Why I Hate Animal Lovers

I like animals. I like people who like animals. I hate people who love animals to the point they lose their sense of reason. I'm talking the "my computer wallpaper is my dog," "I hang a Christmas stocking for my cat" crowd.

Television talk show host Ellen Degeneres poses at the 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on June 15, 2

Ellen Degeneres shows she also cares about inanimate objects at the 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in June 2007. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

I was reminded of my hatred for this bunch during the Ellen DeGeneres/Iggy the Euro-mutt saga that's "so insane" (those are Ellen's words) that I'm not going to bother detailing it. It's linked here, but I'm guessing your local news gave the story more coverage than Turkey's parliament authorizing military action into northern Iraq.

Anyway...

I like Ellen. Ellen's funny. So it's not that I have anything against Ellen falling apart on camera over the plight of Iggy. It's not that I got my ire up just 'cause Ellen's so stressed by the Iggy deal she had to shut her show down for a long weekend (a word for you, Ellen: Petco). I guess I'm put out by the animal-loving crowd that loves animals so much some of them have made death threats against the woman who runs the shelter that gave Iggy a second shot at life in the first place. Death threats for having the audacity to follow her shelter's guidelines. I guess there's some sort of twisted logic in threatening violence against a human over a dog.

If you value animals over humans.

I like animals, as said. However, I don't value them over beings who walk upright, have opposable thumbs and can one-click their music over iTunes.

But animal lovers — the "when I die I'll bury it next to me" hard-core ones — have always had a misguided sense of proportion.

Like with Michael Vick. For his involvement in the doggie death matches he was sponsoring, Vick's facing charges from the feds and the state of Virginia. But it makes me wonder why there's been less media attention — and less public haranguing — directed at a genuine thug like Adam "Pacman" Jones. Jones, as some will recall, was the football player who allegedly slammed a dancer's head into a stage at a Vegas strip joint. And shot a bouncer. And bit his ankle.

Allegedly.

Not that Jones is getting a total pass. He's facing criminal charges accusing him of inciting a melee and a civil lawsuit. And he was suspended from the NFL for at least 10 games.

But, then, Vick's been suspended indefinitely and without pay.

Clearly to a lot of people in the NFL, the media and the gen pop, cruelty to animals is more heinous than cruelty to people.

Maybe people are making a bigger deal out of Vick because Vick's more famous than Jones. But Jones' victims were more human than Vick's.

Human enough they deserve some on-set tears from Ellen. But apparently that kind of emotion's reserved for those who drink from toilets.

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I'm calibrated diifferently than you for animal lovers; I understand exactly why Michael Vick needs to be censured, but... Ellen is out of her gourd. Does she love all animals or just one damned dog; the one she went to pieces over? Because if she loves animals there are ten thousand dogs (and other animals) right now that need rescuing. Needless to say I'm not buying the "she's an animal lover" argument.

Let me put it to you this way... you have a TV show, you have audience support & affection, you have money, so it stands to reason you have power. Instead of skillfully using it to gently alter the situation, you get on TV and cry like a 5-year-old brat to try and get the result you want? Ugh... liberals and power go together like oil and water (and this is coming from a massive liberal)

This charade of helplessness was repellant. Ellen doesn't seem to be able to think her way through a problem or potentiate her power. This incident disclosed a grotesque level of self-pitying sentiment; a quality she should not be the least bit proud of. Ellen needs to grow up, badly.

Sent by John | 5:41 PM | 10-19-2007

Honestly, is there any way to measure one form a life to another? A giraffe to a lion? A human to a puppy? An amoeba to a hamster? It's all a mystery.

Why is it that we should suffer less outrage by someone kicking a dog than someone punching a stripper? Is it because it's some sort of evolutionary logic in which our species matters more; maybe it was ordained so by God.

No matter where anyone gets rules and logic for these things, I don't think the answer is lessening our compassion for animals.

I think your frustrations are misdirected. We need more compassion and empathy (towards each other), not frustration over the fact that we have compassion(towards animals).

Sent by Jimmy Jimboton | 5:54 PM | 10-19-2007

The recent stories surrounding Ellen Degeneres (and similarly Michael Vick) shed light on the curious- yes very curious fact-that so many Americans seem to value animals more than people. What with our parks and rail trails burdened with loose dogs while I am non-dog lover must find other places to avoid the Fido's that of course 'don't bit' (according to the owner. People get indignant that I (a human) would want to jog through a park or on a trail FREE from (some)man's best friends and, from my experience, value their pet's (and their own) happiness over all other humans'. NOT EVERYONE LOVE DOGS-- and people protect animal/canine rights above and beyond a person's rights are not 'kind' they are just selfish.

