Hog stench ruins tradition
By now, most of Arkansas knows about the factory hog farm of 6,500 pigs located in the Buffalo River watershed on Big Creek in Mt. Judea. You've read about the pollution and the threat to America's first National River. But what you haven't heard is how the C&H Hog Farm affects local people living at ground zero.
Last week I took my mom and aunt to the old Sexton Cemetery in Mt. Judea. It's a sweet tradition; they gather their whisk brooms and cleaning supplies and go to the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, and sweep off and wash the headstones, remove last year's decorations and replace them with their new, carefully selected flowers.
They fuss over the flowers, trying to arrange them to their prettiest and secure them so a strong wind won't blow them away. It's more precious to me every year, watching their little crooked backs tending the resting places of their family and where they too will rest someday.
We arrived at the cemetery, and it looked lovely. It was all mowed and manicured, with the big trees serenely shading the quiet plot of ground. I like coming here. My father and brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents, who were the first white people to settle in Big Creek Valley, are all buried here. If you could just take it all in with your eyes, it'd be a perfect scene; but we stepped out of the car to a horrendous and overwhelming stench of hog manure.
It turned a wonderful tradition into an extremely unpleasant task. I had to tie a scarf over my face to breathe as we worked quickly to escape back into our car. Ordinarily we would stay a while after decorating and share memories or funny stories of our loved ones, or just quietly ponder and enjoy the sweet smell of blooming honeysuckle. But not this time. It seems our concerns have become a reality — truly sad indeed.
This Memorial Day, I mourn not only our loved ones who have passed on, but also I mourn our loss of enjoyment of traditional outdoor activities, which is a loss of life as we've known it, in our little valley.
I am a Catholic. I've heard arguments against homosexual relationships and gay marriage my whole life. While I appreciate the "hate the sin, not the sinner" rhetoric that attempts to promote love and not hate, I'm not sure the two sentiments are compatible. I'm also not convinced that the Church's anti-gay marriage stance isn't based on fear and intransigence. So here's what needs to happen. The standards that homosexuals are held to must be placed on all people. The Church says that a true marriage is between a man and a woman who are open to God's gift of life. Sex is for procreation, and homosexuality is wrong because it will never lead to new life. What if a heterosexual couple cannot or will not have children? Catholics must work to ban all marriages that will not lead to childbearing. This includes marriage between couples where one or both are infertile or utilizing artificial birth control. Gay marriage is also decried because it is "unnatural" and goes against "tradition." Sex using artificial birth control is by definition unnatural. And while methods of artificial birth control have been around throughout history (much like homosexual relations), they do not fit the Church's definition of traditional. Banning these marriages will promote marriages the Church claims to be interested in. Or, we could all admit to the hypocrisy involved with bans on same-sex marriage and focus on the true moral issues our state faces: poverty, poor health and low educational attainment.
In memory of an Arkansas treasure
Maya Angelou's memoirs were so personal, yet they had such a widespread appeal, as you could identify with her experiences. She was a brilliant storyteller, with her voice transcending geographic, racial and social barriers.
She was a poor black woman who grew up in a small town in the deep South, yet she became an internationalist, a woman of the world, living at one time in Egypt and Ghana.
Born of humble beginnings, she came to know and be admired by black leaders and world leaders, becoming an activist for human rights and social justice and equality.
Kenneth L. Zimmerman
Huntington Beach, Calif.
I am certain that Scott McGehee's newest restaurant to be called Heights Taco & Tamale Co. will be a hit, but I do wish that he and his partners would keep the Browning's name in the title. Scott knows that this landmark deserves respect although many new folks just don't get it.
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