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Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Little Perspective – The Moose Death at Colony Middle School (updated)

Monday a young moose died on the Colony Middle School campus in Palmer, Alaska.

Moose die here in Alaska all of the time, killed by hunters or the environment or predators. It happens.

What made this particular moose’s death newsworthy was that it died after apparently being harassed by the students.

The story was reported in the Anchorage Daily News, and picked up by various media outlets across the country with varying degrees of promotion. A number of animal rights organizations picked up the story. And, of course, the tale is loose in the blogosphere and the twitterverse, becoming more embellished with each retelling.

As you might imagine, a number of folks are up in arms.

As usual, both the so-called professional mainstream media, and the blogosphere are more interested in hyperbole, hysteria, headlines, outrage, self righteousness, and hype. With stories like these, and increasingly all stories, it’s getting harder and harder to tell mainstream reporting from the tabloids.

FOXNews reports: Alaska Middle School Students Scare Moose to DEATH!

AP News reports: School Moose Death!

Other headlines shout: Eighth Graders In Alaska Punished for Taunting Moose To Death! Panicked Moose commits to Suicide to Escape Children! Students Disciplined for Terrorizing Moose (this is my personal favorite. Terrorism. Yep. It always comes down to terrorism, thank you Bush Administration, thank you so very much indeed). Do a Google search, see what you come up with.

Commenters under these stories frequently note that mass murderers often killed animals as children. The commenters express outrage and demand the children be variously: punished severely, expelled, jailed, fined, and so on and so forth. Nobody actually mentioned tar, feathers, or boiling oil, but I got the impression some of them were implying it, especially on the animal rights sites. There are calls for the school staff to be fined, fired, penalized, and so on an so forth and in this case I think tar, feathers, and boiling oil were mentioned. A large number of people have called this event a horrifying tragedy. Animal rights organizations are spitting venom.

Please.

Colony Middle School is a block from my house. My son goes to school there. The moose in question was a yearling calf that was most likely in my yard last week with his mother. My son told me about the incident Monday. Over the last three days I’ve spoken to other parents and I just got off the phone with the school.

So, speaking as an experienced Alaskan, a parent, a member of the Palmer community, and as somebody who has a kid in the school in question and as such is extremely familiar with the school and the kids and the staff and for that matter, moose, allow me to say this:

Shut the hell up. All of you.

Now, take a deep breath and let’s get a little perspective here before we break out the torches and pitchforks, shall we?

Before we condemn the kids as future mass murderers, the teachers as lax and incompetent, and the moose as a martyr to Truth, Justice, and the American Way, let’s all just take a second to get a few facts straight:

Monday morning, the eighth grade physical education class headed out onto the athletic field to run laps.

The athletic areas are behind the school, and border a thickly wooded area. Moose are common, especially this time of year when they come out from the deep woods in search of new growth to feed on – such as the grass on the athletic fields. Unknown to either the students or the teachers, a young moose had wandered onto the campus.

This particular moose was a yearling calf, most likely only recently pushed out on his own by his mother. He was young, inexperienced, and not used to being alone. Now don’t get all gooey eyed and start projecting your own feelings of youthful angst onto the moose – this is a normal event, and moose aren’t people, they’re moose. Yearlings are pushed out on their own, because very soon the cow moose is going to birth this year’s generation of calves. That’s how it works. A certain number of those newly liberated yearlings aren’t going to make it. They fight other moose for territory, they get killed by wolves or bears that they don’t have the sense or experience to avoid, they get hit by cars because they haven’t learned about roads, they die from malnutrition because they can’t find enough to eat in the period between winter and summer, they die because they’re sick, or lame, or just plain unfit. This is not a tragedy, it’s just nature. Those young moose who die provide food for other animals, from bear and wolf cubs, to foxes, to eagles and crows, to bugs and mice and all manner of creatures. The ones that are hit by cars end up feeding needy families, or sled dogs if they’re too damaged for human consumption. Welcome to life in Alaska.