IF a person REALLY cared abour their pooches, perhaps they simply would NOT HAVE A POOCH when they live in a city orf suburb. THAT is cruelty to animals, keeping them couped up in an apartment or 75 square foot yard all of the time (except when the owner goes to the rail trail and foists one of those frightening and uncontrollable creatures on the rest of us.

Sent by Cal Hastings | 6:11 PM | 10-19-2007

There's an unfortunate conceit that glares at me throughout this article.

Humans are also members of the animal kingdom - you give us way too much credit.

Sent by Brian Tristam Williams | 7:23 PM | 10-19-2007

Finally. Someone who has the sense and decency to speak the truth. I have long felt that animals are treated better than humans. It has slowly gotten worse. I am reminded of my parents' stories of being in Mississippi during the 40's and 50's. In Ole' Miss', a black man was as likely to be lynched than find a job, but if he happened to have dog with him, the whites would be obliged to give the animal a nice piece of meat. It is so sad to see history repeat itself.

Sent by Samala Henry | 8:01 PM | 10-19-2007

thank youuu!!!
I get mad and sadened everytime I hear someone give more value to a dog or a cat than to a human being. It is ok that millions of kids are dying of hunger in the world, but if someone dares to do something to some ANIMAL the whole world goes in a rage.
It is so sad, that only because Ellen is a celebrity they pay attention to stuff like this.
I see dogs roaming around in the parks all the time and nobody cares about them, but this ANIMAL was owned by a celebrity so everyone cares even though they have never seeing the ANIMAL.
It is an animal.
I guess yesterday was probably a slow day for news since all the media is so entrahlled by the faith of one ANIMAL. Is the media reporting today how many soldiers died in Iraq or how many veterans are not receiving the care they so deserve and need.
So much more to say but I'll leave at that.

Sent by Gonzalo V??zquez | 9:57 PM | 10-19-2007

Although I can see your side, I don't agree. I love my animals beyond belief. My 2 labs are just incredible pals, and they only want to be near people, they have no alterior motives. People, well people can turn on you, they can change sides, they can be like Vick. I do NOT condone the death threats to the woman you mention, of course, that is just stupid that people get that bent out of shape, gee! Regarding the goofy Pacman kid, his acts were in my mind not nearly as bad as Vick's. I am an educated guy who listens to npr, not rap. I am white, I am from South Dakota. I am hard working, rational, and I would save my animals first if push comes to shove. Take care!

Sent by CD Afdahl | 10:14 PM | 10-19-2007

We humans are exposed to man's inhumanity to man every day. Our lives are saturated with man's worst behavior. Ergo, we no longer respond to it. We'd all go into meltdown if we did not build barriers to those emotions. But release of tenderness towards injured animals is still allowed. I think people respond so strongly because of the repressed emotions. Remember, our society considers you sane if you carry on your life after seeing the news or a violent movie. Your sanity is questioned if you react to Man's inhumanity.

Sent by Mary Hunnicutt | 1:48 AM | 10-20-2007

Animals are often better companions than other humans. A lot of those peeps with opposable thumbs have little to recommend them.
My dog is also a dear friend and, like a child, needs me to take care of him. Humans can stand up for themselves.

Sent by Larry | 5:17 AM | 10-20-2007

In society, we want to fight for the helpless...Trees, fish, cows, historic houses, rodents, rocks and the list goes on. However, when we fight for affordable health care for children, you hate freedom. I believe that as a society, it is really easy to advocate on behalf of something, that doesn't have the ability to push back. The moment, dogs start explaining to us that they actually do not like to wear leather bomber coats because they have their own coats, Halloween costumes and take pictures with Santa, is the day we will stop caring.

Sent by Tam | 7:21 AM | 10-20-2007

Oh, come on, people have always been oversentimental about animals. It doesn't mean we "value animals over humans". Some people, like me, at times LIKE animals more than people. So what? Can you blame me? Granted, animal shelters can be irrational at times when placing animals in homes. Guess they are afraid of someone like Vick getting them? The Michael Vick case has nothing to do with the Ellen DeGeneres doggie saga. Someone like Vick who can do violence to animals is capable of violence to other people as well.

