Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the Swinging of Cats


This is not a Cat
Is it illegal to swing a cat? I don’t know, and I’m not going to bother finding out. I saw a mention in the Independent, I think, about how some lad who had been filmed by a CCTV camera swinging a cat by its tail had ‘given himself up’. Knowing my fellow-countrymen as I do, I can believe it was a major story for days, and not just in the tabloids.

Cruelty is repulsive to most people- and by cruelty I mean actions that are performed primarily in order to enjoy the suffering of another- because it is an expression of something lower than the humanity we believe we share. Something like that, anyway. From there to loudly asserting one’s own superiority is a short step for many people. And from there to the belief that ‘society’ (ie someone else) should punish the perpetrator of such an act is a further short step.

Should we punish cat-swingers? Individually we can and do. Someone who swings a cat by its tail tells you a lot about himself. You probably wouldn’t want to employ him, to have him in your house, or anywhere near your pets, and by extension, your children. You would speak badly off him when his name came up, associate him with everything base, damage whatever good name he might have previously had. In short, you would punish him. But is there any reason why the criminal law should be involved, other than to express our collective contempt for people who swing cats? Is it not, perhaps, a little too easy to demand that the law punish this young cat-swinger, rather than have to do it ourselves, as we could, and probably should?

2 comments:

Vincent said...

I follow your thought, CIngram, and concur completely.

Was the boy's name published in the paper? That might be the only action needed here.

CIngram said...

I don't think I saw a name. If he was a minor it's possible he could be punished by a court but his name kept secret, which is entirely the wrong way round.