The moose on the Colony Middle School campus had gotten himself inside one of the fenced in athletic areas – likely he would have eventually found his way out again, or he might have tried to butt down the fence or even jump over it. This could have ended badly for the moose any number of ways. Moose get tangled up in fences and swing sets and clotheslines all over Alaska all of the time – some die as a result. Now, the path the students use for laps runs down the side of the enclosure. Two students apparently stopped when they noticed the moose, and began yelling at it. They also apparently threw pebbles and maybe a stick or two.

The moose did what moose do in such situations, it attempted to run away. Apparently it butted into the fence, which probably confused it – a chain link fence looks a lot like underbrush to a moose, something they’re used to plowing through. The moose became agitated, and charged the fence, apparently breaking its neck. Which, understandably, killed it almost instantly.

The teacher was on scene almost immediately. The students were rounded up and brought back inside. The state game office was called, as were the State Police. State game officers normally only respond if the animal is trapped or injured and needs to be freed or put down or there is some question of identification. If the animal is dead, the incident falls under the purview of the State Police – which was the case here. The police examined the situation, determined that no laws were broken and reported the kill to harvest list (a list of approved folks who will salvage the meat for proper use and charitably distribution) and dispose of the carcass. This happens all of the time here in Alaska, usually with road killed animals – about 200 hundred moose where killed in Anchorage and on Valley roads last year, just to give you an idea. Almost all of that meat was salvaged, very little went to waste).

The school examined the situation. Then the principle held a meeting with the students to explain what happened, what should have happened, what went wrong, what went right, and how to deal with such situations in the future. The principle informed us parents via the school’s automated phone message system, and via email and gave us a contact number where we could reach her for further details. She also invited us to drop by the school and discuss our concerns should we have any.The two students who were responsible for harassing the animal were suspended.

Various reports have embellished the story, adding layers of outrage and imaginary details like children playing a game of “Telephone.” But, what I’ve told you above is the actual story as it happened.

Now a couple of things:

First this is not a tragedy. A tragedy is when a child goes to sleep hungry because she’s too poor to get more than one decent meal a day. A tragedy is when a child dies from whooping cough or measles, or mumps, or some other easily preventable disease because his idiot parents are too ignorant to get him immunized. A tragedy is when children die because their parents are drug addicts or drunks or just too damned stupid to slow down on icy Alaskan roads. A dead moose isn’t a tragedy, it’s an unfortunate accident. Nothing more. Over 200 hundred moose related accidents happened in the Valley alone last year, most hit by cars. A number of those because drivers were going too fast, or talking on their phones, or daydreaming, or eating a cheese burger instead of paying attention. Strangely though, few call for those people to be tarred and feathered. Hypocrisy in action.

Second, a large number of commenters, both on blogs and under news articles like the ADN piece linked to above have stated that mass murderers start out by torturing animals, QED these kids are going to be mass murderers. For crying out loud. Folks that’s called the logical fallacy of Circular Cause and Consequence. Only a few murderers actually started out by killing or torturing animals. Not all, not a majority, a couple. A rather large number of murderers have been described by folks who knew them as “a real nice guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Saying these kids are going to turn into mass murderers because they yelled at a moose makes as much sense as saying a boy scout is going to became Charlie Manson because he helped a nice old lady across the street. That’s the cause part of this fallacy, here’s the consequence part: just because a kid teases his dog or pulls on a kitten’s tail does NOT mean he is destined to become the next Jeffry Dahmer. The kids in question here yelled at a moose, they maybe threw a couple of stones at it. It wasn’t torture, it sure as hell wasn’t terrorism, it was a couple of kids being kids.

Third. As noted above, we’re talking about kids here. A number of blogs and commenters I read expressed outrage at the lack of judgment displayed by the involved children. Lack of judgment? These people are kidding right? They obviously don’t have teenagers, have never actually met a teenager, and were obviously never teenagers themselves. Seriously, only a complete idiot would expect mature behavior and sound judgment from thirteen year olds.

