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Where Conscience Meets Capital: An Anthropologist Responds to PETA’s “Drugs and Death” Horse Racing Video Exposé

Redemptive capital is not just about saving the horses or horse racing, it is about redeeming our relationship with horses and the larger-than-human world.

Redemptive capital is not just about saving the horses or horse racing, it is about redeeming our relationship with horses and the larger-than-human world.

 

I finally got the nerve to watch the latest PETA undercover investigation video about Thoroughbred racehorse trainer Steven Asmussen’s less-than-humane training practices. PETA has a history of launching anti-Thoroughbred horseracing campaigns in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, when the world’s eye trains on Churchill Downs in what Hunter S. Thompson described as “the whole doomed atavistic culture that makes the Kentucky Derby what it is.”

Whether or not the timing of this video was meant to color people’s perceptions of this “decadent and depraved” cultural phenomenon come the first Saturday in May is not my claim to stake.  But I will stake another kind of claim in response to PETA’s video, one based on my own anthropological research on Thoroughbred horse racing, and it comes in the form of two words.

Redemptive capital.

If we focus on only the dark side of Thoroughbred racing (some, like PETA, would say that is all there is) we only see syringes and shockers as the number one “tools of the trade” (PETA video minute, 9:07).  I can still hear D. Wayne Lucas, who got his start in Quarter Horse racing (which happens to be a culture I grew up in) talking about how it sounded like “a full-blown orchestra” at the starting gates at Ruidoso in New Mexico, so many trainers and jockeys were using electric shock to jolt their horses out of the starting gates (starting at 7:00).  Then to hear Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens joking over dinner and candlelight about how he shocked himself after using one of these devices on a horse (6:47), it could have been read as appropriate karma if it weren’t so utterly disappointing.  I promptly “unfollowed” him on Twitter, but not before I saw his page’s feed: silent on his appearance the PETA video.

If there is only a dark side to racing, then we only see serums and powders of questionable legitimacy (like tyroxine and Lasix) shooting into equine veins (3:45) or up their nostrils (1:07).  If there is only darkness, we only see what literally emerges from such illegitimate practices: fluid shooting out of horses’ joints to the point of drawing exclamation from veterinarians (1:44), and hooves degraded to “nubs” (2:12) that even super glue cannot fix (2:57).  During my anthropological research in the heart of Kentucky’s Thoroughbred country in 2011 – the same year that Nehro, a horse profiled in the PETA video (starting at 2:06), came in second in the Kentucky Derby – I often heard “no hoof, no horse” (a similar refrain can be heard at 2:25 in the PETA video).  This ultimately proved true for Nehro, as he succumbed to colic (3:05) in what assistant trainer Scott Blasi (who is not lacking in any choice words throughout the video) called the “most violent fucking death I have ever seen” (3:13).

Given the horse’s struggle with staying afoot, colic (the twisting and blockage of a horse’s intestines) was perhaps a result from his debilitated condition, and most certainly a blessing in disguise: it put him out of his misery.  “They should have retired him from racing last year,” one of Nehro’s exercise riders comments on PETA’s hidden camera (3:20).  And when he says “they” it is not just Asmussen and his training retinue who is implicated, but owner Ahmed Zayat as well.

Which brings me to the claim I wish to stake here, and in doing so, I wish to shine a light into the dark side of Thoroughbred horseracing of which PETA has made many so thoroughly aware.  For others, such as myself, this video is only another reminder of how unfortunate too many horses (and humans [8:02]; also see Dr. Heidi Castenada’s work) are within the vaunted world of Thoroughbred horseracing.  As racing elite Bill Casner, co-founder of WinStar Farms and KEEP (Kentucky Equine Education Project), opined in the Thoroughbred Daily News in regards to the PETA video: “Until our value system changes and horses are treated like the living, breathing, majestic animals that they are, we will continue to diminish as an industry until we no longer exist.”

During the year I spent in Kentucky’s Bluegrass, the hub of Thoroughbred breeding and racing for North America, if not the world, I studied an off-shoot culture of Thoroughbred racing: the rescue, retirement, and/or rehabilitation of former racehorses.  But instead of finding organizations like PETA who were dead-set against racing and wanted to send it the way of greyhound racing, I found an unexpected, at times productive/at times counterproductive relationship between “rescue” efforts and racing.  There wasn’t just a dark side, nor was there just the limelight, but something more complex and less polemical than the battling images PETA and racing proffered.

