A letter from a reader: Respect the priorities of others

November 12, 2007:

I just read Fred Ebert '80's letter (July 18) in which he takes aim at the Princeton Animal Welfare Society, and the animal-welfare issue in general. I was appalled – not at the lack of precedence or sympathy Mr. Ebert accords to animal welfare, but at the snide tone with which he goes so unnecessarily out of his way to attack it. We all have our priorities, and as a Princeton grad who has had some involvement with the animal-welfare movement over the past 10 years, I accept that not everyone is that concerned about it. Fair enough – the animal welfare has had its successes and its setbacks, and on balance it has gained some ground. Not everyone has to be involved; as Mr. Ebert notes, there are many issues of critical moment we all should be watchful of.

As a New Yorker, I had had to sit by helplessly on 9/11, out of town, and watch and wait wondering if my friends, colleagues, girlfriend, brother, and sister would emerge from the city and come home that night. I'd say terrorism is as near the top of my list of concerns as it could be. But as Princeton graduates – supposedly the elite wardens of critical thought – I'd like to think we have enough common sense and intellect to respect the priorities that others espouse. I don't need everyone to be as concerned with the welfare of animals as I am (although I think it merits more support than it sometimes gets in this country); I just feel embarrassed that one of my fellow alumni would take such a frivolous and gratuitous slap at those who would try to bring a measure of compassion to helpless beings that suffer a far greater degree of that "pernicious marginalization" than many people do.

Would Mr. Ebert feel the same if someone tortured his family pet, or docked its tail without anesthesia, as is done every day to those troublesome farm animals he can't wait to sink his teeth into? It would seem far more Princetonian to support, rather than denigrate, the chosen good works of our fellow Princetonians. I can't help but find myself mirroring Mr. Ebert in thinking, "I expect more from graduates."

North White Plains, N.Y.

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