Readers write: Carnival concerns and the importance of data
Letters to the editor for the August 30, 2021 weekly magazine. Readers discuss recent cover stories.
Dark side of the carnival
The Aug. 2 cover story, “The American carnival is back,” while focusing on one of America’s oldest forms of summer entertainment, concerns me. I worry specifically about the emphasis and glorification of animals used in races and stunt acts as a means of entertainment, which is, in my opinion, cruel and abnormal. Traveling from state to state is not a humane life for any animal. In spite of handler Andrea Rigler’s use of rescue dogs, I should like to think of those canines as having a more serene way of life.
Animal cruelty remains an ongoing and devastating problem. I would’ve enjoyed the article more if other aspects of fairs had been featured.
Truthfully framing the data
The July 5 cover story on “The outside divide” is such an excellent article that I sent it to several outdoor organizations. The Christian Science Monitor does such a great job of covering the relevant topics with quality interviews and book references.
I found it helpful when reading all the stats to actually look up demographic data for the United States. In a couple of cases (e.g., Asian Americans) the percentages of outdoor engagement sounded very low, but they nearly lined up with the overall demographic percentage of that group. Other groups were way underrepresented. It could be handy to supply the readers with census demographic data or make clear which groups are underrepresented and which are on par.
I only mention this because the July 8 Daily article headlined “BLM and Floyd protests were largely peaceful, data confirms” helped me see how the Monitor is so good about not misleading readers. That Black Lives Matter article was also exceptional in its relevance, fact gathering, and correction of misperceptions. Many thanks to the Monitor staff for your healing effect in our world.
Unsatisfying cover story
The cover story of the June 21 issue intrigued me. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the headline “Is politics the new religion?” Sadly, when I finished reading the article, I was unsatisfied.
I delayed writing this letter to ensure that my communication is less reactive and more constructive.
I will limit my comments to two:
1. One of the basic questions I hoped the writer would at least acknowledge is “How did the United States get here?” There was an ideal opportunity to remind readers of at least one factor: Following the sentence “President Joe Biden, a practicing Roman Catholic, is the first American president since Jimmy Carter to attend church regularly,” she could have noted that President Carter did not weaponize his faith, whereas his immediate successor, Ronald Reagan, embraced the “Moral Majority.”
2. The side-by-side photos on pages 26 and 27 reinforce the lazy equivalency so prevalent on websites and publications that I esteem much less than The Christian Science Monitor. There have been literally hundreds of protests since Donald Trump’s election, so why did the editor select a Black Lives Matter protest to appear beside the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol? If two photos were required, surely the Women’s March of 2017, with their vibrant, hand-knitted pink hats, was a better option. This would highlight the stark difference between protesters “fighting” an election result via constitutional and unconstitutional methods.