A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Sep 28, 2011

Porn and Animal Suffering - a Good Combo?

Google Images
Peta is about to launch a porn site, peta.xxx, that will juxtapose graphic sexual images with those of animals suffering in order to encourage and to promote a vegan lifestyle. I am not bothered by the use of explicit sexual images, or depicting the realities of suffering animals, (welcome to my world), or trying a variety of nontraditional ways to get noticed and bring attention to an issue. I also respect Peta's work, and ethical position, in that, unlike aspca or hsus, Peta does its thing while always encouraging people to support their local shelters, rather than advertising and behaving as if they were a national/umbrella organization, as is the wont of aspca and hsus.

That said, I have one concern about pairing sexual stimulation with animal abuse, and that is the conjuring up of crush videos. In the crush genre, sexual arousal comes from watching a provocatively dressed woman in stilettos, stomp, crush and kill a small animal that is taped to the floor and crying in pain.

The sub rosa crush fetishist must feed himself secretly, away from the watchful eye of spcaLA and other law enforcement agencies as the actual harming of an animal is against the law. My fear is that linking sexual arousal with images of animals suffering in a public mainstream market can have the unintended consequences of granting an imprimatur of that feeling and/or legitimizing that behavior and lifestyle. 

Just think about it ......

Sep 20, 2011

President Obama: Step Away From Our Charity

President Obama claims to not want to solve the nation’s financial crisis on the “backs of the needy”. Yet by cutting allowable contributions to charity, through his new jobs bill, he will do precisely that. Who does President Obama think is reliant upon non-profits if not the “needy”?

The new jobs bill will reduce the percentage of income that donors can write off for charitable gifts and will limit tax breaks for such gifts.

spcaLA officer responding to devastation after Katrina
Government spending on social programs is shrinking, Americans dropping to the poverty level is increasing, unemployment is rising, and disposable income left to donate to a charity is nil.  To reduce philanthropic gifts to the not-for-profit sector is counter-intuitive.  In other words, non-profits are needed now, more than ever.

As a former community organizer, Obama must know that in horrid economic times, philanthropic entities are filling the gaps left by the government and the for-profit sector.  If charities collapse, there will be no relief for those dependent upon our services.  Non-profits are businesses too.  We provide jobs (we are hiring now!), resources, and services that allow a community to thrive.  We are the safety net that cushions the fall when the government and all else fails.

At its inception in 1877, spcaLA was responsible for protecting women, children and animals as they were legally considered property, and as such abused, exploited, overworked, underpaid and discarded.  spcaLA was also incorporated as an spcc (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) as we preceded the enactment of child labor laws and social service programs.   In 2011, spcaLA boasts anti-violence programs for at-risk youth, domestic violence programs to assist those who would risk their lives not to leave a pet behind and an elite disaster response unit that travels nationwide to assist animals and their people.  These programs are also essential as there is undisputed evidence that crimes against animals are a predictor and precursor of crimes against humans.  It is us, the non-profit, who works with those troubled teens.  It is our educators who work in the classrooms and provide age-appropriate humane education curricula to teachers who would not otherwise have them.  We are just one charity – imagine the impact, scope, and reach of all of us together.

Corporations and the wealthy that are willing to contribute to our much needed programs must be allowed to do so at current rates if not at higher ones.  Across the country, charities that provide meals, shelter, hospital services and the like are now shuttered due to already existing funding shortages.  With all due respect, this bill would be cutting the last lifeline to many of us in the non-profit sector.  Is this not contrary to the president’s message asks the “haves” to help provide for the “have nots”?  That is philanthropy – those with funds fund those without.

The argument that the jobs bill will put more people to work and therefore will generate more funding for charities is a faulty one.  These temporary infrastructure jobs will indeed provide a helping hand to those who are drowning but they will not generate the type of financial security that can tolerate charitable contributions.

I ask President Obama not to deprive those that depend upon the non-for-profit sector for their survival and not to not rob the philanthropic community to pay America’s debts.

We live in a time where neither Peter nor Paul has anything else to spare.

Sep 10, 2011

Law Enforcement Dogs Are Not Bullet Proof - A Thought for 9/11

Google Images
Police dogs risk their lives in the line of duty every day.

Kane, a police dog was mortally stabbed in Washington,  Gunner was stabbed in Memphis, Zac was stabbed in Australia, Solo was shot in Wisconsin and New Zealand lists dozens of dogs killed while on duty. All over the globe dogs are asked to apprehend suspects, search for explosives, go to war in Afghanistan and even assist in the capture of Bin Laden, often without any protective gear.

Occasionally, a philanthropist or concerned citizen will provide bullet proof vests for dogs in their communities. Such is the case for four lucky dogs in the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, courtesy of Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is awarding grants like this to police and fire departments in cities located where the Steelers are scheduled to play away games.

It seems to me that outfitting dogs with vests and other gear should be mandatory if law enforcement is permitted to use them. Dogs often go into a dangerous situation first, are sent, without their human partners, into spaces too small for humans, and are asked to subdue armed felons with no defensive protection for themselves. Instead of mourning the lives of slain canine officers and erecting monuments of their likenesses, why not give them basic protection before putting them in harm's way. Frankly, not doing so seems, negligent, crazy and cruel. Thousands of dollars and hours are expended on training and preparing these canine assets only for some bureaucrat to "cheap out" on a vest. The vests should be provided by the law enforcement agency hiring the dog so all dogs are covered rather than having them "rely on the kindness of strangers". No protection- no dog must be the new rule.

Finally, as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, remember the victims, pay tribute to the responders and commiserate with loved ones suddenly bereaved, we must also acknowledge the working dogs that responded to ground zero and continue to assist law enforcement at airports, borders, police and fire departments in their efforts to keep us all safer-usually without vests.

Article first published as Police Dogs Get Shot Too on Technorati.