Thursday, July 19, 2007

Moral Outrage

I do not want to die. I am stating this right now for the record. I can pretty much make an assumption that the vast majority of you don't want to die either. It's an instinct that we're all born with. Animals too. We all struggle to live. In the case of Bernie Cohen, my friend's father who we buried last week, an interesting observation of a very Zen nature can be made as people discussed Bernie at his graveside. Several people, his daughter at whose home her lived and her husband both commenting on his commitment to live until his pain from cancer became so bad that he decided to give up. And then he died. It was Bernie's choice, and we could focus on how much we would miss Bernie in the future until our turn to be buried came.

In contrast is the following story from Forbes. Two 15 year old girls in Cotati, California came upon an eight (8) week old ferrel (wild) kitten that was in a holding cage outside an apartment in Santa Rosa, California when the two girls decided to pour a flammable liquid on the kitten and set it on fire. An 11 year old boy heard the cat shrieking while the girls were laughing. The cat, who is now three (3) months old, will need several more operations, requires round the clock observation, and is susceptible to infection because he has no skin on its back right now. The bill to keep the kitten alive could run between $20,000 and $30,000. The story gets worse as the other kittens in the other cages have disappeared.

The girls are being charged with cruelty to animals in Juvenile Court. Meanwhile, some Sonoma County residents are upset because this case is getting more publicity than the death of an 18 year old boy in the same neighborhood.

Personally, I hope they are sentenced to work in a Veteran's Hospital Burn Unit every evening and every weekend and weekend evening and holiday changing dressings under the supervision of a person named Bubba, not that I have an opinion, naturally.

In an unrelated story, Michael Vick, quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons football team of the National Football League, was indicted on July 17th of competitive dog fighting, of procuring, training, and fighting pit bulls. I Googled "Michael Vick indictment" and got 1700 stories. If you go to the U.S. Humane Society site you can find a fact sheet on dog fighting and how utter loathsome it actually is, which is worse than you thought if you didn't know, there is a copy of the actual Federal indictment (dogs were moved back and forth across state lines to fight and die), and a plea to send e mails to the NFL asking for Vick's suspension. I can't agree with the last issue, asking for his suspension.

Please, please, please remember what happened in the Duke Lacrosse case. Let Justice take its course. The Feds have a ton of evidence, let them present it before a Judge, and let a jury do its work. Please read the indictment. It is horrifying, particularly the last two pages. Dogs fought to the death, or near death. If they didn't die, they were killed in horrible ways. The dogs were starved to ensure they would bite into each other. Micheal Vick has never made it to the Super bowl, but he doesn't look like her has ever missed a meal.

Ultimately, I feel like the Society is losing its respect for each other. Corporations follow policies that aren't always fair or honest, the concept of value is not current, the political process teaches us to not merely beat an opponent, but to slaughter the opponent. A plumber recently came out to change the internals in a toilet. I can buy them for about $5 at Home Depot. He charged me $160 which I ended up having to pay for 15 minutes work. He charged for each piece separately, and his minimum charge was $120 which was never mentioned. So, for a 15 minute job that I can no longer do while my hand is being injected for arthritis, I was charged $160. I paid when I asked the owner if he felt it was fair to charge $160 to change the internal on a toilet and she said, "I have to pay my people somehow." I'll never use her firm again, ever. I get the same crap from the health insurance company, and the pharmacy, which found a way to charge me $40 for a prescription that used to cost me $4. Everything is win no matter what the cost. Lying is expected (the pharmacist, which is how the prescription jumped so much in price, in theory the generic was never made in my dosage even though I had a bottle of it with 4 pills left. She implied I had counterfeited the label because Walmart didn't carry the dosage, even though it's in their on-line catalog, she just kept going that I was making these things up. And she's the Pharmacy Manager.)

I have presented two extreme examples of people acting so outrageously as to have corrupted values that are pretty seriously deranged. Setting a living thing on fire is so reprehensible to me that I can't conceive of what made them think that they had a right to do it. And if that's the case, how can I explain a role model like Michael Vick at all. He is supposedly the second highest paid player in the NFL. It can't have been the money. One of the articles I read said that when Katrina hit, the Humane society servers held. That when the Chinese (it was really in the article) were found to be using the fur of murdered cats and dogs for collars, the Humane Society servers stayed up. But when the story of Michael Vick and his indictment broke and the details of the gristly nature of the cruelty became known, their servers were brought down for a while in the Donations and the Take Action sections.

