Posts Tagged ‘Animal cruelty’

“So I made up the whole crucifixion thing…sorry…but still, when you piss off this many weird cat ladies, it’s only a matter of time before they radicalize and come after you…”

For about a week now, I’ve been traveling with an automatic rifle in the front seat of my truck. At dawn and dusk, I find myself cruising the back roads of my neighborhood, searching, stalking, hunting. The beast doesn’t know I’m gunning for him…or maybe he does…maybe that’s why it’s so hard to find him. Or maybe I’m just no good at hunting tomcats.

imageI ought to be, that’s for sure. In the southern Appalachian mountains, far from stop lights, street lights, neon lights, any light beyond God’s great blanket of stars, shooting tomcats is somewhat of a tradition and it stretches back several generations, at least. My dad tells stories of growing up in the 1950s, riding around in the backs of pick up trucks, blasting stray tomcats to pieces with shotguns and .22 rifles. Pops is in his mid sixties now, a little worse for the wear, but still drilling stray male cats like it’s his fucking job.

It’s because it is and, in a way, always has been. In his youth, those heavily armed boys in trucks collected bounties for the cats they killed. Back in those days, see, bird hunting was the hot shit activity in these parts and the uniqueness of a man’s bird gun coupled with the prowess and intelligence of his dogs was a big part of how dudes back then measured off against one another. Of course, you had to have birds to shoot, so collectives of hunters went to great expense to propagate the existence of game birds, particularly quail and grouse, in the region. The thing about game birds is that they are ground nesters, the easiest pickens of all for a lazy assed tomcat, and stray cats were wreaking havoc on the baby birds. Hence the bounty on feral tomcats.

These days, Pops doesn’t bird hunt. We both have really awesome bird guns and the bird dog who lives with me is so damned smart we assign him chores, but no one shoots birds anymore. We do, however, still shoot feral tomcats. Pops just got one last week, as a matter of fact. He claims he nails a couple per month, and I don’t doubt it, but I don’t think these cats are as feral as they used to be, though their impact and behavior aren’t really affected by whether or not they have permanent homes. Free roaming male cats are nuisances…they always have been…and they always will be.

My folks have three barns and a little over a dozen horses. Having horses means hay and feed, which is to say my parents maintain a small army of female cats who help keep them from being overrun by rodents. They, and anyone who employs cats will tell you, to hire females because they stay close to home and hunt much more than the males do. At any given time, they employ between eight and twelve cats for this purpose, and employed is exactly what they are. Their cats have names, health plans, room and board. In exchange, they kill the fuck out of some rats. Part of their health plan, oddly enough, includes the armed protection of a retired Army Ranger when stray tomcats wander in and attack them.

Yes, that’s a real thing. And it’s fucking brutal.

A loose tomcat, feral or not, may range and, in fact, claim several square miles as its territory. Tomcat behaviors, on these prowls, more often than not include vicious attacks toward smaller cats. Throughout the spring, we’ve been waking in the night to the sounds of cat fighting outside. The first few times, it was easy enough to release the hounds into the night, to break up the cat fight and then return. Everyone goes back to sleep. Three months later, the dogs are staying in and I’m going out, at three a.m., in boxers and boots and eight rapid fire rounds of turkey shot, scanning a Surefire light for the trespassing brute but finding nothing.

Our cat, Bunny, a five pound calico female found in the street as a kitten, has enough bald spots and scratches and bites that she doesn’t really even want to be outside at night anymore. Instead of killing mice and rats and moles in her own yard, Bunny is spending her nights sleeping on her spot on the bookshelf, where it’s safe. And I don’t blame her. The fact is, I don’t really like being in the yard either. Besides brutalizing smaller cats, tomcats tend to engage in territorial marking, called spraying.

imageAlso a very real thing. And it’s really fucking nasty.

Ever wonder why your front porch suddenly smells like concentrated cat piss one morning? It could be a stray tomcat, homeless and hungry, but it could just as easily be someone’s “pet,” who has chosen a spot ON your home or IN your vehicle to point his furry little cat cock at and mist with urine, hot and sticky, and specifically for your personal enjoyment.

Think it’s not personal? I used to, till I got to know my ex’s cat. Patch was a big grey tomcat with a white spot and he fucking hated me. When he wasn’t out prowling, he was peeing on my stuff. He ruined MY couch by peeing on the headrest in MY spot…he ruined MY leather armchair…and he hit my laundry basked, repeatedly. Only my stuff. So one morning, after discovering a basket of clean and pissed laundry, I’d had enough. Patch got snatched, pitched and pinned in the bathtub. Then he got a dose of his own medicine. I don’t care what you say. That malicious bastard was hurtin’ for a squirtin’ and deserved every damned drop of it. Fair’s just fair and I’ll stoop to a cat’s level if I have to.

