I am writing in regards to the Feb. 23 rat-throwing fiasco at the nationally televised University of Utah-UNLV basketball game. I was one of the nearly 12,000 people forced to witness one of the most cruel and immature acts this state has tolerated in a very long time. With under a minute remaining in the first half, the hefty-sized creature was heaved by an anonymous culprit onto the court and into the moving foot of Ute Alex Jensen, where it was promptly smashed to death. As the subsequent days followed, I was shocked to see that not only was the action publicly tolerated but used for cheap entertainment by various local and national media outlets.

All three major local news stations featured the incident in a most lighthearted and supposedly humorous manner. Salt Lake Tribune sports columnist Gordon Monson dedicated one of his weekly cover-page pieces entirely to the "Ratgate" conspiracy. All-sports radio station 1320 KFAN went so far as to interview a man boasting of his responsibility in the prank, lauding the act while treating the man like a hero.While I fully understand and support creative enthusiasm at a ball game, I was appalled at such wide public acceptance of this demeaning act of carelessness. Has our society stooped so low that we will tolerate juvenile behavior and the murder of innocent animals just for a cheap thrill? Civility as we knew it is shaking in its grave.

Patrick T. Barnum