There is jubilation in some quarters that the suspect in the murder of Netherlands political figure Pim Fortuyn is an animals rights activist. At this writing, it is believed the suspect undertook his foul deed because he opposed Mr. Fortuyn’s desire to promote fur-farming and felt all legal means of opposition had been exhausted. The tools of civilization had failed; the activist apparently turned to Cave Man politics in order to project his will.
So why is there jubilation? Because some who do not like animal rights types — perhaps because they have a misanthropic aunt of that ilk or because they have been nagged for fishing or eating animal flesh — hope the entire movement is tarnished by the deed. That is why it is important to point out that not all animal rights people are homicidal maniacs.
This is not to make an exception on their behalf. Whenever a high-profile murder occurs, a ritual of civic responsibility requires affirmation that those who share racial, ethnic, sexual or ideological similarities with the accused are not guilty by association.
Thus when Arab thugs burn down a few dozen or so synagogues, we are reminded that not all Arabs burn down synagogues, and not only because there are precious few synagogues in Arab lands. Similarly, when a kid is raped to death by a homosexual couple it is pointed out, quite correctly, that such things don’t happen often.
There are some exceptions, to be sure. When a deranged Bible thumper opens fire on an abortion mill, his group identification is dragged through the mud a week or two before the dogs are called off. The same treatment is accorded anti-government types, who this week are being lumped in with that troubled young fellow who drove around the Midwest and environs sticking pipe bombs and anti-government tracts in mailboxes, thereby blowing up the occasional mail carrier and senior citizen.
Anti-tax advocates are smarting as well because of the antics of one of their tribe, as reported by Ananova: “A plumber has killed himself with a homemade guillotine outside his local tax office in Slovakia. The 56-year-old left a suicide note saying he could not afford to pay his tax bill, which amounted to £590. The man police have named only as Frantisek L drove to the office in Malacky, unloaded a crate and placed a home-made guillotine on top of it. He then placed his head in the device and let the blade fall, killing himself instantly.”
To be thoroughly honest, I am myself a lover of animals. Indeed, crucial parts of my world view are identical to that of most dogs and other members of the Wild Kingdom, at least in the sense that I recognize and celebrate the fact that we are all predators. This is not to say we don’t know when to turn off the killer and turn on the charm. Another story from our fair nation makes the point: “A suspected robber is accused of throwing his 1 1/2 -year-old son at a police dog to stop the dog from chasing him, police said. On a command from his handler, the dog chased down the suspect, Terell Joseph Green, 20, and did not harm the toddler, police spokesman Cpl. Don Kelly said.”
Despite my love of animals and much of which they represent, I nonetheless have felt the lash from those whose animal-love has driven them around the bend. I once wrote a column, for example, which mentioned that in a pinch I’d toss a dog off a life raft long before I’d toss a human. Soon after publication an irate reader phoned in. As I recall the argument, his view held that if the dog were well and the human sick, then the dog should be spared and the human should be cast overboard.
We chatted amiably awhile, yet the spell was broken when the caller was asked what he liked to eat. Strictly vegetables, he responded. Did he not recognize that studies show a head of lettuce experiences something akin to pain when a leaf is jerked off, just as my caller would experience pain should his ear be suddenly jerked from his head? He was aware of those studies, and put some stock in them. But he felt his options were limited; he had to eat something, after all, and why would I bring up such a thing?
He finally hung up after being asked what he would do if termites threatened to devour his house. That would never happen, he barked, because he lived in a brick house to avoid that very situation. After several days of not finding any bombs under the hood I began feeling better about this fellow. It is good to have passions in life. And he was much less threatening than the guy who attacked me while I was fishing a trout river.
The place was Colorado and the weapon of choice was a sling shot. The attack had been underway for several minutes before I recognized that all those nearby splashes were not jumping fish, but projectiles. When the light went off I scoured the area and saw the assailant standing on a nearby hillside. When he understood he had been detected he fled into the woods. The police were called but he was never located.
Was he an animal rights storm trooper? One can never know for certain, although subsequent investigations found that other fishers had been accosted; one told of having rocks heaved down from a cliff by some madman. It seems reasonable to assume that this fellow took himself to be a friend of the fishes and thus an enemy of those who amuse themselves by pulling iron hooks through his friends’ lips. No doubt, he thinks himself something of a saint.
One reasonably assumes this is also true of the suspect in Mr. Fortuyn’s murder. The trouble with saints, of course, is that in many instances they closely resemble devils.