02 August 2016
Fur Lives Matter
In my neck of the woods people are angry at cops for an apparent case of excessive use of force. It is alleged that two off-duty police officers from the city of Rensselaer NY who were playing golf at a Troy course pursued and then ran over a groundhog or woodchuck. This report suggests that the animal had actually stopped fleeing, only to be run down mercilessly by its pursuers. What else is new, right? But the funny thing about this is that I'm hearing a lot more anger from people over this purported cruelty to animals than I've ever heard through similar channels when unarmed human beings are killed by police. I'm hearing people say things like "If they'll do that to an animal you can imagine what they'd do to a person," with no apparent self-consciousness, irony or awareness of current events. Of course, there are contrarians who, if they don't exactly find the woodchuck at fault, still extend it no sympathy, regarding the species as nothing but pests, but you hear this less often than you might expect among the lily-white samples of opinion I've heard. If it's a commonplace that cruelty to animals predicts cruelty to people, it's another that many animal lovers show more concern and compassion to the brute creation than they show toward fellow human beings. It will be remembered that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian who abhorred cruelty to animals, for instance. I guess it goes to show that it's always easier to presume animals innocent than people ... and yet this animal was running away. Did it not get "the talk" from its parent or parents? Must it not have had something to hide or feel guilty about? Don't the rest of us know better enough to be quiet, still and compliant when possibly drunken policemen approach us headlong in their vehicle? Perhaps an objective review of the facts, free from prejudice and name-calling, will show that the creature had only itself to blame. After all, the very existence of police forces means that somebody somewhere must be guilty of something, and in this age of increased skepticism toward both law enforcement and the criminal justice system, perhaps it would be best to let the deity of your choice sort it all out.