Saturday, 4 September 2010
Screaming Puppies on Facebook - Jill Campbell Mackay
The latest Face Book imagery showing a young Bosnian ‘Cruella De Vil’ from the town of Bugojno enthusiastically pitching puppies into a river is pretty despicable; yet, it’s not something entirely unique in the grim annals of animal cruelty. No doubt her friend anticipated the reactions from the thousands of outraged viewers who would rage at this obscenity- as she held steady her camera for the allotted 44 second video. The girl later stated, that her grandmother had instructed her to so dispose of the six, three day old puppies as this would be the ‘most merciful’ way to get rid of them. The deeply worrying aspect of this footage is: what other sick means will people now go to in order to be launched onto the cultural radar, or- is this video a hoax, just yet another new internet approach to fame by staging an elaborate and (mercifully) fake scenario that gets tongues wagging across the web.
This incident follows hot on the heels of Englishwoman Mary Bale, caught on CTV stroking a cat, then picking it up by the scruff of its neck to submerge it in a wheelie bin where it lay for 15 hours before being rescued by its owners.
What is equally disagreeable is the flipside of the face book phenomena, here we enter a world where the anonymous can whip up huge amounts of support vilifying and naming and shaming perpetrators, where the media can latch on to stories and further promote them on TV, making them front page news. Thousands follow the story, and vigilante style justice is demanded for those judged unworthy members of society. This, we have to remember, is also the very same face book that boasted 30.000 followers in Britain supporting the killer Raol Moat.
On the ‘face’ of it we may feel good that so many people are upset at seeing such wanton acts of cruelty, yet we humans still experiment on animals, factory farm them in hellish conditions, we clone, eat, race, and display them, we force them to fight, they are turned into weapons, toys, and cute fashion accessories. This year during the three day meet at Aintree race course four horses perished during the races, and National Hunt horses regularly go home in body bags rather than horseboxes, a staggering 139 in on year, and somewhere in the region of 500 over the past three years, yet there is barely a murmur of recognition of this form of cruelty. Yet another case where the collective impressions are that these magnificent animals are regarded the world over as collateral for our entertainment. I suspect there might just be a bit more of an outcry if it was Golden Retrievers regularly breaking their backs and legs when trying to clear impossibly high jumps.
Torturing animals also seems to be the new porn, ‘crush’ videos or animal ‘snuff’ movies occupy the cross over point between animal cruelty and fetishist pornography. Sites abound which show animals being stamped to death, their fur being burned with cigarettes, obscene tortures and abuse which end in the animals dying a gruesome and painful death. These cases of extreme abuse are from the darkest corners of the world of pornography, refreshed it seems from the old fashioned images of men having sex with chickens, pigs and horses considered to be popular viewing during the 70’ and 80’s. One undercover investigator in the US was first given a step by step guide on how to carry out a torture on a puppy that would ensure the ‘procedures’ would last at least 90 minutes before the animal actually died, so the film makers could produce a ‘feature length film that could then be sold for a higher price.
There is also mounting evidence, largely from the USA, of links between child and animal abuse. The NSPCC and the RSPCA held a conference in 2001which linked domestic violence and animal abuse. Research carried out in the U.S has shown that men who attack their female partners and children will try to exert more control by harming, or killing family pets or threatening to do so. The report also found children who were cruel to animals or who had witnessed acts of cruelty became desensitised to most forms of violence when adults. Previously the Hutton report in 1981 reported that of 23 families investigated for animal abuse or neglect, 19 were also known to social services because their children were at risk. The FBI now also uses reports of animal abuse to analyse criminal threat potential and has found a childhood history of cruelty to animals is prevalent among many serial rapists and murderers.
Cruelty to animals by children presages personality disorders in later life, and further research carried out has shown a striking parallel between animal cruelty in childhood and resultant personality disorders in adulthood. Thomas Hamilton the Dunblane killer relished shooting animals and squashing rabbit’s heads beneath his car wheels. Robert Thompson who was 10 years old when he and John Venables killed two year old Jamie Bulger happily boasted about how they tortured animals and liked to pull the heads of live birds.
When we talk about animal cruelty in adults its a different ‘beast’-where in a child it might suggest a nascent psychopath, in an adult its more like petty profitless criminality albeit not so ‘petty’ for the creature at the receiving end of this treatment. For me cruelty is barbarism, whether it’s inflicted on humans or on animals, we should have the same fundamental aim for both species: - the aim for a kinder gentler world without oppression and suffering, based on care and compassion. This of course, is a pipe dream which goes up in smoke the minute one walks into the Paphiakos Animal Welfare offices, for its here one could fill face book on a daily basis with the incidences of abuse and neglect caused by humans, and the amazing efforts the charity make to try and save these creatures.
Montaigne the philosopher for me sums up what it is to be human- one only wishes his form of moral law was in universal force today: ‘There is a certain respect and general duty of humanity that attaches us not only to animals, who have life and feeling, but even to trees and plants. We owe justice to men, and mercy, and kindness, to other creatures that may be capable of receiving it. There is some relationship between them and us, and some mutual obligation’.
The obligation surely on our part, is to fight against cruelty, and work with animal welfare organisations to help them create an environment safe for animals, where people are educated and made responsible for their ownership, and realise that we are not the only species in the world that matters.
What will you do today, tomorrow & the next?
What will you do in your neighbourhood to effect a change in peoples attitudes?
Sign up to a Philosohers Charter.