Moxie and PETA

An animal trainer and advocate turned pet photographer gave advice for successfully capturing winning pet pictures. The trick is to get the dog to ‘cock’ its head in a questioning or puzzled look. To get a dog to do this, the trainer-turned-photog suggests getting the owners to stand behind your camera position and to talk to the dog or use whatever trick works for them. So far, fine.
But the point that is interesting is her use of the word, ‘human.’ As in, “Ask the dog’s human to stand behind you to get the dog’s attention.”
This is a language choice I’ve come across before. It is part of the politically correct sensibility of animal rights activist groups such as PETA. To use “owner” is demeaning in their philosophy, because it sets up a master/slave relationship. In their view this is akin to American black slavery, and it puts human and animal life on an equal playing field. Make no mistake, many of the policies of such groups and much of their activism is geared to accomplish just that. This is moral relativism in action. They have already influenced the circus, zoos and lab testing of animals. And now they are branching out into the field of pets, and one of their thrusts now is to change our vocabularies and hence our thinking about our relationships to animals. Owner is out: equal buddies is in.
But if I am not an owner, then a morning stroll meeting another dog with its human partner might go like this:
“Hello, this is my animal, ….”
“Hello, this is my human…”
Sounds strange to me.
But, if we are going to have a relationship of equality, between human and pet …oops, that’s  out also, for the same reason: let me correct that to “…if we are going to have a relationship between equals, human and animal alike, then I have a few complaints with things as they currently are practiced:
1. Dog License: I no longer will pay the city $50.00 for a dog license, nor will I get one. It’s demeaning to Moxie. I don’t pay a fee to have a human companion, do I?
2. Inequality: Although I love Moxie, I’m beginning to resent her freeloading ways. She makes no financial contribution to the household, and at the equivalent age of 35 years, it’s time she did so. I pay for her veterinarian visits, buy her food, her treats and her toys. This gets  expensive.
3. Responsibility: Am I my animal’s keeper? I am held responsible for Moxie’s indiscretions – if she runs off or bites someone that should not be my fault. I’m just her human and she’s my dog. We are partners, but she is a free being, no? And walking her on a leash? What kind of unenlightened city ordinance is that? A leash is the moral equivalent of shackling her in chains, demeaning, humiliating and controlling, limiting her freedom to explore her world. The leash is colonialism at its worst.
Oh, and one other thing, Moxie. I don’t mean to be indelicate here, but from now on you can bloody well pick up your own pooh!
I’m done with that!

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Insanity Rules

I just read an article by a journalist named Diana West. If what she writes is correct, and there’s no reason to think it isn’t, then America’s insanity continues unabated, even to the highest military courts.

Ms. West details the ruling against a U.S. soldier, by a military tribunal that says he had no right to defend himself against an attack by an Al-Qaeda “operative” who was suspected of using IEDs which killed two US soldiers. Army Ranger 1st Lt. Michael Behenna was driving the naked Al-Qaeda soldier somewhere to release him after Army interrogation failed to get him to confess. Behenna apparently stopped the car to try for one more interrogation, but because it was “unauthorized,” he was deemed the aggressor, and so, according to three of five military geniuses who rule in military courts, as the aggressor, he lost the right to defend himself when the Al-Qaeda soldier threw a piece of concrete at him and then jumped Behenna, trying to grab his pistol. The logical conclusion, it would seem, is that Behenna should have not defended himself, and instead of shooting and killing his attacker, allowed his attacker to grab the gun and kill him.

Now, because of his war crime of defending himself in battle when he shouldn’t have because he was the aggressor, he will serve 12 years in prison. Had he been of a higher moral fiber, the one that seems to infect all of the ruling elites and academics, and now apparently military judges as well, although Behenna would be dead, he would have been cleared by the court of any wrong doing, and could a’ been buried with an unblemished record.

This should look great on an Army recruiting poster.

By the way, Diana West is the author of a book titled, The Death of the Grown Up: How America’s Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization. Haven’t read it, but think it might be a good idea to do so. If she’s right, a lot of people 40 an under in the US of A will agree with the high military court’s ruling and get angry with West (and my) point of view, scarier still.

The Day after: Christopher Hitchens meets God

The Hitch  is dead.

Thursday, December 15, aged 62. Cause of death: pneumonia caused by esophageal cancer. Cause of cancer: excessive smoking and drinking. Contributing cause? Maybe the vagaries of existence with no intrinsic order or meaning, as Hitchens, ever the devout atheist, even unto death, might have said.

If you knew of Hitchens, then you know all of this and maybe more. If you didn’t, then he might be a posthumous discovery for you.  Hitchens, according to the spate of obits and remembrance columns, is (was?) a preeminent 20th century intellect, journalist, essayist and debater. A sort of modern-day George Orwell. Last year, his blond hair sacrificed to the gods of chemotherapy, Hitchens debated Tony Blair on television, worried only that his mind would retain its clarity, which, apparently, it did. And now the mind, the tongue, are silenced.

The trouble with dying as an atheist is that there is no one to meet: no Maker, no St. Peter, no loved ones waiting to be reunitied.