Which brings us back to my mountains in the present day, with my bleeding and battered little calico cat, my front porch reeking of piss, as does the inside of a vehicle after I forgot to put a window up one night…back to the rifle in the front seat of the same vehicle…back to the hunt at hand. A feral cat is my likely target, and I hope this is the case, because discovering that it is someone’s pet wouldn’t make much difference to me, other than the fact I’d be angry at one of my neighbors for being such an irresponsible pet owner as to allow their animal to become a nuisance. Make no mistake, this animal’s days are numbered.

I doubt, however, that I’ll post a picture on Facebook. Or maybe I will. It really depends. If it’s a headshot with an arrow like the one Kristen Lindsey posted, I totally will. What an awesome shot…Kristen, my hat’s off to you…to take with a bow and not document and subsequently share. Hunters kill things with sharp sticks all the time and the pictures get published in magazines, so what’s the difference? Killing game, such as a harmless little bunny rabbit, with an arrow is considered a feat of marksmanship and talent in the hunting community, but for Kristen, killing a loose tomcat by the same means is proving to be a costly error.

imageIf you haven’t read about it, last month (April 2015), Texas veterinarian Kristen Lindsey shot a tomcat in the head with her bow and arrow and then bragged about it on Facebook. It went viral, of course, and a backlash of social pressure cost Lindsay her job and prompted an official investigation. Thus far, the D.A. isn’t moving forward. Facebook is enraged and circulating petitions not only for her criminal prosecution, but for the revocation of her license to practice veterinary medicine. Seems a bit much, to me, especially over a creature whose behavior could easily be considered antisocial to begin with.

Sorry cat owners, but that tomcat who is so sweet and cuddly at home is very likely causing problems when you let him roam, even if you’ve had him neutered. Which really sort of means that YOU are actually the problem and that is this particular tomcat, later identified as Tiger, the pet of an “elderly couple,” was not so much the problem as were his owners. Maybe Kristen should have shot them in the head with arrows…or maybe not…but either way, they were long gone. As in moved. As in moved and left the cat. As in abandoned. According to their former pet sitter, “Amy,” who has created a page telling Tiger’s story and ultimately soliciting donations, Tiger’s owners made some sort of arrangement with a neighbor to care for Tiger so he could continue doing what was most important to him, roaming the countryside and sleeping all day in a “barn.” One day, Tiger disappeared. That is, he didn’t show up to eat food and sleep before leaving again.

I’m not kidding. Read it here.

After a week or so, Tiger’s disappearance was solved when he appeared on social media, speared on an arrow like a shish-kabob by a college educated chick with a compound bow and a hell of an eye. A lot of people are really mad about it. The Bryson, TX news station KBTX, who has been most closely covering the story, actually had to disable the comments on their online news articles due to “repeated death threats being made against the veterinarian.” Small protests of weird cat ladies have gathered outside the Austin County courthouse demanding “Justice for Tiger” and the identically named Facebook fan page has garnered in excess of 50,000 followers, all squealing and wallowing in self righteous anger, seeking to destroy a human life they actually seem to place less value on than a damned pissing old tomcat.image

I don’t give a shit if he did have a name. More power to him. Now his name is mud. How you like them apples, weird cat ladies?

Apparently, you don’t like ’em at all, because like the KBTX news website, Tiger’s Facebook fan page has to specifically ask users not to contribute death threats to the comment threads. That’s right, even more death threats made by even more people who are even more concerned by the rights of a tomcat to prowl freely than a working, tax paying, American citizen’s right to due process and more importantly, her right to protect private property from untagged and unleashed “domestic” animals known for engaging in destructive and antisocial behavior. Remember now, Tiger wasn’t killed in his own yard and I have a solid understanding of how wandering male cats treat the property of others. image

These crazy old bags of shit are even invoking the great and powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation in their hopes that someone else is something close to being just as sinfully stupid and silly as they are. Since the FBI is apparently maintaining statistics regarding animal cruelty, it only seems logical that they’ll be dispatching the Behavioral Analysis Unit from Quantico any moment…that Hotch and Penelope Garcia and Dr. Spencer Reid from TV’s Criminal Minds will be Leer jetting down to Texas to solve the great mystery of the impaled tomcat before framing the events with a relevant quotation like:

“A man has to work so hard so that something of his personality stays alive,” said Albert Einstein. “A tomcat has it so easy, he has only to spray and his presence is there for years on rainy days.”

Something tells me that the FBI doesn’t really give and shit and isn’t coming, but I certainly hope that all of Kristen Lindsey’s haters are holding their breath for it. After all, every time an ignorant piss-faced fart knocker chooses not to breathe, someone much more deserving of oxygen gets a chance to. And I like that idea. I also seem to like the idea of having a forum where I can rail against people like this…maybe a little too much…so before I go too far, I’ll just bring up one more teeny tiny eensie weensie little thing…

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“Dead Cat Protest…or…The Society of Heifers in Sweats?”

