Serious stuff, really.
Jonathan Katz at Bedlam Farm Journal has been carrying a pretty heavy load by being the point man on the controversy, almost entirely fabricated by those who know nothing about animals, over banning the Central Park carriage horses. (If animals needed psychologists, those horses would be happy; as Freud knew, love and work are the necessities for a sane life). In the last month, he lost two of his animals to old age and decrepitude. Only others who love animals (most Animal “Rights” people don’t know or love them, as has been obvious in this debate) will understand his grief. But, I am happy to report, he continues to think.
First, from one of his recent essays, “A Simonless World” (links aren’t working but you can find it on his blog) , a passage where he paused in his sorrow to contemplate the peculiar attitude that the culture seems to be making about animals these days:
“Last week, five or six people came up to me at different times and
told me about their dogs – this happens to me daily – and each one told
me their dogs were abused. I always ask why they say that, and they give
me reasons like this: the dog is afraid of moving lights, the dog is
afraid of men with big sticks, the dog is shy around loud noises, the
dog is afraid of trucks and buses.
“There are so many reasons why dogs might behave that way – breeding,
litter experience, issues with the mother, encounters with dogs and the
outside world. Abuse is actually the least likely for most dogs.
“Something in the life of contemporary Americans calls them to need to
see animals as abused and piteous and dependent creatures. I think it
makes us feel valued, worthy, even superior to other people. We are a
fragmented, tense and disconnected people in many ways, animals give us
something to feel better about. Abuse is real, it is a crime, but I
sometimes think it seems that every dog in America was abused, and I am
always drawn to wonder why it is that people need to take ordinary
animal behavior and transform it into narratives of human cruelty and
mistreatment… We no longer see them as
partners, but as pathetic wards and helpless beings. I don’t think it
is good for animals to view them through such a narrow prism.”
The late philosopher and dog trainer (and poet) Vicki Hearne used to say that Animal Rights activists could only envision two roles for animals: cute and abused. In the intervening years I can see a second: dead. GRATEFUL dead, and I don’t mean the band. There is a little philosophical movement lurking about that scares the crap out of me, that says with Jeremy Bentham and certain odd Buddhists that absence of suffering is paramount, that things like carnivory must be remedied, and if it isn’t then everything from re- engineering carnivores’ genomes to ending our species to ending life is justified. I do suspect they are a small group, but I hope they never get hold of a weaponized virus…
Again, my old post defending coursing dogs, or any dog with a job, might be worth a look. As is this surprisingly sympathetic portrait of coursing coyotes in Oklahoma from the NYT. Of course, people are trying to shut that down too, as they did the legal wolf hunt with hounds in Wisconsin. Look at the contrast the clever NYT writer made between the solicitous hunters, who like most of us sustain large vet bills every year, and the AR activist who claims we leave wounded dogs in the field to die (yeah, I know that is unbelievable…)
And a slight swerve: an essay by an anti –gunner who admits without condescension that there are enormous divisions between people of good will over guns, even in Sandy Hook families that lost members to that crazed shooter, and castigates the familiar anti- gun tropes that insist all Americans want gun control or, worse, that those of us who oppose it are ignorant, bigoted, etc– name your cliche, and see that ass Liam Neeson, who has probably made more money off at least the image of guns than I have. I do not agree with her, but I get the sense we could have a conversation…
Ancient coursing dog photo: