It’s about self defense
Dear Editor:Re: “Bear country’s futile battles” (June 2)The last time I responded to an Aspen Times columnist, it was in response to a Tony Vagneur column in a similar vein: Tony was decrying the savaging of wolves by intemperate Western ranchers on that day – ranchers who resented having their livestock chewed on by packs of marauding wolves.Tony sided with the wolves and berated the ranchers for defending their property.This time, it’s bears: Tony believes bears should be allowed free access to homeowners’ pantries, and anyone who even thinks about self-defense when confronted – in his home – by a grizzly is not “Man O’ The West” stuff.Idiotic.The question is not whether the grizzly in question has more intrinsic “value” than the homeowner’s pig; the question is, rather, do we (humanity) have the right, still, to defend hearth and home? I submit that we do. Bears should be expected to defend their dens, and humans should be extended a similar privilege.Tony’s recollections of the Bernhard Goetz affair are similarly flawed. Goetz was indicted and tried after the subway incident, and a jury found him blameless. He was similarly vindicated when attorneys for “the four misunderstood disadvantaged youths” sued him for defending himself.Couple of points that Tony didn’t seem to feel were important to mention, vis-à-vis the Goetz story: First, Goetz was a 145-pound gay man who had been mugged (and savagely beaten) twice before in New York. It’s reasonable to assume that his previous experience with New York “youths” may have affected his mindset on the day “the four disadvantaged misunderstood youths” approached him, surrounded him, and began aggressively “panhandling” on the subway Goetz was riding in.Secondly, the four youths were carrying screwdrivers when they demanded that Goetz give them $5, and they had encircled him – two to the left rear of Goetz and two in front of him. Eyewitness testimony at the trial confirmed that the panhandling was “aggressive and threatening.”This – the early 1980s – was a time of unprecedented crime in New York City, and each of the four “youths” involved in the incident with Goetz had a long history of arrest and antisocial behavior: In fact, the four had, collectively, 14 criminal bench warrants held against them on the day they crossed paths with Goetz in the subway car.It’s hard for me to imagine what ol’ “Man O’ The West” Vagneur would’ve done in a crowded New York subway in similar circumstances, but I can imagine it’d have been pretty heroic: I’m thinking maybe a Vagneur whistle would’ve summoned “Trigger,” the subway doors would’ve imploded with the force of avenging horseflesh, and ol’ Tony would’ve galloped off to cries of “Who was that masked man?”Panhandlers with screwdrivers are no match for a modern “Man O’ The West,” I can tell you.On the other hand – in a less-than-perfect world – Tony might’ve ended up with a screwdriver lodged in his eye socket, in which case we’d have had to do without his defense of the grizzly rummaging harmlessly through your Sub Zero, or busying himself eating your pets.Addison GardnerCarbondale
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