ethel’s words

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Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, in “The World and Africa”, wrote of a mother elephant, whose baby had been shot, raging at the hunters, facing their guns, though she understood the work of guns: death. Her grief was greater than her fear of death. Perhaps she knew, better than humans know, that her child’s life is her life, and is the continuity of the species as well.

Elephants have many kinds of relationships with humans, and gratefully, in some societies they are esteemed. In our society, with its rampant, callous cruelty, and its intentional brutality, elephants do not fare well. In Utah, they are even worse off than the starving horses we see standing in winter fields.

In Oregon, a rancher was fined punitively for neglecting to feed cattle in a harsh winter, but Utah’s State Legislature has refused to provide a comprehensive prohibition against cruelty. They reserve the right of torture, such as “torture veal”--that brings more money than joyful veal.

Perhaps Counties could enact prohibitions of torture. Are they enabled? Then we would have to think about the basic nature of zoos--prisons with the anguish of confinement and permanent loneliness. We would need to draw many lines. But we do not worry about such details in our criminal justice system now, so why fret? Take the first step.

Ethel C. Hale