Of the 50,000+ people who support the persecution, prosecution and/or execution of Kristen Lindsey for “cruelly” killing a tomcat, how many of these same people choose to purchase poultry and meat from corporate American factory-farmed sources? From the looks of the asses and bellies of the protesters, I’d say a good portion of the McDonald’s customer base is represented here. Some of these folks are people who couldn’t give a shit less about the treatment of the chicken or cow that ultimately provides sustenance for their worthless little life and don’t hesitate to contribute a few bucks here and a few bucks there to a system which has actually institutionalized real-life animal cruelty.

Maybe ganging up on lone archers like Kristen Lindsey makes them feel less like the mush-filled douche bags that they are. Or maybe they actually think they’re doing a good thing.

It doesn’t really matter, in the end, unless you’re the human being whose life is being ruined by a bunch of stupid assed cat ladies. If you’re a roaming tomcat anywhere in rural America however, you should know that someone, somewhere, likely has your number and your days of terrorizing sweet little calicoes and squirting piss wherever you see fit will result in exactly the sort of “Justice” that old Tiger received.

Weird old cat ladies who befriend and “claim” wandering tomcats would also do well to remember this.

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When I was a boy, my father taught me a lot of things that I’ve come to find useful. He taught me to steal without getting caught. He taught me to lie and cheat and conspire. He taught me how to assault other people in public and get away with it. Coincidentally, he taught me that Yankee people are a vile, distrustful bunch, devoid entirely of morals. Go figure.

Now if you aren’t sure what a Yankee is, or are wondering if you are one and if I’m about to viciously insult you, I’ll explain. “Yankee” is a slang term southern Americans use when referring to northerners. It is a derogatory, dehumanizing term closely akin to the word “nigger” but generally is considered socially acceptable and is more commonly used. Ethnically it is applied to groups with European heritage who have assimilated entirely into the white culture. Sorry minorities, but white southerners have separate epithets for you…Yankee appears to be a white thing.

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“The Yankee states are the blue ones.”

It’s also a perspective thing, which means it depends upon who you ask. Yankees, to most folks, are people from the northeast. Northeast of what, you ask. Why, northeast of the person you are asking comes the answer. To a true southerner, anyone from two or three towns to the north is a Yankee. If you’re from New England or anywhere close to New York or Chicago, you are also a Yankee. Anyone west of Iowa is generally not a Yankee but if you live in south Florida and aren’t Cuban, then you probably are one. Virginia is considered somewhat Yankee-ish, but somehow West Virginia and Kentucky aren’t really. Does that make any sense? At all?

So, back to insulting Yankees, it wasn’t long before I started to see that northern, or Yankee, people behaved a little differently than what I was used to in the small southern Appalachian (pronounced Apple-atch-in) town where I grew up and presently reside. My early dealings with transplants from Ohio and New Jersey supported my father’s statement, but after my first couple of years in the military, I began to see things a little differently. The lack of morality he described was actually, as near as I could tell at least, simply a different interpretation of the term. They had intact moral systems, but they were nothing like what I was used to.

It’s a cultural difference that can only be described anecdotally. On a recent road trip, while the wife was inside a small post office, I was flipping through the rental car’s satellite radio and happened upon the Vivid Video porn radio station. Yep, porn is on the radio and I’d tuned into a call-in talk show. The topic was “cream pies.” Now if you don’t know, I’ll tell you. If you’re squeamish, skip to the next paragraph because this shit is nasty. The contextual meaning of “cream pie” on this show involved a man licking a strange man’s baby batter out of his own wife’s hoo ha. Yuck city.

All of the six callers I heard before my wife returned were either from Massachusetts or Ohio, with most being from the latter. Does that mean people from Ohio are disgusting and devoid of morals? Maybe. Ohio also has the highest rate of human sex trafficking in the country. It’s the place where your child is most likely to be abducted a block from home and wind up being pimped out in a truck stop two weeks later. All I’m suggesting here is that the sexual culture in that region of the country may be a little different than what most folks consider normal and when it turns bad, it also happens a little differently.

When I related my story at work, it was met with disgust and contempt, only later to be generalized into a series of epithetic jokes with each being more crass and foul than the last. In a fundamentalist Christian culture, such sexually deviant behavior is considered morally repugnant on every level and for a number of reasons, despite the fact the act itself is a consensual one, between adults and occurring behind closed doors. When a guy from Ohio hoovers up a puddle of some other dude’s man-mayonnaise, he calls a nationally syndicated radio show and frankly discusses it. But if a guy from the N.C. hills ever even had the inkling that he might enjoy such a thing, he’d be on his knees begging Jesus to forgive and redeem his sinful, broken black heart. One guy feels guilty, one doesn’t. Same mouthful of sour milk bubble gum. What gives?

