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February 04, 2007

Sunday Sermonette: I don't practice Santaria

I don't practice Santeria, I ain't got no crystal ball...

I don't understand why a Dallas suburb won't give a Santeria priest a permit to ritually sacrifice animals in the privacy of his own home. Actually I'm somewhat surprised that a permit is necessary. Even so, I don't think a city should be required to allow religiously-motivated practices that would be illegal if they were undertaken for secular reasons:

EULESS — Sued by a Santeria priest barred from sacrificing animals in his home, this Dallas suburb has asked a federal judge to dismiss a religious discrimination lawsuit on grounds that making an exception forces the city to favor a religion over secular law.

Jose Merced, 45, alleges that city officials denied him a permit to perform Santeria ceremonies that include slaughtering chickens and goats inside his home, even though people outside would not have been able to see or hear them.

Merced has argued that he doesn't want to break the law but is entitled to practice his religion, which mixes Roman Catholicism with African beliefs and demands blood sacrifices.

But in a motion to dismiss filed Jan. 24, the city argues that a 2000 federal law forcing local governments to show a compelling public interest before limiting a religious practice is unconstitutional, since it intrudes on a state's right to regulate the health and welfare of its residents.

City attorney William McKamie said because Euless' ban on animal slaughter is a health and safety issue, any exception means the city would effectively endorse Santeria over city law.

[AP]

On the other hand, it's possible that the suburb trumped up a law against in-house animal slaughter just to thwart Santeria practitioners, or that they're just enforcing an obscure law because they don't like Santeria.

Update: I wasn't very clear in my original post. I didn't mean to imply that the Santeria priest has the right to break any laws that conflict with his favorite rituals. On the contrary, I'm tentatively siding with the city in this case because a religiously neutral law should trump religious expression.

However, I also think it's unfair to prohibit a practice that would be permitted for secular reasons simply because it's carried out for spiritual reasons. So, if the city of Euless lets you cut off chickens' heads for food, I don't see why you shouldn't be allowed to do the same thing for spiritual gratification.

Ultimately meat eating and animal sacrifice are in the same category: Gratifying but not essential for survival or physical well-being. If I kill a chicken for food, I'm doing so for my own sensual pleasure. If I'm allowed to kill animals just because I'm aesthetically gratified by chicken parm or leather shoes, surely a priest should be allowed to kill animals to ensure the emotional satisfaction of his human flock.

I know a lot of people disagree with me about the morality of killing animals for food. Yet, even most vegetarians don't support a legal ban on killing livestock. So, in the interest of consistency, I think that it's only fair to let this Santeria priest have the same privileges as a backyard chicken farmer.

If the city has a good health reason for prohibiting ritual slaughter at home, then religion is no defense. If the guy is actually doing something that's potentially dangerous, the city should make him stop. If he's torturing animals or otherwise violating existing animal cruelty laws, he should be dealt with severely. If he's just violating a pure food law that was intended to apply to commercial food producers, then maybe the city should consider changing the law--assuming he's not hurting anyone.

However, if the priest is just slitting some chickens' throats at home and not endangering anyone else, I don't really see a problem with his behavior--especially if the neighbors are allowed to do similar things for their culinary delectation without being harassed by the police.

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Comments

the city argues that a 2000 federal law forcing local governments to show a compelling public interest before limiting a religious practice is unconstitutional, since it intrudes on a state's right to regulate the health and welfare of its residents.

This is a pretty common legal dodge by state actors: find a way to put a law preventing you from stopping behaviour X with a different law in opposition, and claim the apparent high ground on the result (who doesn't want "health and welfare"?)

And what if a religion/cult requires to skin a dog alive for its rituals and let it hang there 'till it dies of organ failure ?

Religion opens to no special right. It simply cannot repressed as such and that's it. But for the rest, it has to comply with all laws.

That passably confused judges have found useful to carve all sorts of exemptions over the years is the problem, not the other way around.

I'll just point you to the recent series by Diana Henriques in the NY Times on the encroachment of civil law by "religious privileges" if you haven't already read it: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/business/08religious.html?ex=1170738000&en=5dc3b9fcdcef6418&ei=5070>part 1, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/09/business/09religious.html?ex=1170738000&en=d584e20bffda16b8&ei=5070>part 2, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/10/business/10religious.html?ex=1170738000&en=8fdfab7bfea7bdef&ei=5070>part 3, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/business/11religious.html?ex=1170738000&en=a4b088b6c7b37deb&ei=5070>part 4.

