aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, February 24, 2005
I say eat him
There’s a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals, in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig—an animal easily as intelligent as a dog—that becomes the Christmas ham.We tolerate this disconnect because the life of the pig has moved out of view. When’s the last time you saw a pig? (Babe doesn’t count.) Except for our pets, real animals—animals living and dying—no longer figure in our everyday lives. Meat comes from the grocery store, where it is cut and packaged to look as little like parts of animals as possible. The disappearance of animals from our lives has opened a space in which there’s no reality check, either on the sentiment or the brutality. Several years ago, the English critic John Berger wrote an essay, ‘’Why Look at Animals?’’ in which he suggested that the loss of everyday contact between ourselves and animals—and specifically the loss of eye contact—has left us deeply confused about the terms of our relationship to other species. That eye contact, always slightly uncanny, had provided a vivid daily reminder that animals were at once crucially like and unlike us; in their eyes we glimpsed something unmistakably familiar (pain, fear, tenderness) and something irretrievably alien. Upon this paradox people built a relationship in which they felt they could both honor and eat animals without looking away.
I look my dogs in the eye. Read the article. It deserves another look.
The senate has a great deal for which to apologize. Between 1890 and 1952, seven U.S. Presidents petitioned Congress to put an end to lynching. Nearly 200 Anti-lynching Bills were introduced in Congress during the first half of the 20th Century. Three strongly-worded measures even made it through the house. None reached a vote in the senate. Southern filibusters killed them all....Records can be found for about 5,000 lynchings between 1882 and 1968. The actual number is almost certainly much greater. And the dragging death of a black man, James Byrd jr., by a southern white man in 1998 should serve at least to keep an awareness of lynching alive into the lifetime of every American Adult alive today. For whatever reasons, racial sensitivity, National shame, lack of curiosity, lynching has never received the historical attention it deserves.