Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blood Spatter

So you're sitting in front of your television or computer. A program comes on in which the host or narrator extols the virtues of a particular gun or archery set. You're told how accurate it is and about its ease of use. More importantly, it is underscored that this item is a mean, green, killing machine.

To prove all these points, your attention is directed to a person (man, woman or child) many yards away. The host raises the weapon and shoots the unsuspecting victim straight through the heart. Letting out a wild yell, the host runs over to the kill and celebrates this fine example of sporting prowess.

How do you think you might react to such a scene?

But wait!! Before rendering your opinion, we need to get something straight. We're not talking about a theatrical performance replete with gaudy special effects and fake blood. The person our hunter is standing over is dead -- genuinely dead as a doornail.

Okay, what's your reaction to this episode?

My guess is that the vast majority of people would be aghast and outraged. I'm more than certain that local law enforcement would launch an immediate murder investigation. And the blogosphere would be electric with people commenting on and debating about this heinous program.

Yet, programs of this nature can be found on almost any given day. The only difference is that the hapless victim is not human. No, the victim of this random execution is a deer, elk, moose, bear or any of a wide assortment of other animals. And few people raise as much as an eyebrow about it.

Here are two questions: 1) Why do humans cringe at the indiscriminate killing of our own kind but not the indiscriminate killing of other beings? 2) Why is the actual murder of human beings not shown on TV, while the actual murder of animals is?

6 comments:

  1. @#1: Probably because we're more closely related to other human beings than to other animals. Likewise, I think humans generally prefer to see plants getting indiscriminately killed, than to see non-human animals indiscriminately killed; and prefer to see humans of other races than their own indiscriminately killed, than to see humans of their own race indiscriminately killed.

    @#2: Difficulty of logistics. One can't get people to actually kill other people for television, since they would be arrested, imprisoned, and possibly electrocuted. But killing animals is generally not considered criminal, especially in the context of hunting.

    I don't generally watch programs in which either humans or animals are killed, so I genuinely don't know what my reaction would be.

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  2. probably because humans possess sympathy for other humans. animals seem to fight for the survival of their own self, and sometimes for their young. few animals will defend their mate, fewer will defend those of their own species who comprise their family groups (packs, prides, herds), and i do not know of an animal who would defend another animal simply because he/she was part of their own species. humans not only have sympathy for themselves, their mates, and their young, but also for the rest of their species and sometimes for those of other species. (but not always, as your example points out.)

    i can't stand "sport" hunting. hunting for food or for defense i can relate to. just last month my husband butchered a goat for meat. it was very sad, and we both apologized to the goat, because the goat did not do anything to "deserve" being eaten. however we simply do not have the resources to care for all of the animals that are born, and we need to eat. personally, i have killed chickens before, and helped butcher 2 steers, and it's the same with them, and it's never easy. if you eat meat then the blood of an animal is on your hands, because that animal was killed for you. that's why i try not to waste food, because if i do i'm essentially wasting life. at least that is how i see it.

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  3. I thought you were going to talk of video games, where the player actually kills a picture and splatters guts all over.

    As for why we see animals killed on TV, the reason is that they can't defend themselves. They can't sue for defamation.

    But also, animals kill each other brutally as well. They volunteer gruesome scenes for television.

    I suppose that some people justify the killing of animals with rationalizations that that's what stronger animals do to weaker ones.

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  4. Oh! humans are so twisted and troublesome!. And they call it 'sport' and usually the hunters has their bellies like the side of Jupiter, how 'sporty'. Huh.

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  5. Animals are seen as food, but then again TV doesn't typically show animals being slaughtered. Some countries like to watch humans be killed for sport. The beheading of American's sold like crazy in the middle east. Many people in the US watched Saddams hanging. To each their own. If I don't like a program I will watch something else. Astronomy and Geology interest me far more than watching things die... but alligators lurching out of the water and taking down a zebra is a bit impressive.

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  6. So you're sitting in front of your television and a wildlife program comes on in which the narrator extols the virtues of a particular predator. You're told how perfectly adapted this killing machine is.

    To prove all these points, the animal is shown stalking its prey with the sole calculating mind of the kill. It launches itself and sinks its teeth into the jugular vein of its prey, while its fellow hunters sinks their canines into the stomach and rump and other bital parts of the hapless prey , tearing it to pieces, while still alive.

    Now imagine the predator and the prey animals were both human - would that be acceptable?

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