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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Human Detainees < Animals?

Is a person who is accused of a crime worth less than an animal and should that person be treated as such?

It seems that we have the chance, in Seattle at least, to put that question to the test. I've been a bit stunned that the King County Council has put more weight into fixing the problems discovered at the King County Animal Shelters than it did when they were told by the DOJ about the inhumane conditions at their King County Jail.

But... What is far more interesting is that the media seems more willing to report on animals being abused by county officials than reporting on when humans are mistreated by county officials. To me, this would point to a more definitive answer to that question, of whether people care more about mistreated animals or mistreated humans.

So, at the end of the week I'll add up all the stories in the press about the King County animal shelter story and I'll compare it to the stories put out about the DOJ report of deadly abuses at the King County Jail, along with comparisons of public reaction to those stories.

And, finally, we'll have an answer to the question of whether people care more about people being tortured in their name or animals suffering in their shelters.


Seattle Crime Blogger said...

Funny you mention this. I was going to write a post on the exact same topic, taking the same stance (though I figured you'd have something to say on the matter...).

I find it absolutely absurd that we're seeing all this outrage over supposed animal cruelty, when the issues you're writing about are being glossed over and ignored. I obviously don't support animal cruelty of any kind, but I still have the common sense to realize that human life and human dignity are far more worth defending than the life of an unwanted, stray beast (simply on the basis that humans have established ourselves at the top of the food chain and deserve the respect such a position commands).

I guess it's the same reason we see galleries of cats in prominent front page spots on the P.I. website and animal "feel-good" stories receiving prime coverage on the nightly news. In the journalism world, some folks say, "if it bleeds, it leads." That may be the case...but only on days that there isn't a cute animal story to run first.

The average human, even in an intellectual haven like Seattle, is consumed by this sick fallacy that animals somehow represent a god-like innocence, a level of purity that no person could attain (especially not a person in jail, who many immediately associate with criminality even if they have yet to be convicted of a crime). Someone needs to slap these people, to wake them up so they see common sense. We should be more concerned with how humans are treating others than a few malnourished mutts. The fact that we aren't shows some serious flaws in our city's collective moral character.

Packratt said...

Thanks for the comment, and I hope you do write about it as I'd really be interested to see your take on it as well!

Let me preface what else I'm going to say by first admitting that I've done my fare share of volunteering to help animals. I've temporarily housed animals from overflowing shelters and 'Angels for Animals", I've helped place strays, assisted in a vet office, I've rescued injured animals and paid for their care, and I've taken in my share of strays as well.

But, I've also taken in the homeless, I give to numerous humanitarian causes, worked with large companies to establish charitable donations of old equipment, and personally donated several computers to people who couldn't afford them and trained them in their use.

The point is, it's ok to care about animals. But when a society shows it cares more for animals than their fellow human beings, as is the apparent case here, it's sociopathic. A human society just cannot operate effectively under such a premise, that animals are worthy of more concern than our fellow humans.

I remember clearly when we first moved to this city that I remarked "They must care more about their animals here than they do their people." when I noticed there were more pet parks than playgrounds and more homeless people than stray animals.

I really do regret to admit that my observation was right.

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