Sent by K. Birchenough | 7:40 AM | 10-20-2007

Thanks Mr Ridley,
You put it so nicely, Get a grip Ellen! I'm glad Iggy found a new home.Can you tell me when you'll be n MSNBC again?

Sent by Gisella Silverman | 8:55 AM | 10-20-2007

Your article is right on the money. People seem to care more about their pets than their children these days. Your point about Vick/Jones is right too. It's very disproportionate punishment (and attention).

Sent by Mark Wells | 9:18 AM | 10-20-2007

Adam "Pacman"... who? Vick has gotten more publicity because he is more famous. Not to mention that his actions took place over an extended period of time and were repeated often. He can't blame it on indiscretion or intoxication. Then he denied it until the irrefutable evidence was displayed for the media. It was a show. But his actions should be taken seriously. He did abuse and kill animals. If these dogs were being valued more than people I don't think that he would be looking at as little as 1 and only up to 10 years in prison. Please.

Sent by C4nier | 10:18 AM | 10-20-2007

How dare you say you "like" animals. Obviously you do not.
It is ridiculous to say that people are more upset over the Michael Vick case than they are "human " murders. There is a big difference. Humans have a choice. The legal system was made for humans.
Animals are unfortunately, property! They have no choice on where they live, what happens to them, because their value is seen as only monitary. People are allowed to eat them, fight them, test products on them. They cannot speak for themselves therefore they need others to stand up and say enough is enough. Michael Vick could get a defense lawyer to speak for him.
Until animals are seen as more than "things" that humans can do with as they please however unpleasant it is for the animal, the scales of justice will always be uneven.

Sent by Rhonda Floyd | 12:24 PM | 10-20-2007

I'm a pretty hardcore animal lover myself, but even I think Ellen went over the deep end. The important thing is that the dog is o.k. The family only had the dog for two weeks!
As far as the whole Vick case goes, I don't understand why this is such a big deal when millions of animals are treated horribly for the food industry. No one cares about cows and pigs though. And no one cares about lesser known football players and who they hurt either.

Sent by Spivey | 2:24 PM | 10-20-2007

i take offense with your comments!

people have to take responsibility for themselves. animals do not have the ability to do so or the luxury to do so.

Sent by Mona Schell | 2:54 PM | 10-20-2007

Just because some people love animals with great passion does not mean they aren't just as passionate about cruelty to humans as well. Those in the field of humane education understand the strong connection between abuse of animals and concurrent or later abuse of fellow humans. I'm sure that those who support Vick's punishment would also have supported stronger punishment for Jones. I don't see any logic to your argument about Vick--was Jones' lesser punishment the fault of animal lovers?? Vick deserved to be suspended. What a horribly violent role model for kids.

People who have their pet's photo as wallpaper or who celebrate their pet's birthday are hardly to be judged as extremists that have "lost their sense of reason." For some of us, pets are family, or companions that help us with the pain of depression, not just things we "own."

Sent by Angela | 6:58 PM | 10-20-2007

Maybe people feel more sympathetic to animals because they are seen as lower than us. They are more helpless and more vulnerable than humans, so if they are abused or tortured, people feel more sympathy towards them.

Sent by Shawn Green | 7:21 PM | 10-20-2007

my 'pets' are better individuls than any humans I know - myself, my family, and friends included.

Sent by Traveller Cleanser | 10:17 PM | 10-20-2007

I can certainly relate with your perspective. I found it completely irresponsible and self-serving for Ellen DeGeneres to use her show as a platform to force a business to disregard its own practices. The situation was made even worse by the public response - death threats because a family didn't get to keep a dog they shouldn't have had in the first place? The fault lies with DeGeneres. I wonder how often Ellen breaks down in tears on her show because of the number of homeless and hungry children in this country. It's an animal people.

Sent by Faye | 11:58 PM | 10-20-2007

Agree completely. There is a truly twisted set of priorities with such people.

Sent by DJB | 8:32 AM | 10-21-2007

"My computer wallpaper is my dog"? Goodness, what a weak example of an irrational animal lover. What dog- or cat-owner has NOT livened up their office with a picture of their companion? Doesn't this innocent act of decoration sound more like the sort of fondness for animals that inspires people to welcome them in their homes in the first place than the militant anti-human attitude you describe later in your piece?

