Skip to comments.Animal Lovers [Classic Mark Steyn]
Posted on 06/02/2004 8:00:12 PM PDT by NovemberCharlie
IN January, Diane Alexis Whipple, a good-looking, tanned lacrosse coach, was killed in the hallway of her San Francisco apartment house when her neighbours' two Presa Canario dogs lunged at her and tore out her throat. Since then, everything has proceeded like a TV movie whose rewrite guys can't quite get a handle on the theme.
First, Miss Whipple's partner, Sharon Smith, filed a wrongful-death suit, a privilege California law somewhat surprisingly reserves only for spouses - i. e., heterosexuals. Miss Smith is very attractive, as is almost everyone involved in this case; not least the chief prosecutor, a boyishly charming gay Jesuit, and his deputy, a former Victoria's Secret lingerie model.
On the other hand, you'd be hard put to come up with two uglier defendants - not the dogs but their owners, attorneys Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel. Their first response to the death of their neighbour was to adopt the white supremacist who'd sold them the pooches. Cornfed Schneider is a member of the Aryan Brotherhood and currently serving life without parole at the Pelican Bay corrections facility, California's toughest jail but not so rigorous that he and a cellmate weren't able to cook up a scheme to breed killer dogs to sell to the Mexican mafia as guards for their methadone labs.
Anyway, three days after Miss Whipple was killed, Knoller and Noel decided to adopt Cornfed as their son, telling reporters that while he may be a convicted thief and attempted murderer 'at least he's not a Republican'. Shortly after, Prison Sergeant Joe Akin reported coming across a letter from Knoller and Noel to their adopted son detailing 'sexual activity between Noel, Knoller and the dog Bane'. The other mutt, Hera, was apparently just good friends, or a lousy lay, whatever.
At any rate, Mr Noel responded to the allegation that the Bane of his life was also the love of his life. 'There used to be a time when guy-on-guy or woman-on-woman relationships were looked at as unnatural acts, ' he said. 'What concern is it to anybody if there is or isn't a personal relationship?' What concern indeed? In the dog days of summer, the story trundles on to other lively twists: The Los Angeles Times has been running sales ads for Bane's daughter's puppies, using their bloody pedigree as the unique selling-point.
Whatever happens, the case has already made history: the court has given Miss Smith permission to file her wrongful death suit, the first same-sex partner in California to be accorded 'survivor status'.
For gays, this is a big advance. At the same time, the case circles back to the early days of the gay rights movement: the judge, Philip ('Big Fly') Moscone, is a cousin of George Moscone, a San Francisco mayor murdered in 1978. Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the city's first gay elected official, were killed by Milk's fellow member of the Board of Supervisors, the anti-gay Dan White. Arrested for a double homicide, White was eventually sentenced to six years for manslaughter, after his legal team introduced the famous 'Twinkie Defence', arguing that their client's mind had been unhinged by excessive consumption of Hostess Twinkies, a hideous spongy confection filled with synthetic cream.
Twinkie-deranged or not, Mr White was the last openly anti-gay politician in SanFrancisco. Twenty-three years on, gays are on the last stage of their big push, and so the question is: what's next? Just as gays used the language of black civil rights, so Mr Noel, who is after all an attorney, likened his alleged proclivities to those of gays. If you're homosexual or lesbian, I don't suppose you're terribly flattered by the comparison, but then a lot of blacks didn't appreciate the principles of the civil rights movement being appropriated by gays. That's the way it goes in a land committed to ever more 'expansive' and 'inclusive' rights, as Al Gore puts it.
There's a lot of bestiality around at the moment. Hang on, let me qualify that: in terms of actual man-and-beast action, I'd wager there's a lot less than a hundred years ago, when an isolated farmboy's best-looking date within a 20-mile radius was his pa's finest Holstein. But today guys who like to make the beast with two backs and six legs do it as a conscious lifestyle choice, and, like other identity groups, they're making a lot of noise and demanding societal validation.
Over the border from me in Maine, a fellow called Frank Buble, 71, was recently sentenced to eight years for trying to crowbar his son Phillip to death. Frank shares a house with Phillip and his, er, partner Lady, a shortlegged mixed-breed bitch, and he claims he was driven to attack his son because he was tired of seeing him getting it on with the dog and could no longer tolerate Phillip's 'lifestyle'. Phillip for his part feels he's been doubly assaulted, first by his father and then by a legal system that refuses to acknowledge his partner. He wrote a very polite letter to Justice Andrew Mead at the Piscataquis County Superior Court saying that he would be exercising his right to speak at the sentencing and wanted Lady to hear what he had to say.
