I was born and raised in Baton Rouge. I have lived in Omaha for 20 years now.
With that kind of background, you start to draw some conclusions about where you are -- and about where you're from. You look at the lingering racism back home. You look at lousy public schools, crooked politicians always on the make -- and on the take -- and every bit of the public infrastructure falling apart.
You look, and you think "This is not good."
A worker at a Baton Rouge photo lab is used to developing photographs of birthday parties, beautiful sunsets, and vacations. A picture of a girl cutting up a dead puppy, however, was a first.
The worker, from a Baton Rouge Walgreen's drug store, immediately called sheriff's deputies, who launched an investigation. Deputies were led to a student from Woodlawn High School who told them her mother had gotten the dead puppy for her from the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control, according to a police report.
The puppy that was given to the student's mother for the school assignment had previously been euthanized, investigators were told. Upon further investigation, deputies learned that the dissection of the dead puppy was part of an assignment from the girl's biology teacher, Dennis Dyer. The assignment read, in part, "Skeletal preparation can be an interesting and rewarding project for those who recognize that beauty and have the stomach for the grosser side of Biology." A report from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office says the teacher told his students if they could not find a dead wild animal, they could get one from animal control.
The teacher says the student approached him and stated that she went to animal control and workers there "offered to provide her with a euthanized animal if it was for a school project," Trahan said. "Once they've been euthanized, they are disposed of," said Hilton Cole, director of the EBR Animal Control Center. "And that's the end of their little lives and it's rather unpleasant. So, if somehow, some way, one of these animals can somehow help a student or help an educational program or enhance a life maybe in the future and stimulate some young mind to become a scientist or an investigator of some sort, I feel like that's a worthy cause," Cole said.
THE TANGIPAHOA PARISH animal-control center putting down 170 animals in a day. The East Baton Rouge Parish animal-control center giving away euthanized puppies to be dissected by a kid at home.
Now, the expatriate wonders something else. No, "wonders" is not the correct word. The expatriate knows something else. He knows the Thing Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken.
He knows that "It" is true -- that which has, in the past, been thrown in his face by people who looked at him like he was from a particularly rough patch of Albania.
Yes, Louisiana is a pretty backward place.
Yes, something's just wrong with people down there.