|"circus" by fsse8info is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0|
Yesterday, February 29th, in the county that I grew up in, something pretty pathetic but sadly typical took place. According to this report, Westchester County 'took a stand against animal cruelty' by banning so-called wild animal performances.
Animal cruelty? That's bad, of course. Why would I be against banning that?
Well, I have these crazy thoughts that perhaps there should be evidence of something occurring before it qualifies as something that should be prohibited from the public, and banning something simply because you don't like it is a form of tyranny. In fact, there are many vegans who would likely argue that the the meat industry is vastly more 'cruel' than anything taking place in a circus, yet presumably, and perhaps hopefully, a ban on animal products wouldn't take place.
However, thanks to these two child-minded individuals, County Parks Commissioner Kathy O’Connor and Westchester County Executive George Latimer, all wild animal performances are banned in the county with nary a bit of evidence to support it.
According to the report, these officials offered the following compelling reasons to enact the ban that mainly targets the Hanneford Circus which performed at the County Center recently:
“They all go up on pedestals and they, one-by-one, come down,”—Kathy O’Connor.
“To subject those animals to whatever efforts are needed to control them in this kind of environment, for them to perform is not worth the entertainment value that people get from it”—George Latimer
Hmm, so the tigers go up on pedastals—but WAIT, and then they come down too. Furthermore, Latimer's extensive investigation of this circus has yielded such specific information that includes some effort is needed to control the tigers and whatever that is, it's not worth it.
I mean, Latimer, don't you care what it is? Don't these humans whose living you are harming deserve at least a modicum of consideration? Why should your useless emotional opinion that the methods used to train the animals (the methods that you have no idea what the hell they are) are not worth it deserve more consideration? Do these officials need to be reminded that they are not 'kings' or 'supreme leaders'?
I myself also have no idea if these tigers are being whipped behind these scenes or if their handlers are using highly effective and completely harmless (actually, it is beneficial and enriching for captive animals) operant conditioning training methods, therefore I have no opinion on this circus. There are also potentially other circuses and exhibitors that used trained animals that will be automatically denied by Westchester County for no apparent reason.
How is this right? How can these officials just decide for everyone else that they don't need to see performing animals and just ban them because they don't like it? I have no idea why when it comes to exotic animals, legislators often just regulate people however they feel like it, their rights be damned, as though exotic pet owners and handlers should feel lucky they ever had their rights to begin with.