Cage Cattle, Not People

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Editor:

Some people think that a "law" is permanent and unchangeable. If this were the case, such high profile issues such as slavery, women's voting rights and even public smoking would still be with us. The evidence is clear, laws can be changed!

In this country and around the world, our legal system is held up as a paragon of perfection. In reality, it is the exact opposite. In Navajo County, Ariz. (and elsewhere) some citizens are being victimized by unjust laws that are a throwback to the 1800s.

Law enforcement is out of control when citizens can be arrested, jailed and charged with felonies as a result of defending themselves against wild cattle trespassing on their private property. These abusive, special interest laws are called "open-range" laws. Did you know that you could lose your voting rights after a felony conviction?

Points to ponder: (1) Land used for grazing cattle is taxed at $25/640 acres vs. $1,000 for ungrazed land. (2) Ranchers are paid for cattle killed on the highway (three times their value). When the motorist is killed, the estate pays! (3) The law allows a rancher to kill any dog that he thinks will threaten his cattle in the future. Some ranchers have been known to pay a bounty for dog ears! (4) Cattle are an inefficient use of our resources. It takes 3,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef ("Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts," 1997 edition).

There are approximately 900 cattlemen in Arizona, while the total population is about 5.5 million -- that is well over 5,000 to 1. Why then are cattlemen allowed to benefit from laws that adversely affect innocent citizens?

We are presently in the 21st century, with Arizona laws that are pre Civil War. Most states have repealed these laws and it is time for Arizona to join the mainstream of America. This will only happen if Arizonans speak out on this issue.

Remember, there are 5,000 of us to every one (1) of them. How could "open-range" laws withstand the tide of public opinion if even one in 100 of concerned citizens would speak out in opposition?

The law of the land in these United States is the Constitution -- all just laws derive from this source. Open-range laws intended to benefit a special interest group (ranchers) to the detriment of others are unconstitutional.

Kent Knudson, Phoenix

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