Also, animal lovers will tell you that their treatment of an animal does not at all hinge on the animal's "abilities" like the iTunes proficiency you describe. Animals ought to be treated in accordance with their capacity to suffer, not to operate electronics. You may not be swayed by this line of reasoning, but you should at least acknowledge it.

Note also that to many, cruelty against an animal seems worse because the animal is, in many cases, more innocent and helpless than a human.

As for why Michael Vick makes the news more often than Adam Jones, a better explanation is that Vick's crime is unique - since when has the news strived to be be fair or just rather than provocative and fresh? There is a problem here, but it's not a problem with animal lovers.

Sent by Neven Mrgan | 1:13 PM | 10-21-2007

Why does it always have to come down to animals vs people and "you guys are losing your perspective; we're just talking about animals here"? And no, I am not one of the people making death threats to Mutts and Moms. I just don't see why we have to prioritize our inhumanities, i.e. it's worse to be cruel to people than animals. Humans can speak out against the inhumanities done to other humans, animals can't. But it seems to me that abuse of either species stinks, and it's the humans who are the perpetrators both times.

Sent by Cynthia | 1:21 PM | 10-21-2007

You missed the whole point. I am an animal lover - but not an animal fetishist like Ellen. I CHOSE to accept responsibilty for another living being and therefore accept the changes it makes it how I live my life. I did not choose to have animals because it made me look good on tv, sound more compassionate or so they could make me money.

I love animals enough to let them go when need be whether to another home or to the final destination. I do NOT pass them off like a pair of shoes that don't quite fit. If you adopt an animal from a shelter, you accept the time and responsibility to help it overcome its background and adjust to your home. You don't go "oh well, didn't work out - here you can have it I'll go get another". It's not a plant or a piece of clothing.

I treat humans the same way - with compassion and understanding. So far I've found that animals are the better choice...........humans just haven't evolved enough yet.

Sent by Sherry | 2:28 PM | 10-21-2007

I wholeheartly agree with you. Enough is enough. I like animals too, but the human animal is more important than others, period. That doesn't mean you treat other animals with disrespect, but damn! Get some perspective, animal- lovers a.k.a. animal-nuts!

Sent by Rich | 9:02 PM | 10-21-2007

I had a lady tell me once that she would prostitute herself for her dogs. I love my pets but I would NEVER do that!

Sent by lourdes | 2:32 AM | 10-22-2007

Thank you for this article John. Ellen's display shocked me with the true nature of how numerous folk perceive animals(pets)over people. Other than a parent who has lost a child, have we seen anyone publicly crying on television over the number of lost soldiers in Iraq? Have we seen anyone crying about the millions of Americans who can not afford to see a doctor? And most alarming have we ever seen anyone cry about actual CHILDREN who can't get adopted and find homes.

This distresses me because it shows how many people truly see the world. That if a problem is not sitting on their doorstep or in their lap, they do not care. How can we as a nation have any hope of our country overcoming its problems when citizens have these types of perspectives. It is sad and frightening indeed.

Sent by Dav | 4:01 AM | 10-22-2007

I agree too much time was spent on news shows on this Ellen/Dog/Rescue fiasco; and I believe that Degeneres was completely at fault for:
1) Not reading what she signed and abiding by it.
2) Taking her pleas for the dog's return to the airwaves.
And there is no excuse for the behavior of the people who sent death and arson threats to the rescue organization, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
However, I must take exception with the characteration of Vick's torture of dogs as "doggie death matches". Using this cutesy term for what he did is to minimize it. And it has nothing whatsoever, to do with the Degeneres situation. To imply it does is disingenious. Vick deserves everything he's getting and more. What one does to the lesser of God's creatures one will surely do to those who "walk upright, have opposable thumbs and can one-click their music over iTunes."

Sent by Chris S | 9:47 AM | 10-22-2007

Thank you for writing this!! I have voiced a similar opinion to friends, which apparently means that I support cruelty to animals. I just wish someone would start PETOP (people for the ethical treatment of other people)

Sent by Stephanie | 10:32 AM | 10-22-2007

Animal lovers hate people that hate animal lovers. Nobody asked you.

This is the third "people over animals" oriented interview or article NPR has run over the Ellen thing.

Contrary to the bible, which also advocates putting people to death for working on Sundays, people aren't inherently better, more important, or more deserving of happiness than animals. Quite the contrary, we have a penchant for bringing a lot of our woes on ourselves, unlike animals, who rarely deserve their problems.

