The Lessons I’ve Learned from In the Arms of an Angel by Sarah McLaughlin and ASPCA Commercial

Category: Psychology
Last Updated: 26 Jun 2023
Pages: 4 Views: 62

It's a weeknight, and you're enjoying a comfortable evening on the couch with your favorite shows but there it is. It's taken you by surprise for the third time this month, and you clamor for the remote with the urgency of a dropping bomb as Sarah McLaughlin's "In The Arms of An Angel" begins to play. The ASPCA commercial has just enough time to show three images of battered animals before you're lucky enough to change the channel. The battle is over, your good mood for the evening has come out moderately unscathed.

If I can safely say that Sarah McLaughlin has taught me anything, it's that anything can be made into a joke even animal cruelty. I say this without any intent disparage you, or I, or any of the millions of people that understand exactly what I'm talking about; rather, I say it to suggest an explanation: an explanation of our most common stance towards animal rights. Of course, if I were to take such an unnecessary poll, it would be laughable how quickly the room would unanimously agree that animal cruelty is wrong.

Many hunters, even, would agree that it's wrong to make an animal suffer, even in sport. And yet, when a vegan or a vegetarian so much as mentions their diet, they're typically met with annoyed confusion. When someone suggests that perhaps it's unethical to eat meat from factory farms with gulag- esque conditions, they're sometimes met with uneducated responses that question the morality of eating plants because, and I quote, "they can feel pain too." I believe that people typically face the subject of animal rights with backlash because they're aware of their own cognitive dissonance.

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They may believe that if they supported the concept of animal rights in diets, or brands of clothing, or in cosmetics, then they would be a hypocrite. If someone unabashedly enjoys a piece of bacon with their pancakes, then more often than not that person feels as if they have no right to speak out against cruelty to farm animals, or for the mice, rabbits, or beagles that live and die by toxic fumes to make some new deodorant.

What I suggest right now is that we take a step back from that mentality. Whether you eat meat, or wear body sprays from one of the 110 cosmetic brands that use animal testing (Animals Australia), consider for just a moment that the capacity for support doesn't have to be defined by what you've done in other respects. Coming from someone who used to hunt, I ask you to understand that supporting animal rights can start small and stay small if that's who you are. Don't let one stance define the next, because nothing should be so black and white as that.

Entertainment. Mentioned earlier, it's one element of animal cruelty and exploitation that is often unconsidered. Though it might be the first thought to have come to your head, I'm not referring to the classic disclaimer "no animals were harmed in the making of this film." No; rather, I'm addressing the cornerstone of live entertainment that captures our attention with promises of stunts more extravagant than the last: the circus. Specifically, I want to speak about the emancipation of a group of performers from "the most famous show on earth," the Ringling Brothers' circus. Next month, in May of 2017, the Ringling Brothers will be packing up its tents for the last time, and one of its most tired performers will finally be put into retirement. I'm speaking, of course, about the asian elephant.

The use of exotic animals in circuses is unfortunately a staple of the industry, going back to the founding days of P.T. Barnum's outrageous spectacles. In training, these animals are forced to contort themselves into unnatural positions and perform unnatural tricks, all while being prodded with electro- shock devices--or worse yet, the infamous "bullhook," Referred to sarcastically by elephant handlers as "the instrument of torture" (National Geographic, 2017), the bullhook is a pipe-like rod with a dulled fireplace poker at the end of it. It's normally not sharp enough to puncture human skin, but if hit with any real force causes tremendous pain.

This bludgeoning device has been the subject of so much controversy that many cities have taken steps towards banning the use of the instrument, a roadblock that Ringling Brothers admits has led to the downfall of their act. With fewer and fewer places to tour thanks to these ordinances, the endangered side-show performers were given the decency of an early retirement. Early, that is, unless you're Baby, a born and raised showgirl who has seen more than 46 years of her life beneath a spotlight, and behind bars.

The end of the Ringling Brothers' circus is, in my opinion, something to be celebrated. It's not just one brick being dismantled from an eyesore of our nation, it's the first three floors being pulled out from under it. But, as is to be expected, not all victories are the true end of the fight. The elephants that have been lucky enough to retire from the stage will join the rest of their herd in the Ringling Brothers.

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The Lessons I’ve Learned from In the Arms of an Angel by Sarah McLaughlin and ASPCA Commercial. (2023, Jun 26). Retrieved from

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