Letters: Hunting ban

If hunt ban is not lifted soon, there could be trouble
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Your editorial (29 March) wants hunt supporters to let sleeping dogs lie, because their cause annoys people. ("The more they complain about their lost rights, the more opposition to their cause hardens"). This, you maintain, is on a par with the cause of smokers. But there is a huge difference.

Everyone knows about cigarettes and smoke emissions through knowledge and experience – so they can make a judgement. Very few people who wish hunting banned have a clue about predators and prey; about the need for fox and deer dispersal; about a balance between preservation and culling; about the cruelty of alternatives. City and suburban folk know only about pets and domestic animals. Their views should not count.

After these practical considerations, which take account of animal welfare, comes the sporting spin-off: diversion and excitement for rural people, the foundation of National Hunt racing and the breeding of both horses and hounds, with blood lines going back 200 years and more. A continuing ban will wipe out most of this, and will be the result of ill-will and nasty prejudice.

It will be a baleful day for Britain's woods and fields if a new Conservative government does not swiftly bring in a one-line Bill to lift the ban. Any further delay by either Labour or Conservatives might well lead to the gloves coming off and mass disobedience spreading across the country. In 2003 there was a rally at which some 40,000 people pledged to be prepared to go to prison if hunting was banned. I do not advocate that, because I am not willing to be so brave myself; but I still see it as a real possibility.

James Lewis

Wembley, Middlesex

The Conservatives claim to be a modern and compassionate party, yet their priority if they were to be elected would be to re-legalise vicious and cruel bloodsports to satisfy a tiny minority of thugs who get pleasure from the suffering of wild animals.

It is truly a shocking thought that the Tories would re-legalise hare coursing. Even Margaret Thatcher opposed this brutal activity and the cruelty inflicted on the gentle and beautiful hare.

Chris Gale

Chippenham, Wiltshire

Full marks to David Cameron for sticking up for those whose livelihoods – indeed whose very communities – are at risk from the ill-considered ideology-driven policy decisions of a government grown arrogant from being too long in power. I am sure he will be able to count on the support of miners, steel-workers and dockers.

Joe O'Farrell

Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, Ireland

Celibacy doesn't make paedophiles

The public reaction to the sexual abuse of children by some Catholic clergy is understandable and justified. The Church should have been beyond reproach in such a matter. Some of its clergy have caused terrible hurt and its reputation has been deservedly damaged.

Many, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, are asking how it has come to this, and the finger of blame is pointed at clerical celibacy. David Morgan (letter, 31 March) makes a link between "the perversion of male sexuality" (in this context, paedophilia) with what he calls the "perversion of celibacy". I would be very cautious before drawing such a simplistic equation.

He is right in identifying one of the dangers of institutionalised celibacy as the attraction it may hold for those who seek to deal with psychosexual problems by suppressing and concealing them. I also agree with him that a life devoted to work as a priest is in no sense incompatible with a calling to marriage. For these reasons, among many others, I am entirely in favour of a relaxation of the laws on clerical celibacy in the Catholic Church.

However, we should take care not to let these shocking clerical crimes cause us to debate paedophilia as if it were principally a vice of celibate clergy. There is no evidence that celibacy perverts the sexuality of otherwise healthy men, or women. It no more causes paedophilia than cures it.

It is a demanding discipline which, depending on how it is lived, can bring much happiness or sometimes painful loneliness. It can liberate the celibate to serve others, or tend towards self-centredness. It often does all of these, even in the one person.

By all means, let us debate the issue of celibacy, but let us remember that paedophilia must be addressed as a serious problem in its own right. In my pastoral ministry I have found that by far its commonest outlet is the ordinary family, where marriage proved to be no sure safeguard against it. Paedophilia was with us long before clerical celibacy and, sadly, it will be with us long after.

Fr Terence A Carr

Prestatyn, Denbighshire

The sexual abuse of minors is only the most glaring example of corruption by power which permeates the Roman Catholic Church.

No formal power resides in anyone but the ordained, a tiny and rapidly decreasing number of celibate men. Many members of the church at all levels have been fighting for the practical expression of the equality of the baptised. There is not a single forum in which the sensus fidelium, the action of the Holy Spirit among the laity, carries any formal clout.

If only the media would follow through from the titillation of the sexual abuse to the gross dysfunction of the RC Church as a whole. It would give commentary on the Pope's visit a depth that these occasions usually avoid. Great swathes of the RC laity and clergy would be delighted at such exposure.

Jackie Hawkins

Bedford

Still waiting for solar power

In the spirit of the times, I decided to cover my roof with solar PV panels. The Government encourages this by guaranteeing (at last) a realistic payment for the electricity produced.

My panels should by now have been in place. However, there is a snag – a worldwide shortage of inverters (transformers which convert DC to AC, required by the grid). My order can be completed only when a shipment of (imported) inverters has arrived.

Government advocates zero carbon technology without ensuring there are resources to implement them; the left hand knows not what the right is doing. I live within 50 miles of the Welsh valleys, with their empty factories and high unemployment. With our monumental trade deficit, it's beyond belief that items such as transformers (and PV panels) could not be made in Wales.

