It is appalling how many blogs on the web use animals as the butt end of a joke. While surfing one of the major blog exchanges I saw a video of a live kitten being stuffed into a fruit jar. I have seen dogs dressed up in people clothes. I have seen snakes held captive in boxes far too small for survival.

All of those blogs are examples of how we unconsciously numb the wild will of an animal’s natural instinct for survival for our own wretched sense of entertainment and the watcher is just as damned as the watched. Laughing at animals isn’t limited to the web. America’s Funniest Home Videos is the world record holder for television shows that cruelly used animals for the sake of a laugh.

Animals should not be purposefully scared or hurt or teased for the amusement of people. Those who participate in The Running of the Bulls in Spain deserve to be gored by a 1,300 pound bull. Those who give their money to circuses and zoos do not fully understand how those experiences destroy the spirit of the animals forced into service and the price we pay is an insensitivity to viciousness and a misunderstood meaning of dominion that intoxicates our common senses. I don’t eat animals.

I started not eating animals 10 years ago because I discovered animal fat did not play well in my body and the result was high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Removing the animal fats from my diet gave back my life and I, in turn, gave back life to some animals. Then I started doing research beyond my own selfish interest and I discovered there are reasons not to eat animals beyond your own health.

I now understand why it is not good to eat your friends on a universal level of humanity and I understand some of the best friendships I have made over my life have been with animals and not people. I always find it sad when people identify themselves as animal lovers while eating a hamburger. It is fascinating how they defend where they draw the line between animals that deserve their affection and those animals that need cooking. If you want to know the true spirit of a person watch them as they interact with animals.

Are they dismissive or attentive? Do they mock or love? Do they pet or push away? How a person treats an animal is how a person interacts with those perceived as less powerful and you’d be surprised how easily cruelty to an animal translates into inconsideration for people.

Animals, especially those who have been domesticated, are completely reliant on us for their care and feeding and that responsibility for not just their survival, but for their happiness as well, must trump folly in all contexts as we attempt to begin again to honor their wild will.

22 Comments

  1. I hate watching those idiots on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Not only is it a pathetic show, but it also encourages people to subject their pets to cruelty. And a lot of times their kids are featured as well. Sometimes I wonder if those types of situations are set up by those filming.
    I post funny pictures of my dog on my blog from time to time, but I only do so because what she’s doing is so darn cute and she does it naturally without any prompting from me or my husband! ๐Ÿ˜€
    I’m a meat eater; there’s no way around it. I don’t pretend to be an animal activist when I love going to Outback and ordering a filet mignon. And I wear leather shoes and carry leather pocketbooks. I don’t wear fur because I’ve never liked the look of it. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I don’t see myself ever cutting meat out of my diet. I just like it too much. I do admit, however, that our dependency on meat and unnecessary increase in appetite has fostered the problems we see today with diseases in meats.
    But hey, I have friends who are vegetarian, and when they come over to our house, I make sure I have options for all.
    So if you wanna come over to cookout, David, we’ll throw some veggie kabobs on the grill for ya! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I thank you for your beautiful and touching and well-argued comment, Carla.
    I used to love the Funny Videos show until I became more sensitive and realized how many of those film clips get laughs at the expense of the poor animals who are basically tortured by their owners for profit and exposure on television.
    Your conflict between eating meat and loving your wonderful pet is common but the fact that you are so tenderly aware of the problem is refreshing and I would happily join you for a cookout any time! ๐Ÿ™‚
    When people try to get into the “I eat meat because I must” argument I ask them if they would eat their dogs. They are horrified and answer “never!” When I tell them there are cultures in the world that accept eating dogs as a matter of routine they are again horrified. When I further ask why they eat pigs, but not dogs, I often get the reply, “because dogs are smart. They understand.” When I point out that pigs are actually smarter than dogs I get the ultimate horror as they sit and stare at me while actively re-evaluating their values system.
    I try to be as Vegan as possible but it is impossible to be truly Vegan because bits of animals are everywhere — rubber tires, computer monitors, glue, etc. So am I being hypocritical or just realistic? I try to be more Vegan than not because if you are living an active life you will get bits of butter or milk or meat in your food or products no matter how hard you try to avoid it but to get upset over it to the point of insanity does no one any good.

