Why taking your kids to an animal circus makes you a bad, bad parent

It is with shame that I have to confess that some 28 odd years ago – well, when I was eight if you insist on that level of precision – I badgered my parents into taking me to what was probably the first animal circus to visit Malta. Real, honest-to-goodness lions! And tigers! Elephants! Seals! I wanted in.

With the naiveté that you find in kids, I hadn’t actually realised that what I would be seeing were caged, unhappy versions of these animals. So my parents decided that it would probably be more effective to enlighten me with an actual experience. In fact it didn’t take me long to figure out that these animals were, essentially, nothing less than prisoners. Why weren’t the lions grazing outside? (May I remind you that I was eight at the time). Why were they being made to do stupid things?

So upset was I that we left halfway through. My parents’ reaction was a happy one: their kid wasn’t a moron to be kept entertained by the sight of some poor bear that’s forced to dance for the pleasure of other morons, after all. The circus outing was chalked down to a positive educational experience. Practically every year, the circus returned. I never asked my parents to take me back.

You’d think that 28 years on, given that nowadays there’s a tad more awareness about these issues, the Maltese would have tumbled on to the fact that an animal circus is very poor form of entertainment. But no. Every year the same circus hits town and the usual suspects troop down to “see the animals”, with kids in tow (happily, the school outings have been stopped, bravo to the Ministry of Education).

But the private stupidity goes on.

Oh look, a lion.

Wow.

Did you see how big it is? Good thing it’s tied up in that cage, eh?

Oh and there’s an elephant too.

They’re all tied up but it’s ok, ‘cos it keeps the lowest common denominator happy and entertained.

Only it is not okay. You are not doing a service to your kids by taking them to see an animal circus. I won’t say that they’ll all grow up into torture-thirsty psychopaths if you do that (though there is a chance of that happening, yes). But you’re certainly not gaining any brownie points in the character formation class. Let’s have a look at the message you’re giving your kids when you force it down their throats that a skinny, unhappy, caged lion is a fun thing to see.

1. You’re teaching them that bending the weak to suit your will is fine. Look at the lion jumping through that fiery hoop for your pleasure. Does the lion do it because he thinks it’s a jolly good idea? No, he does it because his trainer has the power to hurt him if he doesn’t comply. The power to withold food, to make his life even more miserable than it already is. The lion is in a position of weakness. What does a kid take from all this? That if, somehow, we’re in a position to wield power over someone, hey then it’s ok to trample all over their rights and their freedom. Just the perfect training to raise a nasty, little despot.

2. You’re teaching them that dignity is something to be bought with a few Euros. The stupidest excuse for animal circuses that I’ve heard is the one that goes like this: using wild animals in commercial acts is fine ‘cos the animals are given a sheltered life and a reliable food source in exchange for their circus acts. Right. So were slaves in ancient Rome. And we know how that story ended.

The second part of this argument usually revolves around the fact that trainers love their animals and treat them well. Proponents of this theory usually fail to come up with a convincing reply when I enquire about the methods of “persuasion” used when trying to convince an animal perform a trick. And don’t give me bull about positive training; these are potentially dangerous animals we’re talking about, not a show-dog. No amount of positive training will convince a leopard to act the fool for your pleasure. So yes, kids, it’s perfectly fine to beat up someone if he doesn’t do exactly as you say.

3. You’re teaching them that life is a commodity, to be used and abused only as long as you have use for it. By “life”, I mean someone else’s life, of course. Elephant too old to perform after a lifetime of slavery? Get rid of him and make the problem go away. I’m sure I don’t really need to spell out the corollary a child will take from this. Bored with your dog now that it’s not a playful puppy anymore? Get the parents to get you a new and more exciting pet. And later on in life, when your friends or business associates are no longer useful, well… a spot of backstabbing usually does the trick.

If you’re the person responsible for raising one of these cold bastards, what can I say? Congratulations, you parent of the year, you. Of course, I exaggerate somewhat. But the basics are there. If you want to give your kid a better chance at growing up to be a kind, well-adjusted adult then you’re better off taking them to help out at an animal shelter than to the circus.

I know that at this point some genius will come out of the woodwork with the usual “but they’re just animals, there to serve our will”. Heavens know that I’m no PETA fundamentalist – indeed, such people scare me. But this doesn’t mean that I have to condone another living being’s lifetime of slavery in the name of “entertainment”. So cut it out with the “they’re just animals” crap. Of course, there will always be some staunch catholic who is eager to remind us that animals have no soul (whatever that may mean). If you’re one of the latter, I throw St Francis of Assisi back in your face. That much I remember from all those boring catechism lessons.

Animal circuses have already been banned in a number of (apparently more civilised, more sophisticated) countries: Bolivia, Austria, Singapore and, soon, in the UK following a historic vote in parliament. Maybe one day we too will join the ranks of the civilised.

UPDATE: someone posted this link on Facebook. It pretty much validates my above arguments in professional lingo, in case common sense was not enough.

An Anti-Animal Circus protest is being held on Tuesday December 20. The meeting point is the former City Gate at 18:00 hours. For more information click here.

Image courtesy of www.unleashed.org.au.

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Comments

  1. Tim says:

    I think we’re making too much of a fuss about this.
    If you ask me, as long as animals are treated right and are not made to suffer unduly, there is nothing wrong in an animal circus. Controls are necessary and must be continuous.

    I see a lot of double standards here too. Why not target animals in zoos? Why not target animals trained by the police? Why not fish in an aquarium?

    If you ask me, getting children in close contact with animals is beneficial to appreciate them and begin a life of mutual respect between animals and humans.

    And for the record, I own no animal circuses :P

    • I object just as strongly to zoos in fact. Not the modern nature reserves that are helping with breeding programmes etc, but the old fashioned ones. Re circuses, even if the animals are treated impeccably (a big if)think of the continuous transport in cramped conditions. That alone means a miserable life I think. I agree totally re bringing kids in contact with animals but we part ways on the how :)

  2. Kenneth Cassar says:

    @ Tim:

    1. There is no way in hell that a wild animal will perform any unnatural trick without being to some degree or other violently conditioned to perform it. Fear is the motivator.

    2. Even if “training” did not involve cruelty (an impossibility), the distances travelled in confined spaces (small cages), and their perpetual confinement in cages except for the little time they are out to perform through fear, in itself constitutes cruelty and abuse.

    3. Even with the best controls in place, one cannot have performing wild animals in circuses without them suffering to some degree or other, or without denying them the freedom to live in their habitat.

