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Letters June 9

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Caution With the discovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in eastern Arkansas, I could not help but remember the dedicated conservationists who worked so hard during the 1970s to be sure that at least some of the great bottomland forest remained intact. Names like Rex Hancock, Jane Stern, Harold Alexander, Trusten Holder, and many more come to mind. They were dedicated to saving habitat. I have heard that in one’s journey through life, it is important to make a commitment and have faith that things unforeseen will happen. I can think of no better example of making that commitment than the people who fought so hard to stop the channelization of the Cache River in an attempt to save a portion of the bottomland hardwoods of eastern Arkansas. And the unforeseen did happen. What a wonderful tribute to this group of people. But with success comes a need for caution. Given its celebrity status, it may be understandable that people will rush to see the ivory-billed woodpecker. But surely simple logic would tell us that this may not be in the best interest of the recovery of the species. Which is more important, getting to see the bird or helping to ensure its survival? Answering such questions may involve a deeper look at how we view conservation. It may well involve developing a special relationship with our environment along with an appreciation that the real beauty of the world is the interrelationship of living organisms functioning together to produce the environment in which we live. This relationship might be compared to love. If you really love something, you care for it. We must not forget that love is not selfish. Joe Nix Arkadelphia Pro-fetus Almost from the beginning anti-abortionists have been able to frame their argument as “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice.” I submit that by supporting the Bush administration and its many anti-life policies (declaring war and invading another nation under false pretenses, dismantling or rolling back environmental protections on toxic wastes, withholding or delaying the delivery of life-saving drugs to Africa, etc.) that the “pro-lifers” have limited themselves to “pro-fetus” status. Pro-fetus should have been the term from the beginning, for the term more accurately describes that cause. We all need to work much harder in preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Abstinence is certainly the surest solution but with the age of puberty for girls in the U.S. at 11 years 4 months (and going down) and the average age of marriage for women at somewhere around 27 years, abstinence cannot be presented as the only solution. John Engelhorn Hot Springs Village Vouchers The purpose of vouchers is to offer families school choice. Vouchers may initially be given to students already in private school but eventually they will spread to all income groups. The South will benefit from vouchers as much as other parts of the country. We’ve plenty of private Protestant schools whose students would benefit. Families choosing to put their children in private schools cannot afford two school systems. Thomas Pope Little Rock Anniversary The first anniversary of gay marriage in Massachusetts has passed with little fanfare. Since last May, more than 6,000 couples now have the legal recognition and protection that heterosexuals take for granted. Scorpions have not rained down upon the earth, locusts have not filled the skies, values have not eroded and the family has not fallen apart. What’s most remarkable is the lack of interest in my home state that this anniversary is causing. Gay couples got married, many of them friends of mine, and went on with their lives, their marriages affecting no one else’s life. I realize voters remain divided across the country and gay marriage loses at the voting booth. However, all these elections have occurred in places where gay marriage has not taken place, yet. Once it does, the notion of chaos will be replaced by everyday reality. Civil rights has never been a popularity contest and rights are often seen to be catastrophic when they are granted. Women now vote, interracial couples now marry, gay and lesbians can get married in Massachusetts. Gay marriage nationwide is inevitable, as history has shown us that justice always prevails no matter what obstacles are placed in front of it. Until granted full marriage rights, we will always be second-class citizens, no matter how it is sugar-coated. Joe Goudsward Jacksonville

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