We bumped up Hobkin’s appointment with the vet to, err, snip off his danglies, by a week. He goes in tomorrow. The little critter is maturing way fast and has begun to interact amorously with the (faux) fur mit toy I made him. But the clincher is that he’s getting more aggressive with his bite play. Them sorts of “adult skunk” hormones make for a bad companion if not taken care of immediately. It’ll be the first time he’s been away from us overnight since we got him. I’m just a wee bit anxious (well more than a wee bit), although the vet and especially Debbie, his assistant, are just wonderful. Debbie promised us that Hobkin will wake up from the anesthesia in her arms so he won’t be alone and scared in a strange place. Debbie rocks.
But, okay, Matthew posts fairly regularly on a board when I’m asleep late at night. This board did a poll. Of course, the results aren’t at all scientific or even a random sampling of the population or anything like that, but he and I were appalled and, well, appalled at the outcome.
1. Who would you chose to rescue out of a burning house if you could only chose one option:
a. your beloved pet or b. a complete stranger.
2. Who would you chose to rescue out of a burning house if you could only chose one option:
a. a loved one (spouse, sibling, parent, for e.g.) or b. three complete strangers.
More people chose the b. options than the a. ones in both cases. And the ones who chose a. usually said they’d feel guilty about doing so.
One person said they’d throw fluffy into a chipper if it’d stop a complete stranger from getting hurt (I sorta have to wonder with this one if “beloved” isn’t a valid adjective in this case).
What’s wrong with these people?? I’d so chuck a stranger into a chipper to save Hobkin, much less just go the passive route and choose to save Hobkin over the stranger. And I’d feel no qualms about it. Ditto on the letting the three strangers burn to get Matthew out. Hell, after seeing the result of that poll, I’m thinking that shoving a few extra people back into the blaze might be a good idea.
I mean how can someone look their husband/wife/lover in the eye every day and think that in a pinch, they’d chose three strangers over them? It floors me how many people think that ethics is math. Saving three people is better by virtue of saving more? Faugh. And then the whole humans over animals thing. I hate how the general populace treat and views animals. But, I mean, if you adopt an animal into your household, you’re making a commitment. You’re promising to love and protect that critter against all that comes. So many people out there think of animals as disposable. Again, I say “faugh.”
I think that the general populace’s feelings about animals is horrible. I torture myself sometimes by watching Animal Cops on Animal Planet. It’s horrible. Dog fighting, neglect, abuse. But, it’s also nice to see the dedication of the people that are rescuing the animals, and then the happy stories of them finding good homes.
When I worked for the Athens paper, I forced them to start doing “Pet of the Week.” Every other paper I had ever worked for did this. The pet that is chosen to be in the paper always gets adopted, and it generally leads to other dogs being adopted as well. But, I had to go to the shelter every week, and that was really difficult for me. They have to put about 50% of the dogs down because of lack of space and money to keep them longer than a couple of weeks.
The whole situation turns my stomach.
Re: I agree.
I torture myself sometimes by watching Animal Cops on Animal Planet.
You too, huh? Sometimes, when I see the state some of those animals are in on that show, I want to cry (and have). I get a little satisfaction when they catch the people who perpetrate such atrocities, but the penalties are never severe enough.
Those ASPCA cops must have a lot of job satisfaction, though, knowing that each day they’re working to improve the welfare of an animal. They’re my heroes :).
Animal welfare issues are near and dear to both Matthew and me. There’s no faster way to get me pissed and indignant (and occasionally prone to very foolhardy actions) than an animal in need.
Well I’d certianly choose a loved one over three strangers. But I do think I would save a human over a pet. That is worlds apart from mistreating animals. There are several reasons. One, there’s a serious possibility that you’d be put in jail for saving your pet over a human being, in certian situations. Also, the human could end up being a nobel prise winning scientist who invents the technology that allows us to save all the starving people in the world or all the endangered species on Earth or something like that. A pet just doesn’t have the same potential for value to society that a human does. That doesn’t mean the pet is disposable; any more than a human is disposable even though I would save some people in favor of others, like for instance my girl friend instead of some stranger, or a child instead of some 80 year old man.
