Nothing That Hasn’t Been Said Already

I will admit up front I’m not terribly conversant in the plight of Tibet, or the day-to-day lives of the Chinese people we’ll never see on the nightly news, or even the treatment of political dissidents. I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about those issues. Although I know enough to be troubled by them, I’d just make a fool of myself if I tried to post about them.

Also, the opening ceremonies were lovely. I didn’t get the full experience, and here’s the tacky reason why: the public radio show World Cafe was interviewing Coldplay about their new album and I wanted to hear it, so I listened to the whole show while watching the opening ceremonies with the sound off. This allowed me to hear a lot of good music I wouldn’t have heard otherwise, and also let me escape the voice of Bob Costas, whom I utterly despise. (Is there no sport this pompous bastard can’t try to ruin for me? Wasn’t the Kentucky Derby enough this year?)

My problem is this.

Dead tigers.

I’m Tigereye for several reasons. I think tigers are as close to divine as any earthly entity can get. Looking into the yellow gaze of a tiger is very much like what I imagine looking at the face of God to be: implacable, otherworldly, immensely strong and wise, fierce, possessed of a nature we can only think we understand.

They’re also the most beautiful creature on earth, and my college mascot, and as close to perfect a lone predator as can be found.

They’re killed by poachers so their bones can be ground up for “traditional Chinese medicine.” They were, and perhaps still are — I can’t bring myself to read much about this, to be honest — raised on farms in China for slaughter, so there would be less need for poaching.

They’re also killed so various nations of cowards and idiots can have tiger skins as status symbols. Or shot in canned hunts by rich scumbags right here at home. Or so menus in China can boast of serving tiger penis.

I can’t even begin to properly express my hatred of anyone who would kill a tiger or profit from its death. I’ve seen a photograph of carcasses on a “tiger farm” and hope I never see anything like it again. And I wish the most dreadful things upon everyone involved, in as many lives or incarnations as they may have, because it’s the kind of callous, greedy sin that should follow someone forever.

I also see dead dogs and cats, who were fed poisonous food so some plant-owning prick in the U.S. could save fifty cents a ton on wheat gluten from China. One of the things that upset me the most about last year’s pet food-related deaths was how much of the food was store-brand or inexpensive: for some of those people it was all they could afford, and they fed it to their pets out of love and responsibility, and the dogs and cats died. Organ failure is as horrible a death for animals as it is for people, and those people had to watch their pets suffer and die because of the naked greed of businessmen in two countries. Veterinarians had to euthanize hundreds of animals, some of which they’d known and treated all their lives. It’s a hard process for everyone at the vet’s office, just like it is for a family who fed their dog what they’d always given him and watched him die from it.

I see black pools of farm-raised shrimp while the shrimpers in my state, who have pulled fresh sea critters out of the water for us all their lives, go broke with a better, safer product. To put it eloquently, this sucks. They’re not commercial farmers with government subsidies at their disposal — they’re guys who can’t pay their mortgages if morons all over America keep saving ten cents a ton and buying antibiotic (and God only knows what else) -ridden shrimp from China, frozen and gray by the time it gets here.

Lest anyone think I’m concentrating too much on wildlife, pets, and seafood, I also see that one guy in Tienanmen Square, standing in front of a tank.

That’s what played on the screen in my head while I watched a spectacular opening show and watched my President enjoy it.

Piles of slaughtered tigers, old women and children weeping over dead pets, guys 200 miles away from me getting up at 3 a.m. to get on the shrimp boat, and one unspeakably brave man with a flag.

I wish I was a different person and could put all this out of my head and watch Tyson Gay outrun the world, but I can’t.

I’m going to be watching as much of Animal Planet’s “Puppy Games” as I can find.


10 Responses to “Nothing That Hasn’t Been Said Already”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    I’m with you on this. The whole thing is rather disturbing on many levels. Pick one. Pick any one.

  2. bigcocky Says:

    I’ve heard you make all these arguments before, but nice summation.

  3. *Applauding through my tears, remembering a much loved friend lost to tainted food.*

  4. Amen about Bob Costas.

    Amen about everything else as well.

  5. jojovtx1800 Says:

    I agree with so much of this, and I have said before that I didn’t understand how China was even considered as an Olympic site.

    But I also understand that the athletes have invested their lives to play these games, and I feel somewhat obligated to support them.

    It is sort of a double edged sword. Much like the plight of the President- if he hadn’t gone, he would have been seen as non-supportive of the U.S. and its athletes. He did go, and he is criticised for that as well.

  6. Jojo makes a good point. I admit I am biased about Bush and there’s little he can do to make me happy. I know he was going to get it either way if he attended the opening ceremonies or not — he just happened to have gone the way I wouldn’t have, but I doubt I would have been any more satisfied if he’d taken my advice.

    Shawn, I didn’t know you lost a pet then. I’m so sorry.

  7. Shiloh was my best friend for fourteen years. He went from acting like he was in a third or fourth kittenhood to the agony of kidney failure in a matter of days. I still miss him very much.

    On a brighter note, my mother and I got to feed and hug a six-month-old Bengal Tiger once. They are amazingly soft. Anyone who would harm one should be caned!

  8. I’ll have to post sometime about the tiger that came in for a root canal when I worked for the vet’s office. It was as close as I’ll ever come to touching royalty.

  9. I second the amen., tigereye. Amen.

  10. Well stated. I have difficulty letting go of these kind of images, myself. I think it’s one of the main reasons I’ve stopped watching television.

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