Back in the forties, the U.S. instituted the draft and started shuffling soldiers off to fight the Nazis. The Nazis, as we all know, we’re bulldozing their way across Europe and North Africa looting, pillaging and trucking Jews away to labor and extermination camps. The American soldiers were appalled by what they saw. The big question here is: why weren’t the German soldiers appalled as well? After all, they were tasked with doing the work and saw it much closer than anyone else. Why did the Germans not experience overwhelming guilt and simply stop the butchering? It almost seems as though the Nazis had produced some sort of psychopathic super soldiers, incapable of feeling or remorse or love, like the Terminator but with less-cool catchphrases like “Seig Heil. ” That seems unlikely, considering that psychopathy is thought to be on the rise and presently only figures at an estimated 4% of the population. Note: feel free to replace “Nazis” with any other genocidal social group, including Colonial and/or slaveholding Americans…

It’s more likely that the Nazi propaganda machine created a culture and moral structure conducive to what it intended to accomplish and left the grunt work not to clinical psychopaths, but dedicated citizens and soldiers who believed what they were doing was best for their social group, or at least doing what they could to fit in. It’s hard to feel guilt or remorse when you don’t believe you have done anything wrong to begin with. This statement is key to the understanding of how morality functions both socially and neurologically.

Conventional morality means nothing to me. I do not experience the sensation of guilt. Or remorse. I understand, concisely, the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, but I possess no innate inclination to prefer one over the other, especially when it comes to the way I relate to others, nor am I pathologically predisposed toward one over the other. In a clinically sociopathic brain, morality deals with what is best for the self. For me, right and wrong only really applies to what is either beneficial or non beneficial for me.

Most sociopaths, the ones who will speak openly, report their lack of engagement with traditional morality as an evolutionary advantage. Non-socios see it as a harmful social disorder. Fundamental religion happens to frame it as a separation from God. When I was young, attending private Baptist school, I was taught that my conscience was akin to the Holy Spirit, and that it lived in all of us. The Spirit would pack it’s bags and hit the bricks, however, if we should ask it to do so. The Spirit never “convicted” me with feelings of guilt when I was naughty, no matter how naughty, and I began to wonder if I’d asked it to leave without even realizing.

Maybe I had, but I must have been tiny when it happened. Long time readers of my blog will remember an early post (click to read this post) which depicted a four-year old Jason pitching a kitten into a red hot wood stove. While I’ve never repeated that sort of behavior in any way, I’ve never felt any sort of guilt or emotional torment as a result. The Holy Spirit has never had anything to say to me about it, although my grandma sure as hell did. What I remember clearly are the two sequential ass bustings, separated by a period of time out in the corner. That and the smell of burnt cat. That sort of thing sticks with you.

Lacking a conscience and the capacity to feel guilt, in and of itself, doesn’t make a person a monster. The smoking cat may claim otherwise, but remember that the cat is in fact smoking, which severely biases the cat’s scientific opinion. The supposed lack of conscience, in any context, serves only as a behavioral enabler and to understand it’s true implications, the very concept of morality must be reframed. Right and wrong, it seems, are not necessarily what we think and are a hell of a lot more static than we’ve ever imagined.

Most religions teach that God, besides being the Creator, is also the “law giver,” as in the decider of what is moral and what is not. In other words, the idea of conventional morality, to a believer, is a universal constant defined by a higher power. The problem with this is that the idea of right vs. wrong varies between individual cultures and according to time period. Four hundred years ago, the moral way to deal with “witches” was to crush them with large stones. While this behavior was acceptable in 17th century Christianity, it is no longer considered justifiable. In a few centuries, the dividing line between right and wrong shifted drastically. These American centuries also saw the enslavement of the black man and the genocide of the native people, all justified in the minds of the offenders by the popularized form of morality present at the time. Sometimes, religion itself was used to explicitly justify such savage offenses. In the film Django Unchained, Tarantino depicts a slaver quoting Genesis 9:2, common piece of scripture used to normalize slavery as he uses a bullwhip against another human being for breaking eggs.image

Morality, the idea of right vs. wrong, is a concept that evolves within the culture in which it presents, and nothing more. It exists as a behavioral framework that provides a consistent standard wherein people may coexist peacefully with one another. It’s the reason our societies have come so far and is absolutely necessary for the survival of our species. Morality, at its root, serves as a tool for the perpetuation of the species and therefore, must evolve with the times in order to remain effective and beneficial to the larger group.

If I experienced guilt, it would not be a feeling that I had sinned against an instituted universal order. This paradigm is no more measurable than it is tangible when considering that standard moral programming is not a feature humans are born with. What I should have experienced after I burned the cat is a form of anxiety. Things like roasting live cats are considered deviant in terms of common behaviors exhibited by the majority in a culture. Committing such acts, for most people, results in a fear of being ostracized by their social group. Morality, rather than referring to the intangible and static concepts of right and wrong, actually reflects the societal standard of normal behavior. The feeling of guilt is not related to the Holy Spirit, but is in fact a sensation of emotional displeasure experienced after behaving in such a way as to risk the security of one’s social identity and status. It’s an important tool which exists to link humans together and help them relate peacefully and harmoniously with one another.