Sent by Newt | 10:34 AM | 10-22-2007

Word! I'm totally feeling you. But someone will make this about our blackness. What say you (and others) about how this love for humans over animals seems to be more fully represented by Black folks than Whites?

Sent by Heather H., Providence, RI | 11:54 AM | 10-22-2007

I applaude you for taking this issue on! I have been so confused over the obession with the Ellen/dog adoption fiasco. I couldn't believe that she'd gotten upset to the point of canceling her show to take a "break" and that the news media covered this situation so heavily. I love animals but not to the obessive extent that Ellen and her supporters (and those that called for Mike Vick's demise) do. I think it is ridiculous that in a world where children are abused; people suffer from inadequate housing and living conditions, and poverty; our criminal justice systems are writhed with inequity and racism; there is senseless violence; and endless wars that people would feel the need to raise the awareness of(or feel personally victimized by) a dog adoption that had gone awry...

People do love animals more than human beings and it is very sad...

Sent by Brandi | 11:57 AM | 10-22-2007

Amen, I hate what Vick did to those animals because they are like children, unable to speak for themselves but I cannot understand humans who love animals more than their fellow citizen.

Sent by Yolanda | 12:00 PM | 10-22-2007

Could it be that we're more compassionate at times toward domesticated animals than we are to our fellow man because animals can't be expected to take care of their own needs (like food, shelter, and so on) in the way we expect the normal average adult to be able to do?

When was the last time you drove your child to the doctor? And when was the last time your cat drove its offspring to the vet?

I would venture that our caring for animals is much like our recognizing that our children simply can't do everything for themselves, so we, as responsible parties, need to step in from time to time.

(that said, I agree that Ellen's little display last week was a bit over the top)

Sent by Bruce | 1:47 PM | 10-22-2007

It's worth noting that the first laws concerning cruelty to children were modelled on laws prohibiting cruelty to animals.

Sent by CJ, MSW | 2:03 PM | 10-22-2007

Just a thought: pets tend to love their owners unconditionally and are very forgiving.
People aren't that nice.

Sent by Bill | 2:21 PM | 10-22-2007

Here's the thing...people that abuse animals most likely also abuse people. If you don't concern yourself with the well being of "weaker" species, then what does that say about your humanity!
People can fend for themselfes, animals can't. As simple as that. I love all animals, that doesn't mean I humanize them, but I will protect them from all cruel and irresponsible humans if I can. It is simply the right thing to do.

Sent by Claudia Werner | 2:26 PM | 10-22-2007

re: I have long felt that animals are treated better than humans.

Aw.. poor human..
you poor poor thing..
ever been to a factory farm?..

Sent by Bob G. | 2:52 PM | 10-22-2007

What bothers me about the Ellen doggy dilemma is that a huge number of supporters ran to her aid and began to threaten others for trying to enforce a policy that is no doubt clearly stated in a contract that Ellen signed. I see this in nearly every aspect of our culture, and the "lynch mob" mentality bothers me more than any particular point. Whether it's parents ganging up on all video games (without distinguishing between Grand Theft Auto and Sudoko Extreme) or animal lovers accusing the people who allowed Ellen to adopt a dog but did not allow her to break the rules of animal cruelty, I am constantly amazed at the way that a large group can ignore the details in order to defend someone who is clearly in the wrong. It is even more disturbing the way these emotional freight trains become major determiners for our political environment - although I am not a supporter of any particular candidate, I am amazed that when I ask those strongly opposed to Mrs. Clinton why they are so afraid of her, they never once mention her political stance. Instead the refer to her being too ambitious for a former first lady, or being too macho. Similarly, I hear people saying that the adoption agency that gave Ellen the dog is making an example of her because she is famous. Is there perhaps a chance that they are simply holding true to their previously established principals? I do not believe that the problem lies in radical animal lovers or in heartless adoption agency who care more for contracts than pets, but rather in a society that picks up the pitchfork and the torch before they consider all the facts and sides of the argument. I love my dogs (and put up stocking for them at Christmas), but I do not automatically assume that every pet lover is sane, or even fair. Let's not group overly emotional, radical and insane individuals in with animal lovers. There are lots of lynch mob members who don't own pets.

