Puppies: America's Last Taboo

The internet has inured us to everything — violence, weird porn, etc. Nothing is off limits — except puppies. There's no doubt about it: America loves puppies. I do, too! Which got me to thinking: why does hurting a puppy (or any animal) elicit such intense emotion, often far more than, say, hurting people? Why are puppies the last taboo? Is it because they are innocent, like babies (and unlike people)? For your career, kicking a dog is basically the worst thing you can do.

We bet that posting a video throwing Julia Allison off a cliff would be more warmly received than the unfortunate puppy-in-Iraq debacle.

Paris Hilton can slut it up all around town, but you can be damned sure that once word gets out that she has 17 puppies? and might be neglecting them? Hello, the authorities will be all up on that. Which we're happy to see. Leave Tinkerbell alone!

Dogfighting? Even worse. Career-ending worse. Beat your wife? OK — slap on the wrist and anger-management classes. Beat dogs, Michael Vick? It is so, so over for you.

Last summer PETA attempted to shame Britney Spears into handing over custody of her dog to ex Keven Federline: "She's tossed away so many dogs before," PETA's VP intoned.

In yesterday's news: a disturbing NYT article about a man caught trying to manufacture ricin, a substance "so deadly even in minuscule amounts that its only legal use is for cancer research." Whatever, boring — until the part about the policing finding "three cats and an emaciated dog in his hotel room; the local shelter took custody of the animals, but the dog was so starved and parched it had to be euthanized." Fuck the ricin — they had to put the dog down? Damn.

In a well-remembered scene from Michael Moore's film Roger and Me, a woman sells rabbits in her yard for either "Pets or Meat," and clubs one to death accordingly. That scene was followed by a footage of violence between humans, but who remembers that? The viewer is still reeling, turning this question over and over in their head: pets or meat?

We all need time to heal. Here's a picture of Uno, the award-winning beagle.

Puppies: America's Last Taboo

[Photo: G. Paul Burnett for the NYT]