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I have always been a huge fan of your paper but I would like to express my concerns about your recent issue in which you are featuring Paula Deen [“A buttery Southern belle goes blue for the casino crowd”; Feb. 2, 2011; by Brian Clarey]. She has recently come under a lot of fire for her endorsement of Smithfield Foods. She is a spokesperson of a company that has a history of environmental-workers rights and animal welfare violations which has even made the company the subject of a movie screening at the European Parliament. The movie Pig Busines, featuring Robert F. Kennedy Jr., shows how Smithfield is trying to move its business to eastern Europe after running into trouble in the US. The Humane Society of the US has just gone undercover into one of Smithfield’s pig breeding operations and the resulting video has actually sparked the outrage against Paula Deen’s endorsement of the company.

There is a world-wide movement on its way right now that addresses the dangers of industrial animal agriculture (where 99 percent of the animals for food come from) and the main reason why I am writing you is to entice you to take a look at the issue especially since you are in the position to reach many people with you paper.

Wolfgang Planz, Greensboro

I was really enjoying your review of Paula Deen’s new restaurant at Harrah’s Casino in last week’s edition… until I got to the last couple of paragraphs. As the mom of a son with a disability and a friend of many others who have mobility differences, I cringe at the use of the term “wheelchair-bound.” Unless I misread you, this guy wasn’t shackled, leashed, tied to a fire hydrant, or in any other way “bound” to anything, except perhaps his new fiancée. Just because someone gets around in a way that’s different from the masses doesn’t mean they’re serving some miserable life sentence, warranting pity and condescension. They’re just people!

Deen didn’t win any points with her comment either. I am sure she intended to be sweet, but I wonder if she would have heralded a proposal between a typically-mobile couple as “love in its purest and truest form.” Again, maybe I’m reading more into this than I should, but the implication is that this relationship must be really, really special for the woman to have consented to marry someone with a disability. Not cool.

People with special needs and those of us who love them get weary of constantly having to convince the general population that a little variation in the way someone moves, thinks, or communicates doesn’t mean they’re from another planet. I just urge you to consider how you would want to be treated, viewed, and written about if your body worked a little differently.

Thanks for letting me rant!

Brooke Juneau, Greensboro