Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A mixed bag

There are some very worthy causes in this world and some very unworthy causes. Likewise, there are some very good presentations of a cause and some very bad presentations of a cause. Using the sociologist's best friend, the 2x2 table, we might represent this reality as follows:

A good cause that was represented well might be the Civil Rights movement, whose use of non-violent resistance was extremely effective. A bad cause presented well would be intelligent design- a "theory" that is utterly scientifically vacuous and, yet, is supported by talking points so good that at first nobody really wants to argue with them. A bad cause represented badly would probably be Reverend Fred Phelps' protests against U.S. policy. These protests, of course, include picketers with signs like "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for IEDs." These last, praising Iraqi improvised explosive devices (IEDs), often appear at the funerals of U.S. soldiers. Finally, a bad representation of a good cause might be the movie "The Day After Tomorrow," which presents the global warming issue as imagined by a seven year-old boy.

Each of these combinations is interesting to me for the consequences it can have. Good representation often creates a debate, whether there is need for one or not. Likewise, poor representation can prevent discussion regardless of the merits of the cause in question. Worse still, sufficiently bad presentation can actually embitter potential supporters of a cause- making them feel ridiculous, deceived, or even manipulated. I've been thinking about this possibility lately- that a good cause can be represented badly- thanks to a website I've come across. The site is Thor's Warriors, and its goal is to obtain the prosecution of an individual who is, allegedly, guilty of animal abuse. By animal abuse, what I mean is that he was slowly starving a group of labradors in his possession such that at least one of them ended up like this:

A description of the condition of the seven animals recovered from the alleged abuser further illustrates the situation (taken from a veterinary report available here):

The dogs were covered in dirt and feces, their hair coats were matted and their hair was dull and brittle. Their ribs, spinal vertibrae, and pelvic bones were all evident without placing a hand on the dogs and there was minimal muscle mass or fat covering the bones. No obvious physical abnormalities were found that could explain their severe state of emaciation . . .

. . . on several occasions one of the other five dogs would randomly urinate or defacate in the room. Whenever that would happen, it was witnessed that all the other dogs would lunge in that direction and eagerly drink or ravenously eat the excrement, indicating that they were extremely hungry.

Their poor Body Conditon Scores were definitely not a result of an acute episode of starvation but rather a chronic process.

. . . these six rescued dogs [the seventh was being cared for elsewhere] had very likely been in a condition of starvation for greater than three weeks in order to lose such a large percentage of their body weight . . .

. . . it is our professional opinion that these six dogs were living in a chronic condition of neglect and starvation prior to their rescue.

So, basically, we have seven dogs that were being starved to death and were receiving little or no medical attention. Seems like a fairly clear case of animal abuse. Yet, believe it or not, the individual responsible is only being charged with a single case of neglect and has been granted a renewal of his kennel license.

The operator of the website, a Mr. Chris Wright, who is a writer of horror fiction for adults and children, is attempting to apply pressure to government officials to deal with this situation. His website is a part of this effort as he hopes to drum up enough public outrage to compel action. In this effort I wish him the best of luck. I am revolted by what was done to these animals and think that the party or parties responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It also sounds like Mr. Wright has been integral to the rescue of the dogs and that he should be commended for that.

I just wish the website didn't look like... well... something put together by a guy who writes horror fiction for children. Take a look and see what I mean, I'll wait.

Finished? Cool.

Between the random changes in text color, the odd graphics, and the "chapter titles" like "Rattling Cages & Furious Rages" or "With Labradors & Justice For All" it's a little hard to take the website completely seriously. To be a little more frank, it reminds me of nothing so much as a cross between the ASPCA and Greg Buell. It's so over-the-top that I actually found myself thinking, "Is this guy a crank? Is this entire website some kind of elaborate hoax?" Mr. Wright does point out that his site is factual but, really, most hoaxes don't state right up front that they're hoaxes, so that didn't reassure me. I'm fairly convinced by this point that at least the basic facts of the site are correct- due in part to finding a clip from a local t.v. station discussing the matter- but I can't speak to the alleged failings of justice in the area. At the moment I'm inclined to take Mr. Wright at his word.

This is, however, another example of that bottom left-hand cell in my 2x2 table- a worthy cause that is presented badly enough that some who might have been supporters are deterred. I think that's a shame. This is a decent cause and I would like to see Mr. Wright obtain justice for these animals.

Head on over and read the narrative. Maybe you'll agree.

As a side note: Woot! Today is the 900th post on Total Drek.

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