After listening to the Chancellors' debate, with its focus almost exclusively on tax and cuts, it seems to me that neither public nor politicians understand that, if our quality of life is to be maintained, our entire economy needs fixing.

David Smith

Clyro, Powys

Keep politics out of music

Since when did we stoop so low that it has now become acceptable to use the education and arts as a shambolic platform for protest? When I first read your article "Protesters silence Israeli musicians in London" (1 April), I thought it was an April fool. Sadly I was mistaken.

It is gravely upsetting that we can no longer separate musical talent from politics. What will be next? Will we find ourselves heckling the Divan Orchestra, which brings Arab and Israeli musicians together to help foster Israel-Arab relations?

Sadly, this has already been the case for Clare College, when the renowned Cambridge choir were banned from performances in Israel after protests from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. Just as the Jerusalem Quartet in no way represents the government of Israel, we need to ensure that this type of abuse has no place in Britain.

Laura Ellman

London N12

Olympic tower's Soviet echo

The landmark sculpture chosen to represent the 2012 Olympic Games is too aesthetically and functionally close to Vladimir Tatlin's utopian (unbuilt) Monument to the Third International of 1919-20 to escape comparison.

It has already been noted that Anish Kapoor's tower for the Olympic Games will peak at 22m higher than New York's Statue of Liberty. With notably less friendly rivalry, Tatlin had imagined his tower, planned to be erected in Petrograd following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, as overshadowing Paris's Eiffel Tower as the ultimate symbol of modernity.

Admittedly, Kapoor's £19.1m design is made relevant by incorporating the five Olympic rings, but it is essentially a monumental red spiral in motion. It is planned to conjure a sensation of instability by its movement as the visitor journeys toward a viewing platform that will offer panoramic views over London. Similarly, Tatlin's tower was projected as two intertwining lattice spirals that would ferry visitors around using various mechanical devices.

That is not to say I don't value the design and intentions, but I am sceptical about the symbolism. The Monument to the Third International was a metaphor on a grandiose scale of a new social order, representing the ideology and power of the Soviet State. Can the Orbit tower avoid being tainted by such connotations?

Henrietta Forsyth

Bath

Dig deep for the amazing collider

You point out that there would be "problems" in the building of the new Hadron Collider along the London Underground, ("Hadron Collider II planned for Circle Line", 1 April). However, given the number of MPs who would be offered consultancy fees and the number of ex-Cabinet ministers willing to make available their experience and contacts, these problems should not be insurmountable.

Stephen Shaw

Newthorpe, Nottinghamshire

I write to express my alarm at the prospect of Cern building a new hadron collider on the London Underground. The creation of black holes so close to the offices of over 200 MPs could result in their work being carried out within the event horizon of the black holes.

This would mean that any work carried out could not be observed by those of us on the outside, and it would give them a considerable advantage when filling out expenses claims.

David Mangan

Nottingham

Briefly...

Threat to charities

The problem that Martin Kyrle identifies (letter, 30 March) of the banks paying miserly interest rates to his charity pales into insignificance compared to the proposal to phase out cheques, which are the means by which most such organisations make transactions. Such a step would threaten the very existence of many small charity and community groups.

Keith Hammond

Chandlers Ford, Hampshire

Dead memories

John Lichfield ("France tries to halt march of English", 31 March) didn't mention the French sport of mocking their officially concocted gallicisations. I'm in the electronics industry, and in the 1970s, they tried to promulgate mémoire vive ("living memory") for RAM (read-and-write memory) and mémoire morte ("dead memory") for ROM (read-only memory). At seminars, my French colleague always raised a laugh by saying of two devices standing on their little metal legs "these are mémoires vives" and of a third lying on its back with its legs in the air, "this is a mémoire morte".

David Watson

Reading

Leave spelling alone

Masha Bell's often repeated and almost obsessive call for spelling reform (letter, 23 March) is misconceived and unworkable, since there is no machinery for enacting such a change, and the rules of English are determined by ordinary usage. Even those languages that have a language "Academy"' generally fail to achieve change by decree, because such a method is counter to the way language works and develops.

Robert Allen

Edinburgh

Moment of sanity

I'm not sure which version of reality Andy McSmith inhabits that leads him to believe that Prime Minister's Questions is "lively"' and "works" and that the Chancellors' debate was "dull" (31 March), but out here in the real world, PMQs is an odious embarrassment that long ago undermined our respect for our elected representatives, while the debate was a shining moment of sanity in what promises to be a spin-fest of a campaign. I came away convinced that if Alistair Darling and Vince Cable were running the country, we'd be in safe hands.

Manda Scott

Clungunford, Shopshire

Light relief

Thank you, Guy Ottewell (Letter, 1 April) – at last a voice of reason in the great clock-changing debate. Whenever someone mentions that moving the clocks forward in summer) gives us an "extra hour of daylight", I want to scream. We have exactly the same length of daylight whether we do it or not.

Laurie Marks

Cambridge

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