Fourth. A number of folks have called for the teacher and the school to be disciplined. I’m sure this will be the topic of the next school board meeting. Again, are you kidding? What exactly should the teacher have done? The kids were running cross country laps over an area of several acres. There are fences and trees and outbuilding and hills, the teacher can’t see everything or be everywhere. As immature as an eighth grader is, they are old enough that they can run laps on the school grounds without being watched every second. We’re running a middle school gym class here, not a prison exercise yard. You want jailors and end-to-end eyeball coverage for every student 100% of the time, you’re going have to pony up one hell of a lot more money to hire that kind of manpower. Think about what you’re demanding for a moment. Do you let your thirteen year olds play outside in the yard or the neighborhood without supervision? I sure do, and I’m not holding the school to higher standards of supervision than I display as a parent. I do expect the school to take reasonable precautions, and reasonable safety and security measures, and provide reasonable supervision – but it’s Alaska, there’s going to be moose in the yard (and there’s actually one outside my window at the moment, probably the mother of the moose that was killed). The teacher responded as quickly as humanly possible once she was aware of the situation. She took immediate action to ensure the safety of the children first. What else would you have her do? This entire event took place in seconds. It is possible the moose was startled more by the arrival of the running students - who it might have confused with predators - than from the actual taunts and stones.

Fifth. The kids. Look, the kids shouldn’t have yelled at the moose. They shouldn’t have thrown stones. Maybe. And maybe they should have – under other circumstance frightening the moose back into the woods and away from humans is a good idea. Look, if you don’t know about moose, you should keep your mouth shut. Moose aren’t like cows or dogs or people. Moose are not harmless – contrary to what a number of commenters claimed in the ADN. Moose are wild animals, they can be extremely dangerous. More people are killed or seriously injured by moose here in Alaska every year than by all the bear attacks combined. Moose are, however, a fact of life here. They live in the bush, but they also live in our backyards. We live beside them, we photograph them, and we eat them. The kids don’t get excited about moose around here, they’re used to them. Maybe too used to them. Most people, me included, have scared off a number of moose by yelling at them, or tossing a stick. I’ve scared dozens out of my flower beds. So, it is highly likely that the kids involved saw absolutely nothing wrong in yelling at, or tossing stones at, a moose. Should they have expected the moose to die as a result of their actions? Should they have extrapolated the moose’s panic or its response? Refer to the paragraph above regarding teenaged judgment.

Should this have happened? In a perfect world, no. Of course not. Just like all of those animals killed on Alaska’s roads every year – a lot of which are preventable – shouldn’t happen.

This was an accident, the kids didn’t intend to hurt the animal. But they did display poor judgment and the animal died. That’s all that happened. It’s bad enough, without making it worse by talking out your excretory orifice.

Here’s what you should take away from this incident

1) No child was killed or hurt. If you can’t see why this is the single most important takeaway, if you place the life of a moose above the life of a child, then I don’t want to know you. Don’t comment here, don’t email me, just go the hell away I don’t want to talk to you.

2) An animal died. This is unfortunate, but it needs to be viewed in perspective, and its death will not go entirely to waste. This young moose will feed a family for months, or a team of sled dogs. Again, a little perspective here, folks. Don’t go anthropomorphizing the moose. Maybe it panicked, maybe it didn’t. You weren’t there, you don’t know. Maybe it was afraid, maybe it was just confused, and maybe it was just doing what moose do for their own inscrutable moose reasons. It died, but its death was no more horrible than being shot, or being run down by wolves, or being hit by a car, or being torn apart by a bear, or starving to death, or dying slowly from a broken leg – all of which happens to moose every single day in Alaska. That, my friends, is just how it is. I’m not saying you should be blasé about the death of an animal, but try to have a little perspective.

3) The children learned that actions have consequences – this is something that many adults don’t seem to ever learn. It is unfortunate that they had to learn it this way, that the death of an animal was involved, but perhaps this abject lesson will serve to help them always remember and temper their actions in the future. It certainly made an impression on my son (who was not directly involved in this). If this incident prompts parents and children and teachers and Alaskans to learn something about the world they live in, then the death of this moose will mean one hell of lot more than the deaths of the other thousands who will die unlamented this year.

4) The school has implemented uniquely Alaskan training: what to do during an animal encounter. All the kids will receive this training as part of the curriculum. I’ve given my son this training myself, but I am all for its inclusion and reinforcement in the schools. These children are Alaskans, they will encounter wildlife in the future, and this single incident may very well save their lives.

5) The school took prompt, correct, and professional action. The students involved were disciplined. The parents were kept informed. There is nothing else that needs be done.

