Search This Blog

Sunday, February 18, 2018

An Unpleasant Reminder

The news this past week has largely centered around the tragedy in Florida, where a gunman attacked his former high school, killing seventeen people.  About half of the resulting coverage has focused on renewed calls for gun control, spearheaded by those who survived the shooting.  The other half has focused on the shooter himself, highlighting all of the warning signs about his behavior, many of which have been gleaned from his social media.

Lost among the many disturbing posts on his instagram have been images of small animals - lizards, toads, birds - that he killed for amusement, sometimes in quite unpleasant ways.

If it's okay with all of you, I won't post the pictures.  You can just take my word for it that they're nasty.

It's worth repeating again and again, but people who engage in cruelty and sadistic behavior towards other animals are increasingly likely to direct that same behavior towards other humans later on.  Cruelty and violence have a tendency to escalate in a person's behavior, rather than fade.  We're seen it again and again in some of history's worst monsters; even Vlad Tepes, the Romanian tyrant known as "The Impaler" who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula, wiled away his childhood torturing small animals.

In the case of the Florida shooter, even with his instagram posts it would have been easy to slip under a lot of people's radar.  The animals he killed were wild, and so didn't have an owner or guardian to seek justice for them.  They also tended to be animals that not a lot of people cared too much about, so even when people did notice, there wasn't the reaction that there would have been if they had been, say, bunnies or squirrels.  This is part of the reason that I despise events like rattlesnake round-ups.  I feel that they normalize the joyful hatred and killing of other animals in a festive, celebratory manner.

By calling out wanton cruelty against animals, imposing stricter consequences (including, I would hope, banning weapon ownership among those convicted), we may do more than save the lives of non-human animals.  We could potentially be saving the lives of people we care about.

No comments:

Post a Comment