One, there’s a serious possibility that you’d be put in jail for saving your pet over a human being
Now that’s just plain silly. Of course there’s not. Think about it. A law that says you have to act heroically in such-and-such a circumstance? Even the people whose job it is to be heroes: policemen, firemen, etc., they’re trained to watch out for their own safety first. True, sometimes they choose to risk their lives to save someone, but that’s their choice. Is and always will be. Remember that whole (ostensibly) free country thing? It’d sort of cut in on that whole freedom thing if heroism was mandatory.
Furthermore, I wouldn’t and don’t care about the consequences of my actions in this scenario. Between saving someone I love (Hobkin) over someone I don’t even know? Ptoo. Screw the stranger, even if it means I’m screwed for doing it. I’m getting Hobkin to safety. It’s the ethical thing to do, even if society and the law tries to tell me otherwise.
That, incidentally, is the stuff of which true heroism is made of–knowing what you believe and acting accordingly, in despite of strong pressure to act differently.
the human could end up being a nobel prise winning scientist
Another silly argument. You don’t judge people (and yes, Hobkin is a “person” even though he ain’t human–just defining my terms here) based upon what they might be. You judge them on their own merits, who you are. The stranger could be Hitler Jr. for all I know. Hobkin, however, is someone I love, a member of my family, and furthermore someone who I am personally responsible for. He’s dependant upon me; he’s someone I chose to and must protect because he isn’t capable of taking care of himself without me to fend for him.
a child instead of some 80 year old man
The only way I care to view people is as individuals. Who I would chose to save isn’t based upon age, or who they “might” be. If the 80 year-old man was my father-in-law and the child was your average screaming brat, you better believe I’m going for my pop-in-law. Actually, doesn’t really matter. I don’t know any children I’d chose over my father-in-law. He’s another person who I happen to love.
Sure the country’s free. I don’t have any problem with you saving hobkin. But you seem to think it’s a violation of ethics for other people to think it’s more important to save humans than pets, and I disagree. I, personally, would choose a human over a pet, or women and children over men (if the situation had no other deciding factors), but I think it’s okay whoever you choose. I knew a girl back in Austin who said she’d save her parakeet or canary or whatever it was over her boyfriend of two years. I think that was a little strange, and I doubt that I would have remained in a relationship with her if I were in his shoes. (unless the sex was just that good.) But to each their own. I also heard of a girl who said she would let her child die before allowing a homosexual to give it CPR. But’s that’s another story.
I guess maybe I was off base with that going to jail thing; it does seem like there could be some situation where you might get sued or something. Maybe criminal negligence, if you were to save a pet over a child?
personally, would choose a human over a pet
My thoughts: you should never get a pet.
I knew a girl back in Austin who said she’d save her parakeet or canary or whatever it was over her boyfriend
Of course I’d save Matthew first. Then Hobkin. I tend to think your Austin lass wasn’t in a very good relationship, certainly not one I’d classify as “healthy” but hey, as long as everyone involved was all clear on their relative worths to each other, it’s all good.
Maybe criminal negligence, if you were to save a pet over a child?
Why on earth would it be negligence, criminal or otherwise on my part? Again with the silly.
It wouldn’t have been me that put the child in the burning building in the first place and it surely wouldn’t be my child (since I will never have one of the things–eww). I have no responsibility for the sprog. Hence, no culpability.
I’ve had pets and I thought they were adorable. But I’m not going to let a human being die to save a rodent that’s going to die on it’s own in less than a year anyway. Unless doing so is just a convenient excuse to kill somebody I already don’t like, of course.