Colony Middle is an excellent school with high standards, the staff and teachers are outstanding people, and the kids themselves are an outstanding bunch of young people. This incident, though unfortunate, was an accident and nothing more.

Let’s try not to blow it out of proportion.

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Update:

In the comments thread below, a commenter took exception to my use of the word "zealot" when referring the members of PETA.

Zealot - a fervent and even militant proponent of something.

Now, go read these comments under the PETA website regarding the incident described above. This is what the compassionate members this organization believe:

What a bunch of scumbags, they probably live miserable lives because nobody loves them, not even their parents. So they decide to get their anger out on a poor innocent creature, which is BS! I hope they get far worse punishment for what they did.

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! An innocent creature was tortured and killed at the hands of bullies and cowards. This community needs to show that ANIMAL ABUSE IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE AND WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Failure to work with PETA at this time could lead to more crimes in the future.
these little thugs are cowards ... people who pick of animals are the most cowardly people alive. children like that should be held responsible and punished for their cruelty towards a sentient being.

Note the embellishment, note the logical fallacies, note the cognitive disconnect and poor logic and group think. Note that PETA apparently believes moose are sentient - a surprise to biologists everywhere, no doubt. Note the immediate and absolute condemnation of the kids involved. Note the condemnation of their parents, homes, and community, state, and governor. Note that only PETA can save the day.

There is more of the same here, in the comments under today's ADN article, and more under yesterday's. With the addition of conspiracy theories - sooner or later I'm sure we'll learn that in addition to "probably being the State Troopers kids" the youngsters involved also killed JFK by taunting him to suicide from the grassy knoll.

These are exactly the kind of people who used to burn witches, heretics, and non-believers. These are precisely the kind of people who used to enjoy a good lynching and a little frontier vigilante justice with a rope. These are the type of people who create conspiracies whole cloth in support of their fanatical beliefs.

These are the type of people who speak passionately of compassion, love, and respect - for animals - and have nothing but hate, loathing, and disgust for two teeanaged human beings.

That is exactly who these people are.

Zealot I said, zealot it is.

And that's the kindest word I could have used.

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Follow up post and additional thoughts are here.

38 comments:

  1. What the hell you running up there? a terrorist training camp? Hey send me some moose steaks would ya.

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  2. People are getting bent out of shape over the death of wildlife?

    Seriously?

    I'm responsible for the death of at least one and possibly two deer--ran out in front of my car and I hit 'em. Didn't kill 'em instantly, but they ran back into the woods, one crying and thrashing.

    That was a truly horrible experience. (At least when my brother hit a deer, the deer died instantly.)

    Wildlife and humans don't mix very well, and when they do, often one of the two parties gets hurt.

    Bambi isn't real. Wild creatures are dangerous, and when they enter places of human habitation they get hurt. A couple years ago a deer somehow ended up on the health sciences campus where I work. It got spooked and broke through *two* thick plate glass windows, and rather quickly bled to death, after thrashing about in fear for the remainder of it's life.

    Like your incident, we were lucky no humans were hurt. Yes, it's terrible when wild animals venture into human habitation and are injured or killed, but it happens. And happens often.

    I can only imagine what these people would say about me after my "killing spree."

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  3. I agree with Michael. CLEARLY it's a terrorist training camp.

    Send in the CIA and begin getting TRUTHFUL and ACCURATE intelligence from those little bastards.

    What?

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  4. But it is a tragedy, Jim: that poor squirrel has lost his best friend in the whole wide world.


    (I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I couldn't stop myself. I tried. I really did.)

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  5. First you guys get national attention with Sarah. Now, it's a moose.

    Tell me there isn't a giant conspiracy to get the U.S. Capitol moved to Wasilla. D.C. is disfunctional enough all on its own.

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  6. Moose und Squirrel...Moose und Squirrel...ALVAYS eez about Moose und Squirrel.

    Vat you vant me to do, my little pumkin blozzom?

    Dollink, I dunt care, just put zem out of MY mizery.

    ok. I blow dem up for you.

    Which, as we all know, means Moose & Squirrel are safe for another week.

    All joking aside, as populations expand into animal territories, encounters of this kind happen more frequently.

