I had to take a deep breath and count to 10 after reading an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution this week. It seems one of my favorite Georgia spots is coming under fire. Activists are firing their verbal and symbolic arrows in the direction of the Georgia Aquarium after two of its most popular residents died in the last month.
First, Gasper - a beautiful beluga whale - had to be euthanized after a long battle with illness. Then, whale shark Ralph passed away from an unknown ailment.
And various folks have used the deaths as an opportunity to speak their mind about the cruelty of such aquariums. One guy - Dino Vlachos, the founder of Georgia Animals Rights and Protection - held a candlelight vigil, even though he's never been in the aquarium. (It would be too tough a journey. Plus, it's much easier to cast dispersions based on assumptions and stereotypes. More Kool-Aid, Mr. Vlachos?)
Anyway, amid the din of holier-than-thou criticism are a few voices of reason. And few are more cognizant than retired SeaWorld executive Jim Antrim.
"Do you think you can sit on a bluff and watch these whale sharks swim by and learn anything about them?" he asked in the AJC article. "It is naive to think you can learn about species if you don't bring them into a captive environment."
But with many of the activists, it is not about the opportunity to learn. It's all exploitation - especially if they can exploit an animal for their cause.
Now, excuse me while I step down from my soapbox. I have to feed my fish.
By the way, wardrobe choices around town should be a little easier tomorrow.
The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Day is Friday. Participation is simple: Just wear something red.
It'll show your support for a great organization and, more importantly, for a great cause: raising awareness of heart disease.
The group's annual Heart Walk is coming up on Feb. 24 at Thomson Middle School, and they've set a goal of $38,000.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women, but it can be avoided, and events like Wear Red day and the Heart Walk aim to raise awareness. There's more about the local Heart Walk at www.mcduffiecountyheartwalk.kintera.org.
Consider taking a walk on Feb. 24. And while you are at it, take out your checkbooks, too.