Worse, it’s a lose, lose proposition: if Hitchens’ denial of god is wrong and God exists, then he’s going to meet a god he’s spent his entire adult life prodding and jabbing. That could be shock enough to kill him all over. If Hitchens is right, and there’s no one to meet on the other side, then Hitchens won’t even have the satisfaction of knowing that his was the correct assumption. As Hamlet so well remarks, death is the “undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns.”

On second thought, did Shakespeare accidentally, or possibly even purposely, leave a loophole there? After all, Hamlet the ghostly father, has returned from some sort of purgatory to exact the promise of revenge from his son, our Hamlet. The ghost visually describes the world in which he is doomed to wander until the wrong is put right. It’s not going to attract too many “Vacation-To-Go” offers, for this is a terrifying place, but Shakespeare describes it so concretely that you have to wonder whether the bard himself made a round trip. And should Shakespeare be waiting, Hitchens might well consider a meeting worth his early demise.

But of course, if there is a heaven, and Hitchens qualifies at least for a preliminary interview, then he’ll have to deal first with a God likely just itching to meet his unruly, prodigal son. What a conversation that might be!

God:     (depending on your interpretation, looks like Charlton Hesston or George Burns; to St. Peter) Take a harp break, Peter, I want to handle the next traveller personally.

Peter:  (looks off through clouds and makes out the figure of Christopher Hitchens ascending) Be back in a couple centuries.

God:    Well, well well! The prodigal son returns. Welcome to North Korea,            Christopher.

Hitch:    You really exist? (caught off guard but only for a second before Hitch goes on the offensive about the North Korea reference.) Nice use of irony there, and you plagiarized one of my good retorts, too. I’ll be damned!

God:    Oh, I can arrange that, you know. You have indeed garnered some sterling              qualifications in that direction.

Hitch.   You refer to my so-called immoralities? You’re not so great yourself!

God:    Indeed I well know your feelings towards me.

Hitch:  Ah yes, the omnipotent, all –knowing god! Eavesdropping on everyone 24/7. Sort of like Santa Clause’s naughty and nice bit, but without the yearly presents.

God:    Yes, well, there is that, I suppose. But also, I read your book. Quite good, actually,  Christopher, if wrong, nevertheless.

Hitch:  Do you deny it then – the violence on your earthly paradise, the death and misery?

God:    How could I deny it.? But contrary to your gem about North Korea, my children have freedom. You can choose your fate, you humans. That is a precious gift and some of you have made fine use of it. Unfortunately, not by all of mankind. But there is still life, and still  hope.

Hitch:  Freedom to choose? Like Adam and Eve.

God:    Exactly so

Hitch:  Oh, c’mon! They didn’t stand a chance. Good god!

God:   Thank you.

Hitch:  You’re pretty funny. Actually. I prefer you this way.

God:   So you do admit of my existence!

Hitch:  Nice try, God, but no, I’m simply speaking metaphorically, clothing an idea in a personified wrap, for how else could we have this debate?

God:   Nevertheless, we are. To paraphrase one of my happier disciples, Descartes, of whom I’m  sure you’re familiar: ‘You think, therefore, I am.’ I rather like that.

Hitch:  I’m not so sure the Descartes would like it, but anyway, it’s not even me who’s thinking. It’s this turgid blogger who fancies that he can write not only a Platonic dialogue, but that he has the intellectual capacity to engage us both in repartee.

God:    He’s my creature as well, Christopher.

Hitch:  Yes, well, I wouldn’t be bragging about that one, you know? You don’t exist, and now I don’t exist either, except in the minds of a few people such as this ill conceiving blogger.

God:    You are indeed a harsh critic.

Hitch:  Exactly how I made my living! And now to put an end to this. Hey, blogger! I’m not playing along for your benefit. If you want fame, don’t try to hitch –  yes, yes, I know, it’s weak, but look who I’m relying on here – I say, blogger, if you want fame, then hitch a ride on your own merit. And you better post this soon, because death is time-sensitive. Tomorrow my death will matter less than today, which is already less than yesterday.

So go ahead and post, because now, we’re….done.

The dictator is dead; Long live the dictator

Today the news features headlines such as “The last hours of a tyrant,” covering the capture and death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Pictures show a normal human body, not especially powerful, rather soft, bloody and as one poem I read long ago described the victim of an accident, “ridiculous in death.” This dictator, like others before him, looks more like the weakling than the bully. Who would not stand up to him in a street fight, or a work place argument? And yet….and yet. He was indeed the bully, commanding millions, a being whose word was feared, a bringer of death not just in his own land, but across the boundaries of the world’s nations, who had the honour, hollow though it has become, of being treated like royalty and addressing the leaders of the world, many no better than he, in the General Assemblies of the United Nations. His presence helped to shape the ugliness of our world and contributed to the lurching path with which we plot our present course in history. Like so many others of his ilk, his name and fame will live beyond his puny self for years to come: not so for my mechanic, my doctor, my teachers, my parents, all of whom advanced the cause of humanity quietly by living the life of the decent, hurting few and helping loved ones and friends. They lived their modest lives and became quiet clay. Why not them, instead of the monsters, to stride, colossus like across the pages of history? Instead it is they, blighting civilizations until in Ozymandias fashion, their legacies collapse and, are ultimately buried in the graceful sands of a healing desert. But even before the sands can do their work, lo and behold, a successor arises, and we forget that underneath the phony medals and the cloak of invincibility, there is just another weakling, and once more, we allow him to become the bully.