    I've never hit a deer, but the first night I lived in Florida I hit an armadillo and thought I'd destroyed my car. I've probably hit my share of possums, rabbits and squirrels over the years as well.

    Here in the metro area, we've always had skunks & racoons, and now have coyotes & foxes in the middle of Atlanta, along with numerous deer vs. vehicle wrecks every year. And a couple of years ago bear sightings stopped rush hour traffic because the terrified bears sought refuge in trees on an exit ramp. They were successfully tranqed and relocated.

    It is nice to see that there is a group that distributes the meat to those that need it and it didn't go to waste.

    WendyB_09

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  7. ok i was actually there and the moose did not commit suicide it ran into the the fence pole! i dont think moose have the intelligence to decide to commit suicide.

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  8. Well, yeah, anon, that was sort of my point.

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  9. Y'all are just saying that because nobody's found the note yet:

    "Dear World, when you read this I shall be dead from running into a fence, and it's all your fault. Why didn't my mother love me? All I needed was your love, Mom, but you pushed me away. Guess you were too into your other kids with that bull that I'll never call 'daddy' no matter how many times you bring him home drunk and smelling like he's been sleeping in the woods or something. I hate all of you, and now I will be dead and you will be sad. Then people will pay attention, they will say, 'Why did such a young moose with so much to live for have to go and do that.' Like Depeche Mode says, god has a sick sense of humor, and when I die I expect I'll find him laughing. Sincerely, A Moose."
    I'm sorry: I know it must have been an awful and traumatic thing for the students to see, but I can't take this whole thing too seriously and am (like others here) more than a little surprised/bemused the story's generating fauxtrage. Or maybe not: I guess a story about a dead moose being a harbinger of the decline of America (what's wrong with the children? think of the children!) is easier to play than, you know, whether waterboarding gets more effective after the hundredth time or do you need to break a hundred-fifty to get really boss intel?

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  10. Well, I agree with you point for point, but the entire post could have been summed up into a simple sentence; "shit happens and it would be helpfull if other tards recognized this fact."
    Stupid should hurt.

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  11. Wow. Excellent post.

    "i dont think moose have the intelligence to decide to commit suicide."

    Or, apparently, particularly great stereoscopic vision.

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  12. Hey Jim, remember dad's wild turkeys? Didn't they almost succeed in getting you to run head first into a fence a couple of times while working on your car? Isn't funny how nature works?

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  13. Oh, yeah, very funny, Mike, very funny.

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  14. I went to Colony also, YES, moose live and die, BUT- the kids threw rocks and sticks and yelled through a chain link fence to provoke it. It would be distressed. Yes, a teacher should have and could have been there, but kids should also know that tormenting a moose through a fence (because obviously a fence makes people big and bad) is STILL WRONG.

    YOU are blowing it out of proportion. You think you have details because you spoke to the school and have a child there. I know more- witnessed and attending. The disciplinary actions= vacation for TWO kids....TWO, out of many more.

    These kids are complete idiots for thinking it's okay. It was in an enclosed area, they weren't protecting ANYTHING.

    YOu say they don't need to be supervised to run laps...I agree that they SHOULD NOT NEED to be supervised- but they have proven you WRONG, throwing rocks is not diligently running laps OUTSIDE of the area where the moose was located.

    You say the kids learned from this....you don't know that. These kids threw rocks...not to get it away from anything personal-it was THROUGH A FENCE.

    Your ignorance MUST be bliss.

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  15. DANARS,

    Go back, read the post again. Read it out loud and sound out the big words if that will help.

    - I never said the kids were protecting anything.

    - I said that these kids were acting like, well, kids. Pre-teens, and teenagers for that matter, are full of hormones and poor judgement and piss and vinegar. They make bad choices. They engage in wrong behavior. They engage in mob behavior. They often don't think beyond the moment or understand the full consequences of their behavior. That is part of growing up, most kids grow out of it - that's part of becoming a mature adult. The kids involved are not "Idiots." They are simply kids. Having somebody like you, and the PETA zealots, and the mob, condemning them as idiots and murderers and criminals certainly isn't helping matters. I'm curious as to how you think condemning and denigrating these kids for a mistake is going to correct the situation or help them understand why what they did was wrong or prevent something like this in the future. Maybe we should just ship them off to Gitmo, eh?

