We have all gotten soft. We lead our lives in a sanitized way where we are able to avoid the thoughts of the blood that is on all of our hands. We have built a society where it is possible for us to abdicate the job of ‘killing’ in our name onto others. The job of killing for our food, the job of killing for our defense and public safety, the job of killing to build our homes.
This train of thought is one that I have visited before many times in regards to the practice of hunting, but was raised more recently after someone posted a video of police officers killing an aggressive dog in LaGrange, MO. Many of the links and comments on this video follow a simple theme. People are outraged.
Perhaps the outrage is justified, but I felt it necessary to take a contrarian role since most people will react to such videos based on the emotional ‘gut’ reaction of watching something die rather than stopping to think further. My initial comments included:
Worthy of criticism? Of course. Condemnation? I can’t say – I wasn’t there. It’s easy to sit outside such a situation and pass judgement based on ‘feelings’ – but I try not to pass judgments based solely on feelings.
Anthropomorphizing is the real enemy here. We all see our pets as members of the family and transfer those feelings onto other animals that come to harm. I guess my experience has given me a more grounded approach when it comes to animals.
A=A – is what is. An animal is not a human – or to counter the Ingrid Newkirks of the world, a rat is NOT a pig is NOT a dog is NOT a boy.
There is obvious grounds for critique on whatever causes led these guys to this action, but that does not necessarily equate to critique of the officers themselves.
To paraphrase Ted Nugent, the truth is that we all have a blood trail and a series of gutpiles behind us. Things have to die to make our food, things have to die to make our clothing, things have to die to build our houses and so we can drive our cars.
When I was very young, I used to often explore the Z Farms behind our house. Before too long the Z Farms were sold to make way for a new subdivision. For a number of years, the majority of the landmass remained undeveloped as houses slowly popped up one after another. But the roads made it easy access to a kid on a bike.
I used to love running around Heather Lake (renamed from it’s prior name ‘Dennis Lake’ which didn’t work as well for the new sub’s marketing) and seeing the various wildlife. We saw deer, quail, mink, rabbits, woodcock, partridge, pheasant. One year there was an entire family of fox that we found living under a bunch of fallen logs. They kenneled up there for 3 years straight, each year bearing about 3-6 kits. The only reason they stopped kenneling there was – you guessed it – someone decided to build a house there.
Dennis Lake used to be great for fishing too. There was one spot that would get so many pumpkinseeds bedding up, that you could literally catch them with a bare hook – not snagging, they were so hungry they would bite at just about anything. Oh, I should also add that this bedding area was just below the fox dens and it too was destroyed when the house was built.
The irony of it all is, that the people that moved into that house turned out to be rather outspoken pro-animal “rights” types, a reporter for a local news station in Detroit. (I took great joys stopping by every now and again and pointing out that their driveway used to be a fox den and their new sand beach used to be a breeding area for the fish)
Swear off meat, give away all your leather and fur, ride a bike to work and start living in a tree – and stuff will still die so you can survive. Ask any farmer how many small animals die below the tilling blades of their combines to make room for those soybeans and sprouts. Ask any biologist how many animals have to be killed or displaced to build our neighborhoods and yes, even farms.
By the time I got to college, I had become an outspoken hunting advocate. One of the projects I helped sponsor for a hunting, fishing and shooting club I started on campus was to encourage all of our members to keep track of ‘roadkill’ they saw as a means to raise awareness to just the sort of thing I am talking about here – stuff dies so we can live. Oakland University was a commuters campus (where most of the students drove to college from home) and each of us came from a different direction. There were five of us regularly keeping track of what we saw, trying also to not count any dead, roadside animals we had seen previously.
By the time we were done, the numbers even shocked me. With five of us keeping regular track over a period of about 2 months, we didn’t just see dozens, or hundreds. We literally counted THOUSANDS of animals. The largest category was one I dubbed ‘UFO’ for ‘unidentifiably flattened organisms’.
The entire concept was culminated when someone chose to challenge me one day on the ‘morality’ of my hunting. The person in question was wearing leather shoes and a leather jacket. Upon questioning, they were not a vegetarian. The crux of their argument was ‘how can you kill your own food?’ My question was, how can you challenge the morality of my killing my own without looking at the moral question of abdicating the job of killing yours? Killing my own food (whenever possible) IS my moral code!
How many of us stop to think about the animal(s) that had to die to make our Whopper (and fries and coke) or the animals that were evicted to dig the foundation for our homes? I do almost every time. But, more importantly, how many of us cringe and immediately jump with an urge to shout foul any time we run across something that requires us to look upon the killing of an animal at all?
Death isn’t pretty. But to reword a popular cliche, death happens. (or if you prefer “Shit Dies!”) It’s easy to try to see animals anthropomorphized as ‘human-like’. But animals are not humans. They can’t rationalize, identify, reduce, integrate, retain or conceptualize. Animals do not have morals, are not sentient and do not have “rights”.
The goal of ‘humane’ behavior should be to keep unnecessary harm coming to animals. But rational behavior is to know that sometimes, like it or not, the death of animals may be necessary or us humans to survive.