DEAR MERCURY—It must be challenging to tell a wrenching story about life, death, and human responsibility ["Silencing the Lamb," Feature, Jan 4] under the constraints of the Mercury's too-hip-to-get-real editorial branding. I honor the attempt. Nonetheless, clarification is needed. Firstly, Tryon Life Community Farm didn't organize the workshop, nor did you contact us during your reporting. Our involvement: TrackersNW came to us shortly beforehand, unable to find an appropriately peaceful location to kill a lamb. We agreed to host as a last resort, on condition that the workshop be as respectful and humane as possible. Al Thieme, longtime consultant for TrackersNW, also sits on TLC Farm's board but was not present in a Farm-related capacity. Secondly, Matt Davis's sensationally incomplete description makes the killing seem deeply inhumane. However, Sammy's spine was severed immediately after throat slitting, minimizing pain. This significantly reduces the "controversy" your story constructed between animal rights supporters and re-indigenizers. Indeed, the greatest mistake was surely that someone so inexperienced (and self-absorbed) did the killing. However, while inviting "debate," your story barely mentioned the truly controversial: Our society makes shocking torture the basis of industrial food production. Matt Davis may now recognize the continuum between his life and Sammy's, but unlike Sammy most food animals live and die without any care or respect. Matt Rossell and other activists rightly demand we face this reality. What's the alternative? If humans are to be truly respectful partners with all our relations in a rich ecology, we must question domestication. How should we influence the lives and deaths of beings interdependent with us? What is wise, compassionate, and sustainable? To explore the real ethical challenges your article didn't address, TLC Farm is organizing a community discussion in the practical context of our small dairy goatherd. For details:, 245-3847.

J. Brush

MATT DAVIS RESPONDS: Al Thieme, who introduced himself as a board member at TLCF, and indeed patted me reassuringly on the back before I did the deed—was my contact there. While it's true that I did not contact other TLCF board members to ensure that Thieme had their blessing, he gave me no reason to believe he was AWOL or acting independently, so it is unfair to criticize my reporting in this regard, especially if what's really happening is an effort to distance TLCF from what went on.


DEAR MERC—I'll start by saying you're my favorite weekly in town. My only complaint so far has been that you have way too little local theater coverage. So I was... amused... when I saw the "My, What a Busy Week!" bit entitled "Uncle!" where you lambast Portland for not "support[ing] working actors in your own community" [Jan 18]. If you want Portlanders to support local working actors and theaters, why don't you start by doing it yourself? Put your coverage where your mouth is.

Brian Allard


DEAR MERCURY—Upon perusing the latest issue of your retarded paper, I was accosted by two glaring errors. First, contrary to statements made in "My, What A Busy Week!" [Jan 18] non-magician David Copperfield didn't make the Great Wall of China disappear—he walked through it. I would normally overlook such a mistake because all of David Copperfield's TV specials were lame and I could see how a careless viewer could confuse the landmarks involved. What I cannot overlook, however, is the much more grievous error found in this same issue's "I'm Staying Home" column, in which Lindy West states that John Amos is the actor in the black leather loincloth in the 1982 fantasy epic The Beastmaster. Everyone knows that Marc Singer portrayed Dar, the loinclothed-and-ferret-friended Beastmaster. John Amos played Seth, who wore a cloak through most of the film, and had no ferrets. I feel that I can speak authoritatively on this matter because the film in question was largely based on my life.

CONGRATULATIONS TO IAN for winning the Mercury letter of the week! How we do love a good nerdly repartee! In honor of Ian's shrewd (and presumably loincloth-and-ferret-aided detection of this error—and missing of a joke), he gets two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, and lunch for two at No Fish! Go Fish!—can't bring the ferrets, though.