Ah, I see. So you gauge worth as equivalent to life expectancy. So you’d rescue, for example, the mother who let her two children bake to death in a sealed car for three hours in the summer heat while she had her hair done–her reasonably having many decades of life left in her, assuming no one lynches her–over Stephen Hawkings who’s on borrowed time now anyway.
And, of course, that would mean you’d have to chose the pet rat over a human terminal cancer patient with only a week or so left because the rat could expect to live longer than the cancer patient.
Offering a reason for something does not necessarily imply that it is the only reason one is capable of using to make decisions. I consider any human life that I am not interested in ending myself to be more valuable than that of the average rodent. There might be an exception if the rodent was the product of millions of dollars of genetic research and was on the verge of revealing a cure for cancer or AIDS or something.
I think Stephen Hawking falls into the Nobel Prise winner category that I mentioned earlier, and the mother who left her children to bake falls into that ‘interested in ending myself’ category that I also mentioned earlier. I admit I have very little interest in saving terminal canter patients; I’m more inclined toward euthanasia if they’re in pain. I know that’s what I’d want, once I had things squared away to my satisfaction. Now if they’re not terminal, and there is a chance of saving them, then that’s a different story.
This is an old debate for me. I’ve got my arguments already set out on my web site. If you want to continue discussing the pros and cons of animal welfare/rights, check out what I have to say there and get back to me. It’ll cut down on the amount of me re-typing things I’ve already got concretely written elsewhere:
Why I believe what I do
That’s all cool, but we’re not talking about cruelty to animals here, or even eating them. We’re talking about relative values, and no two creatures have the same relative value. Between any two beings, there is one you would save the live of before the other. We just don’t happen to agree on which we would choose one particular such situation; that doesn’t make me a rain forrest clear cutter or elephant poacher or anything, anymore than your stance makes you a serial killer or mass murderer.
True. I just think your reasons are spurious. And it’s not just about cruelty to animals, blah blah blah. It’s about the human superiority issue:
I don’t think humans are intrinsically superior to non-human animals
So, like, would you save a human stranger or an animal you didn’t know? A human acquaintance for whom you have no particularly strong feelings, or Hobkin? How about a stranger that you know is the friend/loved one of someone you know or love, vs. Hobkin? A gorilla or a mouse? Would you save Hobkin, or push the button that would prevent Atlanta from being nuked? Would your answer be different if the city was Los Angeles or Hiroshima?
Do you notice that a lot of people seem to think that the people they see everyday deserve whatever hardships befall them, but get all sympathetic to third-world countries or whatever? I’ve also heard more than one person say they don’t care about what happens to people but don’t like it when animals get hurt. So far you haven’t said anything like that; you’ve been basing everything on personal relationships, comparing loved pets to unknown strangers, for instance. But a lot of people seem to favor the ‘underdog’ unconditionally. My theory is that they don’t know the underdog as well, and so assume that those poor third-world countries aren’t as full of assholes as America. They can’t talk to the animals, so they assume the best about them too. Or maybe the Americans or the humans remind them of things they don’t like about themselves; they are familiar with all the bad things that category of being does, and don’t consider the possibility that the other category of beings might have their own set of good and bad behaviors. Or just not care as much as the other beings’ bad behaviors, as they are not as immediately connected to their own day to day life…
So, like, would you save a human stranger or an animal you didn’t know?
A human acquaintance for whom you have no particularly strong feelings, or Hobkin?
How about a stranger that you know is the friend/loved one of someone you know or love, vs. Hobkin?
A gorilla or a mouse?
Would you save Hobkin, or push the button that would prevent Atlanta from being nuked?
Would your answer be different if the city was Los Angeles or Hiroshima?
Hobkin is my responsibility as well as being someone I love. Would it help your understanding if I replaced “Hobkin” with “my (fictitious) baby”? I view infants and animals as being very similar with regard to having an obligation to protect. But the ones which I chose to protect, that I have taken up responsibility for, those take precedance. Hence I’d chose Hobkin over some random human baby. But I’d probably go back in to get the baby after I got Hobkin out.
