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Letters to the Editor 

fishy legislative bills

To the Editor:

There is another angle to the current CCA vs. everyone else seafood and sportfishing political muscle story ("A Question of Balance," May 1) -- the outlawing of bowfishing and spearfishing.

Two weeks ago in The Times-Picayune sports section, a list of bills affecting fishing and boating was published. One of them was a bill to outlaw recreational bowfishing and spearfishing. This smacks of discrimination. The number of effective spearfishermen (divers, either scuba or free-diving) in this state is miniscule. The spearfishing is done almost exclusively under oil rigs and for garfish and catfish in freshwater. I have been a diver for 30 years. I want to tell you that the men who make the spectacular catches of big fish risk their lives to do it.

The rigs which hold larger fish and have workable visibility are in deep water, and during much of the year the larger fish of most species are well below 100 feet. The weekend warriors who can spear, subdue and boat a significant number (their recreational limit) of fish are very few. To have the politically connected rod-and-reel fishermen interests outlaw spearfishing and bowfishing seems petty and selfish. It's like a large glutton elbowing a smaller diner out of his chair so he can sop up the last bits on his neighbor's plate.

As far as the conservation impact of bowfishing and spearfishing, just how much of that is going on anyway? Not much I bet, not enough to get a politician's interest even if they all wrote him or showed up at his office. Louisiana line fishermen seem determined to have exclusive fishing rights in Louisiana. What next? No one but people actually born in this state can get a license?

I am not sure, but I heard that even before this proposed bill, the right to spearfish or bowfish commercially at any level had already been outlawed.

Chris Trammell

who pays for the past?

To the Editor:

Lynn Pitts did not mention the most persuasive argument against reparations for slavery: no African American alive has been a slave ("Paying for the Past," April 10). The U.S. government compensated the actual survivors of the Japanese internment in World War II and the actual survivors of the hideous Tuskegee experiments; the German government did not compensate for a monstrous wrong committed eight generations ago. This would create the unjust situation of holding one group of Americans liable, through taxation, for actions of other Americans who looked like them 136 years ago. Because the vast majority of Americans did not own slaves and most Americans are descendants of post-1865 immigrants, reparations today would not even be taxing the descendants of slave-owners or those in government who were complicit in slavery. Even a tax on the descendants of slave-owners would be holding people responsible for something for which they could not conceivably be morally culpable.

Pitts is correct to question whether reparations will be the "great equalizer." Implicit in the argument made by reparation advocates is that the condition of African Americans today is a result of slavery. Many of the more serious problems of the African American -- crime, drug abuse and most importantly, absentee fathers -- are much worse now than 40 years ago. How could the monstrous institution of slavery be the cause of the social pathology that has largely developed since 1960? The illegitimacy rate is over 50 percent for African-American children born in New Orleans. In 1960, during Jim Crow and two generations closer to slavery, only a small fraction of African-American children were born out of wedlock.

Most of the men responsible for these children will become absentee fathers. Girls with absentee fathers are much more likely to be the victims of statutory rape and to become teenage mothers. Boys with absentee fathers are much more likely to become criminals. We all should spend more time eliminating this destructive and relatively recent behavior and not scapegoating others who only look like the perpetrators of long-ago crimes.

Randy Boudreaux

Pet Project

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to the article "Creature Comforts" (April 3), which gave insight on the Charity Animal Hospital, which will later be opened in New Orleans. While reading this article, I appreciated Dr. Ghere, a veterinarian and the president of the Charity Animal Hospital, for proposing this idea for our community.

I was fascinated by the idea that the Charity Animal Hospital would provide free or reduced-cost care to animals that do not receive the proper care. In addition, giving back to the community increases the will and drive of the people in the community to do the same. It displays to me that people take time to improve their community not only where people are concerned, but animals as well.

More articles about Charity Animal Hospital would show how vital these facilities are for the reduced-cost care of animals. If no one like Dr. Ghere came forward to make a difference, who would?

Huguette Lyttle

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