December 19, 2014

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Oh deer! Avon Lake woman’s blog post goes viral

A deer crossing sign is seen on Miller Road in Avon Lake on Monday. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

AVON LAKE — Deer may not read, but people sure do.

An online column by an Avon Lake resident who objects to “deer crossing” signs on grounds “deer cannot read, do not obey the law and probably cross where they wish” went viral after being posted by Gawker, where it had received more than 24,300 views between Sunday afternoon and Monday night.

The column titled “Animals Can’t Talk” was penned by Kathleen O’Brien Wilhelm, who is an unpaid blogger for the Avon-Avon Lake Patch website.

The deer column appeared Feb. 10 on the website.

Kathleen Wilhelm of Avon Lake in August 2005.

Wilhelm’s “deer can’t read” remarks were in defense of her view that government needs to stop wasteful spending “on highway signs for non-humans.”

Attempts to reach Wilhelm by phone were unsuccessful, and she did not respond to emails seeking comment about the column and the tidal wave of reaction it has generated.

Lori Switaj, editor of the Avon-Avon Lake Patch site, indicated in emails that an official of the website would respond to questions online, but no response was forthcoming by Monday evening.

Many took issue with Wilhelm’s characterizations of animals as “adorable companions” before stating the media have yet to report on “an animal talking, thinking or providing significant input for the benefit of society.”

“As humans we must be kind to them, eat them when hungry, feed them when they are, but remember they are here to enhance our lives,” Wilhelm wrote.

This prompted a commenter “Charles Threepio” to ask for a clarification.

“What if we and the animal are hungry simultaneously? Who should eat who?”

“Pat” took note of the blog’s newfound status courtesy of Gawker: “Now she will be ridiculed across America.”

The Patch site closed its comments section for the column after receiving more than 100, one of the last of which, from “Anne,” appeared shortly before 10 a.m. Monday.

The comment said: “In Pennsylvania not so long ago, a car struck a deer that was crossing the road. Deer can be very large, and this one weighed 600 pounds. All four people in the car were killed. Maybe a deer crossing sign might have helped? Oh no, of course, deer can’t read, so it would have been a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Most responses came from people who were upset or amused enough to take the time to fire back at Wilhelm’s musings, which many clearly felt were not tongue-in-cheek.

“The deer crossing signs are for the motorists, not the deer!” wrote Ursula Conrad. “And, animals were NOT placed on the earth to make HUMANS lives better!”

“Jeff Pinkerton” weighed in on a different kind of roadside warning.

“The kind of signs I’d like to see are the ones warning me Kathleen O’Brien Wilhelm is in the area, and on the loose.”

Read Wilhelm’s original blog post here.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.