Wednesday, March 07, 2007

How to judge a nation's greatness: Treatment of animals or prisoners?

Can a nation's greatness be measured by what goes on in the dog pound, or perhaps in prison?

On the Texas DAs' website we find a plea from a prosecutor for help formulating opening and closing arguments in an upcoming animal cruelty case. He declares:

I'd appreciate any themes and opening/closing argument talking point ideas that I could expound on. One I like is the idea that how we treat animals is a reflection of our humanity.
Who could disagree? A prosecutor from Dallas followed up with this suggestion:
This might be similar to your humanity theme, but I love that Ghandi quote: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." How great are we if we don't hold those accountable who mistreat our animals?
Indeed, that's a noble sentiment - one shared, I'm sure, by all but the most callous carnivores. But to read it on the prosecutors' user forum invites a blogger to remind them that Gandhi was taking his cue from Fyodor Dostoevsky, with whom they might not find themselves in such ardent agreement. Here's the original quote from the Russian novelist:
"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."
So in light of the routine discovery of convicted innocents, reported abuses at TYC, poor healthcare and dehumanizing treatment of prisoners at TDCJ, and Texas' deadly local jails, prosecutors might well ask "how great are we if we don't hold those accountable who mistreat" our prisoners?

That's a topic I seldom hear discussed by Texas District and County Attorneys. It's not hard to guess why.


Anonymous said...

Don't leave out the fact that those corrections officers who torture prisoners go scot free, as do those who murder prisoners.

If we're going to be honest, let's stop hiding truths.

Jeremy Goren said...

Don't forget the treatment of immigrants (including children) imprisoned by ICE -- like those in the Hutto Detention Center in Texas.

[If you need a crash course in that, go here and scroll down a couple of posts.]

Anonymous said...

Prosecutors asking for help with their homework? Will dogs and cats soon be sleeping together and making babies, Darwin be damned? Is the end of the world nigh?And what's up with the "River of tears..." verbal diarrhea?

Anonymous said...

There are so many truths told regarding the treatment of Inmates it is unbelievable. The treatment of Inmates by guards is horrenedous and to think they might treating the youth worse is unforgiveable.

I do not think Ed Rissis is the man for the job and Rissie should be fired. It is because of her our prisons are over capicity and yet she retains her job? She will go free and only Senator Whitmire, bless him will make her aswer to her misdeedes. Those who are elegible for parole and have jobs,families and church homes waiting for them and have clean records and had neve done any thing wrong should be sent home with all right restored. The sooner the better and from the unit they are in and not have to go back to Huntsville.

Anonymous said...

Prisoners deserve to be treated humanely, there is no question. The idea is that by serving time or facing execution they will repay their debt and leave the prison or the planet "even with the house".

The comparison with animals, however is a non-sequitur because unlike prisoners animals are INNOCENT. I have witnessed social conservatives challenged for their seemingly hypocrital stands on abortion and capital punishment. Again-- the distinction is that of innocence.

Geoff Miller