The Monday, August 6, Richmond Times Dispatch includes a column headed, "'Culture' Argument Doesn't Excuse Cruelty" by Times-Dispatch columnist Robin Starr, who is also the CEO of the Richmond SPCA.
Starr opens with:
"In my decade in animal welfare, I have heard many lame excuses offered for cruel and abusive treatment of animals by humans. There was the man who slammed his girlfriend's cat into the wall because he was trying to 'teach the cat to use the litter box.' The cat ended up with irreversible brain damage and the boyfriend served time in the state penitentiary as a result of his 'house training' technique. But of all the lame excuses, the one that is the most offensive to me is the one that proposes that certain forms of cruelty should be overlooked because they are 'just part of a culture.'"
"This reasoning is now being used in an attempt to justify the alleged dogfighting activities of Michael Vick and his dwindling group of codefendants....To condone the depraved behaviors described in the federal indictment as just being part of a culture shockingly dignifies those sadistic acts while also demeaning the concept of a 'culture.'
She also points out. "The point they are missing is that the people who abuse and kill animals are the very people who abuse and hurt other people. A personality that does not feel compassion for other living things and that derives pleasure from seeing others suffer will brutalize other people in a heartbeat. This fact is borne out by abundant evidence that dogfighters are consistently gang members and felons guilty of crimes of human abuse." And also, "The other obvious, but rarely articulated, subtext is outrageously insulting to the people who are being suggested as being part of that 'culture.'"
Starr notes other cruelties often excused as culture:
"We need only think about bullfighting in Spain, cockfighting in Mexico and now the United States, bear baiting in the American West, and the production of foie gras for the palates of the rich and over-indulged to realize that no group is exempt from these sorts of behaviors."
You'll find the full article on line at:
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My thanks to Stella Graham-Landau for making sure we saw this piece. She also pointed us to a piece by Robin Starr on cockfighting, headed, "The Picture Is Clear: This Cruelty Involves Human Costs" which appeared last month. Activists particularly interested in that issue may wish to check it out on line at http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/search.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2007-07-01-0115.html
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)
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Date: Mon Aug 6 20:36:31 2007
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An animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets.
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