Sunday, August 29, 2010

A cat, an animal abuser and selective free speech

You might recall, dear reader, that back in July I was outraged at Facebook's refusal to take down a page dedicated to the killer Raul Moat because it was very inflammatory—a place for hordes of brain-damaged people to jot down their violent fantasies of cop-killing anarchy and the overthrow of society. It was also highly insensitive. Even the Prime Minister, David Cameron, demanded that Facebook remove the page; they refused on the grounds of free speech.
But apparently free speech doesn't apply to those outraged by animal abuse.
Mary Bale, a bank worker, was on her way home from work when she stopped to pet Lola the cat, owned by Stephanie and Darryl Andrews-Mann. After stroking the cat for a few seconds, Bale picked her up by the scruff of her neck, threw her in a large wheeled garbage bin and walked away. Footage of Bale grabbing the cat, throwing her in the garbage container and closing the lid was caught on the Andrews-Manns' CCTV security camera, and they uploaded the video to YouTube to try to identify Bale.
When she was identified and questioned about it by reporters, and unaware of just how furious the reaction was to her vile act, Bale shurgged it off. "I really don't see what everyone is getting so excited about. It's just a cat," she remarked. Only after she started receiving death threats did Bale do an about-face.
Bale reckons she had "a split second of madness" and cannot explain why she did it. She apologized to the couple and to cat-lovers in general. Her apology is worthless; only because she was threatened to the point of needing police protection did she claim she was sorry.
Understand, dear reader, that this was no harmless joke. The rubbish bin in question is four feet tall. The bin was empty. A small cat could not jump out of there even if the lid was open. And Bale had closed the lid. Lola was trapped in there for fifteen hours. If it had been a hot day—an absolute rarity here in Britain, I grant you—Lola could have suffocated in the heat. Realistically, if the outside temperature had been above 75°F, Lola might not have survived. Plus, the obvious scenario of being emptied into the rubbish truck and crushed by the packer cannot be ignored or discounted if the trash collectors had come by at any point during those fifteen hours.
People have boycotted the branch of the bank at which Bale works, so she's likely to be fired. It's also likely that the RSPCA will prosecute Bale for animal cruelty.
Now, I can understand why Facebook would take down a page entitled "Death to Mary Bale." I don't think Bale deserves vigilante capital punishment for her act. But I doubt whether most people making threats against her were serious about it. It was intended to make Bale realize how despicable she is. I agree whole-heartedly with one man who'd written, "Mary Bale needs to be head-butted several times." Bale is the sort of po-faced, arrogant-looking person who should be head-butted on general principle, but for trapping a cat in an enclosed space and disrespecting the cat's owners in the process? Most definitely. Head-butted, sucker punched, a brick through her window: whatever works, karma-wise.
Now then, if Mary Bale crossed the line with her "joke," so did some of those who were rightly outraged by it, and that's a valid argument.
My problem here is with Facebook for being hypocritical. If free speech was so paramount that they allowed the Raul Moat dedication page to flourish—it was eventually taken down by the page's creator, not Facebook itself—and did not see the violent threats inherent there, then how exactly do they justify taking down the anti-Mary Bale page? Discussing the decision to remove the page, a Facebook spokeswoman said that moderators would remove anything deemed to be a "credible threat."
So exactly how was the Raul Moat "Legend" page any different? How the hell did that not constitute a "credible threat"? Did they not notice the surfeit of threats against the cop that Moat disabled?
It's enough to know that Bale will pay a severe price for her horrible behavior at the hands of her employers and the RSPCA, and that's how the Andrews-Manns want it as well. "Now that the police know who she is, I think people should leave it to them and the RSPCA and not take matters into their own hands ... I don't like her, but it needs to be dealt with properly," said Stephanie. (The RSPCA will probably act, but the police certainly won't because they're useless.)
Fair enough. But I just have to wonder if a fan page dedicated to Josef Fritzl is doing fine and dandy under Facebook's selective free speech policy. Again, I'm too afraid to look for myself.


rocslinger said...

Your points on facebook's hyprocrisy are quite valid.

I do find it interesting and a bit frustrating how people will have a sliding scale of value. A small animal has more value than a cop, soldiers lives are only of value when used for political purposes and if your a white male here in the states than your at the bottom of the scale. Abuse and murder are tragic regardless of who it is.

Nightdragon said...

"A small animal has more value than a cop ..."

I certainly hope that those outraged over the cat being trapped in the container are the same people who, like me, felt nothing but disgust for Raul Moat and his legion of buttbuddies. I'm sure those in the anti-Mary Bale group are just as disgusted by the horrifying injuries sustained by the cop as they are by the ordeal the cat went through.

I agree with you completely with respect to soldiers and American white males.

The Atomic Mom said...

Poor kitty. What was that lady thinking, especially in the UK where there are cameras everywhere! I'm still sad your gone from FB though. :(

rocslinger said...

It's posible that I misunderstood your post. I certainly did not mean to infer any judgement on you and your readers. I infered (perhaps mistakenly) from your post that their was more of an outcry for the cat being abused than for Raul Moat's fans.