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The April 28 article “Revisiting a defining day in LA history,” concerning the Los Angeles riots of 1992, was timely and thought-provoking. I couldn’t help but notice that the man identified as the vicious attacker of Reginald Denny speaks as if without remorse for his actions. The entire episode was an embarrassment to American culture and our society. The obvious police behavior in regard to Rodney King and the subsequent actions by hundreds of others after the court verdict were heinous and without cause.

The standard argument in support of the riots is that they were ignited by an overwhelming suppression of minorities in that area of Los Angeles and biased treatment by police officials. Anyone looking at the TV, as I was during that episode, or watching the videos being replayed will see a large number of people running in and out of shops and stores carrying away stolen property. Stealing does not equate to protesting social injustice. It’s just stealing.

The attacker who pulled an innocent man (Denny) from his truck and rendered him beaten and close to death served 17 months and, apparently, has no remorse for his personal actions that pushed the other toward death. I find this to be appalling. The commentary surrounding the lack of growth in that part of the community is a cruel joke. Who would start a business in that area knowing that your neighbors might someday destroy your business without a second thought? That part of L.A. is as it should be, a war-torn area bereft of opportunity because that’s what its citizens made it.

The police actions should not have led to the destruction of a community. The citizens of that community are guilty of that offense. The police were guilty of beating Rodney King. Who’s suffering now?

Master Sgt. Daniel Skidmore (retired)

Heltersberg, Germany

Live-animal training of no use

If the “choice” between sparing animals from suffering in training exercises and saving human lives ever was genuine, it is a false dichotomy today. Outdated trauma training courses using animals (“Coast Guard defends using live animals in medical training,” article, April 21, Mideast and Pacific editions) focus on this point.

Humane non-animal methods such as high-tech (gasping, hemorrhaging, screaming) simulators effectively teach battlefield skills; watching a living goat be cut to pieces does not. The former president of the Special Operations Medical Association stated, “It is absolutely crazy to presume that if your medic training has involved a goat lab that you are prepared to open one of your team member’s bellies if there is no opportunity to get him to surgery.” I concur that animal training experiences, while well-intentioned, are irrelevant.

Such exercises may desensitize participants to the suffering of animals, but they certainly do not augment skills or readiness. On the contrary, they may create a false sense of preparedness not backed up by real-world readiness.

As a Navy physician providing care to Marines, I never practiced my skills on animals; there is no need to do so. The assumption that the spilling of animal blood in training is necessary or even helpful is absurd. In a very long trauma career, I have never once observed corpsmen, combat medics, paramedics, physicians or nurses without such training fail to step up and do what was needed to competently care for those entrusted to them. Nor have I seen personnel with animal training perform better in any way than those spared those expensive and wasteful experiences.

Dr. (Lt. Cmdr.) Thomas J. Poulton (retired)

El Paso, Texas


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