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Biology Class: 'Nice Froggie'

August 20, 1988

In response to the editorial "Nice Froggie" (Aug. 7), I would like to make a few comments. There are many facets to Jenifer's story, and the court case is complex.

Jenifer Graham is my daughter, and we have been "slugging it out" so to speak, with hard-fought, time-consuming, stressful litigation for over a year because she believes in the sanctity of all life, including animals. To treat her viewpoint as an oddity is to ignore the larger issues involved. Although dissection can be seen as an "unpleasant rite of passage" to some people, to others it represents the misuse of animals in a system which tends to value them only as "tools" used to teach concepts that could be learned without harming or destroying other creatures.

One reason for teaching children to respect other forms of life such as animals, is that this respect will naturally be extended to other areas of consideration--say, respecting one's neighbors, be they individuals or nations, respecting the environment, and ultimately all of life on planet Earth. Lofty? Perhaps. However, with the direction our world is taking on the road to destruction, it may be imperative to start changing our attitudes on basic levels if we ever expect to bring about constructive change.

On a more mundane level, be aware that our taxes have also been used to fund the fight against Jenifer's stand. The principal of the high school was the one to suggest we get a lawyer, no doubt believing we were powerless to challenge his authority. The Humane Society of the U.S. provided the lawyer because their supporters believe in the value of non-exploitative, humane education. Jenifer doesn't have any formal religion to dictate her beliefs, but "reverence for life" is a valid religious teaching nonetheless. And the reason this case has gone as far as it has is because last November the judge ruled that Jenifer's case was basically sound and deserved to be further developed, that her claims were "not plainly untenable."

Whether or not the Victorville taxpayers have had to lay out over $100,000, Jenifer's case is a matter of conscience and not money. There are larger issues at stake here. And Jenifer has accepted the judge's decision to have the school provide a frog which died of natural causes. Although she doesn't feel that using a real frog is necessary, the judge has shown respect for her moral convictions. Because of this, our fight has not been in vain.

PATRICIA A. GRAHAM

Victorville

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