Now, that should worry you.

Lindsay,

Actually, you've already read that NY Times series and noted the, err, disconnect when it comes to http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2006/10/religion_and_wo.html>
workers' rights.

So why wouldn't that apply to animal welfare?

Religion opens to no special right. It simply cannot repressed as such and that's it. But for the rest, it has to comply with all laws.

Well, yes and no, because this is poorly phrased. People involved with religions demonstrably do have some rights that others don't in the U.S., cf the many orders relating to substance use.

As for your skinning a dog example, well, judicial review has a way of sorting non-tolerable claims from tolerable claims. Many of us might not like the outcomes of the process, but a process it is, and it produces outcomes that would upset a 10th century Norwegean (the most recent referent I can recall on short notice to torturing dogs).

the city argues that a 2000 federal law forcing local governments to show a compelling public interest before limiting a religious practice is unconstitutional

They're talking about RLUIPA, but the rule they're stating is from RFRA. RLUIPA applies only to actions regulating land use or actions restricting or burdening the activities of prisoners, whereas RFRA had the broader scope they state. That portion of RFRA, as it pertained to local governments, was found unconstitutional in 1997. I haven't read the pleadings, but my guess is that this is covered by RLUIPA as a zoning regulation.

Fishbane,

I stand by my formulation.

I’m not saying that’s the way separation of church and state is practiced. Far from it. Yes, I know, judges and lawmakers have carved an obscene numbers of exemptions over the past few decades. But read the rest of the comment and the linked articles and you'll understand why I think the "process" you respect so much is hopelessly broken.

For seeing the effects, I'm fed up, sick and tired with the inordinate respect all sorts of idiocies get from the legal system as soon they are wrapped in "religion". So I'm very happy to see that city try to put a stop to this santerist idiocy, albeit without any illusion as to the final outcome. I fully trust our "respected" courts to cop out once again and invent a religious right to ignore basic animal welfare and public health regulations.

Contrary to what Lindsay implies, those regulations are not a law suddenly "trumped up ... against in-house animal slaughter just to thwart Santeria practitioners" or "an obscure law". Those regulations are very common and pretty much the norm the norm outside of rural areas. You're not supposed to slaughter animals at home.

It's distressing to see the otherwise most respectable, reasonable and all around excellent Lindsay go all atwitter on that case because it’s like, you know, all "religiousy".

Lindsay,

Just one last word and I’ll cease making a pest of myself.

If you want to seriously evaluate this case (IMHO worthless and worthy of a good kick in Merced’s presumptuous rear-end), you should look for relevant practices (and may be case law) on how the Muslim community handles the traditional animal sacrifices for the Eid Ul-Adha festival. I frankly don’t know but I would bet my two cents that, at least in urban areas, it’s done in licensed slaughterhouse, not at home.

If it is just chickens and goats that he intends on killing, I really see no reason to deny the man to splash every wall of his house in blood. It's his house. Honestly don't even care if he's killing dogs and cats, as long as they don't belong to the neighbors. It would make a lot of sense for this to come out of Texas, where is it predominately Christian conservative. Just because it's 'weird' doesn't mean we should infringe on his 1st amendment rights. Hell, I live in Korea and they eat dog soup :/

"City attorney William McKamie said because Euless' ban on animal slaughter is a health and safety issue, any exception means the city would effectively endorse Santeria over city law."

It's near Dallas! I am almost POSITIVE there is atleast one slaughterhouse for cows somewhere within a 20 mile radius. (I'm from that area.) That city attorney is talking out of his ass.

I'm NOT saying that the guy has a right to break any law that interferes with his religious expression. On the contrary, I'm tentatively siding with the city in this case because a religiously neutral law should trump religious expression.

I'm just saying that I don't think it's wrong to humanely sacrifice livestock for religious reasons. I also think it's unfair to prohibit a practice that's permitted for secular reasons simply because it's carried out for spiritual motives. If you're allowed to cut a chicken's head off for food, I don't see why you should be prohibited from doing so for spiritual gratification.