Some horses I encountered in my study had been pulled directly out of “kill pens” where they were held at auctions in US until their shipment to slaughter plants in either Canada or Mexico (despite efforts to bring the business back into full swing to the US starting in 2011 nothing has been established yet save for the Bravo plant in New Jersey which slaughters horses for zoo meat).  Some had been conscientiously retired by their trainers, even before taking a step out of the starting gate in an official race. Some had been passed down the line, from graded stakes races to becoming a so-called “rat” (8:03) in claiming races before they were retired with organizations like the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (which had its own share of controversy during my research stint with them). Some had retired as “warhorses” (horses that earn $500,000 or more in their lifetime), enabled by fans, former owners or breeders who had followed their career not only out of joy for the sport, but also to make sure these horses did not disappear into what anti-horse slaughter activists call “the slaughter pipeline.”

Every horse had a story they carried with them.  Some spoke with a paper trail of vet records or bloodlines that could be looked up on Equineline.com; most only had their bodies and behavior to communicate where they had been.  And for some, the faint, but still-legible traces of their Jockey Club racing registration tattoo on their upper lip was the only thing that meant the difference between being shipped to slaughter or finding sanctuary and eventual adoption.

Within all these stories, be they discursive, embodied, or both, came one unifying element: these horses were saved for a reason – they were not just “disposable commodities” (3:37).  Sometimes the reason was because they stood out as Thoroughbreds in a herd of auction horses predominantly consisting of Quarter Horses and Paint Horses (the two most likely breeds to go to slaughter), and given how romanticized horses of the Thoroughbred persuasion are (just watch the films “Seabiscuit” or “Secretariat” for evidence), their breed identity thus saved them.  Other horses stand out because they are still sound, that is, they still “have a hoof” so there is still a horse left to ride.  Others are salvageable because of a kind disposition or a look in their eye that says they would be a perfect “kid horse.”  And others are deemed worth saving because they gave so much to their human owners that it was the least these Homo sapiens sapiens could do for Equus feras caballus.

In processing my research, I gave a name to all these reasons, and their associated attributes, for why certain horses are saved – and I am not just talking about from slaughter, but from other relationships that draw these horses into abusive or neglected situations with humans.  Relationships such as those cultivated at Asmussen’s training stables.  What ultimately can save a horse is his or her “redemptive capital” – anything a human reads into a horse that says, “this should not be taken for granted, this should not be depleted” and, most importantly, “this is worth my investment, not just in money, but in humane-ity.”

Perhaps the greatest horror we witness when we watch PETA’s undercover video is not the footage I’ve already mentioned, or the additional footage of a terrible pin-firing job (5:14), the voyeuristic scene where we overhear New York state’s “top horseracing veterinarian” admit that Lasix is a “performance enhancer” (4:59), or the discussion of shock wave therapy that is speculated to be so painful to the horses that Blasi “can’t believe them f—king sons of bitches can take it” (5:36), but the ongoing, systematic disregard and depletion of these horses’ redemptive capital.  By disgracing these horses, not only is Thoroughbred racing disgraced, but our human ability – no, responsibility – to be humane is.  Redemptive capital is not just about saving the horses or horse racing, it is about redeeming our relationship with horses and the larger-than-human world.  And it begins with an investment we cannot measure in cash and profits alone, but where our conscience can finally match our culture’s fixation on capital.  And it begins, so to speak, where it is darkest before the dawn.

As historian of science and philosopher of human-animal relations, Donna J. Haraway, advises us: “Species interdependence is the name of the worlding game on earth, and that game must be one of response and respect” (2008:19).  Where there was once only decadence and depravity, as Hunter S. Thompson chided us and PETA has now reminded us – is it now possible for some response, respect, and redemption for racing?  Perhaps we will see, come the first Saturday in May.

It is the year of the horse, after all.