    4. Even if you raise a point that most, if not all, of the animals are born in captivity, this does not excuse breeding captive animals to perpetuate their enslavement.

    5. There are no double standards here. Yes, most people who oppose animal circuses also oppose commercial zoos and aquaria, that, unlike nature reserves, imprison animals.

    6. Police dogs are not wild animals. They are domestic animals. So no comparison may be drawn here. Wild animals, even when captive-born, retain their natural instincts.

    7. Children learn nothing about animals when the animals they see do not act normal through fear-induced conditioning. If you want to teach children about animals, take them to a nature reserve, or show them a DVD about wildlife. In animal circuses, far from learning mutual respect between humans and animals, they learn to commodify non-human animals for human profit. A slave-master cannot respect a slave.

  3. Deirdre Farrugia says:

    VERY well written Ramona.

  4. Barnum says:

    I agree with Tim. And yes, there are double standards, though not consciously projected ones; they are very deeply embedded into our collective cultural psyche. Animals are animals. As long as we don’t actually hurt them, they are there for our pleasure and well, yes, convenience.
    Before you recoil in horror, here are two examples of common convenience when it comes to animals: 1. Animals as food. What about all the animals that are slaughtered every year for food, and I’m not talking about the ones that are killed and treated in contravention to established standards here – I mean the ones that are reared and slaughtered in conformity to EU rules and what-have-you.
    2. Even the animals we call pets – the ones that have been domesticated over a couple of thousand years are still only wild animal in sheep’s clothing. Yet, because we call them pets we, we appease our consciences by saying that they are not really wild animals anymore. Have you not seen what happens when a dog or a couple of dogs go on the rampage and tear some kid or old lady apart? Where do you think that is coming from? Their domestication…? Yet nobody talks about the cruelty that is inherent to the keeping of pets.
    Don’t try to attack having animal circuses because you’ll find yourselves having a hard time trying to justify having pets – dogs, cats, terrapins, snakes, savage fish… and eating meat…
    Animals are animals are animals. We own them. They don’t own us because we beat them in the evolutionary race. So they are there for our pleasure, convenience and amusement…
    Just as long as we don’t inflict needless pain on them…
    So, if a bunch of dedicated people go to the bother of traipsing around the continent with this troupe of animals in tow (and I can’t see animals like these in a local zoo) you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to go to see them.. Every year…and look forward to it…

    • @ Barnum:

      Not all people have double standards regarding non-human animals.

      Animals are animals, and so are we. The claim that non-human animals are there for our pleasure and convenience is a self-interested claim without any natural or logical backing. It’s exactly what the slave-owner used to say regarding his slaves (its also in the Bible, so don’t go quoting bible texts regarding non-human animals to me, or I’ll quote you whole paragraphs justifying human slavery).

      Now for your points:

      1. I don’t eat meat.

      2. Pets are not “wild animals in sheep’s clothing”. If you read the history of the “domestication” of dogs, you’ll learn that it was a two-way affair – the dogs’ ancestors slowly but surely got closer to humans because they saw the benefits derived from the relationship. In turn, humans earned a companion and an ally in hunting trips. The dogs that form packs and go “on a rampage” and attack humans do so because in our modern urbanised world (unlike in the wild), they cannot hunt for food. So abandoned dogs let out in the street do all it takes to survive. Well-cared-for pet dogs don’t attack anyone unless they are trained to do so, or else they perceive someone as a threat. But yes, I am also against the breeding of pets, and all for the adoption of rescued animals who are already here.

      4. You say that non-human animals are there for our pleasure and convenience, as long as we don’t inflict needless pain on them. So tell me, where’s the necessity in animal circuses?

      Of course, you are free to go and watch enslaved animals. Animal slavery is still legal, after all.

  5. Barnum says:

    One other thing; generally speaking, the animals are NOT tortured – that only happens in people’s imagination. The animals represent a huge investment for the people who buy them to use in their shows and they are fed properly and constantly monitored by vets. Not only that, but very often the relationship between the animals and their trainers gets to the point where the animals are basically their pets. Another thing, very often the animals that are used in circuses are born in captivity so that is what they are used to – they do not miss or hanker for the great open spaces. I have, in the past, gone to see the animals outside of show times – usually in the morning. I have turned up unannounced and asked to see the animals and to take photos of them. I always found the animals to be clean and calm in their pens, with plenty of bedding, food and water (I can show photos to prove this) . I have seen the footage of purported torture of circus animals and all I could see was animals being kept in their pens and trained to do tricks. Even though these tricks do not come naturally to these animals, teaching them to do these tricks does not, in my opinion, constitute torture. If it did, teaching one’s dog to shake hands or to beg or to fetch or to stand on its back legs would also constitute torture…
    Animal circuses often present the only chance to see and enjoy animals without having to go abroad. This is precisely why I always look forward to animal circuses visiting our isles. I need my yearly fix.

    • Funny, I must be turning up unannounced at the wrong circus. Cos when I did precisely that I managed to get into the tent that held an elephant tethered by a chain that was painfully short. And they weren’t too pleased at having a journo see that either. Of course the animals aren’t actively tortured, they need them alive remember? But an elephant with a 1 mtr chain? Lovely. One more thing, when I attempted to teach my old dog to roll it was one massive failure. My reaction? I laughed and gave her the biscuit anyway. Somehow I doubt that is what happens when a circus animal doesn’t perform. What can I say, enjoy your fix…

      • “Of course the animals aren’t actively tortured, they need them alive remember?”

        Actually, during early training sessions, they are, long enough for them to fear their human owner without being beaten. Ask yourself this question: Why do circus staff carry a goad or a whip during the performance? Simple – the animals have by then made the connection between those instruments of torture and the pain derived from them. The message is: “obey, or else…”

        Tortured humans recover with proper medical care. There is no reason why non-human animals would not.

    • @Barnum:

      Being properly fed and regularly monitored by vets does not mean they are not tortured. Anyone who knows anything about torture knows that if you allow a torture victim to recover, he will not only remain alive, but with proper care, he will regain his former health. But one thing’s for sure…he will fear the torturer and will do as he’s told.

      If circuse animals were regarded as pets, the law would have banned animal circuses a long time ago. There is specific legislation on the treatment of pets, and people who treat pets like circus animals would end up arrested and prosecuted. Unfortunately, the animal welfare act does not yet include circus animals.

      Regarding circus animals being born in captivity, I have already answered that further up. Suffice for me to say that being used to mistreatment does not make the mistreatment right. Again, human slaves were used to regular beatings…that didn’t make it right.

