Downright Mean

Surviving boot camp: I read your article about the juvenile boot camp and the food situation there ("More, Please," February 22). I was also in a boot camp years ago where I did not get enough to eat, people weren't very nice to me, and they got me up before dawn (5 a.m. or worse) and gave me hard physical labor all day until dark. And if I was overweight or a troublemaker, I got less food and less love.

They were downright mean to us. I was hit more than once and was yelled at constantly. I was not there by choice. I did not do anything bad to get there (e.g., steal cars, rob people, shoplift, etc.). I was one of those who grew up during the Vietnam War era and was forced into serving in the military (the Marines). I hated it.

But...it was an experience I would not trade. It taught me that there are times in life that are unpleasant, and sometimes you have to do things you don't want to. I tried to get out of it but was unsuccessful. But at the end of the ordeal, in a strange way, I became a man and proud I successfully completed the program.

If these children are not taught that their actions may make life unpleasant for themselves early in their crime career, I daresay they will continue into this lifestyle until it is truly unpleasant for both them and us. If, on the other hand, these children are required to do something really strenuous, difficult, and unpleasant, they just might begin to develop some things they sorely need: self-esteem and responsibility. Maybe.

I have had my cars stolen, a rapist rape my neighbor, three friends robbed at gunpoint in the Dallas area, and my nephew beaten to a pulp by young hoodlum gangs in Grand Prairie. His family house was broken into so many times (probably by the same hoodlums) that they moved to Arlington.

I have no sympathy for these youngsters. I fear them.

Ron Criswell
Via e-mail

All God's Creatures

Lost and empty society: After reading your article "Chick Fillet" (February 15), I could only sit here in despair. In the last few months there have been so many articles and radio and TV shows showing abuse of animals that I am beginning to lose hope that we can ever become a civilized society. The example we are showing the youth of this country is going to come back to haunt us. There is no respect, much less feeling, for animals, and it is extended in many cases to human beings.

Without respect for the life and feelings of God's creatures we are a lost and empty society. You must be held responsible by publishing this and with no reprimand to the zoo. We have all been brought up to believe zoos liked animals, but alas, they too have become entertainment centers for society. A wise woman once said, "Animals and children have no voice nor choice." I hope you will let these words stir your heart and those of your readers and that you would become the voice of these animals.

June H. Booth
Slidell, Louisiana

Hiding behind the children: I can understand the necessity of using chicks, rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, and quail as food sources for other zoo animals. What I can't understand is exploiting their cuteness and making them temporary pets without truthfully informing zoo visitors or, at the very least, the junior zookeepers. Deputy Zoo Director Chuck Siegel says, "If they [zoo visitors] ask, we are going to be giving them an honest, natural point of view." To my mind, this equals yet another instance of the City of Dallas' standard operating policy, "If they don't ask, we won't tell." It seems cowardly of the zoo's administration to expect a junior zookeeper, who is only 11-13 years old, to explain to a zoo visitor what lies ahead for the bunny or chick they're petting.

If the zoo isn't ashamed of this policy, then they should be honest with the public and post it on a sign in the Lacerte Children's Zoo, explaining the baby-petting program from beginning to end.

What about teaching kids the responsibility of caring for a pet and not getting rid of an animal when it's no longer a cute baby? Now that's an educational project with a positive impact!

I'm surprised the Lacerte family would want their name on a second-class facility that won't responsibly educate the public and promotes the exploitation of baby animals.

Patricia Melton

Eat more vegetables: The "Chick Fillet" article gives all the more reason for one to become a vegetarian. It is so true that so much of what we consume daily is placed on our plates as a result of the slaughter of other living creatures who experience fear and pain.

Becoming a vegetarian will not solve all of our moral dilemmas, but it is a good first step.

Allan A. Saxe

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