Sent by Cat Denby | 2:53 PM | 10-22-2007

The question should not be "why are we more upset about abuse when it's against animals rather than humans?" but "why aren't we more upset about abuse in general?". Maybe offenders (against humans) need harsher sentences, not that we need to lessen the sentences when it involves animals. Anytime someone harms a defenseless being (animals fall into this category) there should be nothing but sympathy for the victim.

Sent by Erika H. | 5:23 PM | 10-22-2007

Mr. Ridley,

Why is it either/or? It's this kind of facile argument that is contributing to the dumbing down of the culture as a whole. Shame on you for publishing something as shallow and pointlessly divisive as this little essay.

You could have taken the time instead to write something thoughtful about abuse of power (whether it be talk-show or football related) and the consequences thereof.

You could have also plead for a common compassion for all life - homo sapien or not.

You didn't. Again, shame on you. What a waste.

Sent by Dawn Patrick | 5:56 PM | 10-22-2007

If all the entertainers and all the professional athletes in the world were suddenly abducted by aliens and disappeared, on the whole the world would be a better place. A world without dogs would be a dim and lonely wasteland, by comparison. (Note: the aliens could have all the politicians too, if we could keep Maria Sharapova.)

Sent by Thomas H. Hawk | 7:21 PM | 10-22-2007

Ellen's emotional display was a miscalculation. I'm sure she thought the mean adoption agency that took the dog from those precious little girls would change its wicked ways once the world saw how they made Ellen cry. I was amazed at how clearly I could hear every word as she cried inconsolably. Nice try, Ellen. You should have read the contract. That being said, I think Mike Vick is a very sick man. Anyone who expends that kind of money and emotion on a dog is crazy. I encourage people to exhibit an appropriate level of compassion for both human and animal kind.

Sent by Psmith El Paso, TX | 12:48 AM | 10-23-2007

In a country that has lost all sense of proportion and is in the grip of pathological decadence the animal-loving phenomenon is just merely another extreme symptom of it. Animals and pets act as surrogate children/friends to everyone from materialistic socialites, lonely spinsters and widowers, gay couples and the childless traditional union crowds. Animals/pets have been forced to fill an emotional vacuum in a detached society that has come to detest bonding/relating/breeding with humans. A sociopathic culture fed by extreme competition between fellow man, long commutes in automobiles, and suburban sprawl at where each man is truly an island... with a critter. So sad and so profoundly American.

Sent by Frank Politi | 7:42 AM | 10-23-2007

one may anthropomorphise animals.

they remain animals nonetheless.

Sent by OhioOrrin | 8:11 AM | 10-23-2007

hmm; Vick broke the law, Pacman broke the law, and of course a death threat is also quite illegal. Despite media bias our legal system "should" be able to get thru this. There is little we can do about eccentric people and their habits (An animal rights activist is quite different from a pet owner) but we can do something about the media.

Sent by Mike | 9:34 AM | 10-23-2007

My dog Hank, who, for lack of opposable thumbs, can't personally respond to your article, invade Iraq or cause global warming, asked that I remind you of something--people are animals.

Sent by Frank Brown, Jr. | 9:41 AM | 10-23-2007

Thank you very much for your common sense article. Animals cannot be loved! The only reason we think that we love them is that cannot have opposing view points, we can enforce our will on them and the have to act like the like it.

Sent by Lennie | 9:49 AM | 10-23-2007

Anyone who thinks that animals are treated better than humans in the world needs to open their eyes. There is terrible abuse directed at both. I applaud anyone who brings this abuse to light, whether it's about animals or people. How about celebrating compassion in all its forms?

Sent by Diane C. Lawrence | 9:54 AM | 10-23-2007

It never ceases to amaze me how self-centeredly blind most people are. There should not be a question of which should be valued more, humans or animals. WE ARE ALL ANIMALS! ALL LIFE IS VALUALBE! ALL ANIMALS HAVE FEELINGS! If you find yourself on one side or the other of this debate, you need to step back and re-evaluate your thoughts. It is never good to be part of an extreme, no matter which side of the extreme. Maybe that is the problem today. There is no compassion for life anymore. All animal life is valuable. When you start to think that one type of life is more valuable than another, you start to cross the line. Then you find yourself deciding that one human's life is more or less valuable than another human's life. We humans are not the cultivated, civilized creatures that we like to imagine we are. We act just like other animals. When resources (things like food and space) are in short supply, we do the exact same things that other animals do. We steal from each other, we bully each other, and we kill each other. WAKE UP PEOPLE! We should not be questioning who is more important, a human or a dog. We should be asking ourselves why we do not value life in general.

