Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heaven and Hell (Or, when does humor step over the line?)

Each day, when coming online, I first google Canada geese "news."
Each day, numerous articles or columns come up from all over the country and sometimes, the world.  Most, but not all of these, I post to our Facebook page on Canada geese:
With very few exceptions, the articles (about 95% of them) decry the "nuisance" and "pests" the geese have become and how we have now declared "war" on the species.
Usually, the articles are about various harassment techniques from using Border Collies to chase geese away or the increasingly popular addling (destroying) geese's' eggs. 
In order to justify these "necessary" measures, the articles often succumb to numerous misstatements, exaggerations and near-hysteria. 
The geese are accused of everything from poisoning waters and attacking children to taking down airliners.
One almost envisions the geese donning masks and waving hatchets as they hijack planes and kidnap toddlers.
But, sometimes our "war" on geese takes on actual criminal elements, such as this piece out of Cincinnati yesterday describes: 
In this case, a motorist deliberately ran over a Canada goose twice, leaving nothing but feathers in its wake.
Fortunately, the police are pursuing and investigating this incident, though it is quite possible that the perpetrator misguidedly thought he was actually doing the world some kind of favor.  -- i.e.  "Getting rid of" what is sometimes perceived and even called, our country's "Public Enemy No 1."
"Public Enemy No 1?" you ask?
Surely I jest or exaggerate!
Well, not really.
A few days ago, this column ran in the Moorestown Patch: 
The author actually refers to Canada geese as,  "Public Enemy No 1."
Supposedly, the intention of this piece was to be "humorous."
But, other things in the column such as implying that the geese "have no purpose" and asking how other towns "got rid of those pesky waddlers" leave little doubt (to me) regarding the author's strange and negative feelings about geese.
I responded both sarcastically and angrily to this slop, suggesting initially that the author "get (psychological) help."
Other posters attacked me for lacking a sense of humor.
But, here is the question:
When does so-called "humor" step over the line?
Perhaps were the geese not already under attack all over the country and perhaps were they not already victims of ever expanding incidents of human cruelty, one could laugh at them being described as "pesky waddlers" who shun their beaks at fake crocodiles or marauding Border Collies.
But, in today's climate, all such piece truly does, (in my view),  is paint the geese into an ever increasing corner of human derision, disdain, debasement and ultimate persecution.
Another animal advocate chided me for my negative response to the column.  In her view, the writer did not have malicious intent.
But, I don't know.
Even when reading the column a second and third time, my reaction was still disgust.
We all like to think we have a sense of humor and can appreciate good comedy.
I like to think, I can "read between the lines" of others' intentions.
But, all I could think when reading the column in question was that the writer harbored an irrational hostility against geese way out of proportion to even the complaints others might have against the animals.  I felt that perhaps she was projecting frustrations with other issues in life upon the geese.   (That is why, in fact, I initially suggested she "get help.")
To refer to the geese as "Public Enemy No 1" seems to dismiss and ignore all the truly serious threats to human safety and welfare, from crimes to terrorism to slow destruction of the planet itself.
Why would any normal person choose to focus or project all the wrongs of the world on Canada geese?
Anyway, I am obviously trying to work out a personal dilemma for myself. Was I wrong to attack a piece written in so-called "humor?"   According to another goose advocate, I was.
But, I truly don't know.  I would appreciate some feedback from others on this question.
Here is the column again:
All I know is that daily, the geese are being scapegoated and painted into a smaller and smaller corner of human acceptance and tolerance.
Columns or articles like the one in question, do not help.
Sometimes I think that when our time as humans is finished, we can realize, that if we did not ultimately succeed in creating a heaven for humans on this planet, we did succeed in creating a hell for animals.   -- PCA

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