They can’t talk to the animals, so they assume the best about them too.
I know that animals can be cruel and vindictive and petty. Clean, fast kills only happen when the prey has the potential to hurt the predator. But animals don’t know any better. Humans have the ability to choose their actions. They know it’s bad to be cruel and vicious, yet they so often are anyway.
I don’t assume that animals are all goodness and light. But they are innocents to be protected. They have precious few advocates; they cannot communicate their desires so humans typically assume they can do what they will with them; they cannot extricate themselves from unendurable circumstances. Therefore, I choose to err on the side of compassion.
I’d save a stranger over a beloved pet any day.
As for question 2 I’d save the loved one over 3 strangers any day.
Well for the first, I’m pretty Humanocentric in my beliefs. (Yeah that’s probably not a word, it is now) I eat animals, I wear leather, I don’t eat people or wear their skins. No I wouldn’t eat my dog or wear a cocker spaniel jacket, but I’d certainly be more concerned with the life of a human than the life of an animal. Why? Selfishnes I’d wager. I am after all a human.
As for the second one, well that’s an entirely different scenerio. We’re talking someone I love and care about vs three people I’ve never met. If the latter dies I’ll be I’m sure haunted and grief stricken, but if the former dies I get the added bonus of losing one of the most important things in my life.
I may be very fond of my dog, but I’ve buried pets and I’ve buried friends, the two are nowhere near the same in intensity.
Whereas I’m completely unhumanocentric in my beliefs. I don’t eat meat, don’t wear leather or fur, only shop cruelty free, blah blah blah. Got a web site which goes into some detail on why I believe what I do.
If you’re interested in actually reading the why, check it out. It’s a little long to reiterate on LJ:
Why I’m a proponent of Animal Welfare
Just to weigh in here, I’m completely “unhumanocentric” as well – my answers to all the questions I’ve seen in this thread so far have been the same as yours, Eugie – but I do wear leather and eat meat. Upon consideration, I wouldn’t have any moral issue with wearing human leather or eating human meat, though I would have at least an initial squick reaction. My sympathy for people (of any species) with whom I am not acquainted is fairly low, and I’m comfortable with that. I do make some effort to avoid contributing to the suffering of others – I purchase mainly range fed beef and such, and it’s not inconcievable that I would go vegetarian upon further research. I just hold strangers in lower esteem than most seem to (and, contrary-wise, I hold friends in higher esteem than some people seem to).
Upon consideration, I wouldn’t have any moral issue with wearing human leather or eating human meat
Y’know, I’d have zero qualms (aside from the aforementioned “squick” factor) with eating human meat or wearing human skin. But only in cases of consent.
Me: “Hey, Bob, do you like mind if I make you into a stew and a really hot pair of boots once you kick it?”
Bob: “Hey, yeah, that’s cool with me. What kinda boots?”
The whole communication breakdown with animals sorta precludes that. But I’m a whole lot happier with animal products that come from beasties who’ve had what I’d think would amount to good lives. Like free-range cattle and chickens, and ones raised as family members or pets on small farms, that sort of thing. If they live well, I don’t have any problems with their body bits being used. It’s the ones that don’t live well that bother me.
I just hold strangers in lower esteem than most seem to (and, contrary-wise, I hold friends in higher esteem than some people seem to).
I’m SO there with you. Still floors me that anyone would choose three strangers over a loved one. I mean, ack. Maybe that lackluster enthusiasm for one’s spouse explains some of the high divorce rates . . .
I posed your questions to my mother and we were discussing them and came to the same response (amazingly enough): we’d both choose a beloved pet over one stranger and we’d both choose a loved one over three strangers. In fact, my mother said “Even if the stranger were Christ Himself, I’d still choose my dog.” I’m going to ask my grandparents later what they think and I’ll report back with my answers later… (this is fun!)…
Hee! It sounds like you and your mother are so my kind of people!