I know a lot of people disagree with me about the morality of killing animals for food. Yet, even most vegetarians don't support a legal ban on killing livestock for food. So, in the interest of consistency, I think that it's only fair to let this Santeria priest have the same privileges as a Kosher slaughterhouse attendant, or a trophy hunter, or a backyard chicken farmer.

If the city has a good health reason why this guy shouldn't be allowed to ceremonially sacrifice a few animals in his own home, then it's a different scenario. If he's actually doing something that's potentially dangerous, the city should make him stop. If he's torturing animals or otherwise violating existing animal cruelty laws, he should be dealt with severely.

If he's violating a pure food law that was intended to apply to commercial food producers, then maybe the city needs to consider changing the law. Suppose that there was a livestock plague or a human prion disease that was linked to home slaughtering. In that case, the city should have every right to crack down on the practice, regardless of why people were doing it.

On the other hand, if he's just slitting some chickens' throats at home, I don't really see a problem with that-especially if the neighbors are allowed to do similar things for their culinary delectation without being harassed by the police.

Residential areas often restrict practices with little or no justification offered other than the consensus of residents is that they don't want them to take place there. Where I live you wouldn't be allowed to even have the livestock on your property, much less slaughter it.

If this group wants to do animal sacrifice they may need to relocate to somewhere rural where they don't regulate animal treatment.

I totally agree with your argument, Lindsay, with this tiny quibble: Eating meat in some cases is necessary. Not every human is able to live without meat, at least not without outside medical assistance that not everyone is privileged to be able to access. I don't think this weakens your argument that functionally killing a chicken to eat and killing a chicken so that your Gods/Ancestors/Spirits/Other Entity Of Choice can eat or favor you with their blessing or whatever it is are essentially the same thing... at least from the perspective of the chicken. Killing a well-treated chicken quickly and humanely causes less suffering than supporting factory farming.

A better comparison might be— would the city of Dallas forbid the same thing of Christians whose particular denomination demanded that they produce their own food, thus requiring them to kill livestock at home? If the prohibition hinges on the nature of sacrifice, then it's religious discrimination. If it's a matter of sanitation or licensure, I can understand the issue, but it still might functionally result in inequality, because due to various inequities as well as simple population size the Santeria community might not be able to support a slaughterhouse that meets the requirements of their religious practice.

I don't care much about chickens and this particular case, but this caught my eye.

"a religiously neutral law should trump religious expression."

First, I think this is a little empty, because if there is a conflict between a law and religious expression, the law isn't religiously neutral. Instead, I think it's a question of competing harms and compelling government interest. Somethings, like the ritual slaughter of innocent children, society has a clear intrest in prohibiting, but other things, like chicken heads, societies intrest in prohibiting isn't that clearly. In the rest of your argument, your reasoning seems to be about the lack of harm, not this principle, but I don't think this principle is possible.

Second, I think that a law can be religiously neutral in it's language, but be blatently created to reinforce a particular religious worldview. In particular, I am thinking about drug laws in the late 1960's regarding the emergent use of psychedelics, which on one hand appear to be written in a religiously neutral way, but on the other hand, were obviously and blatently about the fact that a lot of people were having proufoundly spiritual experiences on LSD and psilocyban that caused them to question judeo-christian puritanical worldviews.

I don't care much about chickens and this particular case, but this caught my eye.

"a religiously neutral law should trump religious expression."

First, I think this is a little empty, because if there is a conflict between a law and religious expression, the law isn't religiously neutral. Instead, I think it's a question of competing harms and compelling government interest. Somethings, like the ritual slaughter of innocent children, society has a clear intrest in prohibiting, but other things, like chicken heads, societies intrest in prohibiting isn't that clearly. In the rest of your argument, your reasoning seems to be about the lack of harm, not this principle, but I don't think this principle is possible.

Second, I think that a law can be religiously neutral in it's language, but be blatently created to reinforce a particular religious worldview. In particular, I am thinking about drug laws in the late 1960's regarding the emergent use of psychedelics, which on one hand appear to be written in a religiously neutral way, but on the other hand, were obviously and blatently about the fact that a lot of people were having proufoundly spiritual experiences on LSD and psilocyban that caused them to question judeo-christian puritanical worldviews.

