Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Property

There's been an interesting discussion on the last two Larry Elder radio shows. It concerns what should happen to Michael Vick, who now has pleaded guilty in charges of gambling and being involved in illegal dog-fighting.

Mr. Elder asserts that although he finds Vick's actions "disgusting" and "reprehensible", he doesn't feel that what he did should be considered illegal. He points out that if one were to take an axe and chop up one's own television set, it would be a stupid act but wouldn't be illegal as the TV was the property of that individual.

This riled up a few of his listeners. Last Friday, one guy called and said that his dogs are not property, but members of his family. Larry asked him if somebody came in to his house and killed his dog, would he treat that the same way as if it were his wife or his child? The man responded "yes", which I could tell just floored Larry. Yesterday, Larry reported that he had been inundated with emails from listeners who felt the same way as the Friday caller did. Larry tried to explain that we eat cows and chickens so what makes dogs and cats so special? Larry mentioned that he owns a cat but does not see the cat as an equal to other members of his family.

I can only add that I was as close to my dog as I had ever been to any other human being so I can relate to these callers. I know that not everybody feels this way (certainly not Michael Vick) and some people truly view their pets as "property".

3 comments:

X-Lydia said...

So that was Larry Elder's introduction to "pet people"!

While some people do overly anthropomorphize their pets, dogs and cats do demonstrate certain levels of intelligence, individuality, and affection. That is one major reason why they came to be considered part of the household rather than part of the livestock, or the furniture, in the first place. Even if we draw definite legal and social lines between humans and other species, and I'm not saying we shouldn't, there is one big major difference between animals and other forms of property such as TV sets: Animals are alive and can experience pain. To inflict pain, or take a life, unnecessarily (i.e. not in the course of self-defense or saving another life) is cruelty to animals, and as such is unlawful in many places. Most states outlaw dogfighting, cockfighting, etc. for this reason.

I am not against meat, or even leather and fur; slaughtering animals for food is at least theoretically done in as painless a way as possible: steers are stunned first, game hunters strive for "one shot, one kill". However, as a libertarian, I am against initiating unnecessary violence.

And yes, I love my cat.

Robert E Wilson said...

So you're saying that destroying a TV set doesn't inflict pain? Personally, that would put me in agony. :)

x-lydia said...

LOL. I'd hate it if someone destroyed my TV set too, but the TV set wouldn't care.