      Regarding finding the animals clean and calm before the shows, I would be surprised if you didn’t. Circus owner take care to allow for recovery time before the show (including recovery time from the long journey confined in a small cages).

      If you’ve watched “training sessions” of circus animals that did not include violence, you have only watched the footage that the circus people want you to see. You should look elsewhere, even though footage of proper “training sessions” is not common – for obvious reasons: it has to be obtained secretly. And no, teaching a dog to perform tricks, and teaching a tiger to perform tricks, is not the same thing to anyone other than people who do not see the obvious out of self-interest.

      But again, animal slavery is until now legal, so you may enjoy your yearly fix.

  6. KatZ says:

    I agree with you, Ramona, to some extent… I do not see how animals in circus anywhere can be happy and live as it should (I am not talking about cats and dogs), i.e they cannot act is they would in the wild or have the same living space. However I would not agree that all animals in captivity are subjects of slavery.

    I loved going to circus when I was a child. I’ve never seen sad animals, and I don’t believe my mom is bad for bringing me there. Circus was the only place I could see the animals live. Same goes for the zoo. However it wasn’t until much later that I’ve realized the difference between the zoo and the Zoo.

    I am fortunate to live in a Scandinavian country and twice every year we go to the zoo to see the animals and their new kids. The zoo:s here are HUGE. To this point I have never been able to see a wolf up close, as the area of their habitat is several sq km (and there are 5-6 of them). This year we managed to see the bears because their cubs managed to swim to the middle of an artificial lake they have in the enclosure… mom and dead bear ran out of the woods to fish the small ones out. Animals like chitas and tiger you can see from high grounds or through a lens.

    Last year I visited zoo in Berlin. That was a sight of horror. The lion had a cage the size of my kitchen and walked back and forth being obviously stressed.

    I think the generalizations are never good. There are a lot of places where animals are treated well, even in captivity. And the parents aren’t bad just for bringing their kids to the circus.

    • How can you tell that a tiger or an elephant is not sad? Many wild animals don’t show sadness through facial expressions like we do.

      And no, I don’t think Ramona seriously meant that all parents who take their children to animal circuses are bad parents. But they could of course learn to be better parents by finding out about what goes behind the scenes of animal circuses, and refusing to participate and finance such exploitation and abuse.

      • There is an amount of poetic license in the title yr right Kenneth :) I dragged parents into it because most parents actually think they are “being good” to their kids by taking them. I also know parents who are not comfortable with the idea of an animal circus but they still go, because they think they are doing a disservice to their children by depriving them of the experience. I was trying to make the point that it’s the opposite.

    • It’s worth pointing out that nowadays we have evolved and become more aware about animal rights. To a certain extent my parents’ generation lived in a different world with a different set of rules. The fact that families attended enthusiastically doesn’t surprise me; life was harder and entertainment options were also fewer (not that it’s an excuse). Today we are lucky to be more enlightened. There are so many ways we can keep kids entertained while showing them the beauty of nature!

      • “The fact that families attended enthusiastically doesn’t surprise me; life was harder and entertainment options were also fewer (not that it’s an excuse)”.

        Very good point, Ramona. Moreover, when people live a tough life finding it hard to make ends meet, they will not be in the “mood” to take into account the plight of other species. Any form of entertainment that gives them some respite from their hard lives will do. In comparatively more affluent times, people have started to extend their circle of compassion to include members of other species.

        Apologies for seemingly taking over your blog, but this is a topic that is dear to me, since I have spent decades campaigning for animal rights. Thanks for bringing this important topic to the attention of the public.

  7. tita buds says:

    There is a world of difference between the humane treatment that we accord our pets and the inhumane/cruel forms of ‘training’ forced on show elephants, lions, dolphins, horses, etc. Yes, I agree with Kenneth: those whips and sticks are very telling. Anyone with a modicum of perception and willingness to see beyond his/her ”essential” NEED to be entertained can see what they represent to those animals.

    It is always good to take a firm stand against the inflicting of pain on other creatures — so much more preferable to taking a stand TOWARDS the continuation of something that does (or even ‘may’) harm those creatures for the simple reason that you need to get your ‘fix’.

    • Well said Tita, sadly enlightenment for Malta seems a long way off. I feel like screaming whenever I pass by this circus and see all the families queuing up. They put the poor lion on show in a cage outside to attract the punters. It’s sad.

  8. Red says:

    No matter what is said here, I will forever more disagree with circuses. Just because an animal is fed properly doesn’t mean it’s happy. A cage by far will forever remain a cage. Just because an animal was born in captivity, doesn’t mean that it should be treated the way that the circus treats animals. A majestic beast such as the tiger? Made to jump through a ring of fire. An elephant, made to stand on a ball. How can you people just sit there and clap your hands at the humiliation of these creatures? Do you think that during transportation in some blazing summer heats, these animal have an air conditioner in their pen or a specific corner as their bathroom? Fat chance. Made to stay in their filth and not only that, under a huge amount of stress. How can some of you even start to think that something as atrocious as this can ever be considered ok!

  9. Barnum says:

    Oh c___p, I really don’t feel like getting into long and tedious arguments… I don’t care about elephants having to stand up, or tigers having to jump through fire-hoops. I’d rather if they were simply paraded around the ring for a couple of laps, left to stand around for a while, while we admire them and then taken back to their pens. Really, I would. BUT unfortunately, they are made to perform tricks. I can’t stop that without also stopping animals from being brought over, so I choose to see the animals as their owners deem fit to present them. Beggars can’t be choosers… Having a zoo here would really help though (and to think that we had a fully fledged zoo in the early to mid twentieth century. How frustrating… Oh and before you start hurling anti-zoo abuse at me, ALL large cities and countries have one zoo at least, so having one here would not be anything out of the ordinary..)

