Thoughts on the #MPRraccoon / by Brandon Keim

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As someone who thinks raccoons are utterly marvelous creatures, I ought to be more excited about the virality of one courageous youngster whose 25-story climb transfixed the Internet yesterday afternoon.

Yet I have mixed feelings. One the one hand: it’s remarkable to see so many people united in caring about that raccoon. On the other: recently a schoolteacher in Florida gained notoriety after drowning two raccoons and a possum in front of his students. Their crime: eating food that didn’t belong to them.

The teacher wasn’t charged with animal cruelty — and though some animal advocacy groups are pushing for charges, arguing that the raccoons were not killed humanely, what’s the point? Killing them humanely would have been every bit as cruel and unjust. And people kill raccoons all the time for frivolous, entirely legal reasons — in retribution for causing minor inconveniences, for fun, for a few dollars. (At least the animal advocates spoke up, though. Conservation groups didn’t even bother.)

These episode distill where we’re at as a society: capable of extraordinary compassion and also extraordinary callousness.  So who are we going to be?

Image: Paige Donnelly Law