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LIVING WITH ANIMALS Conference at Eastern Kentucky University: DAY TWO

Friday, 22 March 2013

TEACHING WITH ANIMALS

The second day of the “Living with Animals” conference at Eastern Kentucky University started, for me at least, with the “Final Interdisciplinary Discussion of Teaching With Animals” panel.  It began with the head of the Animals Studies program at EKU, Robert W. Mitchell, presenting on how he helped create the Animal Studies major at EKU.  With self-depreciating humor and candid recall of the process, Mitchell first outlined the interdisciplinary foundations of this major – from Arts and Humanities, to Applied Sciences, to internships and/or study abroad programs, to electives, to capstone courses, I was frankly envious of the students taking this major.  Not only would they get an incredible foundation of animal studies through the lens of various disciplines and fields, but they would become well-versed in various disciplines through the uniting query of “the Animal.”  I was particularly heartened to hear anthropology classes hailed as crucial to this major, for one cannot question “the Animal” without questioning “what is Human?”  By relativizing, complicating, and nuancing what is taken for granted in “human” across cultures, students unpack their ontological and epistemological baggage to make room for deeper understandings of human-animal relationships.

After Dr. Mitchell’s highly informative and entertaining presentation – of which I’ve only provided a snapshot here – the panel proceedings really began as he joined colleagues Margo DeMello, Robert Mitchell, Kenneth Shapiro, and Kari Weil while Brett Mizelle moderated.  Dr. Mizelle posed thoughtful questions for the panelists that resorted in resourceful answers for us audience members: What works every time to get students engaged? And: How do you assess what students are learning / what skills get built?  Content and perspectives?  Assignments?  In response to the first question, key authors were cited such as Hal Herzog, Peter Singer and Tom Regan, and T.C. Boyle, as well as salient readings, such as The Dreaded Comparison by Marjorie Speigel.  In response to the second question, responses ranged from assigning projects to students where, after a semester of studying the history and critique of zoos, they were asked to design new habitats for zoos that were historically and theoretically informed.  Another panelist shared how students kept a journal that she would merely read to track their transformations and obfuscations without the anxiety of being graded for their explorations.

Perhaps something that arose most saliently in questions posed by the audience at the conclusion of the panel was the twofold concern: how do you deal with colleague and/or administrators who assume animal studies means getting a degree in animal activism?  And: When is a good time to share your personal perspectives / stances on human-animal relationships, animal welfare and activism?  The answer seemed to be that one must accept that animal studies, despite its ongoing and decades-long growth, is a relatively new venture for many scholars, much less universities.  And while animal studies does carry a component of questioning and intervening when it comes to issues of animal ethics, the answer was to let students (if not administrators and interdisciplinary colleagues) process these dynamics themselves.  One effective classroom method for this would be to set up a debate where students chose sides (such as to go vegan or remain a meat-eater) and, moreover, chose / be assigned a position one would not habitually take.  That is to say, a die-hard vegan would then have to consider the merits of meat-eating, and a meat-eater who might joke that s/he is a PETA member in the sense that s/he was a “Person Eating Tasty Animals” (my connection, after seeing these t-shirts at the Denver National Western Stock Show) would have to embrace the merits of veganism.

ANIMAL SUBJECTIVITY

The next session I attended featured two presentations on human-ape relationships and one on human-equine relations.  In her presentation, “Nonhuman Primates as Pets,” Pamela C. Ashmore followed her curiosity about the understudied relationships between humans and the nonhuman primates they keep as – not “pets,” as she informed us, for many of her research participants blanched at such a term – but as “companion species,” as I would put it as neutrally as possible.  Instead, Ashmore learned that the better question to ask these human primates was: why did you choose to bring these nonhuman primates into your household?  A physical anthropologist by training, Ashmore joked about how bewildering it was at first to conduct an ethnographic interview with a human informant (ah, the four fields of anthropology seem separated by deep chasms at times like these).   Interestingly, she found that some of her a priori assumptions – such as nonhuman primate owners / significant others would not be highly educated when in fact all had high school diplomas and approximate 3 out of 15 participants had terminal degrees (Ph.D., J.D., M.D.) – disproven by her initial research results.

