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Cats Are People Too. Except They Aren’t.

August 26th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized

Nice post here on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish blog, following the tsunami of coverage of that lady in Britain who tossed a stray cat into a trash bin. She was caught on camera and identified, and now she gets death threats.

This sort of thing follows any cruelty-to-animals story, and it does seem to me—as Sullivan’s correspondent notes—that stories about abused kids get less attention than those about abused animals. And I’m trying to understand that. (I’ll admit here that I am not an animal lover, or an animal hater. I am furry-creature-indifferent.) It’s easy to say that kittens, for example, are so cute and helpless that our hearts go out to them—but surely small children are even more cute, and just as helpless. We might suggest that it’s because animal abuse is more accepted by society, and therefore harder to prosecute, requiring more freelance compassion—but that’s barely true anymore, what with the profusion of animal-cruelty laws.

All I can come up with is a pop-psychology explanation. Abusing a baby is so monstrous an act that there’s no glee in the outrage, no joy in the scolding. You just want the parents (or whoever’s doing the abusing) to disappear. Saying “you’re a sick fuck” to a kid who tortures squirrels is appropriate, if simplistic. Saying it to someone who deliberately hurts a 2-year-old is appropriate but also mind-numbingly inadequate. Better to just move on, and take steps to keep it from happening again—which, unfortunately, it always will, because there are a lot of sick fucks out there.

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