For me, it’s not that easy. There is no little voice in my head providing an evolutionary cue as to how I should behave with regards to others. In this aspect, the anti-sociopath crowd has a point; I, and others like me, seem to be at a disadvantage when it comes to naturally fitting in with the rest of society. We are presented, as such, with a choice. A person with an antisocial personality can choose to either ignore social convention and live at will or cognitively engage the system, mimicking the moralities imposed on others, and fit in the best way possible. Or, at a bare minimum, not be burned at the stake by a bunch of pissed off villagers. While fitting in takes considerable work and finesse, it is in the ability to make this conscious choice that the sociopath derives his own evolutionary advantage.

Unconstrained by any sort of neurological directive to conform, I am free to define my own personal code of morality as I see fit. On the one hand, were I a malevolent sort of a creature, a pathologically offending victim of intense childhood trauma, then you could see how lacking this behaviorally inhibiting brain function might cause a lot of problems. But on the other, that isn’t the case at all and not only am I completely free to choose my own right from wrong, I am able to do so objectively.

For example…

I’ve done my level best to convince a close friend of mine that eating commercially processed chicken, especially from fast food joints, is socially irresponsible and perpetuates cruelty. Chickens are not protected by cruelty laws, they are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, raised in tiny boxes, cooked and sold by people not being paid enough to live, the whole spiel (read more about this here). His answer:

“The Bible says nothing you eat can defile you, only what comes out of you can defile you. And I like me some chicken.”

You don’t really see the cost of being locked into an institutionalized system of morality until you observe said behavior being framed by such a ludicrous and contextually inappropriate justification. The pathological need to be a part of a certain social structure usually serves to inhibit harmful antisocial behavior, but in this case, the behavior’s lack of significance within the moral framework only serves to perpetuate it. The social culture of Evangelical Christianity, amongst others, not only fails to identify the social issue as a problem, it draws on the Genesis 1:28 claim of man’s dominion over the Earth as justification to say nothing.

In other words, if my friend and I eat factory farmed chicken for lunch, we should both, by all rights, feel guilty for doing so. But neither of us do. He doesn’t because it’s not a part of the social-moral paradigm to which he subscribes. The Christian belief system simply doesn’t choose to prosecute the perpetuation of cruel acts against defenseless creatures as a sin…so there is no reason for him to feel guilty. I don’t feel guilty either. Not that I would have actually eaten the chicken, but it wouldn’t matter to me if I did, not from an emotional standpoint anyway. I’m free, remember, to define my own terms of morality and in this case, humanity sits in the sociopath’s corner, as does the evolutionary advantage. Think I’m full of it? Change the example of two guys eating chicken to two German soldiers in World War II arguing about how ok it was to go along with the popular Nazi definition of morality in those days.

Whether it involves torturing chickens for profit or the mass murder of millions, the implications of how a person defines what is right and what is wrong can be a very serious business, even more so if a man decides to trust another man to do his moral reasoning for him. Religious institutions, for example, provide much of our moral framework. Despite their tax-free, non-profit status, these organizations still function as bureaucracies and by their very nature, create self perpetuating ideologies which may or may not be beneficial to the overall social group. This is why the Catholic Church has been behind so much mischief, historically speaking. An institution, like a clinical sociopath, is incapable of experiencing attacks of behaviorally inhibiting conscience.

Objective morality is the middle ground between a lack thereof and that which is externally imposed, both of which result in selfishly motivated and anti social patterns of behavior. No matter who you are, building an internal moral framework which is objective and based truly upon “Do Unto Others” principles takes hard work and a discerning eye for the greater social consequences of your behavior. All of it.

Something which seems so trivial as purchasing a chicken biscuit from Chik-Fil-A should by all means be deemed socially irresponsible…immoral. A four dollar decision enables the abuse of animals for the pure selfish sake of profit margins as well as the practice of dramatically under compensating employees. It’s only four dollars, but it’s still four dollars. I can see this objectively because, ironically, I don’t have morals. Or a conscience. Or a guilt complex. The same lack of neurologically forced social engagement that let John Gacy sleep soundly atop the corpses rotting in his crawl space enables me to point a bony finger in the face of popular convention and proclaim, in the words of ultra-galactic asshole James MacDonald,

“For shame!”

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Ain’t the world a funny place?

“Hey,” said my best friend through the phone, “I just wanted to let you know I had to kill the rooster today.”

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A Golden Polish Rooster

“How bad did he mess you up,” I chuckled, surprised it had taken so long. I’d given him the rooster, a Golden Polish, and some hens around a year ago, when he decided to take up the hobby. “He didn’t get your eyes did he?”

