Wednesday 8 April 2020

Caedite eos ?

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -Milan Kundera

Sunday morning, down in Tramore with a view of the strand, I sprang out of bed at 0620hrs downed a couple of quick cups of tea and set off for a power-walk along the prom. I brought a hat because there was a whippy on-shore breeze and I R old. The Irish are not, in general, larks so there were few enough people out and about. Like my hat, they all had some extra equipment: one was fighting to keep his surf-board under his arm and the other half dozen encounterees had dogs. At Dau.II's insistence, we gave house room to Rashers-the-dog [since deceased] for ten years while the girls were growing up. Rashers was family, but I was never converted to a doggy person. I find it peculiar that a dog is a necessary accompaniment for exercise. And, for that matter, a brisk walk seems a dopey, unproductive travesty of aerobic activity: is there no wood to chop or water to carry?

I've been thinking cats and dogs in these covid days. My friend P in Massachusetts shares her house with a parcel of cats who get fed in her kitchen but are free to roam outside. It is not unlikely that the cunning devils have inveigled themselves into the affections of one of the neighbours and are getting fed and feted by two different households. Whoa fomite! I've been thinking these past few weeks. If you can pick up covid-19 from a light-switch or a pair of woolly gloves, the top of a cat's head seems an equally likely source of infection. A couple of days ago, I caught the tail-end of a report on the telly where an epidemiologist was being interviewed about this very matter. But not really, because she cited a case in China where a small dog had tested positive for covid-19 but had experienced only mild symptoms and was quite recovered now. WTF? Who cares about how the dog is feeling? The key question - unaddressed in the segment I heard - was whether that dog, dogs in general, can serve as a vector for this dangerous infection.

And if a dog should come out of the forest, then what would you do? If we had a pandemic in which dogs and cats were part of the problem, would The Man mandate their wholesale destruction? The Man is content to authorize the destruction of TBadgers because we cannot persuade farmers to stop stacking cattle like cord-wood in sheds for 5 months of the year. And if The Man did put a dead sentence on pets to save [human] lives, how many families would Anne Frank their pooch in the attic? Most of these doggie people eat chicken every weekend and don't give a toss how the poor creature was reared [now down to 41 days of bright lights and force feeding from hatch to chop] but would definitely save Bowser in preference to Joe Random Elder in the nursing home down the road. Like this. That should make you think of Peter Singer who is fond of pointing out that we would happily ruin a $700 suit wading into a muddy pond to save a drowning child but won't shell out $7 to immunize one on the other side of the Third World. What? Peter Singer? "Animal factories are one more sign of the extent to which our technological capacities have advanced faster than our ethics." Yes that one.

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. Instructions by Papal Legate Arnaud Amaury at the massacre of Béziers 22 July 1209

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