"There's always been a lottery..." Old Man Warner, "The Lottery," Shirley Jackson, 1948
Like many people who were educated in the idyllic Cape Cod town of Falmouth, Mass., I read Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" in school. Our class engaged in long, stimulating discussions about this chilling, classic short story. It tells of a regular small town, full of decent folk, who annually hold a grisly event. Exactly why they do this, nobody knows, but they have always done it, and so they continue. Our conclusion was not that tradition in itself was a bad thing, but we certainly learned a good lesson about the importance of asking questions.
The Town of Falmouth does not seem to have taken this lesson to heart. Each year, the Board of Selectmen approves a license that allows the appearance of exploitative attractions featuring exotic wild animals at the Barnstable County Fair. The appropriateness of these attractions, which have huge potential to send damaging messages to the public and to cause serious animal suffering, seems to have rarely been questioned in Falmouth. Now that such questions are being asked, neither the organizers of the Fair nor the Selectmen seem very interested in addressing them. Over a dozen communications sent since July 2013, expressing concern about the issue, remain unanswered.