The next paper was about the famed Chantek, an orangutan with mad jewelry making skills – on top of the fact that he was the subject of language and enculturation experiments at a primate facility in Atlanta, Georgia.  Chantek’s cross-species foster mother, H. Lyn White Miles detailed Chantek’s life in a paper titled “’Get car, go home’: Chantek’s Journey to Enculturation and Back” – referring to Chantek’s hand-signed reaction to his departure from the primate facility (“home”) and the end of Miles’ partnership with him.  While I found Miles’ presentation fascinating, I was unnerved by how uncritically she presented Chantek’s enculturation training and the future of creating “dual-cultured persons of the nonhuman kind.”  What struck me at first was how Chantek was isolated as a test subject  (ie. taken away from primary socialization with his mother) in order to learn human sign language and cultural ways – jewelry making being one of the “ways.”  The purpose behind this?  Humanocentric curiosity and arguments that such studies better helped us (humans) understand the evolutionary origins of language and culture.  But the biggest rub came when Chantek was decommissioned from the study – where does a dual-cultured person of the nonhuman kind go from there?  The first answer was the Atlanta Zoo, but here he was only objectified in another way as he was deployed for entertainment and as an educational mascot for conservation.  The zookeepers described his irascible behavior as “only child syndrome” and thought they needed to “put the wild back in him.”  Miles concluded her presentation with a utopian vision of “Animal Cultural Centers” where dual-cultured nonhuman primates such as Chantek could be trained and remain in an environment that fostered their training and the “persons” they had become – literally, a “Chan Tech” as Miles put it.

The last presentation of this session was given by Karen Head, the director of an equine-assisted therapy center in North Carolina.  She began by asking us all in the auditorium to take a deep breath and take note of what feeling we had.  For those that responded, the overwhelming emotion was sadness – perhaps lingering over the limbo life of Chantek previously presented.  Head then asked us all to take off our thinking caps for her presentation, for as she noted, horses feel energy and respond to people mindful of their breath and not living in their heads.  As such, she went on to give more of a life-coach presentation of her work, which still came with its own subtleties of inculcation.  I admire (and envy) people who work with horses and acknowledge their extraordinary capacity to bring about emotional healing (I’ve cried in many a horse’s mane), and Head’s work with helping address the emotional needs and rejuvenation of purpose of those people who work as addiction therapists is a much needed and no doubt effective one.  But as the curmudgeonly anthropologist in the room, I could not help but think I was being sold a service or a path to personal salvation via the vehicle of the horse.

ETHICS TOWARDS ANIMALS

The last session of the day consisted of three papers that questioned the ethical impact of human imposition on nonhuman lives/spaces.  Bob Sandmeyer shared his ideas on the conflicting conservation philosophies of John Muir and Gifford Pinchot, signaling where each faltered in their dualist conception of nature and culture.  While Pinchot saw conservation necessary for furthering human growth through the use – not depletion – of natural resources, Muir saw nature as a sanctum sanctorum that needed to preserved so that humans could retain a necessary sense of “the wild.”  To transcend this binary, Sandmeyer also explored the perspectives of Aldo Leopold and Gary Paul Nabhan, suggesting we think of future “conservation” efforts less in humanocentric terms – that is, saving the environment only to preserve human communities – and more like cultivating a “multispecies household.”

The next presentation, “Living with Transgenic Animals,” took us from the landscape to the laboratory as Jonathan L. Clark detailed the rise and fall of the “Enviropig” experiment.  Starting suggestively with Bruno Latour’s idea of monsters and loving them, Clark told us the story of the creation of transgenic pigs at the University of Guelph for the purpose of, as far as I could tell, providing more environmentally friendly pig farts and feces.  But when it was deemed by the Canadian National Research Council that the pigs were too risky to introduce to conventional farms after all– fears of feral, clean farting and shitting pigs? (moreover, fears of passing on transgenic traits) – orders to euthanize 16 pigs came down the pike.  Farm Sanctuary jumped on this and started a petition to stop the killing.  8,349 signatures were collected – three months AFTER the pigs had been killed.  Clark brought up some intriguing, important questions, one in particular that got me thinking about how my ideas of “redemptive capital” can be applied to lab animals: who is eligible for life after laboratories?

The last presentation of the day, “Putting Them Out of Their Misery: A Critique of ‘Knockout Livestock’” was given by Matthew Pianalto.  Here, the most salient point was that of once again manufacturing animals to fulfill specific humanocentric concerns.  But instead of concerns over the environment, which linked the previous two presenters, Pianalto shared his critique over the ethics of creating animals whose capacity to feel pain was “knocked out” genetically.  That is to say, to allay concerns and guilt over inflicting pain on animals be it for slaughter or laboratory purposes, is it okay to create animals who wouldn’t feel pain?  At least if they were decommissioned like the Enviropig they wouldn’t feel pain when euthanized – so the logic and lessons of history might lead us to believe…

About Face: An Interview with the Creator of the Facebook and Twitter Visages of the “Mapleton Elk”

