Letters: Yelling at the Radio

"I found myself yelling at the radio," wrote in one listener in response to an interview with a lawyer representing mothers from a polygamist ranch in Texas. Senior producer Steve Proffitt joins Alex Chadwick to read this and other letters.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Back now with Day to Day and senior producer Steve Proffitt here to help read some listener email.

STEVE PROFFITT: Hi, Alex. As you might expect, lots of comment about our coverage of the polygamous ranch in Texas.

CHADWICK: Yes, state child welfare officials holding more than 400 kids after a raid on an FLDS ranch about three weeks ago. Officials concerned that older male members of the church had been marrying and impregnating younger girls.

PROFFITT: Right. On Wednesday, Madeleine talked with the lawyer. Her name was Mary Lou Alvarez. She is representing some of the mothers from the ranch who are trying to get their children back, and she told Madeleine that the state has exceeded their statutory authority. Here is some of what she said.

Ms. MARY LOU ALVAREZ (Lawyer): In the state of Texas, 16 and 17-year-old girls, with the consent of their parents, can get married. Are the parents who give that consent neglectful and abusive?

PROFFITT: Daniel Morrison (ph) of Ventura, California wrote to say that he was thankful we aired that interview but he says, he found himself yelling at the radio.

CHADWICK: Quote, "Marriage is a great thing" writes Mr. Morrison, "for those who are over 18 and when it is fully their choice." But, he says, what Ms. Alvarez is trying to justify is wrong.

PROFFITT: And Jan Andrews (ph) of Salt Lake City says, she believes the fundamentalist beliefs of the FLDS are at the base of the problem. Forcing a child into religion, she writes, is both abusive and insulting.

CHADWICK: Other listeners expressed a different view, including Neil Weiner (ph) of Santa Monica. He sees the Texas court order as overly broad. He says boys were removed from the ranch though there is no evidence of abuse of boys. And he says girls under 12 were separated from their families although there is also no evidence that they were immediately at risk.

PROFFITT: OK, on to another big topic in the inbox, Alex. Our series on the environmental footprint of food. Many listeners were glad that we tackled this idea that the food choices we make can have a big impact on greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

CHADWICK: From Merrimack, Massachusetts, Heidi Vega Cavanagh (ph) thanks us for this series. She writes, I get so sick of hearing about hybrids and light bulbs without ever hearing about how meat, dairy, and egg consumption contributes to greenhouse gas production.

PROFFITT: But Roland McReynolds (ph) was among the listeners who said, we failed to distinguished between two types of animal agriculture. He agrees that what he terms factory farms are harmful to the environment, but Mr. McReynolds, who is executive director of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association says our reporting ignored the many farmers who, as he puts it, mimic nature.

CHADWICK: And he points to grass-fed beef and says farmers who use this method maintain the balance in the farm ecosystem and also produce healthier meat and dairy.

PROFFITT: Thanks for that, Mr. McReynolds and thanks to all who wrote us. We invite you to do the same.

CHADWICK: The website is npr.org and click on the contact us link then tell us what you think. Steve Proffitt, thank you.

PROFFITT: You're welcome, Alex.

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