My Reflecting Pool posed a question about whether or not Society was changing as usual, and that she didn't understand her children's generation like her mother didn't understand her generation, etc. Glamourpuss replied that in her generation, a 14 year old wouldn't have passed out in a room after drinking an entire bottle of vodka, then had to answer if she had consented to the two different sets of semen found inside her, while none of her friends had done anything except leave her in there. Remarkably, I see the same degradation of personal values. Anyone have any thoughts?


Allan said...

We're doomed.

I have lost all hope.

Wicked H said...

I used to have hope. I am not so sure anymore.

I cannot stomach or fathom how children can find torture amusing let alone understand why the thought even crossed their minds in the first place. As for Vick, well all I can do is throw up in my mouth. I have opinions for how to punish him but angry thoughts are not healthy ones right now.

I can offer a strong arm tactic for your pharmacy dilemma. Next time you deal with Madame Pharmacist, make sure you ask for her license number and store number etc, these are all items you’ll need to make a formal complaint to your Insurance Commissioner. Make sure the Madame knows you’ll be filing the complaint. Report back and let us all know how she handled that scenario. It is key that you ask for all her information in a stern yet calm and professional manner. If you need the address of your Commissioner, let me know.

Shibari said...

what the hell is wrong with people I just don't get it! It makes me sick to think of animal cruelty. We live in a society that life is disposable. Whether it be human or animal.
Humans don't value much anymore. We live where it is better to throw something away than save it.
I choose to value.
ohhh.. and i have missed you friend.

Claudia said...

sorry, but I think the girls should feel the pain of being burned...even just a bit. Maybe they could be branded or something?? yep, take a nice red-hot brand to them...
As for mr. football, why not suspend him? At least until the verdict is passed down?

And I think awful things have always happened. We have a tendency to idealized things that are past, but I doubt very much things were perfect even then. Maybe it just wasn't as openly discussed? And it's easy to get bogged down in all the terrible things that happen. Good things happen too, but nobody talks about those.

The CEO said...

Allan, if you scratch a pessimist you find an optimist. Who else cares enough to put in the kind of time to get into the problem looking for a solution?

Wicked, as always, I appreciate your reasoned insight, and knowledge.

Shibari, you're in the same boat as I am, asking the same question. I miss you too.

Claudia, I am a difficult blog to read. I don't have your readership. You actually write about a lot of good things, and you get a lot of readers for it. There's not as many people talking about the really bad stuff, unless it's a newspaper report. Dog fighting exists in every state in this country. Let's stop it. You can't do it by not talking about it.

Echomouse said...

I got up to the cat part and had to stop. I cannot bear reading or hearing of things like that. But this doesn't mean I pretend it doesn't happen. I have volunteered with my local humane society for years before I became ill. And I often donate to them. They're in my top 3 charities.

As for people, yes the world is going to hell. All I can suggest is to face each day with a smile and try to be kind to strangers. One 30-second happy encounter with a total stranger can restore my faith in people on any given day.

Eris said...

You may not like my answers, I'm sorry, but I truly believe that this is the way it is:

The two girls who set fire to the kitten have no souls, will never grow into decent people, have no hope of doing any good, and should be dead. I would like to believe that they are young and dumb but there is a difference between, say, robbing a store at 15 and later growing up or torturing an animal. You are sick and ruined beyond repair if you can not only watch a living thing suffer but also be the cause of the torture. Same goes for Vick; he is f'd up. He should have the death penalty. There is no recovery into a good human being from that. People can argue that my 'solution' (which I do not view it as such, as this is not a solution) is just as bad as the problems themselves. How can I condone killing these people? Am I not as bad as them? No. I'm not. I no more truly want the sufferning of any being, even an evil one, than anything on earth. However, those 15 year old girls will go on to have kids at a young age and torture them. Those 15 year old girls will do unspeakable things to other people, perhaps because unspeakable things have already been done to them. I'm sorry we can't fix it, I'm sorry that there is no coming back from that kind of evil. No sane, decent person with a scrap of good in them would set fire to a cat or murder and toruture dogs for entertainment, there is a point of no return and this is it. Do we really think Vick had no idea what he was doing? Do we really think these girls should go on to have kids? I know I don't. I also know that the solution is to stop the perpetuation cycle where it begins: By stopping those girls from having kids who will in turn be tortured and turn out to be soul-less montsters like their mothers. By shouting out to society that horrible, unspeakable things like this are not to be ignored, by stopping the cycle before it begins again, we are stopping evil like this from perpetuating.

Still, I have not lost all hope. I can't. I want to believe that people are inherantly good so that is what I choose to do. I cannot stress enough that it is a choice. It is easy, with what we see daily, to believe that people are inherantly bad. I think that we have likely had the same problems since the dawn of time, only now we have more people so statistically more problems and a news media that gets off on sensationalizing horrible things. It is one thing to report the news; entirely another to dedicate hours to glorified and gory details. If, for instance, in the case of those girls, someone would come out and say that this isn't just wrong, but horribly wrong, and that they would spend every last day of their lives in jail so that they couldn't hurt other people then maybe it would make a difference. But I can promise that they will wreak more havoc, and far worse havoc, in the future. I can only continue to hope and pray that the good people, the majority, will find a way to stop it.

