smokes”; Mark Colgrove’s “Human Shield” was runner-up. The $250 audience favorite award, as voted by, uh, the audience, went to Emily Silverman and Alessa Colaianni’s “Snack Attack.” You can check out the winners and the rest of the finalists at Congrats to all, and see you next year.

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