Letters

Muslim belief that women can distract men belittles both

The April 27 article "In Turkey, Muslim women gain expanded religious authority" states that Sunni preacher Usuf al-Qaradawi of Qatar issued a fatwa saying that leadership of prayers in Islam is reserved for men only, and warning that a woman leading prayers might arouse men.

I have the greatest compassion for both men and women put in this position. It may be easier to see why women need our compassion, as they have been treated as second-class citizens. But men may need even more of our understanding, as they appear to have all the power.

However, to think that the woman God created is more powerful than the prayers and time given to contemplation of the Creator, and that this woman, even modestly dressed, can distract a man from what he knows he should be doing, to the point of arousal, is belittling to both men and women.

Men need to be freed from this idea that lust is the driving force in their lives as much as women need this freedom from oppression. It will be difficult for this, or any, society to make significant progress unless there is movement toward equality and the realization that men - and women - can and should be in control of their thoughts and actions in all situations.
Karen Rippberger
Mariposa, Calif.

A whoosh from the past

I enjoyed your article on the ivory-billed woodpecker ("In the bayou, a flash of feathers long thought lost," April 29). I'm over 80 years old and was reared in and still have a home right near the Choctawhatchee River and Holmes Creek in Washington County, Fla. Growing up in the 1930s, I spent much time fishing and hunting in the swamps of those rivers.

I well remember seeing the beautiful ivory-billed woodpecker many times. We all called it the "Lord God woodpecker," since its call can, with a little stretch of the imagination, sound as though it is shouting "Lord God." We all knew that when we heard that cry or call we had better find a shelter fast, because it was going to rain - and do so very quickly.

I never thought of taking a picture of them, because I never dreamed that someday they would be gone (or almost gone) and I didn't even own a little box Kodak until World War II. So I can't prove what I'm saying, because I have no pictures and all of the people that I knew who saw the birds are no longer with us.
Ralph Ward
Vernon, Fla.

Hunting not effective conservation tool

Thank you for running the article "Hunt a rhino, save an ecosystem?" on April 25. This article is important to me from an animal activist standpoint, and from a conservation biology standpoint (the college major I intend to pursue).

Killing animals has never been an effective method for conservation purposes, and never will be. Hunters claim killing deer, elk, and other animals curbs surplus populations, but it can increase populations by making more resources available to the surviving animals. Surplus black rhinos should be transported to parks with smaller populations. If killing must be done, it should be done by a veterinarian by a painless injection.

Millions of companion animals are euthanized in shelters because of out of control populations, but most agree this is much more humane than hunting stray dogs and cats. Hunting is rarely humane and painless to the animal, especially for rhinos, who have incredibly thick skin. Allowing hunters to kill at all would also be risking the involvement of poachers.

No matter how you look at it, hunting is never going to be the answer.
Laura Eyring
Phoenix

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