ALL DISTURBING NEWS doesn't come from Washington. In support of this revolutionary thesis, we present the following news story from the Aug. 5 Vermont News Guide, published in Manchester Center, Vt.:
A 311-pound rogue male bear, addicted to cocoa, was tracked and slain . . . near Canaan after trying to break into a home at 3:15 a.m. Alone in the house was a 58-year-old widow, Marion Lanfest. A week before, the bear had attacked her home at 2:30 a.m., breaking a picture window in an effort to get in. Her screaming had turned the bear away.
On the second assault, she quickly telephoned Game Warden Paul Fink, to whom she had reported the previous incident. He raced to the scene with trained bear dogs, owned by Duane Smith, which were put on the rogue bear's track. The animal was followed and finally was treed and shot at 7 a.m.
Warden Fink and Charles Wiley, the bear mission leader, indicated they were confident this bear was the major culprit involved in 40 camp and home break-ins this year.The Fish and Game report added: "It appears a taste of cocoa really turned him on and became an addiction."
Now this is damned grave. We figure right off that even from this Supreme Court you could probably get a 5-4 ruling that the bear's rights as a criminal suspect have been violated. Do we really know that the right bear was treed and shot? And how about what looks to us -- we will be blunt about it -- suspiciously like a blotter-clearing operation in this laying off of 40 other unsolved crimes on that poor old dead fat cocoa-driven bear?
Forgive us, but this is one of those politically ecumenical cases that can raise the left-wing fervor and right-wing passion in the same person at the same time. After all, whose fault was this bear's addiction, anyway, if not Society's? That bear wasn't born or raised by his old mums to drink cocoa. And yet . . . what could be more obvious, as well, than that the rotten, permissive modern "with it" society that has given us pornography and instant gratification and, yes, "animal rights" (who ever heard of letting a bear eat cocoa?) and which doesn't say No to anything is what has taken away Smokey Bear and given us in his place, tragically, Junkie Bear?
Still and all, this being Washington with all its backbreaking, awesome burdens, we will respond dutifully, appropriately and constructively, as the nation's capital always does. So here it is: Shouldn't there be a program? Surely a nation that can put a man on the moon and spend billions of dollars on lipstick each year can find a paltry $25 million or so in start-up funds for a federal-state matching program to rehabilitate cocoa-addicted bears. It's fundamentally a matter of priorities, as we have so often said.
Nevertheless, whatever such a program might do for future generations of chocolate-craving rogue bears, we can't quite get comfortable with those 40 suddenly and miraculously "resolved" crimes that have been attributed to the poor bear who was silenced. It seems to us therefore, that without prejudging the case against local authorities, a preliminary inquiry is in order. The test is simple enough: if any of the felonies attributed to that bear turn out to have been auto thefts, a Special Prosecutor should be appointed.