Sent by Stephanie | 10:34 AM | 10-23-2007

I absolutely agree with you. Animals deserve respect and kindness, but there's something wrong when people start valuing them more than human beings. My mother was once told by a couple who had nearly lost their dog to a car accident, "Now we understand how you must have felt when your daughter had cancer." That kind of sums up that sort of insanity, doesn't it?

Sent by Emily Butler | 10:35 AM | 10-23-2007

I can 't believe what I am reading, a black man and NPR advocating hate. What kind of persons/humans are you to judge other people's choices in love. If a person finds comfort in a nonhuman companion, no matter the extend of that love, why would you condemn this? Is it just that same old hate that you conjure because you have a personal problems with your inability to love others of difference? Your article does nothing to help, only continue the circle of hate in this mostly miserable word. It is a shame that you have any power to have this kind of insensitivity published in any form. Shame on you and NPR for hosting this irrational hate of yours. Get counseling soon, for the sake of all humans and animals. Haters are people too, but I think they should be muzzled.

Sent by Pale | 11:51 AM | 10-23-2007

Totally agree. People who value animals over humans tend to have an inability to get along with humans in the first place. I'm talking the ones who treat animals as if they WERE human, take them to the vet obsessively, thinking something is wrong with them, take them to doggie shrinks, dress them up, and would probably have to check themselves into a psych ward if the pet died. I know a couple people like this. They tend to have issues with depression, OCD, panic disorder, etc. These people have trouble handling real life and instead of facing their problems, getting help and learning new coping mechanisms, they surround themselves with unconditional love from a pet.
It is okay and healthy to love a pet. It is NOT healthy or okay to have it be your whole world.

I say - get rid of your animals, get some -alls, and get a life. Get out in the real world, get some help, and maybe some PEOPLE will love you and you'll have someone to grow old with.

Just a thought.

Sent by Paula | 1:07 PM | 10-23-2007

THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE!
For the people who justify having an unnatural and smothering love for their dogs because the dogs "can't take care of themselves" "need us to take care of them" and "can't speak for themselves"-- what do think dogs did BEFORE they were relegated to be man's best friend- they survived, ran around with other dogs and hung out. This evolving relationship between man and dog has always had more to do with the need of man (and his emptiness and need to talk endlessly to someone or thing that can't tell him how stupid he sounds) than the needs of the dog. Trust me, if they could, most of your dogs would run away- very, very far.
I honestly feel sorry for the dogs owned by the people that called the shelter owner threatening her with attempted murder- their lives must be brutal!

Sent by LJ | 1:58 PM | 10-23-2007

Thank you for saying it so much better than I could!

Sent by Sara M. | 2:17 PM | 10-23-2007

Has anyone read 'The Dreaded Comparison' by Marjorie Spiegel. It compares the historical treatment of African-Americans in the U.S. and our treatment of animals.

Sent by Shawn Green | 2:55 PM | 10-23-2007

I found your commentary ridiculous. It almost sounds like you ARE setting yourself up for an argument condoning what Michael Vick did. There is nothing wrong with people loving their animals passionately; in fact, I consider it a measure of a man in how they treat our four legged friends.

I do disagree with Ellen breaking the rules of the adoption group, then making such a public spectacle about it. I absolutely do not condone the death threats the adoption group received; that is inexcusable. They have their adoption rules for a reason: they have learned over many experiences that some people are not rational about having animal companions and often treat them like play toys, discarding them when they become bored, annoyed or expensive to repair.

And as far as the argument by a previous poster regarding black people valuing human life more highly than whites, I will say this: the black on black crime in this country most certainly does not reflect that assertion. Perhaps if they were taught to value ALL life the black community might not find themselves in the midst of this genocide.

Sent by JP | 4:23 PM | 10-23-2007

"what do think dogs did BEFORE they were relegated to be man's best friend- they survived, ran around with other dogs and hung out..."

True--before they were domesticated.

"Trust me, if they could, most of your dogs would run away- very, very far."

I'd suspect if everyone's dogs ran away today, most of them would lack the survival skills to last more than a few days on their own at best.

