Editorial: How do you tell Brooklyn from the Balkans––or the Berkshires?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1993:

The editor, the publisher, and the animal control officer were perplexed. Sipping
mugs of coffee on a recent frozen afternoon, they compared notes.
“Jogging up the road here a few minutes ago,” the editor said, “I ran into a young
guy in camoflauge, carrying a gun. It’s not hunting season. There’s nothing he could legal-
ly shoot that would be out at this time of day. Then I saw three kids coming the other direc-
tion, and every one of them had a BB gun. The only animals they could be shooting at are
animals they’re killing just because they’re alive.”
“I moved my family up here from Brooklyn,” said the animal control officer, “to
get away from an environment of poverty and stress and kids with guns. But now that I’m
here, it looks just like the Balkans.”

“It’s the same macho culture here as there,” explained the publisher, “that says if a
man doesn’t have anything else to do, he should be out with a gun, killing something. It
goes with poverty and lack of education.”
The animal control officer cupped his cold hands around his mug, “They live in
shacks or old house trailers that are worse than shacks,” he agreed. “They’ve been on public
assistance for three, four, five generations.”
“And it hasn’t even been that many years,” the editor added, “because you have
children having children. You have grandparents who are only 30. Some of them aren’t
even that old.”
“Back in Brooklyn,” the animal control officer continued, “you hear people say-
ing it’s a black lifestyle, or a Puerto Rican lifestyle. Then you come up here and you see
that it isn’t. It’s a white lifestyle too, with people in that trap who look just like you and
me.”
“They don’t learn to read and write,” the editor noted, “because their parents don’t
know and don’t teach them or encourage them. But they learn how to carry a gun. In
Brooklyn the kids don’t have a lot of animals to shoot at, so they shoot at each other. Here
they shoot at the animals.”
“Somehow,” all three agreed, “we’ve got to take hold of this problem. We’ve got
to find a way to get to the kids and teach them that this isn’t any way to live.”
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