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Old 02-13-04, 08:52 AM   #78 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jan-2003
Location: Boston, MA
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After the 3rd or 4th try, I'm sure they are learning something about what works, I don't think we should just "sit and wait".
From my personal experiences dealing with similar situations in the United States, it's entirely possible to become publicly active before they make their entire agenda known to the voting masses. Contact the assorted news media and approach them with the idea of stories which are both truthful and supportive of the hobby. Take a human interest angle (people like seeing photos or video of large snakes) and use it as a platform from which you can express additional support for the concepts you know to be true.

I am under the impression that at least a few individuals or groups do traveling educational programs, right? Invite a news crew with some cameras to one of your shows, get some shots of appreciative second graders learning about the natural world and be sure to mention to both the kids and the reporter that "Reptiles are an important part of the natural world and it's important for children to learn that they're nothing to be afraid of and the safe way to approach them. There's a lot of social stigma attached to reptiles and their owners and it's time that the truth about their suitability was known." toss in a statistic about how many kids are eaten by their pet dogs every year versus injured by a reptile then add something along the lines of "Reptiles are also an intrinsic part of the ecosystem, we feel it's important to educate kids about their role in the wild so that they can continue to fight the dangers to wild populations such as; habitat destruction and collection for the meat and skin trade. The pet industry has long been one of the groups which provides primary financial support for protection of suitable habitat and ensuring that these animals remain safe in the wild. If the wild populations are in danger or being threatened, it impacts the animals we love and endangers our ability to keep them." then insert a statistic about donations from the private sector and the pet industry involving an impressibe dollar amount which has gone to habitat preservation. Stress that cats and dogs are problem species and the fact that herpers don't want herps to end up in the same situations and the dedication to education shown by the herping community.

Take the fight to your enemy, hit them first and hit them hard. If there's enough interest and enough repetition of a message which extolls the positive aspects of the herp trade AND makes it clear that herpers are in it to educate others, then they'll have a hard time pushing their propaganda. The average voting population has no real basis for making a decision on this issue, if it comes down to a matter of public support, the masses will accept whatever they are told first if it appears to come from a reliable source. They don't know Laidlaw or his type and if he comes across as someone in a position to know, they'd take whatever he might say and believe it as being truthful. The trick is to give them something else to believe first.

I know it was mentioned in the section that Nett copied of another message board but it bears repeating- make sure whoever is acting as a spokesperson for the group is well spoken, well educated, clean cut and has some credentials which sound impressive to the average person off the street. No matter how correct a person might be, an unfortunate truth is that people judge others by their appearance and by their occupation, some of the most intelligent herpers I know are tattoo covered construction workers; the herping community looks solely at how well they know their herps, the general public doesn't. If you can choose a doctor or someone who owns or is employed at a zoo who can wear a suit and tie (or whatever the terms are for the equivalent for women- business clothing) and list off their years of experience or degrees, they're the best choice.
-Seamus Haley
"Genes, Like Leibnitz's monads, have no windows; the higher properties of life are emergent... And once assembled, organisms have no windows." - Edward Wilson, Sociobiology
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