Thursday, July 24, 2008

Numb to Suffering

It is an unfortunate fact that we become inured.

The recent case of Esmin Elizabeth Green waiting for over 24 hours in an emergency room, falling to the floor, lying there unattended, dying, and then being kicked by a nurse to see whether she was alright is just a recent case in point, and it shouldn’t shock anyone.

When we are around suffering for days on end, it numbs us.

Add this trait to our tendency to come to perceive what is going on around us as normal, our tendency to protect those we see as part of our group, and the stage is set for institutionalized cruelty and institutions defending cruelty, and insiders believing that what they are doing is ok since it is the norm practiced by their peers.

This is why genuine third-party oversight is so critical to any endeavor that gives us power over others.

Nowhere do the results of these less than admirable tendencies combine to create macabre nightmarish circumstances than in animal enterprises. Undercover investigations show consistently cruel behavior by the people employed in these areas. Puppy mills, slaughterhouses, rodeos, vivisection labs, circuses, it seems that there is no animal enterprise that isn’t cruelty-filled.

There is something in our nature, as history richly demonstrates, that thrills to cruelty and suffering. Bull, dog, and cock fighting, baiting, hunting, endurance horse racing, we relish others’ suffering. Even in boxing matches, a bloodied face, a reeling blow to the head brings the screaming crowd to its feet.

Like the recent Eldorado Community Picnic in Eldorado, Wisconsin.
Hogs gone wild

50 team compete in Eldorado Picnic hog wrestling contest
By Sharon Roznik • The Reporter • July 20, 2008

ELDORADO — Blood-curdling squeals shattered the nerves of even die-hard hog wrestlers Saturday in Eldorado.

"The squealing is scary," said Susy Olson of Oshkosh, covered in muck after participating Saturday in the annual hog wrestling competition held during the Eldorado Lions and Firemen's Community Picnic.
Olson, a member of the "Ham Hocks" women's team, was holding onto glory as the "Hocks" took over first place for a brief but fleeting moment in the afternoon.

"God, right now all I want is a shower," she lamented as the sun baked brown blobs of mud on her arms, her eyelashes, the highlights in her hair.

Howls rose up from the mass of humanity crowded onto bleachers as the pink-eyed pigs slipped and slid their way through the collective hands of 50 teams vying, one after the other, for the coveted championship.

"They go to market a couple days later anyway," said Courtney Snider of Fond du Lac the livestock's last hurrah on earth.

Snider said she is back for her second year of taking on the porcine beasts because it's empowering, in it's own piggy way.

"Last year, I was wrestling with the police chief's daughter, who started to freak out and said she couldn't do it. She was screaming, 'It's the Silence of the Hogs!' and I told her to get a grip. But it's hard. It's the longest 60 seconds of your life in there," Snider said.

Assistant Fire Chief Gary Hass said the event, now in it's fourth year, keeps getting bigger. The goal is to catch a live pig and place it atop a padded barrel in 60 seconds or less.

This year's winning teams did the deed in 10 seconds or less.

"We split the proceeds with the Lions Club, and we use our share to purchase new equipment and update the old stuff," he said.

The dozens of hogs, borrowed from a local farmer, are kept cool and treated with the utmost respect, Hass said.

"It's kept very humane, the way it's done," he said.

Not buying that for a minute, the hogs huddled together drawing deep furrows in the muck with their snouts. They glared, squinted-eyed, each time a squealing comrade was herded away.

Firefighter Michael Leichtfuss, who manned the messy beasts, said the tricky part was sending each swine down the shoot and into the arena without the fuss.

A member of the "When Pigs Fly" team from Oshkosh, Quinn Peeren, was dressed all in pink, wearing silky wings and a pretty pink pig snout. On another day, she and her pals would be playing together on a softball team.

"It's fun but disgusting because your feet stick in the mud. We take off our wings but wear our snouts into the ring," she said.

Fond du Lac's "The White Boys" — Cory Duley, Adam Novak, Tye Oppermann and Travis Stobb — confirmed the gravity of the competition.

"It's an adrenaline rush," declared Duley.

The crowd roared as another pig slipped between the legs of hog wrestlers, now looking like Creatures from the Black Lagoon.

'This one's putting up a fight," the announcer boomed. "Don't let him get away."

I wonder how many of the people who attended this event were faculty and students of the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac Animal Science program? More than a few, I’ll wager. Want to bet how many farmers, vivisectors, slaughterhouse workers, cowboys, or puppy mill owners will write a letter to the Sheboygan paper criticizing the event?

When a community endorses and revels in cruelty, we shouldn't be suprised. It's in our nature. What should surprise us is our tendency to lie about it.

See too:


Anonymous said...

"Nowhere do the results of these less than admirable tendencies combine to create macabre nightmarish circumstances than in animal enterprises."

What about human torture in Irak?
What about ethnic cleansing in Kosovo? What about genocide in Darfur?

None of this qualifies?

Anonymous said...

I am a 3 time champion of the hog wrestling in Eldorado,and have been a vegetarian for 22 years! In no way are we hurting those pigs. I do not agree with raising pigs for food, but that is their purpose and wrestling them is doing no harm.