Woof, woof! Clang, clang!
Many people believe that we will be judged -- indeed, that we should be judged -- by how we treat the less fortunate. Appalling, isn't it?
You'd think that we will -- and should -- be judged by how we treat everyone. That those of "lesser" class, say, should be treated in the same way we treat those of "greater" class. I appreciate and challenge everybody. No sucking up, no free passes, and no condescension towards whoever qualifies as this month's "less fortunate."
And so I have an issue with the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which, following its founding in Montreal in 1869, was adamant in seeking to protect "dumb beasts." The idea being that because animals were dumb, they deserved more, rather than because all living creatures should be treated with some kindness.
Hey, I practice what I preach: when faced with a particular kind of crawly black slimy thing with multiple legs, my murderous foot stomp is mercifully quick and thoroughly final. I do not cause long minutes of suffering.
But it seems that it was almost normal in the Canada of the 1800s for some angry guy to slowly beat his under-performing lame horse to death in the middle of the road.
My impression is conveyed by the 1970 book "For Those Who Cannot Speak," a history of the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,
written by Beatrice Johnston.
One of the first whites to publicly condemn animal cruelty was the Duke of Richmond,
governor general of Upper Canada from 1818 to '19. "It has been reported to the Commander of the Forces that Soldiers in this Garrison [of Quebec] have been in the habit of Tying Canisters etc. etc. to Dogs Tails; The Duke of Richmond is unwilling to believe this to be the case as He conceives it impossible that Courage and Cruelty can be found united in the same Person. The Cruelty of Tricks of this sort may have escaped the minds of Boys
in the Service, but the Danger of Men Women and Children being Bit by Dogs Driven mad by such Unmanly and Disgraceful Practices appears to His Grace so imminent that He feels it necessary to call upon Officers Commanding Corps and Stations to take effectual steps for putting an immediate stop to this apparently trifling but really serious mischief -- any Soldier who may be Guilty of it after this Order is to be brought to Trial and severely Punished."
And this coda: "The Duke of Richmond cannot dismiss this subject without remarking that He considers Cruelty to Animals particularly unbecoming in a Soldier inasmuch as Humanity is inseparable from True Honor."
The Duke died soon after penning that order, by the by. Slowly, and in great pain. He was bitten by a rabid fox.