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So when is a horse not a horse?

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

To quote Mr. Ed, "a horse is a horse, of course, of course." But are all horses created equal?

I don't mean in beauty, strength or intelligence. I mean in size. There is a lot of difference between a regular horse and a miniature horse.

Folks in East Longmeadow are finding out about that as one family has been forced to remove their miniature horse from their home because their yard doesn't have the necessary size to house a regular horse.

Unfair? Well, yes. Especially when you consider a miniature horse is smaller than a Great Dane and there are no zoning requirements about the size of yard you need for a large breed dog.

Apparently this is a growing class of pets, so I imagine that other communities will have to re-assess how it defines its zoning requirements when it comes to horses.


Here's a letter I received this week from Pat Henry in East Longmeadow about the review I wrote of "The Ghosts of Abu Graib":

"The Reminder described this documentary as 'chilling' and 'disturbing.' It then gratuitously offered the observation that 'most people watching this film [would] question the basic foundations of the conflict itself.' I don' t know how the reviewer could make any connection between a POW camp incident and a UN-sanctioned military action. In English class we call this a non sequitur.

"What I found more chilling and disturbing than forcing captives to wear women's underpants over their heads or be threatened by leashed police dogs, was seeing men being drilled in the knee or the head by an electric drill, having an eye gouged out, having a throat slit on TV with a long knife, men forced to watch their daughters raped in front of them, and burned U.S. soldiers hanging from a bridge. That's what the enemy is doing, and televising, and bragging about every day, while we hash over granting Geneva Convention rights to them. Please give us a break and send reviews like this to the Valley Advocate where they belong."

The reason I thought this film was "chilling" was that I was raised believing we are the good guys. Our military personnel, though, are not perfect and in the heat and chaos of war some have indeed committed terrible acts of violence.

Because of my up bringing I saw these incidents as tragic reminders of the costs of war the destruction of morals and ethics, the erosion of standards. I saw these as I'm sure many Americans did as isolated and not institutionalized incidents.

That's why Abu Graib stood out as such a black spot on our military. We are supposed to be the liberators in Iraq. We operate on a higher moral plane than the terrorists who have committed atrocities. And yet people in command positions made decisions to take a much lower road for the first time in modern U.S. history.

We diminished ourselves by taking actions we had never taken before. Doesn't that mean anything?

Abu Graib was a prison operation, not a POW camp. We were detaining massive groups of people in the hopes of capturing terrorists, but innocent people were hurt. How did that help our cause?

The photos from the Abu Graib inflamed the Middle East even more, hurting our war effort even more.

That's why it was chilling and tragic to me at least.


Congrats to the city of Chicopee for landing the Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center Museum collection. This will not only give the region one more reason for tourism, but also give a new life to the city's former main library building.

FDR's legacy has been under attack by some conservatives for the last 20 years or so. Talk to people who lived through the Depression, though, and you'll get another side of the story. Americans younger than the Boomer generation should have the opportunity of learning how FDR changed this nation.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.