  3. I’ve read some good books on this Subject including “The Animal Rights Debate” by Carl Cohen, and many of the works by Peter Singer (who would shun the word ‘rights’ being used here). Theres a few interesting things to note : Firstly, almost all people who have been found guilty of abusing other humans, be it through spousal abuse, violent crime, or other means, all had records of abusing animals earlier in their lives (abusing animals seems to serve as a stepping stone).
    Many people have a lot of issues with Zoos and the circus. In my research I’ve found that there are certain zoos out there that are definetly better than others, that devote more resources to their animals, have larger areas for them to roam, and which I believe actually do a beneficial service to the animals and their species by letting young people interact with the animals directly, which helps them build an empathy for them that cannot be built watching them on television (and often city kids wouldn’t get the chance to go on an African or east-Asian safary to see some of them in their natural habitats). Yet other zoos definetly should be either closed down or severely reworked from the administrative level on down to correct for their injustices towards the animals. The circus, with very few exceptions, consistently manages to treat its animals in ways that can’t be easily described in words, but watching some of the PETA videos on the subject might enlighten those interested further.
    Ethics, and your approach to it, determine what animals you do and don’t eat, and why. Granted most never think of Ethics and animals, but that is because, at least in our society, people have a built-in sense that we are the only ones with an immutable soul, and all the other animals of the world were put here either for our consumption, our amusement, or to benefit us in some other way. They are soulless tools to be used however we see fit. This is of course a religious arguement, particularly christian in this case, and not a standard everyone follows by any means. From a consequentialist ethical standpoint, the animals might be see as having higher or lower moral standing based on their intelligence, their ability to reason to varying degrees, such as we might not think twice before eating a hundred thousands ants, but one dolphin would seem to be a far more serious crime.
    At any rate, my point is, the most important thing is to try to understand the person’s inner ethical structure first, whether its Kantian, Christian, or Millsian, and then within that system figure out whether or not eating animals seems appropriate. Within any system there are grounds both for and against.
    Am I a bit long winded? I guess I’m pumped from my first day of classes, let me know what you think David, and anyone else ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Justin! — Your analysis is thoughtful and kind and you make many keen points. I don’t believe there is a zoo created that isn’t intended to make money and to pay staff beyond the welfare of the animals and to make animals a for-profit enterprise is disappointing. Watching the inane Sea World dolphin performances is proof enough that the system is irreparably flawed.
    muse! — I have a beautiful bi-color Persian cat here that I adopted from certain death before I became Vegan and while I would never eat him, he is, indeed, delicious, and I would gladly lick him within an inch of his life! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Justin:
    I love your comments, and wish you the best on your first day of classes.
    In the best world, all of us would have a thoughtful and internally consistent ethical system guiding our behavior. But as humans, subject to inconsistencies and frailties, we fall short. I find humor in discovering my own blind spots.
    I try to eat a primarily plant based diet with a couple of servings of fish each week because of my belief that this is a healthy diet. Given a choice, I will always choose to eat wild, as opposed to farm raised fish, for both health and political reasons. Now my wife loves hamburgers every now and then, and when she orders or cooks a hamburger, she gets “that look” if I do not. I love my wife, so I eat hamburgers with her.
    David, I wonder what it tells me about being a person if my wife and I let our cat (now deceased) run our household. He sat where he wanted to sit, he slept where he wanted to sleep, and when we met him, he chose us to adopt him. It is amazing how an animal with a walnut sized brain constantly got the upper hand with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I eat, therefore I am. I do not eat cats, therefore I am not a cat-eater. That is about as editorializing as I’d like to be here.
    I had a bi-color Persian too. She was buff and white. Her name was Jane Doe. She died after lapping up antifreeze the neighbors left out on their porch. People, please do not leave antifreeze out or if you spill it, clean it up. It has a sweet taste animals love. But it kills them by making them bleed internally. ๐Ÿ™