Are you familiar with Stephen Carter's work on the subject of religion and generally applicable law. His book, The Culture of Disbelief, is a very good guide to what the law is, and why one might think it should be difference.

Key point: there's a 1st Amendment right to "free exercise" of religion, and a prohibition against a national established church. The requirement of "separation of church and state" is from recent court rulings, not the Bill of Rights.

Hasn't anyone there in Dallas watched 'devil's advocate'??
Keanu Reeves argues a similar point very well.

Oh yeah, right, that's the movies; this is real life.

Oh yeah right, it's DALLAS. (love ya molly)

I know too many cool people in Texas so please overlook my momentary departure from lack of place-bias.

SamChevre -

It's true that current constitutional law on Separation of Church and State comes largely from rulings of the 1940s-present.

It's also true that current constitutional law on Freedom of Speech comes largely from rulings of the 1940s-present.

However, this doesn't mean that recent rulings preventing the promotion of religion by the state or protecting free speech are wrong.

I don't know if anyone here is as nervous about HOA's as I am but if you examine them closely they are very similar to the arm of the Nazi regime.

Block Captains.

That's what Home Owners' Associations are.

Any new developments that are springing up even in the most remote of places already have this long arm of the corrupt/control law in place. No choice on the residents' or purchasers' parts. You may never have any say over your neighborhood but someone will always have say over you and dictate everyone and thing in your home.

Exactly like Nazi Germany.

Honestly, I think my family should be able to visit without the block captain coming by with a clip board. (they limit the # of visitors to your home in many locales--WTF?)
Essentially, my point is that we are apace running out of places to practice our religion. (being that it might involve animal sacrifices)
And they're all making new laws and holding hands to take your rights away swoop.

People involved with religions demonstrably do have some rights that others don't in the U.S., cf the many orders relating to substance use.

Yes.

I personally find animal sacrifice a little barbaric, but I can't imagine what ethical grounds would be called upon to oppose it. The carcasses are not chucked, they are eaten. The only part "offered" to the orishas is the blood. If it's ethical to slaughter a goat or chicken in BF Textucky, then it's just as ethical in the barrio.

If it's a health and safety issue, then let Santeria be regulated.

Fifi, by focussing on the "religion" bugboo, you're concealing the larger issue of how much a society gets to determine the way of life of its inhabitants. If we determine that no rights have been abrograted, then all that remains is an enforcement of social norms. In this case those norms happen to overlap with your values, but it wouldn't be hard to imagine others that may not. Gay marriage, for example. I'm pretty sure there are way more people who want to marry a same-sex partner than slaughter a rooster in thier living room.

The NYT article is another matter entirely. Day care, worker's rights, safety and inspection--this is about equal protection under the law, and on this there can be no double standard.


This is actually a very fascinating area of constitutional law, which can really challenge a person's instincts as to constitutional theory.

For instance, I generally agree with Lindsay's initial reaction that the First Amendment doesn't give you free license to get away with a behavior that would otherwise be illegal, just because you cloak it in a veneer of religiosity.

However, there's a long line of Supreme Court case law which -- paying heed to the Lindsay's countervailing concern that religious minorities might fall prey to the disproportionate application of laws which are ostensibly apply to everybody (or that such laws might be specifically crafted to discriminate against such minorities) -- says courts must apply heightened scrutiny in such circumstances.

In 1990 the Supreme Court reversed course, and concluded that the State of Oregon could fire someone for violating the state's criminal laws against the use of hallucinogens, even where such employees were Native Americans fired from their jobs as drug rehabilitation counselors as a result of their use of peyote in religious ceremonies of the Native American Church.

(* As an aside, it doesn't take a constitutional law scholar to realize that the fact that these guys were Native Americans introduces an entirely unrelated dimension to the case, owing to the unique quasi-sovereign status which Native American tribes generally retain under U.S. law -- in other words, the Supreme Court could very easily have said the use of Peyote by Native Americans is a special case, and we're going to say that's okay without passing judgement on the larger question of the standard of scrutiny with regard to other laws which impact other religious activities. Moreover the inherent (small-c) conservatism of judicial decisionmaking (exemplified in the doctrine of stare decisis) often leads courts to only decide an issue when they really have to -- so the fact that the Supreme Court used the opportunity to toss out this old line of cases, rather than (as might have been expected) saying “this is different because the use of peyote by Native Americans is a special case,” suggests the Court was really itching to make a dramatic change in the area of religion and the First Amendment.)