“That son of a bitch…” he went on, telling a story that anyone who has ever raised chickens can certainly relate to. It was one of those hell spawn roosters, a shining speckled brute with a spiked hair do and the attitude to match. He’d come to live in terror of his rooster, never naming the bastard for fear of offending it and provoking more of its vicious attacks. It was the kind of rooster that would intentionally roll eggs to the edge of the coop, then lie in wait around the corner, or scooch down on the roof just above. Anyone stupid enough to fall for this ploy deserved the raping that would no doubt ensue. You’d be surprised, by the way, just how big a chicken dick really is.

imageMark said that when the feathered demon jumped out from behind the wall, that it had that look in it’s eye and he didn’t want to know how big a rooster cock is anymore than you do. It had charged him several times, flailing, jumping, spurring, all at head height, all in his face. If you’ve ever been subject to a full size, full scale rooster attack, it’s damned scary…and some roosters don’t play. This was one of those roosters and it didn’t respond to anything but violence, and then, only a little. The basic tactic, with a rooster like that, is to stun it with a broom for long enough to get your eggs and get the hell out of the pen.

And it’s all about preemptive strikes. Don’t be afraid to plot out the best way to sneak up on him and hit him with a tennis racket because you better believe he’s thinking the same thoughts about you. Make no mistake, some roosters are flat out terrorists, controlling their flock and access to it by the most vicious means available. The only thing that stops them from crucifying and burning their enemies, which include anything not a hen, is their lack of opposable thumbs, or fingers…plus the fact that chickens are stupid. Well that’s three things. So sue me. The point is, fair’s fair and I’ve never been afraid to sneak up behind one and punt it like a football, at least, not after it tried to kill me. And rape me. And rob me.

They rob you, by the way, for the same reason they rape you. It’s all about power and control. And fear.

imageMy best friend hit his rooster in the head with a metal pipe. He said it wobbled a bit, something like Foghorn Leghorn after the dog hit him with a cast iron skillet, and then fell over, dead as a door nail. Or dead as a damned raping flogging rooster that got hit with a steel pipe. Take your pick.

Speaking of skillets, that’s where his rooster was headed when I talked to him. He’d already plucked it and singed off most of the little hairs. There’d been a good sized chicken under all those feathers and I informed him that it would be one of the best dinners he’d ever had. It comes pretty close to being a free meal (which tastes awesome on its own) when you kill a chicken like that but moreso, there is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing that tastes better than eating a thing that you deeply and truly hate.

Trust me.

When I was a kid, chickens were not enough for my parents. Nope, my folks took up registered Brahma cattle raising as a “hobby.” They said it built character for me and kept me out of trouble. They were half right…it’s hard to go cause trouble when you’re mired to your waist in mud and cow flops…as in physically impossible.

There was one cow out of the lot, the used cow that came from a commercial farm impregnated with a possessed halfwit calf, the evil cow, the one with that same look in her eye…her name was Snowflake. And that monster bitch hated me. After being chased, butted, pushed through barbed wire and electric fences, I came to hate her too. So when it came her time, when Mom and Pops finally hated her as much as I did, they loaded her in the trailer. Destination: butcher shop.

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A Brahma heifer with “that look.”

In retrospect, my parents probably thought it was cute as they watched me, from afar, saying my goodbyes to the condemned prisoner. I was saying my goodbyes, all right… I told that cow they were going to take her to a warehouse, perhaps the same warehouse where Lethal Weapon was filmed, and Gary Busey was going to hang her from a chain. They were going to drip water on her and shock her teats with a car battery. Then, Mel Gibson was going to choke her to death with his sweaty Mad Max crotch maneuver.

Take that evil cow…how do you like them apples?

About a week later, Snowflake returned to us. It was Saturday afternoon when two big beefy guys showed up in a refrigerated delivery truck. With two sets of hand trucks, they proceeded to re home the demon cow, forty paper wrapped one pound packages at a time, in our downstairs freezer. They’d moved about half a cow when they had to take a break so Pops and I could hit up Sears for an additional stand up freezer. You’d be surprised how much beef comes out of a cow.

You’d also be surprised how good she tasted. Granted, she was a grass fed animal and, besides tormenting me, she’d never worked a day in her life, so she’d be tasty either way. But as tender and marbled as her ghost was, it was my intense hatred for that animal as an individual that really made the little flavor explosions on my tongue go pop. The wide white scar on my right palm, still prominent three decades later, that came from being shoved and bullied through a barbed wire fence made her dead, seared and pecan encrusted flesh taste like…victory. Victory, with a side of Appalachia blood-feud vengeance.

Like I said, nothing tastes so spectacular as the thing that you hated when it was alive.

