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Mentionable honor
As a winner of an honorable mention in The Independent's most recent poetry contest, I can't help but wish my award had at least been mentioned in the printed edition of your paper. There were over 700 entries in the 2001 contest with four place winners and six honorable mentions. Under those circumstances, I am proud of my achievement and am disappointed that the editors did not share in my sense of accomplishment. In a four page spread covering the contest, including a lengthy column by former Arts and Entertainment editor, Maria Hummel, on the nature of poetry, it seems that at least a few lines of print could have been dedicated to announcing the names of the honorable mention winners. For future contest coordinators, I suggest The Independent only hand out awards it plans to honor. In the meantime, I would like to congratulate my fellow honorable mention winners and I am just sorry their names only will make it into this paper via my letter to the editor: Marion Read Place, Joanna Pearson, Megan Newell, Jessica Tashker and C. Neal Kaye.

Support of the arts
As a gallery director of one of Raleigh's small alternative art spaces, I was puzzled by Med Byrd's recent letter to The Independent. To summarily state that Kate Dobbs Ariail has not been seen in the many small experimental galleries in Raleigh, is peculiar if downright inaccurate. Kate has consistently visited and reviewed the exhibits in my gallery, The Tire Shop. As a matter of fact, Kate has been in my gallery a whole lot more than Med Byrd, whom I believe has been never. I have seen many of the exhibits at LUMP Gallery, and have been very glad that they are here in Raleigh. But for all the public rhetoric, LUMP Gallery has in fact, shown little interest or support in the Tire Shop, presumably one of the small experimental galleries it professes to champion.

Perhaps it is true that Kate has not been overly inclined to review the exhibits at LUMP Gallery. There are certain art reviewers that in some years completely ignore The Tire Shop. That's show biz. It has been my experience that in the long run, art coverage is about as dependable as fleas on a dead dog. But it always comes around again, annoyingly impervious to press releases, letters to editors and telephone calls. And sometimes one must have the maturity and grace to allow others to shine. Excoriating CAM for the lame reason of having "paid staff and donors" is ludicrous. This had the distinct smell of one who had thought their thunder was being stolen.

CAM has struggled immeasurably these last few years, and to deny them their due now is ungenerous and even worse, misses the big picture. So, let's dispense with the bogus public posturing of caring about our colleagues, and make a genuine effort to be part of a wonderfully vibrant art community that is unfolding before our very eyes.

Gagging growth
Many compliments to Hal Crowther for raising the subject of overpopulation. Journalists, writers and even scientists shy away from the subject to the point of denial. Ever since Thomas Malthus linked overpopulation and unconstrained sex, everyone writes about the latter and no one on the former! Overpopulation is not a future threat as it was in 1798. Today, it is a very grim reality and one of the two causes of a projected global resource collapse within the next two decades. The public indifference to President Bush's curtailment of U.S. aid to international family-planning organizations is indicative of how deeply the public denies the consequences of global overpopulation.

We have good evidence of what the reinstatement of the "Global Gag Rule" will do. Since 1970, the world birth rate has been declining at nearly .04 percent per year, except during the interval 1980-1992, when it slowed to about a third of this rate, while the Gag Rule was in place. This resulted in about 300 million more people today than would have been here otherwise. In a world that cannot feed itself, enacting a policy that so significantly will increase world population and misery is a barbaric use of power. Contrary to popular misconception, the consequences of overpopulated nations will not disappear behind national borders.

I wonder if the concerned readers of Hal Crowther's column realize several further facts. The Gag Rule is not about U.S. funding for abortion. The reinstatement of the Gag Rule will severely limit family-planning services and will increase the number of unsafe abortions. There are already bills before the House (H.R.755) and Senate (S.367) that will repeal President Bush's [gag rule] policy. The price tag of $425 million for this program amounts to $1.50 per year for each person in the United States.

The most effective, humane means of reducing the world's birth rate is to promote measures that increase the generation time. Of course, the distribution of contraceptives is very effective, but it does not solve the social problems that are associated with early-age motherhood. These are addressed very effectively through programs that make available health services, educational opportunities, some level of financial independence through mini-loans to young women of the non-industrialized world and, yes, that raise the level of male responsibility. Supporting family planning and/or other activities that take us in the direction of a sustainable population are among the most important humane actions a citizen can take and the cheapest insurance policy for global security a citizen can buy.

Biased beef
It is obvious to me that your purpose with "Meat vs. Veggie" is to obtain restaurant advertisements rather than report factually on delicious foods. Laura Hatmaker states you "wanted to explore the yummy gastronomy of vegetarian and non-vegetarian eating." If you truly examined the foods that we eat for their "yumminess," you would not have divided them into vegetarian and non-vegetarian. What a cop-out! You are not looking at only "yummy gastronomy." What "delicious glories" of vegetarianism are you offering when Clancy Nolan ends her article ("Soy to the World") with the insinuation that Mr. Barman is "missing out" on something by being a vegetarian? Why promote cutting up dead animals as a "real meditative thing," "meat poetry," and a "craft"? My point is that preparation of a plant-based food can be an art done to please other senses than our taste.

If you are exploring only "the yummy gastonomy," why stray into the "the nutritional intelligence of meat," which is marginal, at best?

Get to the real issues! Examine the American meat-based diet and its alternatives in light of nutrition, chronic disease, our environment, and animal suffering. Pooh on the concept that you can use the title "Meat vs. Veggie" and not "explore the ethical and political implications," and, may I add, nutritional and health implications, of our diet. Your title "Meat vs. Veggie" was to sell your magazine, not to look at various ways we make delicious foods.

Just as I could tell your articles were written by non-vegetarians, you can tell that I am a vegetarian. I thought journalists were supposed to write without bias. I am disappointed in your writers' lack of "independent" thought.

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