By Bill Bodden

Unequal pay for women has been a well-discussed topic lately that reveals blatant unfairness, but if we go beyond this point we can see how it exposes the contrast between words and deeds that constantly informs our national conversations.

For over a hundred years Americans have been reciting “justice for all” in the Pledge of Allegiance. For more than a century, women, supported by a few fair-minded men, have sought justice while the rest of the nation denied and still denies them their rights. No surprise there. The daily violations of justice aided and abetted by duplicity are another tradition America shares with other nations. Reciting “justice for all” appears to be as ludicrous as the claim some trappers and hunters make when they say they love the animals they kill.

Nurses in a mostly female profession annually earn around $100,000 with benefits in our larger cities where they are subject to great stress for most of the year saving lives. Celebrities in the entertainment, sports and banking industries are paid in the tens of millions for part-time work and sometimes illegal schemes on Wall Street. To earn $10 million, one of these nurses would have to work about a hundred years. That is another example of injustice in our economic system.

Then there are laborers paid the minimum wage that is well below a living wage. How do they fit in with the phrase about “liberty and justice for all”? People living in poverty enjoy minimal liberty. If they have children and unless they win the lottery they will not have the remotest chance of being like other parents who spend thousands of dollars for birthday parties or weddings. On the contrary, they are grateful if they can provide their kids with breakfast before they go to school.

Our politicians, sometimes on a daily basis, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then a majority will proceed to create laws and policies that deny countless citizens “liberty and justice.” A minority who take their pledges seriously are overruled. We have some citizens who probably mean well but don’t think clearly and would have us throw out all incumbents, including those who would make this nation a better place if they had their way.

This capacity for double standards extends into the world of animals. We have been fortunate to have had citizens in the past who ended several cruel traditions that inflicted unconscionable pain and suffering on animals. As a consequence we have laws making it a crime to deliberately abuse these sentient beings. We also have a network of humane organizations working to reduce suffering for animals.

But, here again, the capacity for saying one thing and doing another shows it has no boundaries. On the one hand the state imposes penalties for cruelty to animals, while on the other it dispenses licenses to trappers to practice their barbaric and merciless “sport” for fun and profit.

If a citizen who shares the compassion for animals that prompted our laws against cruelty should come across an animal in agony in a trap, he or she will be subject to a penalty of a fine of more than $6,000 and a year in prison for committing an act of conscience by setting the animal free. If a child is a witness to a cruelly trapped animal, how will he or she be affected by an adult leaving it to suffer?

The advocates for wildlife at have a mission to end this barbaric “sport” in Oregon. Will it take this organization a hundred years to do what is right, or will there be a majority of sensible and responsible citizens who will rally in support so that we might prevail and make our public lands safe for wildlife — and people and their pets?

— Bill Bodden lives in Redmond.