In 1993, Congress reinstated the old "strict scrutiny" doctrine by passing a federal statute (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act), which passed the House unanimously and the Senate 97-3, and signed by Clinton. The RFRA was pushed for by a coalition of groups including the ACLU as well as conservative Christian groups.

I say this as a “card-carrying member” of the ACLU, who almost always sees the ACLU’s position as the right one as a matter of principle (even when that means, e.g., defending the right of neo-Nazis to march through Skokie) -- but it’s not immediately obvious to me that the ACLU was on the right side nor being true to its principles here: and the tension, as you and some commenters have already identified, arises from the fact that the First Amendment says two different things vis-à-vis religion which can sometimes or often pull in different directions: first, Congress (and the states by operation of the 14th Amendment) shall (i) “make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (the Establishment Clause), and (ii) “[make no law] prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (the Free Exercise Clause). RFRA’s policy comes down firmly on the side of “Free Exercise,” even though it’s not difficult to come up with examples where making special accommodations for people on account of their religious beliefs might in certain cases be seen as coming awfully close to “state establishment.” (See, e.g., Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971) (holding that state reimbursement of private schools for teachers’ salaries, textbooks, and other materials violates the Establishment Clause); the issue is directly relevant to arguments over “school vouchers,” and whether Lemon still remains good law is unsettled.)

In any case, to throw another unexpected wrinkle into the mix, in 1997 along comes the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997). Continuing a recent trend toward limiting the federal government’s powers vis-à-vis the states under the rubric of “federalism” or “states’ rights” (although the term has fallen out of fashion, the concept has not), the Court ruled that RFRA was an unconstitutional infringement by Congress on the power of the states insofar as it sought to limit enforcement of state laws. (By contrast, RFRA remains operational where the “generally applicable law” in question is a federal one -- thus, after Flores, our Oregonian Native American social workers could still be fired for violating Oregon’s state law prohibition on peyote, but can’t be prosecuted under federal drug laws (or, to be more precise, assuming they established a sincere religious belief and that the federal drug laws constitute a substantial burden on their ability to practice that religion, then they could only be prosecuted if the U.S. attorney overcame the “strict scrutiny” threshold and demonstrated that the federal government was acting in furtherance of a compelling state interest, AND that it had pursued that interest in the manner least restrictive or least burdensome to religion; see the 2006 ayahuasca case, discussed below). -- Although it’s possible that, as a matter of STATE law, the Oregon legislature passed a state statute essentially embodying the same principle contained in RFRA, as many states have done since the Flores decision, in which case an Oregon state judge might be able to find in favor of the now-hypothetical Native American social workers.)

So, as aeroman notes above, the “2000 law” that the article refers to is note RFRA, but rather RLUIPA, which Congress passed in response to Flores in an effort to find some constitutional hook to still exert its federal power over certain state law actions. RLUIPA specifically applies to state prisons (on the jurisdictional theory that state prisons get federal dollars), as well as to land use regulations (here it’s a little more tenuous, but generally on a theory that the Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce gives it power in this area). RLUIPA’s constitutionality has been upheld in the prisoner context in Cutter v. Wilkinson, 544 U.S. 709 (2005), brought by a pagan, a Wiccan, a Satanist and a White-Supremacist-Christian suing for the ability to practice their respective religions in prison. (Interestingly, the challenge was not over whether Congress had jurisdiction over state prisons in this context, but instead whether RLUIPA was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (see, there’s that tension I told you about.)

Finally, just about a year ago, in Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), the Supreme Court applied RFRA (thereby confirming it is still effective as to federal law) to conclude that the federal government had failed to overcome RFRA’s strict scrutiny test with regard to American members of the Brazilian church Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal (“UDV”), an Amazonian religion whose adherents drink a tea containing the super-hallucinogen DMT. (See my previous http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2006/04/neardeath_exper.html#comment-16080273> comment on DMT in response to a short blog entry by Lindsay last April about research on near-death experiences and sleep cycles here (apparently, after reading “DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences” last year, I became obsessed with the topic).

