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Of Newspapers and Animals

I have a new quest for 2007: To get at least one major newspaper (I was thinking the New York Times) to have a daily, if not weekly, section for Animals. Not "Nature," not "Food and Wine," not "Style," not "Business," and not "Sport." Those are all the ways we use and view animals, so we can compartmentalize them according to usage when there’s a news item or someone wants to write a feature.

But, for heaven’s sake, if "Style" can have its own section, why can’t animals? The fact is, every single day–every single day--virtually every single person in this country is using an animal in some way. Yet animals aren’t present in our national conversation.

We will never experience progress on any issue until we start discussing it. HIV/AIDS, Darfur, female genital mutilation–these are all problems that came to the fore because people brought them there and said, "Look. This is something we need to learn about. And then we need to do something about it."

In writing this daily blog since mid 2006, I have read many blogs and websites that contain extreme vitriol against people who think the status–or even the treatment–of animals needs to change. Yes, there are Animal People who regularly use the word "murderers" to describe those who eat meat, hunt, wear fur, etc… (i.e., they either directly kill someone, or pay someone else to do it for them, so the moniker isn’t incorrect. Tony Soprano doesn’t usually do the killing–he pays people to do it–and you’d consider him a murderer wouldn’t you?). But in my experience, most Animal People are more interested in educating others through logic, ethics, and compassion.

The anti-Animal People crowd is full of hateful individuals desperate to rationalize their behavior and seemingly eager to see others suffer. And I think they need to be heard in a widely-publicized, national debate. Yes, it’ll be ugly at first. However, differing opinions (unfortunately, cruelty is an opinion in 2006) should be broadcast, and with time, I believe that ethical, peaceful, compassionate "opinions" will prevail.

By 2008? No.

But until we get animals out of the closet, and talk about them as individuals rather than as various tools or means to ends, we are sure to remain where we are: killing more and more of them, in more cruel ways than ever, without shedding a tear.

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