Ok, today is a Sunday, and I don't normally post articles on a Sunday because I post articles from Monday to Thursday and take the rest of the week off to recover! But this past day or so I have seen a few things that really upset me and quite frankly, leave me appalled and utterly disgusted. So I did what I always do about things that have that effect on me - I write about them. And today, for once, it isn't about gay rights, or about religion - it is nevertheless about something else which should by its very nature, touch both of these.
You see, I believe how people view human rights can be determined by how they treat animals - and if you consider all the animals killed and injured deliberately by fireworks every year, aside from those who were injured directly or indirectly, or because they were terrified by the noise - the case doesn't look too good for either.
You may say that people love animals, and for the most part I would agree with you - but let's take a look at the issue of cruelty to animals, and no - I'm not referring to the run-of-the-mill stuff like forgetting to feed the dog once in a while, or carelessly leaving a pet locked in a hot car with the windows closed - I'm talking about real, deliberate cruelty here. Like fireworks for example - and what some people get up to with them.
A local SPCA in Benoni reported that between 80 and 90 dogs and 10 cats, were brought to their kennels this past year (2009). Two dogs were being treated for injuries which resulted from panic caused by fireworks, after trying to escape under fencing. one of the poor creatures got caught in a fence and had ripped the skin off his back! But the truly sickening truth lies in the DELIBERATE cruelty that manifests through the easy availability of fireworks.
Here we have a dog, a little miniature doberman burned to death when some humanitarian, presumably the master, blew him up with fireworks in his own kennel. The partly burned kennel with the badly disfigured little body inside were found dumped on a vacant piece of land behind a Pretoria shopping center by a child riding his quad bike last Friday.
Then we have the creative individual who thought it would be interesting to find out what would happen if they inserted a firecracker in the anus of a cat. The poor animal, with some of its hind quarters missing, dragged itself home in agony, trailing blood all the way, to die. Well that was a fine Christmas morning find for the owner - and a wake-up call for some.
Every year there are reports of fireworks injuries suffered by both humans and animals, and every year, the same appeal to put an end to this senseless slaughter and mayhem - and every year nothing changes.
Enough is enough!
I want it to be very clear that anyone who can do this sort of thing to an animal - is also perfectly capable of doing the same thing to a person. In civilized countries, we tend to put people like that in jail, and we even reward their "creativity" with a fitting last gasp in a gas-chamber. Such people are clearly disturbed and more dangerous to society than we seem to realize. Case studies reveal that many serial killers worked their way up from offing family pets and neighborhood animals to people. Are we breeding a society which is encouraging kids to experiment with firecrackers and animals, just to see what will happen?
Some nice folks, suitably outraged by the carnage and cruelty, have pointed out in their own good-natured way - that their deeds do not go unseen - and neither will they go unpunished. I gather they are referring to the all-seeing eye of God and the punishment that awaits such individuals in the after life. Scaring them with tales of the bogey man just doesn't do it for me - they need to answer for their actions in the here and now, where punishment is certain. I think the people who do things like this need to actually face punishment for their crimes - and more than just a hefty fine, or a state-paid holiday in a loony-bin or child welfare center - a real punishment which will make an example of them to deter others from following in their footsteps - and deter them from doing the same thing twice.
Yes, it must be said that the issue of fireworks alone is not an independent issue - it is part of a bigger issue - that of cruelty to animals and a failure to appreciate the value of life that is all too common right across SA society today.
We see it in school stabbings, family shootings, hijackings, armed robbery and the rampant crime problem. We see it in the disregard for human rights, in the campaigning of some groups to remove the equality and human rights of other groups. We see it in the state of our roads, education system, social structures and buildings - decay.
Many South Africans just don't value human life or appreciate the suffering they cause - and then those who actually DO expect these reprobates to still care about the well-being of animals - when all they care about is themselves?
Remember a few years back, some fool here in SA dragged a dog chained to his car's back bumper for some distance? (A little later a car-jacker dragged his human victim behind his own car to a state close to death.) Rhino and elephant are periodically in danger of extinction as poachers massacre them for ivory. Who can forget the "canned lion" hunting at SA game farms made infamous on Carte Blanche? What about the "pastor" in the papers the other day for shooting a neighbour's dog just for being in his front yard? (Or the "pastor" in Cape Town who took his young sons around to shoot trick-or-treating children in the face with paint-ball guns?) What about the gent who drove his car into a stranger's front yard in his enthusiasm to run over the dog within? And then there is that excuse for a "game ranger" who shot eight hunting dogs "execution style" on the back of a pick-up truck because their owner - a suspected poacher, had been apprehended by a local farmer. Hands up, those who think he should have shot the poacher instead? After all, he's the one that knew what he was doing, not the dogs.
I saw an article by an animal rights group a few months ago, that works in the townships that told where street kids don't have money for fireworks, they pour gasoline on donkeys and other animals and set them alight for "fun", watching the blazing animals running through the streets. People should bear this kind of cruelty in mind when drafting laws on fireworks to include all these contingencies.
Animals are our friends - is this how we treat friends?
Let's not forget the savage and brutal killing of the bull at that so-called "traditional" ceremony held a week ago for some local "monarch" whose pride outweighed common sense, compassion and reason. And lest we forget, our lovely government wants to stain the fields of all the new World Cup stadiums red with the blood of ritual slaughter also. Yes, "tradition" and "culture" are an excuse for all kinds of rubbish, insanity and blatant cruelty these days.
Animal shelters are forever on the verge of bankruptcy and are overrun with unwanted or lost animals - and don't forget that they do a fair amount of killing themselves - purely for economic reasons of course, as who can afford to feed and care for so many? I was horrified to see some tasteless TV ads glamorizing the giving of pets this past "festive season" - don't they know better by now? In a month or so, many of those cute fluffy novelty gifts will end up "lost" "missing" or "returned" at the local animal shelter. All this is more than enough without adding the terrified, lost, injured and maimed animals resulting from the careless abuse of explosives to the weight of their burden, isn't it?
I feel so proud to be human, don't you?
What can YOU do to change things? Well, you can take an interest, to begin with. How about boycotting all the shops that sell them for a start? Join this group on Facebook: "BAN FIREWORKS IN SOUTH AFRICA!" and offer your help in getting fireworks banned in SA. Add the names of businesses that sell or import fireworks for public use to the boycott list in the discussion forum. Add your voice to the call to ban fireworks by spreading the news, signing petitions and getting others to support this cause.
Children play with fireworks, they buy them over the counter at their corner cafe's. We all know children like to experiment and play with things till the wheels fall off, or try new things just to see what will happen. A small firework the size of a point 22 caliber bullet contains about the same amount of gunpowder as the bullet - and therefore the same amount of lethal force. Kids have lost fingers, eyes and hands through playing with fireworks - who can forget the kid who thought putting a lit firecracker in his friend's trouser pocket would be funny? The child had his genitals blown off - very funny indeed.
Would you let your kid play with a bullet or a gun? With or without supervision? No, maybe not - but you are allowing them to play with explosives that could cost them an eye, a finger or their own life - or the life of a friend, with two legs or four.
You know what to do, you know the answer to this problem:
Ban fireworks - because it is the right thing to do.
Logo courtesy of the Voice For The Voiceless Campaign