Which Animals Matter (yet again)?

Seth Victor

To paraphrase the oft quoted excerpt from Animal Farm, all cute and fuzzy animals are equal, but domesticated cute and fuzzy animals are more equal than others. This sentiment was yet again demonstrated over the last week. In one corner, we have human pets, who are mercilessly being tortured for the pleasure of a rather repugnant fetish in crush videos. After U.S. v. Stevens struck down a law aimed a regulating depictions of cruelty, Congress quickly passed a narrower bill that was signed into law by President Obama on Friday. As reported by ALDF, “the more narrowly written law that emerged makes it a crime to sell or distribute videos showing animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury. It exempts depictions of veterinary and husbandry practices, the slaughter of animals for food, as well as depictions of hunting, trapping or fishing.” Hopefully the narrower scope will survive the inevitable legal challenges.

In the other corner, we have wild animals, such as bears and wolves. While cute and lovable as plush toys and movie characters, in reality these particular animals are still overly and irrationally vilified. As previously noted, wolves have some enemies in high places who want to strip their ESA status completely. Never mind that reintroduction of wolves in the west has only just begun to see moderate success and stability, and that wolves are still extinct in the wild in the east. Frustratingly, the hope is to sneak this little gem of legislation in with an innocuous bill, such as a spending bill. Not to be outdone as America’s most iconic yet hated charismatic megafauna, 589 black bears were killed last week in New Jersey during the execution of a state authorized “population control” hunt that has been in the works since July. This is the largest killing of bears in New Jersey in over thirty years. Recent public outcry over increased bear incidents (not necessarily violent, just human-bear interaction) led to the hunt and helped it survive challenges at both the state Appellate Court and Supreme Court.

So just to recap, we have a national law that prohibits the depiction of cruelty to animals, exempting depictions of trapping and hunting, a national push to allow for unprotected slaughter of wolves, and the death by firing squad of black bears, all while we lament that the cute polar bears are losing their ice caps. Thank goodness we are a rational species.

2 Responses

  1. Bears may be wild animals but us humans beings should know better than to hunt and kill them.

  2. And don’t forget Yellowstone’s (and America’s) iconic wild and genetically-pure bison–hazed without mercy or rounded up and slaughtered when they leave the park (and sometimes when they don’t–the ultimate betrayal by their NPS “caretakers”) to appease Montana’s powerful cattle industry. Sad details here

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