Letter to the Editor re:Joseph Rose: Handling Roadkill
Date submitted: June 1, 2014
News outlet: The Oregonian
Based on the fact that we spend a lot of money on dog toys and a lot of time on cat memes, America tends to think of itself as a nation of animal lovers. And yet, there is a demonstrable hatred toward animals that cannot credibly be denied. It’s not necessarily a hot searing hatred but rather a cold, callous hatred; a hatred that manifests less often in acts of rage and more often in passively accepting the suffering and making light of the killing of other animals.
For example, in response to a reader’s question about the legal requirements that fall upon a driver who has struck and killed an animal, Oregonian columnist Joseph Rose singled out opossums and rats as particularly unworthy of our concern should they be killed and he concludes his brief reply by quoting a trite bumper sticker that read “Cats: The other white meat”.
The number of animals killed on American roadways is staggering. Light-hearted jokes about this fact send a message to others that these deaths are unimportant and not worth caring about or addressing. Such jokes help enforce a norm that says concern for animals is inappropriate and that their suffering can be laughed at. In such an atmosphere even those who do empathize are apt to remain silent.
Bodies on roadways and the jokes they illicit confirm that we are not really the nation of animal lovers that we pretend to be.