What the Puppy-Throwing Tells Us About Americans

A scene from Equilibrium.

It does not tell us that soldiers are pigs. We know that already.

What it tells us is that Americans are moved by irrationality. After Abu Ghraib, did we hear such outrage? Yes. What happened at Abu Ghraib? Human beings were tortured. Do they deserve equal press time? Both of these events are beneath contempt, but one of them is much worse than the other. Do you know which one is? I’ll give you a hint—it’s the one that has nothing to do with a puppy.

Another scene from Equilibrium.
Guess which one gets people in the audience to cry.
Is it the one with dozens of people
slaughtered on-camera, or the one where
the adorable puppy is almost shot?
P.S. He shoots them because they’re
going to kill the dog.

In Iraq, about four thousand American soldiers have died, compared to more than a million Iraqi citizens who have been killed. But we don’t hear those numbers, we hear the American soldier statistics. Bottom line: we Americans and our media are more upset by this puppy than we are about the deaths of our soldiers, and we don’t even blink at the plight of the Iraqi people. Our fellow human beings can’t compare to something that’s cute and cuddly and non-sapient. The most similar military scandal recently, the Okinawa rape case, got about as much coverage as this has gotten so far. Think about that for a moment.

American Ethics Calculator, circa 2008:

More than a million dead Iraqi civilians < thousands of dead American troops < dead puppy on YouTube.

It's okay because Iraqi citizens aren't people. (But dogs are.)

There is something wrong with this.

I’m not saying that it’s not bad, I’m just saying that, on the scale of things, we have much bigger fish to fry. And when we fry those fish, we shouldn’t hear outrage from fish-lovers that compares to the genocide in Darfur.

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