A man set himself on fire Wednesday, in Portland, outside of a fur store. Witnesses heard him screaming, “There are animals dying! Animals dying!” He later died from his burns. The great ugly sea of anonymous internet commenters and other “real Americans” are enjoying the opportunity for jokes, none of which I will repeat here.
I’m just kind of amazed by this. Clearly, anyone prepared to immolate themselves has a degree of mental instability that none of us can really understand. Then again, living happily in a society that has elevated cruelty to such mind-numblingly euphemized, hyper-industrialized efficiency, requires an awful lot of willful ignorance—maybe we should all be a little more unhinged. (Warning, those links are pretty intense, but hey, this stuff is happening in our own backyards…)
George Bernard Shaw summed up the cognitive dissonance inherent in the way we treat animals: “While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”