Politics, Religion, and Witch Hunts

I don’t mean to take anything away from Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, but it sometimes seems as if our politicians craft legislation with the sole intent of scoring priceless airtime on the The Colbert Report or The Daily Show. Little wonder these shows are both incredibly popular and enduring: the material just keeps coming.

And, really, you can’t make this stuff up.

Last week, Colbert took Utah Representative (and Buddhist) Curtis Oda (R) to task for his sponsorship of HB 210, which “amends provisions of the Utah Criminal Code relating to animal cruelty and animal torture,” including allowances for “the humane shooting or killing of an animal if the person doing the shooting or killing has a reasonable belief that the animal is a feral animal.”

As for what constitutes “humane” or “reasonable,” that’s anybody’s guess—plenty of grist for Colbert’s mill…

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mr. Smith Goes to the State Legislature Then Later Possibly Washington – Curtis Oda

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The fact that Colbert got such mileage out of HB 210 is no surprise—that’s what he does, after all. And HB 210 is so absurd to begin with, his satirical rant required only a slight stretch.

The question is: how does such legislation getting any traction at all?

According to a guest editorial in Utah’s Daily Herald newspaper, the answer for some is “human dominion within the Christian tradition.” (The same topic that Stephen Vantassel, of “Feral Cats and Their Management” fame, tackled in his PhD dissertation, dedicated, by the way, to “fur trappers who, every winter, brave the harsh weather in continuance of America’s oldest industry. Regrettably, they must also endure the ravages of urban sprawl and the derision of an ungrateful and ignorant public.” As I say, you really can’t make this stuff up.)

I’ll leave it to others (Stephen Colbert, are you listening?) to poke holes in the theological rationale put forth by Dr. Clayton M. White, professor emeritus at Brigham Young University, and his nameless co-author—but can’t help weighing in on their science:

“In Wisconsin alone, where data are good, about 39 million native animals are killed annually by pet and feral cats.”

That’s right: despite their combined “90 years of work in zoology and conservation,” these two are trying to sell the Wisconsin Study’s estimates as actual data (and, by association, the Wisconsin Study as an actual study).

Talk about unshakable faith!

Note: You can sign the Change.org petition opposing HB 210 here.