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Panhandlers, injections are objectionable

January 30, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

I hate to start out on such a note, but I actually find myself agreeing with state Sen. Alex Mooney, the only member of our local delegation who opposed a ban on panhandling. Yes, the panhandlers annoy me as much, nay, more than anyone else, especially out on Halfway Boulevard. (Although I do have to admire the optimism of the Church of What's Happening Now, or whatever it is, which fishes for donations with five-gallon spackling buckets).

But as Mooney says, government is always trying to tell you what you can't do, and it's not right. And shucks, as long as I'm free to give panhandlers an obscene gesture, they ought to be free to collect.

n The Washington County Health Department says about 50 of its employees will be vaccinated for smallpox to guard against a biological attack by terrorists.

If the threat persists, the general public may be offered smallpox vaccines, but you can leave me out of this little scheme. There is absolutely no way that I'm letting a government that contains Donald Rumsfeld inject me with anything.

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n People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is at it again, protesting a deal between the San Diego Padres and Petco over naming rights for the baseball team's new stadium.

PETA says Petco, an animal supply chain store, abuses its critters. I don't know whether this is true or not, but I can't imagine the Padres are too worried about the potential for losing fan base. Call me a stereotypist if you must, but I don't know too many vegans who are all that wrapped up in professional sports.

Why would they ever want to go to a venue where they are surrounded by hot dogs? Sports and meat go together. San Diego could probably name its new stadium Armor Slaughterhouse No. 3 Field without any of the actual fans caring a whole lot.

n No budget crisis is so serious that it would ever prevent state lawmakers from doing something wacky. And here, I am speaking specifically of a bill that would make it illegal to drive around with a dead deer strapped to your car, unless the unfortunate animal has been covered with a tarp.

I'm not certain whose dignity we are protecting here, the motorists' or the deer's. The delegate who sponsored the bill says he is very pro-hunter, but that "not everybody wants to see" the hunter's triumphant parade home with a Bambi corpse strapped to the roof.

But that's sort of the glory of deer hunting, isn't it? What good is blowing away wildlife if the world isn't aware of it?

I used to tend bar at a popular coal miners' hangout, and the first day of deer season it was the most amazing thing: Guys would race out, bag a deer then race back to the bar and park as close to the door as possible for all their fellow drinking buddies to see.

The street looked for all the world like some cervine horror picture with all these gutted deer with empty, open-eyed stares and tongues lolling out their mouths lined up along the curb. Of course this was right near a school bus stop and what amount of emotional scarring occurred among the children, I cannot say - although it always did make a few of them cry, it was so sort of scary looking.

But what will the penalty be for driving with an uncovered buck on the trunk, four points? Get it? Deer, antlers, points - never mind.

n U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who used to loudly campaign about wasteful congressional junkets, just returned from one such junket to Antarctica, Hawaii and Australia.

Except now that he is in office, you understand, junkets are no longer "wasteful." Instead they are "educational."

Bartlett, who also used to loudly campaign against any type of frivolous spending, concluded the junket by supporting $150 million for a new research station there. "Education is expensive, but ignorance is more expensive," he said.

I'd agree with that. You just wish he felt the same way about public school funding.

Calling it "grueling," Bartlett wanted us to be sure that this junket was no vacation, but a serious, wearying fact-finding mission.

Yes, those grueling trips to Hawaii will get you every time.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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