    - As to the discipline issue, that's up to the school and the principle and the parents. Not me. And not you. If you feel that those involved are getting a vacation, take it up with the school board.

    - As to supervision, what is that you're recommending here, DANARS? You willing to pony up the money for ironclad day care level supervision? At home too? Or maybe we should just keep the kids locked up in a classroom all day?

    - And finally, yes, the kids did learn from this. I do know. My son and I discussed it, just as the principal's message recommended we do. He certainly learned from this unfortunate event. I've spoken to his friends, they also learned from this incident. If your kids didn't, well, maybe that's your failing, Sparky.




    But here's my real question, DANARS, you said: I know more- witnessed and attending.So, why didn't you stop it?

    As to my ignorance, well I suppose it's as much a comfort to me as your smugly outraged self-righteousness is to you.

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  16. Correction:

    As to the discipline issue, that's up to the school and the principle...Should have been principal in my last comment.

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  17. Test?

    There's going to be a test?

    Why doesn't anybody tell me these things?

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  18. A test for MSBSD network specialist, apologies Jim you can delete these posts if you like.

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  19. OK class, clear off your desks and get out your number two pencils.

    Question 1: One angle of a triangle is 30, the second angle is 60. What is the third angle.

    Question 2: What is the capital of West Virginia.

    Question 3: Who was the reigning monarch of Britain after the death of Henry IIV. Who were the next four monarchs following.

    TIME!

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  20. "West Virginia has a capital?"

    They had to hang John Brown somewhere. :D

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  21. Wrong part of the state John.

    John Brown attacked Harper's Ferry and was hung in Charles Town. That's the eastern panhandle, nowhere near the capital.

    :)

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  22. I agree with Danars. I find it amusing that someone can seriously think that we as adults don't owe it to our youth to show them more guidance when it comes to dealing with moose. Obviously this is just a nonchalant accident in your book despite going on heresy and innuendo as much as most of the readers of the ADN and frontiersman and likely your own spawn respectively.

    The fact is the two kids got minor punishments for something that did unjustly cause panic in that animal out of a group. The ones that witnessed that will have to deal with the facts also that cruelty does not go unpunished.

    This is not about hunting, because this has nothing to do with hunting and it isn't an ACCIDENT like a car hitting a moose as you put because those kids knew exactly what they were doing and to say otherwise I think would grossly underestimate the youth of today sir.

    You defend the school. You defend the kids and still you have the audacity to call others zealots for their opinions. That stinks of hypocrisy when you are just spouting off the platitudes from this oddly covered story.

    Open debate and dialogue and questioning what DANARS is bringing and you act like you are Bill O'Reilly not listening to reason when it is right in front of your face. She was there. You were not. Why would you question her motives when you cannot even attribute to your own besides mere hatred of animal rights and the possibility that other creatures have feelings as well.

    I don't know man. I guess hearing "if you don't think my way I don't want to talk to you" really makes me wonder how truly wise and educated you might be and really have faith in what what you might be one day teaching your kid.

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  23. Coupdegrace,

    I find it amusing that someone can seriously think that we as adults don't owe it to our youth to show them more guidance when it comes to dealing with moose.How did you manage divine that from what I said? Was it the part where I said I'd taught my son about animal encounters, or was it the part where I said that I thought adding animal encounter training to the curriculum for all students was a good idea?

    Obviously this is just a nonchalant accident in your book despite going on heresy and innuendo as much as most of the readers of the ADN and frontiersman and likely your own spawn respectively.I said it was an unfortunate accident. There was nothing nonchalant about it. However, that doesn't make it the crime of the century either. As to "hersey and inuendo" [sic] - you know, I'm not even going to address that drivel, but I will say this, keep a civil tongue in your month when you address my son or I will hunt your nasty ass down. Clear?

    The fact is the two kids got minor punishments for something that did unjustly cause panic in that animal out of a group. The ones that witnessed that will have to deal with the facts also that cruelty does not go unpunished.What exactly do you want? Boiling Oil? Drawing and quartering? The whole student body punished - and taught that unfair and overblown punishment is what they can expect from authority? Maybe the principal should bow to the mob, and demonstrate to the kids that your vitriolic witch burning attitude is more important than their welfare? Maybe we should lop off a few hands? I certainly see why you chose "coupdegrace" as an online handle, it's appropriate.

