Laer brings news of a conflict in Southern California. The Orthodox Jewish community would like to run a string along certain boundaries to expand the area within which they can legitimately travel during the Sabbath. (The string is called a eruv.) Thus, according to the LA Times:
The Pacific Jewish Center in Venice wants to string fishing line between lampposts and sign poles for several miles through the coastal communities, creating a symbolic unbroken boundary.
Orthodox Jews within the boundary can consider themselves to be “at home” on the Sabbath. That eases restrictions of the holy day and allows people to carry food, push strollers and bring their house keys with them when they go out.
Such lines have been up for years in religious neighborhoods throughout the world. A large eruv encompasses a swath of Hollywood, Hancock Park, West Hollywood, Westwood, Beverly Hills and surrounding communities.
Did you note that this is a fishing line we’re talking about? Not a big fence, not neon lights — just some poles and a fishing line. But apparently even a fishing line — one that will grant mobility to handicapped children who are currently completely housebound without the eruv — is too much for some:
The Coastal Commission staff has recommended against the enclosure, saying it could compromise the nesting area of a rare bird and obstruct views of the ocean. Leaders of the Venice synagogue are negotiating this week with commission officials in an effort to reach a compromise.
Carol Katona, a Venice resident walking her dog Ginger, said she was mostly concerned about the birds.
“If the string is kind of invisible, I don’t want to be finding injured birds around because they’re flying into it,” Katona said. If the Pacific Jewish Center “puts up things that mark it for the birds, then that’s trashing up the place. If you try to fix it so the birds can see it, then we can see it, and that wouldn’t be OK with me.”
Reading this reminds me of Dennis Prager’s article about the relative value of animals and humans. Prager does not advocate abusing animals. He does believe, however, that certain human concerns have to take precedence over animals:
Contemporary secular society has rendered human beings less significant than at any time in Western history.
First, the secular denial that human beings are created in God’s image has led to humans increasingly being equated with animals. That is why over the course of 30 years of asking high-school seniors if they would first try to save their dog or a stranger, two-thirds have voted against the person. They either don’t know what they would do or actually vote for their dog. Many adults now vote similarly.
Why? There are two reasons. One is that with the denial of the authority of higher values such as biblical teachings, people increasingly make moral decisions on the basis of how they feel. And since probably all people feel more for their dog than they do for a stranger, many people without a moral instruction manual simply choose to do what they feel.
The other reason is that secular values provide no basis for elevating human worth over that of an animal. Judeo-Christian values posit that human beings, not animals, are created in God’s image and, therefore, human life is infinitely more sacred than animal life.
That is why people estranged from Judeo-Christian values (including some Christians) support programs such as “Holocaust on Your Plate,” the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) campaign that teaches that there is no difference between the slaughtering of chickens and the slaughtering of the Jews in the Holocaust. A human and a chicken are of equal worth.
That is why a Tucson, Ariz., woman last year screamed to firefighters that her “babies” were in her burning house. Thinking that the woman’s children were trapped inside, the firemen risked their lives to save the woman’s three cats.
Fortunately, the Coastal Commission seems to have had second thoughts. As Laer explains, it’s allowing the stringing to go forwards, subject to some stringent conditions:
- The approval is only good for three years, but can be extended.
- “Bird incidents” must be reported to the California Department of Fish & Game and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
- Downed lines, which presumably would cause us dumb humans to stop in our tracks, denying us beach access, must be reported to the Commission.
- Visual impacts must be mitigated — poles holding up the wire must be painted to minimize their visibility using a Commission-approved color scheme.
- A pole maintenance company must be named and be available on 24-hour notice.
- The poles and lines must be removed if it is determined they caused damage to an endangered species.