Mason County News
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Pass the butter, eh?
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 • Posted August 5, 2009

Lion’s Club International was started by a fellow named Melvin something in about 1917 or 1915 or thereabouts. The reason I’m able to be so specific is because I belong to my local Lion’s Club. I even know the club motto, which is “We Serve.” At least, I think that’s what it is.

Anyway, there are Lion’s Clubs all over the world, and they hold fundraisers periodically and give some of the money to the parent organization, and it’s spent to help people who need glasses and can’t afford them, and to fund camps for disabled children, and stuff like that. The rest of the money raised is used locally, for the same types of purposes.

The various clubs use their own judgment on how to raise money. For example, a club in Huntington, Oregon, holds a catfishing tournament in May every year. They charge an entry fee, and offer a discount of one dollar for couples. So far, so good.

But this year at the tournament a particular pair of anglers was denied the couples’ discount, because they were both women. From Canada. Which probably isn’t relevant, since Canadians are most likely just like people, only colder.

Anyway, the two women pitched a big fit and obtained legal representation with something called Lambda Legal, which sent a letter to Lion’s Club International Headquarters in Illinois asking that the Huntington club issue a written apology to the two women, along with their children and other relatives. Yes, they have children. Apparently the laws of nature work differently in Canada.

Mike Raney, who was in charge of this year’s catfish derby, said, “I wasn’t making a statement against lesbians. I was just trying to run a derby.” He said he wouldn’t give the women the discount because, if he did, he would have to give it to every pair of anglers who entered, regardless of other considerations. Which makes sense to me.

Besides, you would think a dollar wouldn’t be a big deal, especially at a fundraiser, and more especially at a fundraiser for a cause like helping blind folks and kids with serious disabilities. I think I would have paid the dollar and let it go. Most people who entered the tournament probably kicked in a little extra cash, anyway. That’s what always happens at our local fundraisers.

So this should not have become an issue at all. But it did, and I’m mentioning it here as a heads-up for anyone who is planning to hold any kind of benefit in the near future – discounts are a bad idea. Charge everyone extra, and if they complain, charge them again. You never know what people are going to get upset about.

Another strange news item of late concerns Michael Jackson, who is evidently not to be allowed to rest in peace. I think there’s been more publicity about the guy since he died than there was while he was alive. And Jackson evidently got a lot of publicity while he was alive, on account of being a singer, or something.

Anyway, my old friends at peta, according to a US Sportsmen’s Alliance story, want to use a Michael Jackson song to promote empathy for rats. Which raises some questions, such as, above all, who this promotion will be aimed at.

Now, to make sure we’re on the same page here, let me explain the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is what you feel for someone who has lost a dog, when you’ve never lost a dog. Sympathy means you care, but you can’t exactly relate. If you actually know how the person feels, because you’ve been through the same thing, then you can be empathetic.

So, in order to have empathy for a rat’s personal situation, you would, yourself, have to be a rat. According to the United States Census Bureau, very few American people are, in fact, rats. So they could not, by definition, have empathy for the nasty little rodents, no matter how much money peta spends promoting it.

The group has also stuck its collective nose into the Iowa State Fair. A sculpture of a cow, made out of butter, is a big attraction at the fair every year, and officials said they might also have a butter statue of Michael Jackson made this year. No one knows why, but there you go.

An online ballot was set up so people could vote on whether the fair committee should have the statue made at all. And then peta jumped in arguing that the Michael Jackson statue should be made of a non-dairy spread called ‘Earth Balance’ instead of real butter. Those peta people evidently have serious problems figuring out how to waste their time.

But the Michael Jackson statue didn’t get enough votes, anyway. Instead, the Iowa State Fair will exhibit a statue of Neil Armstrong, the first guy to walk on the moon, as opposed to a guy who just did a lot of moonwalking.

And the Neil Armstrong statue will be made out of real butter.

And you can spread it on bread or pancakes or whatever you want.

And you don’t get a discount, whether you’re a couple, or just someone from Canada.

So there . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who has nothing against Canadians, eh? Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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