'I'd like my significant other to attend by my side if possible, as she was present in the house during the attack, though not an eyewitness to it, thank goodness, ' explained Phillip.'I've been informed your personal permission is needed given that my wife is not human, being a dog of about 36lbs weight and very well behaved.' The letter ended with his signature and a paw-print, and underneath the words 'Phillip and Lady Buble'.
Justice Mead denied the request. It seems that in Piscataquis County no animals are permitted in the courthouse except guide dogs in the company of the visually impaired, and, though love is blind, you can tell from Mr Buble's dreamy-eyed stare that he knows as well as any gangsta rapper that he's got one hot-looking bitch. Phillip feels his father shouldn't have gone to jail for attacking him. 'He needs serious therapy, ' he says, to enable him to deal with his problem.
Mr Buble Sr actually has two problems: 1) he has a daughter-in-law who's a dog; and 2) his son thinks it's Pop who needs the therapy. But Phillip and Lady have now come out of the kennel and are campaigning for rights for 'zoo couples'. 'Zoo couples' is the preferred term for human/non-human relationships, 'bestiality' carrying somewhat negative connotations. Testifying before a legislative committee in the state capital Augusta, Phillip said, ' " Zoos" are born with a true love for animals and have a lifelong commitment to their care.' He and Lady 'live together as a married couple. In the eyes of God we are truly married.' Furthermore, if it's legal for two humans to have sex and legal for two animals to have sex, why should it be illegal for a human to have sex with an animal? If Maine passes an anti-bestiality law, says Phillip, 'it will be a disservice to zoo couples and would keep zoo couples from coming out of the closet and drive us deeper underground. This helps no one and would force me outof state.' Hold your horses. New Hampshire, here he comes.
How should society react to animal husbandry as practised by Mr Buble? Peter Singer, Princeton's professor of ethics, has been in the forefront of the movement for 'animal rights'. Taking abortion politics to its logical next step,he believes we should be allowed to kill infants because they're not 'morally equivalent' to fully-fledged persons. By contrast, he thinks cats'n'rats'n'elephants are all proper persons, and only what he calls our 'speciesism' prevents us from seeing it. Therefore we should test pharmaceuticals on disabled children and comatose adults rather than on lab rats. Yet, although we have no right to experiment on animals, to keep them in captivity, or to eat them with tomato, lettuce and cheese on a sesame-seed bun, Professor Singer reckons we should be able to roger them. In a recent essay called 'Heavy Petting', he writes, 'Not so long ago, any form of sexuality not leading to the conception of children was seen as, at best, wanton lust, or worse, a perversion. One by one, the taboos have fallen. . . . Sodomy? That's all part of the joy of sex. . . . But not every taboo has crumbled. Heard anyone chatting at parties lately about how good it is having sex with their dog?'
Being an Ivy League intellectual, not just some rube from Maine, Professor Singer cites plenty of historical evidence, from a Greek vase from 520 BC with a male figure enjoying a very literal stag night to a Japanese drawing of a woman receiving cunnilingus from an octopus. Still, Professor Singer knows where to draw the line: some sex acts are 'clearly wrong' and 'should remain crimes. Some men use hens as a sexual object, inserting their penis into the cloaca, an all-purpose channel for waste and for the passage of the egg. This is usually fatal to the hen, and in some cases she will be deliberately decapitated just before ejaculation in order to intensify the convulsions of its sphincter. This is cruelty, clear and simple.'
But, then again, 'is it worse for the hen than living for a year or more crowded with four or five other hens in barren wire cage so small that they can never stretch their wings, and then being stuffed into crates to be taken to the slaughterhouse, strung upside down on a conveyor belt and killed?' So even guys'n'chicks isn't so bad if you use a battery hen.
What was interesting was the reaction of the animal-rights crowd. The old feminist slogan of 'What part of NO don't you understand?' gets a lot more complicated when you're coming on to a chicken. Karen Davis, Ph.D, the president of United Poultry Concerns Inc. , was concerned that 'any discussion of relations between human and nonhuman animals that does not give equal consideration to the nonhuman animal's point of view is unjust' but hoped that 'conceptually attacking the taboo against bestiality' would help 'people to overcome their profound prejudice and discrimination against nonhuman animals'.
Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also gave a cautious welcome. She said Professor Singer was 'daring and honest' and does not 'condone any violent acts'. On the matter of consensual sex, she was vague. 'The whole concept of consent with animals is very different, ' she said.You begin to see what's in it for Peta: if Phillip and Lady Buble are a recognised couple, going to the Elks Lodge together, dancing cheek to cheek as the band plays 'Puppy Love', it becomes all but impossible to hunt and eat animals. The law can't recognise Daisy the cow as Peter Singer's significant other but her sister Gertie as merely next week's Double Whoppa with Cheese.
Piscataquis County may be holding the line, but in other jurisdictions animals have already embarked on the same legal evolution that blacks and women underwent.
Boulder, Colorado was the first of several municipalities to pass legislation reclassifying 'pet owners' as 'pet guardians'. San Francisco, where we came in, became the first city in America to make it illegal to put non-terminal dogs and cats to sleep. A Frisco mutt now enjoys greater protection from overzealous euthanasia enthusiasts than an elderly Dutch uncle. And most of the Vermont Supreme Court's arguments in favour of extending the benefits of marriage to gay couples could as easily apply to a spinster and her cat.
In fact, the newly-elected Republican legislature in Vermont made an artful effort the other week to revise the state's 'civil unions' law by extending it not just to gays but to grandmothers living with unmarried kids, two maiden aunts sharing a house, or any other consensual arrangement. Faced with an opportunity to 'celebrate diversity' in all its infinite variety, the Democrats went berserk. Such a move, they insisted, would be supremely insulting and degrading to gays and lesbians. Like a chi-chi gay couple who've bought up the last un-remodelled whaling tavern in Provincetown, the gay crowd are now determined to stop any further development.
When Utah applied for admission to the Union, it was obliged to abandon polygamy. But, once you accept that the gender of the participants is irrelevant to marriage, it's hard to see why the number should be. All that can be said is that once you redefine human institutions, it gets a little easier to redefine them again and again - to the point, sooner rather than later, where the state decides to get out of the marriage business altogether. The fox is in the henhouse, the cat's among the chickens; it's absurd to think we can let sleeping dogs lie.
Whether or not animal rights are the new new thing, something will be.
I can't help but wonder if the real reason I posted this was so I could beat The Great Excerpter to a Steyn article.
you can tell from Mr Buble's dreamy-eyed stare that he knows as well as any gangsta rapper that he's got one hot-looking bitch. Phillip feels his father shouldn't have gone to jail for attacking him. 'He needs serious therapy, ' he says, to enable him to deal with his problem.
Mr Buble Sr actually has two problems: 1) he has a daughter-in-law who's a dog; and 2) his son thinks it's Pop who needs the therapy.
John Kerry on bestiality.
"I'm against it..." Yesterday
"I have multiple furry partners..." Today
Arrested for a double homicide, White was eventually sentenced to six years for manslaughter, after his legal team introduced the famous 'Twinkie Defence', arguing that their client's mind had been unhinged by excessive consumption of Hostess Twinkies, a hideous spongy confection filled with synthetic cream.
Hold your horses. New Hampshire, here he comes.
How Steyn turns a cliche phrase into such a riot is a gift I also count as a blessing.
This one will grab ya.
States where it is Entirely Legal to have Sexual Intercourse with your Dog (No Bestiality statutes whatsoever):
Fact of the matter is, Bestiality is totally Legal in 23 of the 50 States.
Idiotic, but True.
This will persist until we embrace the Calvinist-Propertarian Ethic of Devolving Political Power to Small Communities of Property-Owners, who could then outlaw Bestiality within their local purview (Power to the Community! Power to the Local Property Owbners! Propertarianism Uber Alles!!).
Until that time, it's alternatively Perverted and Hilarious... but it ain't on my list of "Top 20 Things I'm Most Worried about".
I'm from Alabama. And it's grea for me to realize I live in state more civilized than Connecticut.
Uh. How do you know this? Do you travel a lot? :)
Well, you had to go really wide and deep to do so, like, three years back!
I swear, Quidnunc has a special computer program which mines the net for Steyn articles. But, at least you beat The World's Most Annoying Poster, this time. Congratulations!
Great Steyn! His articles only get better with age.
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