    While I’m about it. @ Kenneth:

    1. “How can you tell that a tiger or an elephant is not sad? Many wild animals don’t show sadness through facial expressions like we do”. Kenneth, animals don’t feel sad in the same way that we do. Stop anthropomorphizing animals. They’re NOT human! They are different ‘nations’.
    2. “In comparatively more affluent times, people have started to extend their circle of compassion to include members of other species”. Why should compassion be relativist? What was acceptable fifty years ago is also acceptable now. Just because a few bleeding hearts don’t think so, does not automatically mean that the former practice was wrong…
    3. “If circus animals were regarded as pets, the law would have banned animal circuses a long time ago”. You’d better lie down before you hurt yourself… How does that on any level answer my FIGURATIVE observation that the animals basically become pets??? I did not mean that literally! I meant it only to show that a certain familiarity is built up between the animals and their trainers. Could you not have made the quantum leap of logic…? Or did you choose to misinterpret me on purpose…?
    4. You choose to bring in the comparison with slavery. My-oh-my. Let us take the slavery and exploitation that went on in the New World as a typical example, shall we? Mela, the first thing that impressed the conquistadors, was how angel-like the natives were in their innocence. They could not be assailed and they could not be enslaved because of how they were regarded. So, the wily conquistadors had to ‘demonise’ the natives in their sight and in the sight of the rest of Europe, thereby giving them the legal excuse to convert them and save them from themselves. Slavery and exploitation followed on the heels of this demonicisation as part of the process of conversion and saving their souls. The demonisation was effected by acting with shock and horror at their ‘pagan’ beliefs and rituals. How, pray, does any of this connect with keeping animals at circuses? The animals are not slaves…they are simply animals which are being used for a particular purpose. Again, the romantic anthropomorphisization of animals who do not have the mental capacity to dream up such abstract concepts as liberty and freedom…tisk tisk…you need to guard against this habit, Ken…
    5. “Ask yourself this question: Why do circus staff carry a goad or a whip during the performance?” Yes, they do carry such things, but have you ever noticed that the whips always crack AWAY from the animals? It is the noise that the animals are reacting to…
    6. “The claim that non-human animals are there for our pleasure and convenience is a self-interested claim without any natural or logical backing”. I’ll grant you that it’s a self-serving claim, but it does have a natural and logical backing – we are above the animals; we have stewardship of the planet; we are the masters on this planet, at least for the nonce. Other animals were dominant in the past but just now we have the ball in our hands; we are the play-makers. So if some of us want to make a couple of big cats literally jump through a couple of hoops, then so be it. After all, at the end of their ‘very stressful’ routine (all five minutes of it!), they get to eat and rest and drink.
    7. “The dogs that form packs and go “on a rampage” and attack humans do so because in our modern urbanised world (unlike in the wild), they cannot hunt for food. So abandoned dogs let out in the street do all it takes to survive” Exactly my point. In spite of all the beautiful, dewy eyed symbioses, dogs are only one square meal away from wolf-packs… So much for their domestication and so much for the deep gulf we strive to establish between pets and the wild animals of the circus. My point is that the latter too become domesticated. Up to a point, of course…like the dogs…

    By the way, fantastic blog, Ra :)

    • @ Barnum:

      1. Many non-human animals (especially mammals) do feel emotions similar (but not necessarily exactly the same or to the same degree) as our own. I would be surprised if they didn’t. We all evolved from common ancestral species. No anthropomorphism here. Ít just happens that I’m not a speciesist who likes to believe non-human animals are robots without any emotions, contrary to all scientific evidence.

      2. Compassion shouldn’t be relativist. My point was that people who have serious worries about how to obtain their next meal have little time to worry about other species. I was speaking of historical facts, not making ethical judgements. But I draw the opposite conclusion from you. Far from saying that what was acceptable fifty years ago is acceptable now, I recognize the fact that education is incremental, and that what we now know about non-human animals, people of fifty years ago did not necessarily know. So my conclusion is that what is wrong now was also wrong fifty years ago – it just so happens that people did not know it yet. The same applies to all kinds of abuse. That’s why we had the abolitionist movement (anti-slavery), the feminist movement, the gay rights movement…and now we have an animal rights movement. But go ahead and call us bleeding hearts just because we’re not selfish.

      3. You demonstrate that you can say just about anything as long as you change a definition of a word, and later “explain” that you did not mean it literally. Of course a certain familiarity is built up between animals and their “trainers” (and I use familiarity in its proper sense). A certain familiarity also grew between the slave owner and the slave, but that proves nothing except that the slave does not shed his nature on becoming a slave. But my point was – and that’s the point that you deny – that circus animals do retain their natural instincts, feelings and desires. Far from misrepresenting you, I am stating scientifically proven facts. Of course, you will insist that I am anthropomorphizing non-human animals, contrary to all scientific evidence. If you wish, I will point you to a few books to read – and I mean scientific books.

      4. You say that “(Slaves) could not be assailed and they could not be enslaved because of how they were regarded. So, the wily conquistadors had to ‘demonise’ the natives in their sight and in the sight of the rest of Europe, thereby giving them the legal excuse to convert them and save them from themselves”. It’s ironic that the same tactic is used to enslave non-human animals. The human exploiters excuse their actions by making people believe that “they are just animals”, that feeling pity for the non-human animals comes from “anthropomorphizing animals”, that non-human animals don’t care as long as they are healthy and have enough food to eat, that non-human animals “were created for humans”, etc, etc. Thinking of non-human animals as human property makes animal slavery possible. And there you have the connection you seek. My definition of slavery (which is the common definition) is to force someone to be used for a particular purpose against his wishes. So far from being not slaves, the fact that, as you claim, “they are simply animals which are being used for a particular purpose” demonstrates that they are slaves. But again, to appease your conscience (or demonstrate your ignorance of evolutionary biology), you call this “the romantic anthropomorphisization of animals”. And by the way, just because non-human animals (as far as we know – we could be wrong) might not have the mental capacity to dream up such abstract concepts as liberty and freedom does not mean we may enslave them. This kind of reasoning would justify enslaving severely mentally disabled humans who also do not have the “mental capacity to dream up such abstract concepts as liberty and freedom”.

      5. The whips crack away from the animals, you say. Yes, I have noticed. Imagine the response of the public if the whips were cracked ON the animals. Circus owners are not idiots. Once their animals are “trained” to make the connection between a whip and the pain it gives, cracking the whip is sufficient for them to obey. One need not shoot the gun for you to give him your money. Pointing the gun at you is sufficient, because you have already made the connection between the gun and death. So yes, you are correct in saying that it is the noise of the whip that the animals are reacting to. But they only react to the noise of the whip because they make the connection between the whip’s noise and the pain that comes from the whip. Elementary science (look into behaviourism).

      6. More self-serving claims unbacked by fact from you: “we are above the animals; we have stewardship of the planet; we are the masters on this planet”. I await the evidence that some supreme being granted us that. Your argument only translates to “might is right”. I don’t consider that as a standard of my morality, and I hope you don’t either.

      7. Your absurd claim that “dogs are only one square meal away from wolf-packs” can be easily demonstrated for the absurdity that it is. Simply go into the wild, capture a wolf and take him inside your home. Don’t forget to tell us how it goes. It took hundreds if not thousands of years for dogs to be domesticated (or to domesticate themselves, as it happens – even Darwin knew this). I doubt that you will succeed in a few weeks.

