As soon as the news was out that the Suffolk County, New York, Legislature passed the new Animal Abuse Registry, it struck me as clear that we’re in for another wild ride. Commentary since its passage is instructive, as it shows clearly how a bad idea gains support and momentum at the start, enough to push it headlong over the edge and onto the slippery slope.
At Above The Law, Elie Mystal, who ironically only days before opined that anti-bullying laws were bad as teacups needed to learn how to fend for themselves, went all jello over the animal abuse registry.
Parents don’t want their kids hanging out at the sex offender’s house next door, and they really shouldn’t want their kids hanging out with the neighbor who mistreats and harms defenseless animals as well. People who prey on weak animals will soon prey on weak people.
It’s an exciting time to be a fan of animal rights. Awareness is high, and hopefully it won’t be long before all animal abusers can expect to suffer truly severe criminal penalties for their depraved actions.
Elie, Harvard undergrad and law, is a fan of animal rights. Granted, that takes it a step beyond being a lover of animals, though it’s unclear what rights he would accord iguanas (for example), but with his very well-regarded education, one would suspect he’s given some modicum of thought to his public assertions. And he just adores this Animal Abuse Registry.
Except his reasons, well, ignore the vast disconnect between reality and perception. Notice the part where he talks to “severe criminal penalties?” I would have guessed that they taught a bit of criminal law at Harvard, not that they would likely have use for it but at least so they could chat thoughtfully at cocktail parties. Apparently, I would be wrong.
Elie’s animal fanaticism lapsed into the simple-minded equation: Animal abuse is wrong, therefore anything that causes misery to animal abusers is good. And this is how bad law happens.
At Huffington Post, the big tent that provides insight to thought deep and shallow, took its turn explaining the Animal Abuse Registry.
The law was prompted by a number of animal abuse cases in recent months, including that of a Selden woman accused of forcing her children to watch her torture and kill kittens and dozens of dogs, then burying the pets in her backyard.
Horrible story. Unfortunately, no mention of criminal prosecution and sanction, suggesting to the reader that but for this Animal Abuse Registry, this woman was in line for Pet Owner of the Year. The post goes on to talk about this nefarious situation:
While some abuse is motivated purely by cruelty, Suffolk SPCA Chief Roy Gross said, some recent cases are linked to the poor economy.
For instance, an emaciated Doberman mix was recently found near death inside a foreclosed-on home, he said. And sometimes, pet rescuer Cathy Mulnard said, elderly people on fixed incomes must decide between eating, or feeding their pets.
“They don’t mean to be bad to the animal, but they get overwhelmed and don’t know how to ask for help. They may be innocent abusers,” said Mulnard, a founder and co-director of Second Chance Rescue, a Suffolk animal shelter that works closely with the SPCA.
Mulnard called the legislation “a godsend for the animals.”
Already, the sick animal abusers, the ones likely to become serial murderers according to the law’s supporters, give way to poor grandma, penniless and unable to care for her beloved pet. What about them, you wonder? Collateral damage in the war against animal abuse, just as the 22-year-old peeing against a tree is collateral damage in the war against sex offenders. Screw ‘em, at least for now.
The comments to the HuffPo and ATL posts are most telling. All the animal lovers are clapping their hands, praising the Lord, passing the buck. By and large, it’s no more cognizable to them than it is to Elie that being consigned to this registry comes after prosecution, after conviction, after sentence. These are the stages at which penalties are imposed, yet not even our Harvard law grad shows the slightest recognition that the registry comes after the punishment, a back end piling on after the criminal has paid his dues to society.
What will they have to say when instead of Fluffy found starved to death, they find grandma, who couldn’t afford to buy herself catfood to eat because her last $50 went to pay for the Animal Abuse Registry? Sure, there will be some hand-wringing about a law taken too far, a law enacted without thought of consequences, a law that is goes too far since it only applies after the sentence in a criminal case?
Wait. Only after a criminal sentence? You mean they were already sentenced for their crime? You mean they served their sentence, paid their dues, and only afterward do they get this dumped on them, on top of everything else? You mean grandma, who loves kitty cats, gets swept in with the woman who does crush videos? But, but, but…
Too late. You all loved this registry at the outset because you only saw Fluffy’s sad face. Too bad you didn’t bother to think at the time. And this is how we dig ourselves into holes from which we never seem able to emerge.