Yesterday I blogged about the arrest of two teenage girls for burning a kitten, the public outrage surrounding this, and how society should treat these girls and these kinds of crimes. Today I want to briefly address another issue raised by this unpleasant story. I say "briefly address," not because I think this issue does not merit more lengthy discussion, but because I do not have very much to say about it at present yet, nevertheless, believe that I need to say something.
Last August a 16-year-old boy named Jose Ayala Ramirez was shot to death in the same apartment complex where the kitten was burned and the girls were arrested, and there was scarcely any mention of it in the press and virtually no public outcry over his death. Many residents of the complex resent this. "People are angry and it was wrong, but it bothers me that they're doing so much for the cats and when a person gets killed they just let it pass. It makes me angry that they're doing more for animals than for us," said one of the residents.
I can try to rationalize this disparity by arguing, as many have, that the murder was believed to be "gang-related" and that the boy who was killed may in some manner have caused what happened to him in a way that the completely innocent kitten could not have. I can further argue that even if a human life is worth more than a kitten's, there is something more disturbingly egregious about sadistically torturing a kitten by setting it on fire and laughing about it than there is about coldly shooting a young man in the head.
But when I look beneath these surface arguments into the depths of my soul, I see something that I do not like very much. I see that I actually care more about that kitten than I do about that young man and his grieving family and friends, and, ultimately, more about cats and animals in general than I do about a good many human beings. This is not how it should be, but this is how it is, and I do not quite know what to do about it.
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