    This is not about hunting, because this has nothing to do with hunting and it isn't an ACCIDENT like a car hitting a moose as you put because those kids knew exactly what they were doing and to say otherwise I think would grossly underestimate the youth of today sir.Who said anything about hunting? If you're going to outraged, at least try to be outraged at what I actually said, Sparky. As to the kids knowing exactly what they were doing, well I'll bow to your superior mind reading over distance ability since you seem to know exactly what they were thinking at the time.

    You defend the school. You defend the kids and still you have the audacity to call others zealots for their opinions. That stinks of hypocrisy when you are just spouting off the platitudes from this oddly covered story.I don't think either "hypocrisy" or "platitudes" means what you think they mean. And if you follow the PETA link, you'll see exactly what I mean by Zealot. Zealot I said and zealot it is. You can look up the definition for yourself.


    Open debate and dialogue and questioning what DANARS is bringing and you act like you are Bill O'Reilly not listening to reason when it is right in front of your face. She was there. You were not.

    And now we're down to it, aren't we? Interesting that you call DANARS her. How do you know that? And you do know that, don't you? Interesting also, that "her" writing style and yours are so similar. Interesting that your sense of outrage and hers are also so similar, isn't it? Also interesting that I know which computer DANARS posted from at the Colony Middle School.

    Why would you question her motives when you cannot even attribute to your own besides mere hatred of animal rights and the possibility that other creatures have feelings as well.I have absolutely no "hatred of animal rights." You are projecting you own agenda on me. Stop it.

    I don't know man. I guess hearing "if you don't think my way I don't want to talk to you" really makes me wonder how truly wise and educated you might be and really have faith in what what you might be one day teaching your kid.What I said was if you place the life of an animal above the life of a child I don't want to know you. And I stand by that statement. You, coupdegrace (or is it DANARS?), I don't want to know. Don't comment here again.

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  24. "Heresy and innuendo"? Jim, you never said the moose was a Cathar.

    Okay, looking at a map--I'm going to say you probably have a little time to get ready arrival, Jim, since, if I recall rightly, the Russians are mostly Eastern Orthodox (the Pope won't be drawing any water with them, I'll tell you) and Quebec is on the far-side of Canada (are Canadians fast drivers, is the issue I think).

    In the meantime, what I'd do is get a copy of this book and have your whole family memorize the key stuff so that when the crusaders arrive, all of you can "pass" without being tortured, having your fief burned down and your possessions seized. Unless you already are Catholic, in which case you might simply want to set aside some space for a foreign knight and his retinue to live in while he's there and/or prepare welcoming gifts for the invaders. Your call, of course. Just don't let them suspect you're a moose, for goodness' sake! They'll be burning them in public and putting their heads on stakes on top of Palmer's city walls!

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  25. "coupdegrace"

    To quote a wise and funny man quoting an obsessed and funny man, "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

    Why do frothy people always project their own baggage onto others instead of reading (or listening) critically to what is being said?

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  26. Hey, I heard we're having a conspiracy around these parts!

    I brought my magic decoder ring *and* my fake glasses and mustache kit!

    Agent Cumulonimbus, here for duty sir!

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  27. Conspiracy? Did someone say conspiracy?

    I'm IN. Because we all know how much the UCF loves us some CONSPIRACY.

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  28. The name, "Coupdegrace" is almost as good as the usage of "teabaggers" making headlines of late.

    I'm also very curious as to how coupdegrace pronounces their name. I'm guessing it would be more like how the uneducated would pronounce "Home Depot". (Home DES pot)

    Jim, while I appreciate your very intelligent post, I must confess this is exactly why I don't read/watch the news any longer.

    By the time a story cascades through the media and internet, creative headlines and whackjobs have already hacked it apart hoping to incite the comments we've seen here by both DANARS and coupdegrace.

    I've just stopped reading I-Reports by CNN and comment sections on any news blog or website. I just can't take the idiocy any more.

