Animal Cruelty: Not Cool Man (even when it's really, really funny)
"You are a pathetic loser. Get a fuckin life dude. Anyone who even jokes about animal cruelty is a poor excuse for a man."
-Anony Mous, Esq.
(Okay, I added the Esquire.)
Latigo Flint does not receive a great deal of hate mail, either privately via his email account, or publicly in the form of posted comments.
This is no doubt due to Latigo Flint's unholy skill with a six-gun. Men who can slap thigh and shuck iron so fast that somewhere Doc Holiday's headstone wiggles a bit in applause, tend not to have nasty things said to them very often.
Nevertheless, there comes a time when one’s deepest held beliefs are maligned so severely that there can be no recourse but to defend those beliefs with righteous fury and a well placed cuss word or two. Even at the risk of angering the quickest quickdraw the world has ever known.
Today I salute such a person for having the courage and strength of conviction to stand up for what he or she knows is right.
Several months ago I posted a short children's story titled: Nerkles The Silly Mountain Goat. It was about a typical, everyday average young mountain goat named Nerkles who liked doing typical, everyday average young mountain goat things--climbing up and down mountains for instance.
The story takes an unconscionably cruel turn when Nerkles tries to eat Al Pacino and Al Pacino beats him to death with a chain.
This ending was bittersweet. Bitter because it portrays an act of wanton cruelty to an animal. And sweet because the way it unfolded was really, really funny.
But with keen insight and an empathy the rest of us would do well to emulate, Anony Mous peers past these callow cacklings and notes that any story which holds the notion of Al Pacino beating a mountain goat to death with a chain up as one of hilarity, runs the very real risk of desensitizing and perhaps even encouraging similar acts of cruelty. And I for one am deeply ashamed to suddenly find that I seem to be so bereft of compassion that it must surely call my very humanity into question.
The above is obviously sarcasm, but here's the odd thing: In writing this public reply to a private, (and perhaps cowardly person) I found myself thinking back over all the horrible things that have happened to animals in my stories and actually started to feel a bit bad: Dolphin killing, owl smashing, skiing in the summertime on millions of live, white kittens. I wrote a series of westerns in which each installment opens with the protagonist fatally shooting his horse in the eye. The list just goes on and on. I once described a nervous character as "tight and twitchy, like a kitten on a paintball range." I've made light of hydrophobia too many times to count--I once compared rabies to crack and implied Old Yeller was an addict. I wrote about a pair of endangered condors named Pretty Molly and Captain Chortlebeak frying themselves on a power transformer. 75% of the time if there's an otter in my story, that otter is going to die. Hell, I even proposed an alternative energy source in which high frequency sound is used to herd whales into underwater pens where in their panic they bump into turbines and power a generator. I once advocated shoving kazoos up a mule's nose. I once wrote about keeping an adolescent tiger shark as a pet in my bathtub, and described, in some detail, its accidental death from eating a bar of soap shaped like a turtle. I'm tellin' you, it just goes on and on and on.
And so I went from feeling snarky and sly, to a genuine moment of self-doubt. Is that a monster in the mirror? Fortunately it quickly passed when I realized this person was either someone I know playing a joke, or just some humorless human scab of unfounded indignation--smart enough to read, too stupid to know what it really means.
And then I felt much better. And I wouldn't have even wasted our time with all this except that it gave me the chance to type: "tight and twitchy, like a kitten on a paintball range" again. And sometimes that's all the reason you need.