  10. Barnum says:

    Blah blah blah, Ken. Nothing new worth arguing about there. Except for one thing. Two actually. Well ok, three.
    1. You asked (actually what you did was to make a thinly-veiled threat) at the very beginning of this debate that I don’t bring religion into the discussion. I respected this and refrained from doing so. Now, in your penultimate point YOU bring religion into it by asking me to prove that we are masters of the earth by some royal charter granted us by a supreme being. While I could do this (and not just from Genesis) I won’t waste my time on somebody who professes (ironic word, that) to have no religion. No, my proof that we are masters (though I would not use such a word myself – stewards is more befitting of our position) is that we ARE. We are the most sentient, infinitely mobile, most communicative, most manipulative of our environment, most adaptable, most inquisitive creatures on the planet – ergo, We are the dominant species. For better or worse…
    2. My knowledge about evolutionary biology is not, how shall I put this diplomatically, exactly lacking.
    3. Homo Sapiens Sapiens was the last great (great as in large) animal to evolve. We, our species, are the end result of a process that started waaaay back in the pre-cambrian eon millions and millions of years ago. You know, shortly after the moon was formed and we get evidence of RNA molecule replication. We are, if you will, the cherry on the evolutionary cake… so yes we are the ‘masters’. This does not give us the right to be cruel, of course.
    4. (Ooops! There was a fourth!) Oh, and I still think that you have not understood my taking exception to your criticism of my original point when you say “If circus animals were regarded as pets, the law would have banned animal circuses a long time ago” Regarded as pets by whom, pray? Why would the relationship between a circus animal and its trainer, which is a strictly personal affair, be of any legislative influence with regards to said animal’s status or legality or otherwise, based simply because a trainer comes to the point where he regards his charge as a pet…? Sounds like cloud-cuckoo land to me…!
    ’nuff said, Kenneth. It was a good argument while it lasted. I don’t think I’ll be re-posting after this. Unless you come up with something worthwhile, that is….

    • @ Barnum:

      Commencing your response with “blah blah blah” clearly displays the kind of attitude your’re taking. Others would perhaps not bother with you anymore, but I’m not that kind of person. I’ll again reply in point form, for ease of reference.

      1. I don’t make threats – neither explicit nor veiled. It was not me who brought in religion, but you, by making the assumption that animals are there for us to do as we wish. There are only two possible “justifications” for that absurd claim, one being the religious justification (God wills it that way, or the “might is right” justification. Which one do you choose? And where’s your evidence (hint: the Bible is no evidence), and evolution or the “survival of the fittest” shows not what we ought to do – that’s what’s called the naturalistic fallacy. You tell me you “won’t waste (your) time on somebody who professes to have no religion”. That’s a non-argument if there ever was one, but let’s ignore that. You then say that your “proof that we are masters” is that “we ARE”. That, my friend, is a complete distortion of the actual question, which is a “should we” question, and not a “do we” one. To go back to the human slavery example, the question (back in the time of legal slavery) was not “do we keep slaves?” (the obvious answer would have been yes), but “should we keep slaves?”. And so, just in case I have to spoon-feed, the question now is not “are we masters of all other species?”, but “should we be masters of all other species?”. I leave it to you to give me your moral justifications for that self-centred worldview. I would only like to remind you that the fact that we are the “most sentient, infinitely mobile, most communicative, most manipulative of our environment, most adaptable, most inquisitive creatures on the planet” does not automatically give us the moral right to subdue others. That would be “might is right”.

      2. You tell me that your knowledge about evolutionary biology is not lacking. Good for you, and I’ll leave it there, since you did not expound on that revelation.

      3. I won’t argue about your assertion that Homo Sapiens Sapiens was the last great (great as in large) animal to evolve, since whether this is true or not is inconsequential to moral issues (which is what we’re discussing here). However I would like to correct your mistaken evolutionary view that evolution is like a ladder, with humans firmly at the top, or in your words “the cherry on the evolutionary cake” Evolution is more correctly seen as a web. We might be better at many things, but we are far worse than other animals at other things. But the fact remains that – at least in my opinion – might does not mean right.

      4. You took exception at my true claim that if circus animals were regarded as pets, the law would have banned animal circuses a long time ago. You now ask “regarded as pets by whom, pray?” The answer is obvious to anyone who is paying attention – the subject matter in my statement is the law. So the answer is the law. Now, if you have any idea about the contents of the animal welfare act, you would know that non-human animals are subjectively classified as “pet animals”, “farm animals”, “animals used for entertainment”, “animals used for medical experiments” etc, and that the law is different to each category. And yes, you’d be surprised to learn that if tigers and elephants were classified as “pet animals” in the act, circus owners would all be arrested and prosecuted. So your comment regarding my argument sounding like cloud-cuckoo land to you stems from your incapacity of understanding my simple sentence, and your clearly having no idea on the contents of the animal welfare act.

      Feel free not to bother answering, of course. But if you do, I’ll be happy to explain to you. What I learned in over 20 years of research, I don’t expect you to fully grasp in an hour or two.

  11. Barnum says:

    1. I know that evolution is not a ladder but more of a web. Yes, but we were the last great animal to evolve, so web or ladder was not important to the purpose of my arguments.

    2. Stating that animals are there for our use is not bringing religion into it. It’s just stating a fact. They ARE a resource… It is you who brought religion to this particular issue by applying moral filters to the whole issue. Let me ask you, where would we be in our process of civilisation if we had not employed horse or animal-drawn carts and conveyances? Where would we be now had we not used animal-drawn ploughs? Where would we be now had we not used animal-powered mills? History proves over and over that animals are there for us to use and exploit. Had we not used this animal resource (and selectively bred the einkorn to become more resilient and give a better yield) , we would still be living in caves and lean-tos. Your problem stems not from whether animals are there for us to use and exploit. No, your problem comes from where to draw the line. Clearly, you think that using animals for entertainment (and yes educational) purposes is beyond that acceptable line. Others do not concur with your point of view. That does not mean, however, that you and people who see things like you are right and that people who see things the way I do are wrong.

