Being Dog’s Best Friend

When I was 21, I spent five months living in India. It was only the second foreign country I had ever been to, and the first was Australia, which didn’t really prepare me for what I was about to encounter. The conditions people existed in—both their own physical bodies and the environment around them—were horrific. People had all manner of rashes, diseases, infections, open wounds, and missing limbs. They lived six people to a single room or two people to a single patch of sidewalk. They were dirty and hungry and desperate. Every time I would walk down the street to run a simple errand or go somewhere, people would touch my light hair or my pale skin, or tug at my clothes and ask if I could help them. It was a shocking but crucial formative experience in my development as a compassionate human being and a critical thinker. Continue reading →

St. Ives

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were there going to St. Ives?

Once again, Mother Goose’s neutral treatment of a morally reprehensible practice, in this case polygamy, is disturbing. To her, an encounter with a Lothario merits only an arithmetic challenge, rather than a discussion about his sexist behavior. And let’s not forget that each of these anonymous women is schlepping a sack with 56 hapless animals stuffed into it. Disgusting.

Verdict: Let loose those 343 kittens so they can shred this rhyme with their adorable little claws. Continue reading →

Dapple-Gray

I had a little pony,
His name was Dapple-Gray,
I lent him to a lady,
To ride a mile away.
She whipped him, she slashed him,
She rode him through the mire;
I would not lend my pony now
For all the lady’s hire.

This is rather graphic animal abuse that is a little painful to read. I have a visceral reaction any time I read about someone mistreating an animal. I almost had a complete freak out a few weeks back listening to this story on This American Life until the host reminded the listeners it was a work for fiction. It still bothered me a little even after that reminder. Harm to animals honestly makes me want to go out and beat the perpetrator to a pulp with a baseball bad. Seriously. And I don’t think on the whole I’m a violent person but tormenting an animal for shits and giggles is beyond unacceptable to me. In this case, that feeling is mitigated by the knowledge that this is only a nursery rhyme and I supposed good that the narrator learned a lesson at the end. It would have been nicer still to see the “lady” get punished. Continue reading →