Nasattiuq: Pulling Back the Hood of Animal Mistreatment

In Ojibway, Cree, Inuit, Saami, and other circumpolar human cultures of the north where communities subsist nutritionally and spiritually off the flesh of local ungulate species – such as wapiti/elk/moose/caribou/reindeer – it is believed that the animal willingly presents itself to the hunter just before the kill.  As British anthropologist Tim Ingold explains of this phenomenon:

It is a fact well known both to hunters and biologists who have

set out to study caribou behavior by scientific methods, that at

the point when the animal becomes aware of the close presence

of a potential predator, whether human or non-human, it stands

still, turning to stare directly at its pursuer. (2000: 121)

In Inuit belief in particular, if the hunter’s intentions are good – in that he only takes what is revealed to him and does not ask for more than the animal can produce – then the animal is seen as intentionally offering itself to the hunter.  Ingold goes on to explain that this behavior and its cultural interpretation indicates a relationship of trust between man and animal, as opposed to relationship of domination as seen in the industrialized west.  For Ingold: “Trust presupposes an active, prior engagement with the agencies and entities of the environment on which we depend; it is an inherent quality of our relationship towards them” (2000:14).

If the human predator violates the trust relationship through “the attempt to extract by force” the animal will still present itself to him – but what the human sees is not a willingness to give but an act of punishment for maltreatment (2000:14).  As Ingold goes on to explain, the animal will peel back the “hood” of its ungulate face and reveal a face that has a “wolf-like visage, with round eyes, a long thin snout and bared fangs” (2000:122).  When animals becomes nasattiuq or “hoodless,” they transform into individuals “that have been maltreated in one way or another by humans in the past, and therefore harbor some malice towards them” (ibid).  If the hunter still finds the gumption to kill such an animal, nasattiuq are “deemed to be inedible: as potential eaters of human beings they cannot be eaten by humans – not, at least, without courting considerable danger” (ibid).

Martyred in Boulder, Colorado: the Mapleton Elk Shooting

Though Boulder is geographically a far cry from the circumpolar north – although some citizens, indigenous or not, might align to such cultural beliefs as outlined above by Ingold – what kind of moral and ethical resonance may we still find through the idea of the nasattiuq when it comes to the community’s response to the recent Mapleton Elk shooting and now sentencing of the two police officers involved?  How does the nasattiuq of the Mapleton Elk help us ask important questions with implications we might not have otherwise considered?

On the night of January 1st, 2013, what kind of face might the Mapleton Elk have shown to officers Sam Carter and Brent Curnow?  Was it a trusting or malign visage that revealed itself to these men?  What face do Boulder community members see in this controversy?  Do they see a slain guardian and protector, their “Big Boy”?  Or, as many readers’ comments on Facebook and online articles posted by the Daily Camera reveal, do they see “elk burgers” and another eye-rolling case of “Only in Boulder”?

And now that Carter and Curnow have been formally charged with a smattering of crimes that speak to transgressions against both human and nonhuman animal victims, how do we now face the Mapleton Elk?  How has it changed since the first media glimpse we had with his tongue lolling out as Officer Carter posed between his impressive, unbroken antlers?  When we stare long enough and look deeper, what face – like the nasattiuq or something more unprecedented and evolving – do we see, and what does it tell us about how humans not only mistreat nonhuman animals, but how they take their own species’ community integrity for granted in the process as well?

***

@MapletonElk.com: The Face of Social Media

One “face” that has come forth in six weeks since the Mapleton Elk was shot has been its reincarnation as a social media figure.  I had a chance to glean a few answers from the individual (who wishes to remain anonymous) who runs the Facebook page – “Justice for the Mapleton Elk” (https://www.facebook.com/JusticeForTheMapletonElk?fref=ts)  – and Twitter account – “Mapleton Elk” (https://twitter.com/MapletonElk) – about the community response to the shooting, why s/he started a social media trend, and what exactly “justice” looks like for the Mapleton Elk.

 

Why did you start a Facebook page and Twitter account for the Mapleton elk?  Why do you speak as the elk? 

I wanted to provide a forum for individuals to build community around the issue in a positive and constructive way.  New media can serve as a powerful community organizing tool.  I speak as the elk because that draws more attention (front page of the 1/5/13 Boulder Daily Camera “Boulder’s Mapleton Elk now a social media figure” http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_22318774/boulders-mapleton-elk-now-social-media-figure?IADID=Search-www.dailycamera.com-www.dailycamera.com ) than straight up news.  The facebook.com/justiceforthemapletonelk is more about informing, organizing and action and the twitter.com/mapletonelk approaches the subject with more levity.  I think it also personalizes the elk who had no voice.