    3. “That, my friend, is a complete distortion of the actual question, which is a “should we” question, and not a “do we” one” To answer you; in the past the question of ‘should we’ is neatly answered by ‘yes, we did’, and look at the huge strides we achieved thanks, to the use of animals, both as food and as a tool. Today the question of ‘should we’ is a divisive one, thanks to relativist morality, amongst other things. I still think we should, as long as certain controls and norms are in place…

    4. My Blah blah blah was my tongue in cheek way of signalling that we are beginning to go round in circles. My references to the earth’s and life’s remote past should be evidence enough that I know a thing or two about evolutionary biology. Within my arm’s reach here, I have Darwin’s opus and a book about experiments which were conducted to study the effect that external factors have on the formation of life, including an experiment which simulates a young earth with a correspondingly young atmosphere and the effects that passing electricity through this system has. It was found that hydrocarbons were formed – a pre-requisite to the formation of life… Also within arm’s reach I have a dictionary of biology, a copy of Gray’s Anatomy and three (very advanced) biology text books. I don’t lie…

    • @ Barnum:

      1. “Yes, but we were the last great animal to evolve, so web or ladder was not important to the purpose of my arguments” – And what argument was that? That might is right? Or perhaps that “what is” makes “what ought to be”?

      2. Stating that animals are there for our use (barring arguments from religion or from “might is right” is not a fact about what ought to be, but a statement of what we make them to be. We use animals. Yes, I know that already (and its what I’m arguing against). But the question is: should we? And you don’t answer that question by telling me that we are. I only apply “moral filters” because this IS a moral question (please note – to say it is a moral issue is not to say it is a religious issue). You ask me where would we be in our process of civilisation if we had not employed horse or animal-drawn carts and conveyances (etc)? I ask you the same question, but replacing exploited animals with humans. Where would we be without slavery, forced experimentation on “lesser” humans, the subjugation of women, etc? Yes, we definitely did derive benefits from all this, but the question is: Does this justify anything? Or better still, should we keep exploiting humans? For instance, huge medical advances would be derived from the forced experimentation on humans. But we don’t do it, because its a moral issue. You only think its different with regards to non-human animals because you believe non-human animals don’t matter, or matter less. That’s a very speciesist conclusion that lacks any backing with fact, unless one subscribes to the “might is right” philosophy, or else believes that even some humans may be sacrificed for the “higher benefits” of the rest. You only show how your point of view is a valid one when you back it up with rational and morally consistent arguments. I’m still waiting.

      3. You once again seek to justify your absurd “we ought because we do” by pointing out to the benefits of the status quo. Yes, I repeat, we have reaped huge benefits from the exploitation of animals, just as we have reaped huge benefits from the exploitation of humans. But the moral question is one of what we morally should do, and not whether it benefits us to do so. If morality were measured by the benefits particular groups reap from an action, we would still have slavery and apartheid. You say you still think we should exploit animals, but fail to give valid reasons that would not justify human slavery. Again, I’m still waiting.

      4. I’m not at all going round in circles. It’s just that you have not met any of my challenges, so I try to rephrase my questions. And I’m not at all interested in a quiz on who knows more about evolutionary biology. I will only correct you where I think you’re wrong, as I expect you to correct me when I am, if you so wish. But I still can’t understand how someone who knows evolution and accepts it, can make such an absurd claim that “animals” are there for us (even though millions of species came before us – what a waste, eh?). Or did I misunderstand you there?

  12. So, let me sum up Barnum’s five “justifications” for the exploitation of other species (not necessarily in the order that he makes them):

    1. Humans are the “higher” species (with respect to intelligence, sentience etc): This says nothing about the morality of exploiting animals – if anything, it makes our exploitation of animals worse because we should know better. And suppose that in the future we discover a more intelligent species (alien, perhaps). Would we reason that they would be morally entitled to enslave us?

    2. We derive huge benefits from animal exploitation: Well, so would we if we were to exploit some humans (particularly in the field of scientific experimentation). But would that be morally justifiable?

    3. Animals don’t have a mental concept of freedom: While this is debatable with regards to some mammals, it is basically irrelevant. Severely mentally disabled humans also don’t have a mental concept of freedom, but most of us would agree that it is morally wrong to exploit them. Most of us would actually claim that we are burdened with the added responsibility of ensuring that they are not exploited by others, since they cannot defend themselves. The same would apply in the case of non-human animals.

    4. Animals may be exploited because they are a resource (we derive cheap labour and goods from them and their bodies): This mistakes possible uses for morally appropriate uses. Even humans can be seen simply as a resource. That’s what makes exploitation possible and to some people desirable. But the potential for exploitation does not justify the exploitation.

    5. The world wouldn’t be the one we know, were it not for animal exploitation: Well, the same could also be said of human exploitation, including slavery, the subjugation of women, apartheid, etc. While we cannot turn the clock back, we can ensure that injustice does not keep happening, even if huge benefits may be derived from injustice.

  13. Barnum says:

    While resisting the temptation to use my blah blah blah number once more, I will attempt to answer you with excruciating clarity so that you will no longer live under the misapprehension that I am trying to avoid certain issues (why would I want to do that?!) Maybe you’re embedding your questions in a morass of other stuff and they’re not shining through…
    1. Yes Ken, I do see animals as a resource which should, no ought, to be used. Humanity owes it to itself to use the largesse which the earth bequeaths to us. Even so-called primitive societies do this. Even animals use other animals to ensure their own survival and I’m not talking about outright killing to live here, either. For example, there are ants which herd and husband certain aphids to harvest a sweet liquid which the aphids secrete. Perhaps you should go and tell them to stop doing this because they (the ants) are exploiting the aphids and using the ‘might is right’ maxim (which, incidentally, is pretty much the rule-of-thumb in the animal and plant kingdom)
    2. I do not think that humans should be abusively exploited by other humans. This is out and out wrong. Having said that, please do not now go on to equate humans exploiting humans with humans equating animals. Just not the same ballgame, Ken, no matter what quaint misnomers you choose to give ‘human animals’ and ‘non-human animals’…
    3. Re the point you make about superior aliens etc. This is precisely why some top scientists think that our enthusiastic sending of capsules which constantly transmit a message attesting to our presence into deep space is a miserable idea…we do not know who (if anyone at all, that is) might be receiving the transmission…
    4. The rest of your conclusions attempt to imply that since I feel that animals are a resource which ought to be exploited, then it follows that I a) have no compunction towards other humans who are less fortunate and that b) I might seriously entertain their being put down because they constitute a burden on society. What rubbish and what poppycock!
    You see Ken, dare I say it, YOU come to these ridiculous conclusions because you lack faith, because you equate humans and animals on a one-on-one basis and because you do not believe in the Risen Christ. There is a BIG difference Ken between us humans and even the most intelligent dogs, dolphins and primates. Humans have souls and we have to treat each other with the respect, with the dignity deserving of temples of the Holy Spirit, which is what each and everyone is. That is why the exploitation of humans by humans is so terribly, terribly wrong. And that is why the exploitation of animals by humans is fine, as long as the animals are treated humanely.
    5. “But the question is: should we?” Yes Kenneth, I am saying unequivocally we should and we ought to exploit animals. In a humane way.

