Finding a lighter side to feedback

To echo recent sentiment from OBSERVER columnist Renee Gravelle, I feel fortunate and grateful to have an outlet for my little brainstorms. One of the most interesting parts about publishing stuff is that the writer gets to read comments from the reading community. Hot-winded feedback is expected when topics run political, but my recent piece about the mindsets of animals was met with some pretty stout criticism from several individuals who apparently think I am full of, well, horse something.

One gentleman, reading between the lines and assuming I was of the Liberal persuasion, smelled a rodent there. He went on to shame me for neglecting to discuss the Democrat in my piece, whom he identified as the “product of the inbreeding of the skunk.”

Now I have a problem with that. First of all, it demonstrates a lack of understanding regarding skunks, who by their nature are not swift and do not travel far. They spend their entire lives within a one-mile radius. Thus there are very few immigrants into their country, the result of which is considerable inbreeding, which is a necessity for the survival of the species. I might add that they do not judge each other for it.

The analogy is weak in other ways. Skunks are shy and docile creatures-quiet, nocturnal creepers who mean no harm to anyone. They use their highly potent odiferous defense mechanism only as a last resort against those desperate, starving predators who would actually eat them. Democrats, on the other hand, are not necessarily docile or quiet or nocturnal. They can be very loud, offensive, stubborn and are prone to kicking!

And of course skunks do not have voting privileges. If they did, however, like most humans, I suspect they would vote for the candidate who most closely resembles them; perhaps in today’s arena they would vote for the one having the most similar coif.

Another fellow, a highly educated expert in animal husbandry, claimed I was very wrong in my assessment of animal emotions. I learned that all animals have a need to bond-to experience affection and fun with others of their ilk. Moreover, if there are no others like them, they will bond with another species, even humans, in order to satisfy the basic need for companionship. I am excited by this new awareness; however, I feel it should be guarded as top-secret classified information and not provided to the general American public education system. We do not want anyone, especially our children, to go out of their way to cuddle with a lone wolf or rhinoceros.

Perhaps inspired by my reference to Blake’s “Tyger”, a gentleman sent me the entire text of the epic poem “Eulogy for a Dog” by Senator George Graham Vest. This emotional appeal extols the virtues of man’s best friend, whose loyalty and love accompany the master even after death. (The image of the dog’s face gazing in reverie atop the grave is quite moving!) A less eloquent yet perhaps more realistic rendering of the nature of the man-dog relationship might be found in Oliver Twist, where the mercenary Bill Sikes is inadvertently betrayed by his dog Bullseye. From my own personal experience, the same dog that led me out of the woods around the Fredonia reservoir when I was completely lost in the dark is the same one who licked me back to life when I was passed out drunk on the front lawn.

Another reader — an articulate woman who is highly vigilant as she culls the media for the slightest seeds of communism — concluded that I am guilty of bigotry because I accused some Christians as being narrow-minded. My apologies to them and all other flat-earth people. Rest assured that not only the planet but also the entire universe does indeed center around us! Factual evidence can be found in the preachings of Jerry Falwell along with several screenplays for movies that Hollywood has refused to produce because Hollywood is immoral. Tarzan goes to Outer Space and Superman meets God are two good examples, which also have quite a bit of good action in them.

Finally there was a reader who claimed to enjoy my piece until it became “soiled” with my personal opinion about the environment. Because of that, I plan a trip to the Comedy Center in Jamestown to figure out how the great ones managed to keep politics completely out of humor.

Pete Howard is a Dunkirk resident, writer, musician and teacher. FOCAL Point strives to make insightful social commentary through the integration of Facts, Observations, Compassion, Awareness, and Logic.