Readers vs. readers on Michael Brown, plastic bags, growing rice in California and SeaWorld

Sharp-eyed Times readers regularly offer their strongly held views on our coverage. They also weigh in on the opinions of fellow letter writers. A sampling from this week:

The controversial Michael Brown shooting story kept reverberating. How to characterize the action shown in the convenience store video, for example — was it "alleged shoplifting" or "strong-arm robbery"? Among those readers who differed with one letter writer was Wes Seastrom of La Cañada-Flintridge:

May I suggest Geoff Kuenning take another look at the video purportedly showing Brown stealing the box of cigars from the Ferguson convenience store. In my mind, "shoplifting" is when a 10-year-old sneaks a candy bar inside his pocket, then discreetly walks out of the store, bypassing the cash register and avoiding any contact with a store employee.


Brown made no such attempt to be unnoticed. He is shown brazenly taking the box out of the store without paying ... in full view of a much smaller store clerk who confronts him, and whom he intimidates and forcefully shoves out of the way.

In my opinion, that isn't shoplifting but a strong-arm robbery.
Like Phyllis Molloff of Fallbrook, several readers picked up on the "doggie bag" argument in the plastic-bag ban letters:

Please notify letter writer Gail Paparian that one can purchase "doggie bags" in any pet store. They are very cheap and environmentally conscious.

Let's get away from the plastic bags from stores. If we can remember to bring our wallets/credit cards, surely we can be trained to bring in our bags.
And, in a story about possible California rice sales to China, many readers questioned the wisdom of cultivating such a crop in a drought-affected state. Tim Johnson of Sacramento, who heads the California Rice Commission, offered this:
Some reader responses to The Times' article have expressed concern over our industry's water use. Great strides have been made to increase water-use efficiency in rice over the last 30 years. It takes about the same amount of water to grow a serving of rice as it does oranges or broccoli. Additionally, the shallow water depth in rice fields provides habitat to millions of birds.

Like many Californians, our farms have been impacted by the drought. Surviving this drought involves sacrifice by all sectors of California.

Finally, in response to letters on the whale tanks at SeaWorld, San Diego park President John Reilly wrote:
Our animals are healthy and thriving.… We plan to build new, first-of-their-kind killer whale environments at all three SeaWorld parks. The enlarged environments will provide killer whales with even more dynamic opportunities that challenge them both physically and mentally.

There are those who believe that killer whales — and ultimately, all animals — should not be raised or displayed in zoological institutions. They are entitled to their views.

But we don't agree. We are proud of SeaWorld's history of education and inspiration.

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