Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Animal abuse is never okay.

Today the Supreme Court overturned a law that banned videos showing cruelty to animals, citing freedom of speech. I'm sorry, but abusing defenseless creatures is NOT freedom of speech and it is NEVER okay.

Animal abuse is a subject that hits very close to home for me. My cat Chloe was abused before we adopted her, and the effects of that cruelty are still with her some 7 years later. Aside from the physical effects of the trauma - part of her tail is missing and she has neurological damage - she still shrinks when humans try to touch her, even the family that she has lived with for almost a decade.

My mom's friend adopted a kitten who was found with string tied around her tail. She was discovered by a lake where teenagers were whipping cats around by their tails and then tossing them into the water to drown.

Animal abuse is violence towards a living, feeling creature. There's no legalese that could make that untrue.

If this kind of violence was directed at women or children, it would never be tolerated. So, why animals? According to the law, animals are still "property", something with which anyone who has ever lived with a pet would disagree. When my cats are sick or in pain, the look in their eyes is as sad and hurt as a child with the same affliction. They are living beings, they feel pain and they can sense fear. If my dad accidentally stomps his feet too loudly in Chloe's direction she goes darting down the hallway to hide. The abuse that she endured eight years ago still lives in her mind and informs her daily life. She has a memory, and she has feelings.

I'm very attached to my cats, and anyone who knows me would agree that, to me, they are like my children. Sometimes I look at Chloe and have to fight back tears when I think that someone abused her. Me and my brother have been volunteering at a local no-kill shelter for about nine years now, and there are countless stories like Chloe's - or worse. It absolutely breaks your heart.

I know that the Supreme Court is supposed to rule by law and not by feelings; that empathy and sympathy are not supposed to factor into their decisions. But there are some times when even the most strict constructionists need to just take a stand and say "this is wrong." Abusing animals is wrong. In this case, I really don't care about precedent or whether or not something so vile and cruel could fall into the category of free speech. Overturning this ban is a wink to the monster who tortured Chloe, the teenagers who tossed the kittens into the lake, and all of the sickos who are now preparing to shoot more crushing videos.

Perhaps if the eight justices who voted to overturn the ban spent some time with shelter animals, listened to stories of cruelty and looked into the eyes of abused animals they might understand that animal abuse is never okay.

I don't usually say this, but if you disagree with me please don't leave a comment. This decision really upset me today and I honestly don't feel like getting harassed or arguing with anyone about it.