Conservatives, Progressives Should Unify To Defeat SQ 776

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(Contact Think Twice if you want to get involved in defeating this misguided proposed amendment to our state constitution.)

I usually wait to write about my support or non-support for specific state questions closer to election day than this because I believe not enough voters are paying attention yet, but it has been an unusual election year all the way around.

I’ll write about all seven questions later as we get closer to the election, but I want to focus on State Question 776 in this post as opponents—both progressives and conservatives—of this obviously flawed and unconstitutional proposed amendment kick off their Think Twice campaign to stop it.

The state question makes an attempt to imprint the death penalty in sweeping and rather draconian terms in the Oklahoma Constitution, a superfluous initiative based on ideology and voter pandering not basic common sense. Here’s the important thing all Oklahoma voters need to know: A vote in favor of this measure is not a vote in FAVOR or against the death penalty. No matter how one votes on SQ 776 or the final result of the vote, the death penalty will still be a legal punishment that can be applied by juries and judges in Oklahoma after Nov. 8.

I repeat: This is NOT a referendum on the death penalty.

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Okies Nice As Spice? Consider Three Oklahoma Leaders

Think about 28 pigeons in varying states of distress, many dying after they’ve been shot for fun, flipping and squirming on the ground in pain all so U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe can raise political money. It just happened here in Oklahoma.This has been widely reported in the news over the past couple of days.

Think about Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who accepted so-called “campaign” money from a right-wing extremist who bizarrely claims animal welfare advocates want to do away with the concept of having pets, an absurd self-interested claim made to obfuscate and hide the truth beyond his pro-corporate vision. Pruitt’s own record on animal, human and environmental rights represents a quintessential, immoral right-wing extremist agenda. Pruitt doesn’t have an office he’s running for, but he’s collecting money, anyway, to advance an extreme political agenda.

One more. Think about Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and his at least implicit support for keeping a distressed elephant, Bamboo, in her tiny OKC Zoo enclosure despite a national outcry. Cornett is on the OKC Zoo Trust. He could speak out. He may well be the “biggest” animal offender here. Sorry for the wordplay, but he could simply insist the zoo place Bamboo in a sanctuary, and it would probably happen or at least it would kickstart a real debate here.

Welcome to Oklahoma, where our leaders are not so nice to animals and not so nice to humans. Animals and teachers and, well, any halfway intelligent people, if you can, need to get out of here as soon as possible. This has become the nation’s cesspool of cruelty and ignorance to animals and humans. We lead the nation in our female incarceration rate on a per capita basis. We’ve cut eduction funding on a per capita basis the most of any state since 2008.

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Petition Grows To Free OKC Zoo Elephant Bamboo

A petition that asks the Oklahoma City Zoo to send one of its older female elephants to a sanctuary now has more than 165,000 signatures, and the number continues to grow.

I wrote about the elephant Bamboo here on Aug. 22. The 49-year-old Bamboo, obtained along with the now deceased elephant Chai from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle last year, has apparently had problems integrating into what zoo officials call a “herd.”

Bamboo has apparently been bitten on the tail and suffered a gash on her trunk when she was attacked by another elephant. She has also apparently attacked another elephant and has been isolated at times from other elephants.

The zoo has called the process of Bamboo’s integration with the other elephants “normal,” a claim strongly rejected by many animal welfare advocates and many of those people who have circulated and signed the petition. The zoo recently tried to put up obstacles to make it more difficult for media outlets and animal welfare advocates to retrieve records about the health conditions of its animals but has apparently relented on this issue.

The issue of how the zoo deals with open records requests, however, is a developing story. The zoo has at least one open records request pending—I placed it—and it remains to be seen how it will process it.

Zoo officials have also failed to respond to some of my larger questions and concerns about the conditions of the elephants. For example, can you actually consider an elephant exhibit at any zoo to replicate in reality the natural “herd” configuration of the animals? They are, after all, being held in captivity in small enclosures, which obviously brings with it a set of challenges and problems. At the very least, does the basic unnaturalness of zoo enclosures demand new language and definitions when we discuss issues such as “herd” dynamics or mating and breeding?

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