    Why am I getting the mental image of two goldfish swimming round and round in a round bowl, getting a convex, warped view of the outside world through the side of the bowl? Only managing to make out the vaguest glimmering of what lies without through the obstruction of their own image, reflected back at them on the inside of the glass…?

    Are we still talking about circus animals? The ramifications of the central argument are going to keep widening…

    I think we should agree to disagree and leave it at that, Ken.

    • @ Barnum:

      1. I already knew you consider animals as a resource that should be used. What I expected was the justification for that (apart from might is right). Instead, you say that we should do this because primitive societies and other animals do that. So much for our mental superiority. I never said or for once believed that only humans subjugate and use other animals for their own ends. My question was: Should we? And if yes, why? That others do it is no rational reply. It simply begs the question. But then, you tell me that primitive humans and other animals use other animals FOR SURVIVAL. If we were to use other animals for our own survival, I would be the first to agree with you. But I hope you realise that we would survive without animal circuses! We even survive without eating animals (I am evidence of that), but let’s not needlessly prolong the debate – this is about circuses.

      2. You say that you do not think that humans should be abusively exploited by other humans, but fail to give the reason why humans should not abusively exploit other humans. If you did, you would see that the same reasons would show that we shouldn’t abusively exploit other animals. Try it. Give me a reason why we should not abusively exploit other humans, and I’ll show you how that reason disqualifies abusing other animals. Please note that saying “because they are humans” is not a reason. It simply begs the question. I’m not equating exploiting humans with exploiting animals, just like one cannot equate exploiting any human with any other human. Some suffer more than others. Some are more aware than others. Some are more intelligent than others. But what would be your reason for opposing abusively exploiting a human who is less aware, intelligent or sentient than a non-human animal? That he’s human? Sounds little different from exploiting black people because they’re not white. And please note that “non-human animal” is an accepted term commonly used in scientific textbooxs, particularly in zoology and evolutionary biology, and not some phrase that animal rights activists invented. Humans are animals, whether you believe it or not (and I would be surprised if you said you didn’t, since you claim you are amply familiar with evolutionary biology).

      3. Regarding my aliens example, you fail to get the point (or else conveniently ignore it). My point is: What if there were superior aliens? Would you say that they would be morally justified in abusively exploiting us? I await your honest answer to this, as well.

      4. The rest of my conclusions do not attempt to imply that since you feel that animals are a resource which ought to be exploited, then it follows that you have no compunction towards other humans who are less fortunate, or that you might seriously entertain their being put down because they constitute a burden on society. They only show that your “reasons” for exploiting and abusing non-human animals would equally “justify” exploiting some humans. There IS a difference. I’m only showing how you are being morally inconsistent in your rationalization of animal exploitation. Of course, you’ll either ignore this, or pretend you don’t understand (or misunderstand).

      I did not come to any ridiculous conclusions. I’m being consistent in my rationalizations and my arguments against exploitation. You, on they otherhand, choose to make distinctions where there are none. And what has faith and the “risen Christ” have to do with any of this? Have you realised that, having no rational arguments to back up your irrational claims, you might as well bring out the “faith card”? But let me play your game. You say that: “Humans have souls and we have to treat each other with the respect, with the dignity deserving of temples of the Holy Spirit, which is what each and everyone is”. Let me ignore the fact that there is absolutely no evidence (let alone proof) of that. But where does it say that beings without souls do not deserve dignity and respect? Actually, I would think that individuals who have no soul (and therefore, no afterlife, I presume) deserve more compassion because they don’t get a second life in “heaven”. Basically, what you’re saying is that humans should not be exploited even though they get another life, while animals may be exploited even though its the only life they have. Absurd. Then again, people like Francis of Assisi and Pope John Paul II would disagree with you. Pope John Paul II himself claimed that animals do have souls.

      5. You are insisting that we should and we ought to exploit animals in a humane way. And yet, you haven’t given any rational justification that would exclude exploiting some humans, apart from your imaginary “soul”, that in any case, is no justification at all, as I have shown. And yes, we are we still talking about circus animals, which makes it worse, since, although it could be argued that some humans might need meat to survive, I’m sure you’ll agree that nobody needs circuses to survive.

      Yes, perhaps we should agree to disagree, at least until you decide to stop evading my questions.

  14. Barnum says:

    1. We should exploit animals BECAUSE they are a resource that is there to be used. Does that not answer your question? The fact that they exist and that they are there to be used is reason enough for us to use them. There’s a limit to the number of ways I can say this… Why can’t you get this? It is not a question of might is right. We are the ones who have learned to use the resources around us. Animals are just another resource. We need this resource and so we use it. That is your justification. Not to use animals as a resource would be a waste. Going round in circles again, Ken, circles. We use them because we need them. We are in a position to use them so we do. They are not in a position to use us but we are in a position to use them.
    Actually, in a way, dogs used us as a resource when they approached us and started to live with us. We were a resource to them in that we offered them steady food, security, a safe place to put their head down etc…
    I have answered your question – it is up to you to see the answer now…

    2. “You say that you do not think that humans should be abusively exploited by other humans, but fail to give the reason why humans should not abusively exploit other humans” I did answer this by specifically saying that there is a fundamental difference between humans and other animals. The fact that this difference is of no consequence (that we have souls and are temples of the Holy Spirit) to you does not mean that I did not answer your question.

    3. No I don’t think that aliens would be justified in exploiting humans exactly because of the same reasons that I don’t think humans should exploit other humans.