After Mark’s call, I found myself wishing his chicken dinner wasn’t a three hour drive away. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten a despised and persecuted piece of fowl, longer still since I’ve eaten any sort of fowl at all. And I miss it. But, once you’ve snatched an attacking rooster out of mid air and promptly twisted it’s head off before plucking, cooking and eating it, good old American factory farmed chickens just don’t cut it anymore.

Not that they ever really did, for that matter. If you’ve even driven past a commercial chicken operation, and the wind is right, you smell death and decay. Yep. That’s what those long, narrow, low topped buildings are and that smell is exactly what it smells like it is. Nothing that comes from that can taste good. Or be good.

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Battery hens…or…where your eggs come from

Most commercially raised chickens spend their entire lives in boxes large enough only to contain a motionless chicken. They’re usually genetically modified, growing rapidly and spending significant portions of their short lives in tightly confined pain. Overcrowding leads to rampant disease, which leads to massive doses of antibiotics which, well, leads to even worse disease. Chicken labeled “free range” isn’t much better. The chickens have about the same amount of space, just without the cages, so in addition to all the other existing problems, free range chickens can add fighting into the mix. Think I’m jiving you? Look it up.

In America, the birds we raise and eat enjoy few, if any, legal protections, aside from those that prohibit bloodsports like cockfighting. Legislation such as the Humane Slaughter Act does not cover fowl. So when I make a joke about executing a rooster, South American style, with a machete, I’m only half joking. The fact is, if I want, I can throw a dozen or so chickens in a barrel of boiling water and mass scald them to death because it’s cleaner than chopping off a live head and easier to pluck them while the blood drains. Besides, it’s totally legal.

If I desire to perform live vivisections and bizarre biological experiments on my chickens, that’s also, basically, legal. Not that I’ve ever done any of that, nor do I intend to, for that matter. I’ve just never been able to bring myself to hate an animal enough to torture one just for the sake of it…or even to make a quick buck…and that’s really what it boils down to. A baby chick, ordered through the mail, costs about a buck. By the time it’s big enough to eat, I’ve had four to six dollars in it. That doesn’t count the time it would take to pluck, butcher, clean and package it in fancy plastic wrapping. Or transport it to a grocery, either. I’ve had, said and done, about twice the amount of investment in one chicken as Tyson or Purdue, and I guaran-fucking-tee you they’re still clearing a substantial profit, even when you walk out of the market with a four dollar frozen pullet from the clearance shelf.

At the local farmers market, a medium-large bird, dressed and ready for the roasting pan, comes out to about twenty five bucks. A high price indeed, it’s one I’m not really willing to pay, nor is most of the rest of the country, especially not when several manufactured chickens can be procured for the same cost. A lot of the people who buy these chickens could care less if their dinner was tortured or abused or poisoned. A farm animal, to a large segment of America, is an abstract concept, something that can’t be related to because most Americans will never meet a cow or a chicken up close.

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Free Range chickens are worth the extra $$$.

For every car-jacking face-raping son of a bitch rooster, there are a dozen hens who like to have their feathers itched after eating grapes and worms from your fingers. Live creatures with unique personalities. People sort of realize this, I think, and marketers draw on classic and recognizable barnyard imagery when choosing advertising buzzwords like Farm Fresh, Cage Free, Free Range, take your pick. They don’t really mean anything, except that you’re going to pay a little more for basically the same bird.

Vegetarian-fed is my favorite marketing term. In order for egg shells to be sufficiently strong, chickens require additional calcium, usually in the form of bone meal or crushed oyster shells…not vegetarian. Chickens that are truly free ranged eat a diet pretty high in bugs and worms…also not vegetarian. The vegetarian-fed claims are basically a reaction (or an offhanded admission) to the revelation that commercial chickens are often fed other chickens, dead chickens, diseased chickens, leftover bits that can’t be sold. Efficiency at its best…

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One of my Cochin hens talking to the Vizsla

My chickens like cole slaw and macaroni and cheese. And lots of grapes. They like to sit in tiny nests for days at a time, trying to hatch eggs I’ve already snagged. They also like to run loose in the yard, digging holes, eating bugs and shitting on everything. And I mean everything. They’ll coo at you when they want something and they’ll come when you call them. Chicken keeping, at its essence, is a symbiotic relationship between two species where both sides bear a responsibility to the other as well as an opportunity to benefit from the experience.

When a big rooster violates this relationship by trying to blind you with his spurs, it’s entirely appropriate to baptize his ass into glory with the head ringing end of a garden spade. And then you eat the old hateful thing for dinner. What happens, though, when man starts to systematically violate the animal, to treat it as though it’s hated, even when all the animal has ever done is hold up its end of the deal? One man gets paid and the other gets fed…and the chicken gets fucked…that’s what happens. And I think that’s sad.

