The Adventures of Mike and Laurie Masterson: I guess no one at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ever saw this episode of Lou Grant | Street Jazz

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Adventures of Mike and Laurie Masterson: I guess no one at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ever saw this episode of Lou Grant

Posted By on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 10:47 AM

I read Mike Masterson’s column touting the recent TEA Party event in Fayetteville, and yet again promoting the work of his wife, Laurie. “What’s wrong with that, Drake, you cynical devil?” the average reader may ask.

Other than the fact that it seems a little unseemly, I recall an episode of Lou Grant a few years ago (all right, it was arerun)  when the wife of one of the paper’s editors was about to become involved in a highly charged political movement.

The choice to made the editor was stark and simple.

He kept his job and she withdrew from the political realm, or she was active, and he retired. Grant and the publisher felt hat it was a conflict of interest for the paper to cover a political group where an editor’s wife was such a prominent leader.

If only FOX News carried episodes of Lou Grant. Someone at the Democrat-Gazette might have seen that episode - not that it would have made much of an impression.


Quote of the Day

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. - Lily Tomlin


When Elephants Weep

I   wonder if it's easier to treat animals with cruelty if we can convince ourselves that they feel no pain, or that they have no true emotions? Ascribing human-like characteristics to animals -anthropomorphism - seems absolutely terrifying to many, particularly scientists who study animals.


This is a question which haunted Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson for many years, until he decided to investigate the matter on his own. Masson is no stranger to controversy. During his brief tenure as the projects director of the Sigmund Freud Archives, the papers he uncovered on Freud’s writings about child abuse, he created a firestorm within the field of psychoanalysis.

In When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, he is the first since Charles Darwin (The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals) to study the complex world of animal emotions.

Why should the matter of animals emotions be so uncomfortable for the scientific community?

Every person who has lived with animals is more than aware of their capacity for emotion, be it affection, anger, confusion or any number of a host of feelings. Yet the strong evidence for animal emotion is often dismissed as somehow being irrelevant.  In fact, The Oxford Companion to Animal Behavior gives this advice to researchers: “One is well advised to study the behavior, rather than attempting to get at any underlying emotion.”

Yet, if a human’s actions are often motivated by emotions, would this not hold true for animals?

Masson and co-author Susan McCarthy offer many striking instances of the validity of studying the emotions of animals. These accounts are based on both scientific studies as well as stories told by lay people.

It is - to use that ghastly phrase - heartwarming, but it also gives the reader pause for thought.

Masson makes a powerful case that some scientists desperately need to believe that animals do not feel pain, emotional or physical.

This is a belief which has justified the harsh treatment meted out to groups which have been considered “inferior,” be they animals, human slaves, racial minorities,  the working class or children. It seems permissible to hurt a creature when  we can convince ourselves "it feels no pain.”

What happens to us as a culture if we acknowledge the rich emotional lives animals have?

Maybe slaughterhouses and animal experimentation labs should have glass, so that everyone can see where this morally bankrupt belief has brought us. There is a great deal written on animal experimentation. If the first thing many researchers do is remove an animal’s vocal chords so that it can’t scream, what does this tell us?

If they could hear the screams, would the doctors stop their torture?

Probably not.

Years ago, outside my apartment, I could hear the cattle in their pens near the Veteran’s Cemetary, awaiting transport to be slaughtered. They cried out in the night, alone and afraid. I think they knew what was going to happen.

It was a heart-wrenching sound, and it stayed with you in the night.

The stories and ideas in this book are like those cries - impossible to shake off.



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