    I am almost to the point where had your two trolls faced a full-grown, charging moose, I would have been rooting for the animal.

    Luckily, I still have some compassion left but I only hand it out with fliers for frontal lobotomies.

    It takes a truly level-headed person to think logically about a situation, respond instead of react and really research the facts.

    Thanks for making the interweebs .000001 better.

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  29. Well, if we needed any more proof that PETA stands for "Petulant Evangelical Terrorist Assholes" we just got it.

    Jim, you must be magnetic North for wackjobs. They find you with unerring accuracy. You put up the most reasonable, accurate, and well-explained post, and they get all frothy-mouthed and incoherent. It would be quite amusing, if there weren't so many of them willing to actually kill and maim humans to force their ridiculous ideas on others.

    Sigh! The stupid, cross it with the crazy, and you get PETA.

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  30. I've been mostly offline since Friday, doing birthday weekend stuff, so I haven't been keeping up on the latest on MooseGate, but I'm going to reprint something I posted elsewhere on this subject, with a few editorial changes (if you don't mind, Jim):

    Hey there. Neo-hippie tree hugging vegetarian (formerly vegan) from the nutty State of California here. Been a vegetarian for over a decade.

    Jim, I read your blog entry and I have to agree with it, 100%.

    I'm not a PETA hayta - I appreciate their viewpoint and their passion. I share it myself. I do think they do a lot of things ass-backwards and give the rest of us who believe in animal rights a bad name, however. Though they're not as bad as some groups out there. Really. I'm still angry at the group who released a bunch of minks into the wild over a decade ago, without realizing that 1) they were not wild mink and had no idea how to live in the wild and 2) minks are vicious creatures and so turned on each other - resulting in the deaths of a large percentage of the minks. I'm completely against wearing animal hide of any kind - including leather - and I completely understand wanting to save the minks, but just a modicum of common sense and research would've prevented that outcome. Listen, you want to save these animals? Take them to a rescue farm that can take care of them. Otherwise, don't bother.

    Anyway...

    I value all life pretty highly, both human and animal. The thought of eating meat is revolting to me. I was a vegan for a number of years because of factory farming practices and now try my best to use only dairy products that don't come from factory farms. Sometimes I fail (I'm only human), but it's a conscious effort. I believe in quality of life for both humans and animals.

    But if it comes down to the life of a human or a moose, I'm going to pick the human. Even if it's a teenager being stupid. And that's what this was - teenagers being stupid. There is not a single human alive who can truthfully say that they were never stupid as teenagers - it's damned near the definition of the word. Unfortunately, in this case the teenagers' stupidity resulted in the death of an animal. It seems to me that the punishment is being handled appropriately.

    For those who take offense at Jim's use of the word zealot in response to the PETA response - well, sorry, but it is the correct term. Again, I don't hate PETA. I understand wanting to use shock tactics to wake people up. But there should be balance in all things and PETA knows fuck-all about balance. I'm on their side regarding animal rights and I think they just need to get a grip.

    To sum up: animal life is important. Human life is more important. Deal.

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  31. Jim,

    I was searching for a funny pic and this one popped up. Thought of Moosegate and all the irrational people out there.

    http://failblog.org/2009/03/26/meat-fail/

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  32. Kate, I believe that made my day. Thanks.

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  33. Its funny, but its sad that somewhere, somebody thinks they are magically creating meat in supermarkets, while all the hunters are sneaking up on Bambi with rocket launchers and tommy guns.

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  34. Moosegate?

    Wow. I didn't know this made national news. Before now, I haven't even read about it or seen it on TV (then again, I try to stay away from televised news as much as I can). The stories that I've heard by word of mouth are completely different from what this blog describes. I thought it was a tiny little baby that got stoned to death, not a half-grown and still potentially dangerous moose that was frightened into accidentally ramming into a fence and breaking its own neck.

    This whole situation is a perfect sociological example of how most of humanity still has A LOT of learning and understanding to gain, i.e. "growing up", as a species.

    People keep flaming and proclaiming an absolutist view when it's just not that simple. Sometimes everyone is at fault, sometimes no one is at fault, and if you get deep enough into it, sometimes fault becomes a mere concept conceived by humanity... but that's for another blog.

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