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Letters To The Press: For the Week of June 24 – June 30


Dogfighter Jailing Is Justice

Dear Editor,

Kudos to Nassau County authorities for the arrest and conviction of an admitted dogfighter [“Elmont Man Jailed for Dog Fighting,” June 14], and to the courts for sentencing him to jail time and a five-year ban on keeping companion animals.


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As the deplorable condition of the rescued dogs illustrates, dog fighting is heinous cruelty to animals. Dogs used in fighting rings are typically kept in tiny cages or outdoors on heavy chains 24 hours a day and are starved, beaten, and taunted into aggression. If they lose a fight, they are often shot, drowned, or burned alive. Dogfighters frequently steal unattended companion animals from yards to use as “bait” to train dogs to attack.

It’s vital for communities to do everything possible to stop this cruelty, because animal abusers are cowards who take their issues out on “easy victims”—and they rarely limit themselves to harming other species. The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in its records of serial rapists and murderers. What’s more, animal fighting fast-tracks drugs and weapons into our communities.

Please notify authorities immediately if you see warning signs of dog fighting in your neighborhood. To learn more, visit www.HelpingAnimals.com.

Sincerely,
Martin Mersereau
People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals (PETA)
Norfolk, Va.

Indian Givers

To the Publisher,

I am writing regarding your column addressing the report by the Senate Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Operations on the failure of New York to collect taxes on cigarette sales to non-Native Americans on Indian reservations [“Off the Reservation,” June 17].

I understand this issue means a great deal to you personally. As was noted, the report is consistent with judicial decisions that have ruled such tax collections as warranted, and does side with Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, who happens to be a person of color, regarding the state designation of residents of the Poospatuck reservation.
However, as someone who has promoted equality throughout my tenure in public service and—as your publication has noted—fights for all the residents of my district, I also wish to highlight the following findings of the Committee’s report:

• The state has historically failed to pay Native American Nations the proper respect and to address their needs and concerns. In fact, it can be reasonably said that New York’s dealings with its native peoples have been marked by broken promises, ill will and missed opportunities.

• The report recommended that a cabinet-level position be created in the Executive Branch and that legislative committees be formed in the Assembly and Senate in order to better address issues facing New York’s Native American Nations.

• The central recommendation of the Committee’s report was that the Executive Branch enter real negotiations with the Nations in order to gain a fair and equitable solution to the untaxed cigarette issue. I know you strongly disagree with the notion that the current status quo needs to be changed. However, I, and many residents of Long Island, believe that the current state of affairs is simply unsustainable.

Thank you,
Craig M. Johnson,
Senator, 7th District
Chairman, Senate Standing Committee on Investigations and Government Operations

Publisher’s response:

This letter represents the exact misanthropic attitude towards Indians in this nation beginning with the rationalization of Assemblyman Benjamin’s misguided attempt to legislate the Unkechaug Nation out of existence. Referencing Benjamin as a “person of color” is no better than the schoolboy attempt to justify racist behavior with the platitude “some of my best friends are black.” Nevertheless, the remainder of the letter, point-by-point, further illustrates the lack of understanding of the cigarette taxation issue and continues to patronize anyone with a true grasp on it. The bullet points above are, in order: 1) condescending, 2) typical—when in doubt, create another layer of bureaucracy, and 3) misleading—there is nothing in this report that indicates a willingness to negotiate. The current state of affairs is unsustainable because the manner in which Albany conducts business is unsustainable. Sometimes, the most effective method to uncover the truth is not holding hearings but by holding up a mirror.

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