    4. “I’m only showing how you are being morally inconsistent in your rationalization of animal exploitation” I am not being inconsistent; the difference warrants different criteria being applied to human exploitation and animal exploitation.
    “They only show that your “reasons” for exploiting and abusing non-human animals would equally “justify” exploiting some humans.” No Ken, because the differences you are talking about are not the same as the ones that I am keeping in mind.
    “You, on they other hand, choose to make distinctions where there are none” That is according to your lights, Ken. From where I’m standing the distinctions are very real indeed.
    “what has faith and the “risen Christ” have to do with any of this?” It has everything to do with it because my faith and your lack of it give completely different ramifications to the question of how to deal with animals. This is the essence of why you keep harping on the ‘should we’ issue because to you a justification of the ‘should we’ unleashes terrible logical connotations of what people can do to other people following in the footsteps of ‘yes we should’. This stems from the fact that you see animals and people on the same footing. I make the distinction between animals and people at a deeper level and consequently I do not have to fight the devils that you do when I say ‘yes we should’ exploit animals. (not abuse them, though. You slip the concept of abuse in with the concept of acceptable exploitation as though they were one and the same thing. They are not…)
    “But where does it say that beings without souls do not deserve dignity and respect? ” Nowhere is this said. That is why we are duty-bound to treat animals, even the ones raised to be slaughtered, with dignity and respect. (Going back to the circus issue, I genuinely do not believe that keeping animals and making them perform for a few minutes a couple of times a day constitutes abuse)
    Yes, the late Pope did say that even animals have souls but not in the same way as we have souls (hint: we were created in the likeness and image of God and are here on earth as ‘pilgrims in a strange land’)

    5. “And yet, you haven’t given any rational justification that would exclude exploiting some humans, apart from your imaginary “soul”, that in any case, is no justification at all, as I have shown” Let me start with the end bit of that quote. Where, exactly, did you demonstrate that having or not having a soul is no justification? My justification for excluding humans from abuse/exploitation even if we did not have a soul (BIG if – I’m just humoring you here for the sake of the argument as you did me) is the human heart; the capacity for compassion and empathy, the capacity for love and understanding of one’s fellow man. This would, in most cases, be enough to stop people exploiting other people. Animals, on the other hand, are seen as a usable resource by most of the people on the planet. Especially in the less developed countries.

    One last thing. Yes I agree that we can survive without circuses. They’re just kind of nice to have around for those who enjoy them, that’s all. No big woof (if you’ll excuse the pun)

    That’s it for me Kenneth. Over and out. Have a nice week.

    • @ Barnum:

      1. You say that we should exploit animals BECAUSE they are a resource that is there to be used. Does this answer my question? NO, because you have given no rationally consistent moral reasons why we then would not be morally entitled to do the same to other humans. You keep evading THIS question. You “justify” your answer by saying that “we are the ones who have learned to use the resources (animals, according to you) around us – MIGHT IS RIGHT. You say that animals are just another resource, but don’t give any rationally and morally consistent reasons why then we shouldn’t use some humans as just another resource. You say that we need this resource and so we use it, and that not to use animals as a resource would be a waste. So would not using some humans if we were to consistently follow your logic. Someone could say that some humans are just a resource and it would be a waste not to use that resource. What would be your reply…that they have a soul? Demonstrate that.

      2. The fact that any differences (real or imagined) between some humans and some animals are of no consequence to moral questions on whether we should use someone as property means that you do not answer moral questions when you refer to things that have no weight on moral actions.

      3. You say that you don’t think that aliens would be justified in exploiting humans exactly because of the same reasons that I don’t think humans should exploit other humans. And this exposes your deep and unreasonable bias in favour of humans. The aliens could claim that we are just a resource, and that it would be a waste not to use us as a resource. Ah, but then you would retort that we have a soul. So your pregudice and bias is essentially and exclusively religious. So why did you waste so much of our time. You could have immediately admitted that we are entitled to do what we want because we have souls.

      4. You are being inconsistent; the differences you mention (except the one about souls which you arbitrarily say all humans possess and all animals don’t, without any evidence for either) would warrant different criteria being applied to some humans and other humans, and would actually warrant better treatment of some animals over some humans. Your trump card is your imaginary soul.

      5. You ask me where, exactly, did I demonstrate that having or not having a soul is no justification? The onus is on the one who discriminates to prove that the rationale for discrimination is a valid one. If I were to tell you (and I certainly don’t) that being black is a sufficient criteria for one to be considered property, then the onus is on me to prove that it is. You say that your justification for excluding humans from abuse/exploitation even if we did not have a soul, is the human heart; the capacity for compassion and empathy, the capacity for love and understanding of one’s fellow man. And hence lies your big hole in your argument. Some humans have less capacity for compassion and empathy, less capacity for love and understanding of one’s fellow man than some animals. So would we be justified in exploiting them and using them as property? If yours are the criteria we should use, then we could and should.

      Have a nice week.

      • I think it is safe to say you have said it all. Hopefully whoever reads this will at least think twice before supporting animal circuses. Ken, tks for the reading list by the way.
        Everyone has had his say, comments on this one now closed.

  15. Barnum says:

    “And this exposes your deep and unreasonable bias in favour of humans” Good one, that… Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.

    You’re falling apart and becoming increasingly incoherent and tediously repetitive. I have answered all your questions. Look for the answers in my text. Don’t skim read. I am not going to address the issue with you anymore (that’s what I meant by over and out…)

    Having read your latest offerings, I can only say one thing to you at this point:
    SEEK HELP

    In the words of the old Italian adage, you have eloquently demonstrated that:
    La filosofia è quella scienza che, con la quale o senza la quale, tutto resta tale e quale

  16. So it transpires that Barnum’s argument boils down to “we may use animals as resources because I say so”.

    But then it is me who is “falling apart and becoming incoherent and tediously repetitive” and who “needs to seek help” (such Christian charity!).

    But because I repect the wishes of the owner of this blog, I rest my case. I’ll leave others to judge my case, and apparently, my sanity. One thing’s for sure…one can say just about anything and insult just about anyone when hiding under the cover of anonymity. I call that cowardice, but let that pass.

    Have a nice day.

  17. Mario Schembri Wismayer was Barnum says:

    Kenneth, without wanting to re-open our argument, I just want to let you know, that I did not enter the discussion under a pseudonym out of cowardice. I entered as Barnum (you know, the famous circus master) just as a tongue in cheek thing. I thought I was going to make one comment and that would be it. I was not expecting to enter into a twenty-four hour debate. Now that Ramona has been kind enough to re-open the comments, I would like to inform you that my name is Mario Schembri Wismayer. That is all I wanted to say…

  18. Oh, I see. You’re the anti-divorce Mario Schembri Wismayer, I suppose. That puts things into their proper perspective. Trust me to argue with you on animal freedom when you would even deny religious freedom to other humans!

    And yes, I do know about Barnum. He’s the one who started his business as a fraud. Not a very good choice of name.

    In any case, have a nice day and enjoy your freedom, Mr Schembri Wismayer. Others are not so lucky.

  19. I must say that I enjoyed reading the post and the comments were so insightful too :D

  20. Mario E Grech says:

    Agree with you perfectly Ramona. If we really want to have some fun and awe this time of year while huddled under a tent, why doesn;t someone bring over Cirque de Soleil? Now that would be entertainment with a capital E!

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