So, as a personal rule, I choose to only eat chickens who have been righteously hated and killed in self defense. That, unfortunately, means I don’t get to eat chicken often, not ever, really, and that’s ok. It’s a small price to not have to pay to not be complicit in what amounts to legalized systematic abuse, hateful treatment for the sake of profit instead of hate itself.

It’s ok to hate a rooster when it hates you first just like it’s ok to knock it’s head off when it tries to kill you. Like I said, the hatred, a natural phenomenon of the man-bird relationship paradigm, simply makes a Southern-style home fried chicken dinner that much more spectacular. Or anything else, for that matter.

Three years ago, when my fiancé and I were vacationing at the Outer Banks, we were suddenly attacked by a massive swarm of black biting flies. We were outnumbered, overwhelmed, panicking from one painful attack after another, and running like hell for the car. Once inside, safe from the nasty little bastards, our breathing slowed and our heart rates approached normal. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my bicep as one bit into me. Too busy feasting upon my blood to notice he was being snatched by his little wing, he found himself staring into my eyes, legs wiggling and wings buzzing, it was his turn to panic. Fair is fair, and I don’t care what you say, that parasitic little beast knew it.

Wanna know how that hateful little blood sucking black fly tasted? Just like it sounds…delicious.

 

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When I was three years old, I tried to burn a kitten alive in a red hot wood stove. Maybe I was four…it doesn’t matter…I remember it quite clearly though. My grandmother had stirred the fire up and then stepped out the back door to fetch a load of firewood. With the stove door ajar, oxygen had poured in and the coals were glowing bright orange. Now I can’t say why I did it…I have no idea…but I laid hands on that Siamese kitten and shuffled over to that wood stove and chunked her in like a stick of kindling.

Now apparently, there is an art to properly incinerating a small animal and as a small child, of course, I didn’t understand this. Actually getting the animal into the fire was the hard part and although I was successful initially, I completely dropped the ball when it came to closing the door and finishing the job. Although a simple step in the process, it is key and this is why:

If the door is not closed, the cat escapes and cats escape danger like no other creature on this planet. That kitten launched out of that stove like a Roman candle, a smoking sparking streak of singed fur and utter terror, straight across my shoulder, bounced off the wall and disappeared behind the sofa. I remember small wisps of smoke trailing up until she stopped simmering.

Besides being the only way to keep the cat in the fire, closing the door also removes trace evidence. Even a little boy can embrace the Deny Everything principle. Who knows…the cat could have just left. But I didn’t close the door, remember?

My grandma stepped back in after a few moments and, well, she didn’t have to be Columbo to smell burnt cat all over the living room. I was busted. There was no denying it. No getting away. The proverbial stove door closed on me as she cornered me and beat my little ass,

My little ass was still hurting a half hour later when she snatched me up and beat it again. I had no idea that heaving a kitten longways into a bed of hot coals would be such a big deal.

Maybe if I had I would have closed the door.

I never got around to perfecting the art of live cat cremation, not yet at least, but I have closed a stove door or two in my day…that part I did get down.

It’s important, you know, for a guy like me. Evidence is never a good thing, after all, unless you’re a special federal prosecutor or a theoretical physicist and last time I checked, I am neither.

What I am, is a high functioning, primarily non-violent sociopath. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is what I call it, for lack of a better way to place myself somewhere on the human behavioral spectrum and to avoid using words like sociopath or psychopath.

I won’t refer to the terminology again…because I don’t like any of it and it isn’t the truth. I don’t think of myself in psychological terms, but as an individual, just like everyone else.

Just like everyone else…ha.

I don’t process fear the way you do. An abnormal functioning in my brain limits my fear response significantly and virtually obscures any level of your fear from my perspective. For example, it didn’t occur to me that the cat was in fear or pain when I shoved it into the fire, I was only curious about what would happen. It’s not willful disregard of the cats suffering-the suffering never exists in the thought process in the first place. And as for my fear…if I gave a shit about getting caught for trying to barbecue my grandmother’s cat in her living room I’d have closed the fucking stove door.

The reason I don’t process the fear you may feel is because I lack empathy and it’s the same reason I don’t easily pick up on any other emotions you happen to be expressing. It’s not that I don’t care how you feel, I just don’t notice.

I’m not a bad guy, I promise. I have close friends and family, living pets and the best fiancé ever. I have to work for these things, mind you, and success at interpersonal relationships is a constant struggle of trial and error as I try to make my life work around and amongst other people.

It’s hard, after all, for a selfish prick like me to leggo half his eggo to anyone.
Flame broiling a kitty like a Whopper is much friendlier business but fortunately for my cat, my grandma nipped that little problem in the bud with a piece of hickory kindling. Twice.

I did threaten to toss my cat in the wood stove last week. She just gave me the “I-double-dare-you-to-try-motherfucker-look” and pretended to cover the cat sausage she just fired out in the floor next to the litter box with some sort of pretend cat sand.

Maybe I deserve a cat like Bunny.