On a related note, see this recent post by center-left blogger and drug-law expert Mark Kleiman (who I have gathered from his prior comments was an expert witness in the UDV case), discussing a study recently published in the journal Psychopharmacology entitled "Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance" and hinting at the implications of the same after the UDV case.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to my weekly worship session at the Temple of the Holy Bong (we're a small schismatic offshoot of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster; membership is small, but we're always looking for converts)...

VoxPOPULI, I was amused by your post on neighborhood associations. Right at the moment, my NO is revising its bylaws, and I've had a chance to see how it happens up close and personal.

The bylaws here date back to the 1920's, so they aren't some sort of recent invention. The board of trustees (on which I serve), which is supervising the revisions, isn't some sort of exclusive club. To the contrary, when positions open up it's a chore to get people to serve on it; it's unpaid and involves a significant time commitment. Nor are the trustees some bunch of right wing wackos - one's the assistant to our local Democratic state senator, and I'm a longtime Democrat.

As we work on the bylaw revision, we've invited anyone interested to come and give input. When the final verbiage is settled on, it'll need to be ratified by a majority of all homeowners. If we put something in that causes a lot of dissension, the revision likely won't pass.

There are plenty of fairly niggling restrictions, like limiting the number of four-legged pets to three, or banning carports, or requiring uniform exterior treatments on houses, but all of them are aimed at protecting property values, not interfering with people's personal lives. There are severe limits on commercial signage, but we can't create any enforceable limits on political signage, as this would create first amendment conflicts.

The long and short is that I don't feel much like a block captain, thank you very much.

It is pretty damn common to prohibit livestock within city limits, and I'm sure their slaughter is pretty tightly regulated, too. I don't think the law is "trumped up" or "obscure." I'm pretty sure the City of Escondido would come down hard on me if they found I was slaughtering rabbits in my kitchen. But they will never know, because rabbits can't scream! BAHAHAHA!

"On the other hand, if he's just slitting some chickens' throats at home, I don't really see a problem with that-especially if the neighbors are allowed to do similar things for their culinary delectation without being harassed by the police."

This is the flawed assumption right here. They're almost certainly not.

Dear JimBob,

I, in turn was amused but truly, you are a good writer and please excuse unintended offense -- I am aware of certain HO's that are run by well-meaning folks and efven very decent folks attempting to preserve property values and not dictate and boy it's a fine line.
What you mention about the difficulty in getting someone to serve is that then someone much like a block captain may end up at your door with their little clipboard.
Part of this may be that I live in Tampa Fl. When an HOA is formed here, it's never EVER been by a long-term resident. And this has been much to the detriment of this fair city which coasted by and even excelled on charm and warmth for so many years.
Next thing you know these people and the city employees they pay off are pulling selective code enforcement and other nefarious actions and they make you believe that you can't have any effect at city hall if you don't have an HOA. I beg your pardon -- WHY? Am I not a citizen? My right to slaughter a chicken is as important as someone's right to keep their nose where it belongs.

I don't want to take this post way off base but this is what largely colored my perception of HOA's -- the fact that a sheriff must approve the leader. I see that as good in one aspect and very bad in another. Sheriffs are not the paragons of virtue and here again -- down the slippery slope to he has his hand in my house through a person he hand-picks or approves to oversee my area.
People say: Oh, it shouldn't matter if you're not doing anything wrong. It DOES matter.

It matters that the sheriff is living on your block, especially in a place where their reputation is very bad.

Sorry for the unintended offense. Good luck with a tough job. Please stay at it and fight the good fight or some bad element can slip in and before you know it -- you'll have Tampa.

The sheriff has to pass on the leaders of the homeowners association? What a bizarre rule. I'd be mad too.

If you don't eat meat it takes a great deal of work to get the nutrients you need to be healthy. So I'm not sure I buy the whole meat is not necessary thing.

Not that I'd personally care one way or the other. I've killed my share of chickens, and I've worked on a farm, and I'm rather of the opinion that everyone should have to kill their own meat at least once.

Never stopped me from enjoying some wings or a good steak. And I've known some farm animals I rather liked (though no chickens. It's awfully hard to like chickens if you've ever had to take care of them. Pigs, horses, cows, even ducks, sure. Chickens, no.)

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