Additionally, these two new media tools bring the issue at the forefront through people engaging by posting.  The “No Hunting in our ‘Hood” posters placed in local Boulder businesses also raises the profile.  The process is assured to be long and arduous as Chief Beckner said the internal investigation could take one to two months.  We need to keep the issue alive just as much as the Boulder Police Department wants it to die.

I use Saul Alinsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Alinsky) as a guide.  He believed, “A good tactic is one your people enjoy” (like social media?).  He also believed that it was critical to “keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.”

 

What do you and your supporters consider to be justice for him?

 The range of reparations to the harm caused to our neighborhood includes:

1.  Dismissal of those involved from the police department

2.  Criminal penalties.

3.  Fines paid by those involved.  Per Samson’s Law – A bull elk with six-point antlers can result in a fine of up to $10,000

4.  Other sanctions on top of the criminal penalties for violating hunting rules such as not be able to own a firearm, etc.

5.  Admission of guilt by those involved.  The elk was not injured or aggressive and did not need to be euthanized.  We knew this elk.

6.  Raising the profile of other misconduct within the Boulder Police Department

7.  Corrective actions to improve the culture of current widespread misconduct

8.  Something that can renew our faith in a Police Department that allowed this to occur.

This neighborhood (Mapleton Hill) has lost faith.  We don’t trust them.  Let’s review the facts:  Hunting isn’t allowed in city limits.  Unnecessary discharge of a weapon in a residential neighborhood to hunt an elk as a trophy.  The officer did not file a report or notify dispatchers about the incident.  In fact they communicated via personal mobile phones.  A photo taken by a resident in the area shows Carter posing with the elk.  Further, the off-duty Boulder officer called to help dispose of the elk had called in sick, operates taxidermy website.  The list goes on…

(Go here to read the formal charges against ex-officers Carter and Curnow: http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_22539747/ex-boulder-cops-sam-carter-brent-curnow-be)

 

Is this really about an elk?

 Yes and no.  The elk shooting is only the latest serious misstep within the Boulder Police Department.  We are concerned about the larger culture of misconduct that needs to be addressed in order for tax paying, voting residents to regain trust in the department.

From the Boulder Daily Camera: “Chief Beckner acknowledged there have been a concerning number of serious incidents in the last 18 months. 

· In April 2012, a former Boulder police officer, Eric Shunglik Lee, pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing an unregistered firearm, a charge stemming from an accusation that the 33-year-old patrol officer stole and sold Army-issued assault rifle silencers.

· In May, a Boulder police officer on medical leave, Christian McCracken, was charged with attempted murder for allegedly plotting to murder his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

· Two Boulder police officers are currently on administrative leave after being arrested on suspicion of DUI.  Scott Morris was pulled over by Boulder County sheriff’s deputies in November. According to a police report, he had been pulled over 44 times in the last several years and some of the deputies were familiar with him from those incidents.

· Then in December, Boulder DUI officer Elizabeth Ward was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Thornton.”

The mistrust that the Boulder community has in the Boulder Police Department is a casualty of the misconduct of officers of the Boulder Police Department.  That trust can only be restored by the officers involved being brought to justice.

 

Aren’t there problems in this world far more pressing than this elk?

We fully understand there are many issues in the world today that are unjust and horrible like those which occurred in Columbine, Aurora & Newtown. By no means are we ranking this injustice over any other injustice. Doing so distracts us all and prevents us from dismantling any and all injustices. We are in solidarity with those of you positively and constructively working to solve challenges in your own community. We appreciate the support we’ve received from around the world.

***

Since the initial emotional and media uproar over the killing of the Mapleton Elk on New Year’s Day 2013, what “face” do you now see in all of this?  What “hood” has been pulled back and exposed in all of this?  What will we do to bring trust – not domination – back between the human and nonhuman inhabitants of Boulder or other communities that will come to face comparable controversies?  Will social media, posters, t-shirts, marches, vigils, letters to the editor, articles such as this one, investigations, job resignations, legal charges, court cases, jail time – even a memorial statue – be enough to restitute that which was taken with force?

Bibliography

2000 Ingold, Tim

Perceptions of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Routledge.  (http://taskscape.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/the-perception-of-the-environment.pdf)