November 14, 2007

For the Birds

by PG

I am bewildered by the Texas legislature's apparent belief that killing humans isn't inherently cruel, but killing cats is.

Humans' cruelty to animals is wrong and ought to be criminally punished, but its immorality is based in what it reveals about the humans' indifference to or enjoyment of suffering, not because animals have rights. Inasmuch as James M. Stevenson, bird-fancier and cat-killer, can be proven to have acted with intent or recklessness as to whether the cat he shot suffered, he reasonably could be described as engaging in cruelty toward animals. The old statute, under which he was indicted, is ridiculous, and the new one passed in response to this case is little better. The old state law prohibited killing a cat "belonging to another," yet a tort suit is the proper and traditional response to an act that is bad because of ownership. H.B. 2328 at least specifies that a violator of the animal cruelty law "tortures an animal or in a cruel manner kills or causes serious bodily injury to an animal," but retains the provision that one commits an offense if one "kills or causes serious bodily injury to an animal without legal authority or the owner's effective consent." That's a crime against property, not against morality.

One can kill an animal without necessarily being cruel to it. Indeed, it may be more possible to do this for dumb beasts who can't see it coming than it is for death row inmates.

November 14, 2007 05:07 PM | TrackBack
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