Animal farm

Last week, when we wrote about the weird incident at the Mangrove McDonald’s involving the Animal Liberation Front, some spray painted slogans and two plastic jugs of liquid, we quoted a member of another animal-rights group called The Animals Voice. The folks at AV were not happy with the way they were portrayed in our story and demanded a retraction. In that piece we did not misquote them, but we called them an “above-ground” animal-rights group. They didn’t like that above-ground business. I offered a possible clarification, something to the effect that they are not an above-ground bunch and that they don’t think ALF’s actions discredit their cause. But the person who contacted us, Laura Moretti, didn’t like my offering. Plus I mistakenly referred to her group in our e-mail correspondence as “Animal’s Voice.” Moretti’s reply: “Thank you for the effort, Tom (and, by the way, Animals Voice doesn’t use an apostrophe; if you use one, please put it after the word ANIMALS as we represent more than one). However, your quote now says that we are NOT something (an above-ground entity) and that we DON’T THINK…”

“Please understand that it’s very important to us that our Web site remain neutral on the animal-rights movement and very one-sided on behalf of animals,” Moretti continued. “Your article characterized us as taking a position/perspective on the animal-rights movement and its tactics that we neither support nor condemn (with the exception that we DO condemn violence and threats of violence). In fact, if you visit our LINKS section, you’ll find this disclaimer: ‘Be advised: Not all links in this directory reflect the views of The Animals Voice or its staff.’ Perhaps you could word your retraction like this: ‘Last week’s story, “Don’t have a cow, man,” mischaracterized the animal-rights group The Animals Voice as taking a position on ALF tactics; The Voice represents the plight of animals and condemns violence, it does not opine on the animal-rights or animal liberation movements.’ I’m looking for a neutral position on this issue, except where it concerns acts of violence. That’s all.” OK.

I want to thank Steve Erickson for dropping off a San Francisco Chronicle from April 13, 1981, the day after the initial launch of NASA’s space shuttle. That maiden flight was by the shuttle Columbia. The sub-headline on the story reads: “Loss of Some Thermal Tiles Not Seen as a Big Problem.” A second front-page story is headlined: “Tiles Were Always a Headache.” That story begins, “The thermal tiles that ripped loose from the space shuttle Columbia’s tail section during its otherwise flawless ascent into space yesterday represent one of the greatest technical problems to plaque NASA in the history of American space flight.”

A few months back the Chico City Council granted three Chico State University professors $3,000 to crunch data from 800 surveys they had conducted with downtown revelers on Halloween night. The surveyors asked such questions as, “Do you think this year there is more law enforcement or less law enforcement?” And, “How much money have you spent in Chico today?” Or, “How would you rate police services? Excellent, Good, No Opinion, Fair or Poor?” The data, the professors said, would help the city spend more efficiently for next year’s October bash. The results are in and indicate that the party was attended by a bunch of 24-year-old white males, some of whom got arrested. The survey results also suggest that the money spent by the visiting public did not make up for the money spent by the city to control an estimated 5,000 who showed that night only to be greeted by a massive police presence. While 800 is a statistically good sampling for a population of 5,000, keep in mind that those 800 represent only those people willing to take a surprise survey on Halloween night. And that group may not be representative of the whole.