Show me a person who has willfully tortured another living being and I will show you true evil.

My Reflecting Pool said...

I think society has always been this disgusting. I think people have always been this reprehensible and I think that the wealth of information available makes it seem like it's all new. There have always been letcherous men willing to gangbang a girl who is too drunk to argue, and friends too weak to help her or thoughtless to even try. There have always been kids who torture animals, there have always been seedy, dishonest business people. There is just new opportunity cropping up for them to take advantage while the older methods are given up for technology. Poor elderly have always been preyed upon, only now there is the internet to scam them rather than door to door salesmen.

I can only say that I don't understand all the changes the newer generation are bringing to the table, but I stand by my question: are we REALLY changing for the worse? I think we are the same we've always been. Some good, some bad, everyone else inbetween.

Matt said...

This animal doesn't want to die either. Well, most of the time.

I dunno, depending on whom you believe we may find ourselves marooned on this godforsaken planet as our society degrades or we may find ourselves catapulted to unforseen ways of being as humans 2.0 after the Singularity.

I'm just waiting for the flying robots at this point.

Odat said...

I agree with Pool. I think we just hear a lot more today because of the media and how it gets to us immediately.....but there's a lot of good out there as Clauida points out...but I guess the majority of the people just want to hear the dirt and gawk at the inhumanity....I don't...

AmyTree said...

In my day... we just didn't hear about it quite so much, I think. Nastiness exists hand in hand with humanity, it has just become much easier to hear about it in recent years. There is really no such thing as 'the good old days'. Though most of the time I like to pretend there is, because otherwise how do we go on?

cmhl said...

I agree, society is losing respect. Each new outrage makes the bar that much higher. remember Tipper and her ratings on records? Now you hear those same words on abc, nbc, and cbs, and nobody blinks an eye.

Claudia said...

I totally agree that it needs to be stopped and the only way it can happen is if people know about it. But when you make a blanket statement about how things are so much worse now, I have to disagree. I think they are different, but I know that we've also made a lot of progress. You mention the dog-fighting...once upon a time, it was actually much more acceptable than it is now. So, we have a mixed bag as usual. We've made progress in that more people think it's wrong, but a few people are still doing it. I think it's great that it made the news and that people are outraged.
As for the two girls...things like that scare me and I think those people need to be closely monitored...most serial killers started with animals.

Naughty said...

I have very little hope left unfortunately. We live in a society where no one respects each other and barely respects themselves. Until this changes I think we're stuck in the quagmire.

I long to be wrong and have waited to be convinced otherwise. But I'm still waiting.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Most serial killers began their careers abusing animals.

I can't say with conviction that society is deteriorating because as noted by other commenters, we live in an age where we now know what is happening worldwide, not just in our own neck of the woods.

I am utterly disgusted and appalled by those who torture animals, and have always believed that the penalties should be much stricter than they are.

Dog fighting is atrocious, and those who take pleasure in such barbarity should be locked up. Obviously, this goes for those who burn animals alive as well.

There are too many people out there with no heart or soul.

I have recently concluded that people don't die of disease or old age, but of disgust and perhaps, bewilderment. When they cannot cope with the world's insanity and cruelty any longer, they develop illnesses which can be counted on to bring them down.

Sadly, I am beginning to understand how one could feel this way.

Glamourpuss said...

I agree with Pool that things have always been shitty, we just live in an age of information overload. However, I also agree that a lack of self-respect prevails and, as a teacher, I certainly noticed a decline in my years in the classroom. Where children get these values, I can only surmise Yes, the media probably does have a case to answer, but primarily, these children learn from their parents. As usual, we are all implicated, and we all have a responsibility to make life better. It's easy to call those who perform abhorent acts 'evil' because it distances us from their behaviour. It is harder to ask 'what made them behave that way?' because that requires us to empathise and relate to them. Sooner or later, we need to tackle the sickness head on, not just blame others and decry the state of the nation.


The CEO said...

Just so you all know that I am keeping up with you, it has become clear to me that we are talking about several dimensions of this set of problems. I'll post again when I have thought more about this.

It's clear that more people need to take responsibility. It's also clear that the media contribute, and that more and more people are alienated, and that we are losing respect for each other in the aggregate.

I'm not smart enough to come up with anything better than 'do unto others......' which still sounds pretty good to me.