Sent by Bruce | 4:48 PM | 10-23-2007

It is quite striking that the people responding here who most vehemently decry the equal value of ALL living things, not to mention pet ownership, also appear to be the least educated and literate - at least based on the basic use of written language displayed. Feasibly that might have been support for the argument that education serves to create more enlightened, civilized, and humane people. My logic seems to be deeply flawed, however, since Mr. Ridley is clearly quite well educated, and yet his education seems to have done little to elevate his sensibilities.

Sent by LA | 7:34 PM | 10-23-2007

I am continually baffled by individuals who posit that those who love animals MUST love them more than people. While that is certainly true for some, the majority of animal lovers with whom I am acquainted love both people and (other) animals. Why is it an us versus them? And WHY OH WHY, every time there is outrage over an abuse against animals, people like Ridley come forward and talk about how child abusers go free while animal abusers are punished?

It isn't, and has never been an either or, folks. Both are terrible crimes. There isn't some all-powerful wizard behind the curtain that says "I will put away those who harm animals while the child abusers go free (insert evil laugh here)."

Old tired argument. Animal dis-likers, find a new one.

Sent by Jacqueline | 11:23 PM | 10-23-2007

Hate is a strong word. The fact that this bothers you that much is only sad.

I'm an animal lover. What's wrong with showing affection for something that brings great joy to your life? Nothing.

I do however agree that the people who were taking the Ellen debacle out of line were going too far with their threats. That was completely uncalled for and unecessary.

Sent by Gia Jolie | 10:59 AM | 10-24-2007

I'm in general agreement with you, in that pets are pets. They deserve dignity, respect and love, but we give priority to human life.
I do take two exceptions to your arguments:
1)"Hate" language ("I hate people who love animals to the point they lose their sense of reason") damns an argument for valuing people.
2) There's no apologizing for Jones' thuggery, but the biggest difference in attention to Jones and Vick is in our expectations and in their intentionality. Jones, younger and less responsible for others than Vick, loses control in spontaneous and criminal fits of rage that we see too often among young men in late-night party habitats. Vick, the face of a franchise and much more reponsible for the success of other people and organizations, goes to elaborate lengths to inflict cruelty. Over a period of years, he financed and helped plan an illegal organization of people dedicated to systematically intentional (often fatal) cruelty to animals and degradation of people, involving illegal gambling and connection with a sordid network of fellow racketeers. Then, despite the visible existence of a compound and a staff, he denied it. Jones' alleged violence against humans is tragic and despicable, but we see in Jones a person who lost control of his life. We see in Vick a person whom we thought was a leader of people, but who went to great lengths to plan cruel violence to creatures whose survival depends on them inflicting cruelty to other creatures, for the bloodlust and greed of hoodlums. It's not that we value the dogs' lives more than Jones' alleged human victims. Rather, we are more accustomed to dealing with Jones' actions in society. Vick's acts are more unusual to us and evoke a fresh sense of outrage. He is not worse than Jones, but much more prominent, mysterious, less familiar and therefore more newsworthy.

Sent by Larry | 11:23 AM | 10-24-2007

Newt said:

"Contrary to the bible, which also advocates putting people to death for working on Sundays, people aren't inherently better, more important, or more deserving of happiness than animals. Quite the contrary, we have a penchant for bringing a lot of our woes on ourselves, unlike animals, who rarely deserve their problems."

Actually, the Mosaic law (e.g., execute people who work on Sundays) ended after Jesus died for humanity's sins. Hence, Christians who have to work on Sundays are shown grace by God and fellow believers instead of being stoned. Non-Christians also benefit from this new status quo, but that's another discussion.

Now, I agree completely with John Ridley on the whole Ellen faux crisis. She clearly crossed the line between sensible animal lover and insanity. Sadly, Ellen's not alone.

We live in a America where people will buy plush hotel rooms for their dogs, but won't spend a dime to feed a homeless person. This is a country where civil rights "leaders" will berate Michael Vick for dogfighting, but don't show as much sympathy for the black kids gunned down by thugs on America's streets. And so on.

Loving pets is fine. But let's not go so far over the line that we can't treat our fellow humans with at least as much compassion and love. After all, you're going to eventually need some help and sympathy, which shouldn't be denied because of your species.

Sent by Fred | 7:45 PM | 10-25-2007

Man I wish I read this before. I absolutely agree! There is an absolute misperception of real human inter-relationship in people who value animals to the point you buy clothes for them with their names embroidered. My feeling always has been that people who hold so passionately to animals because they somehow love them more than anything else are completely immature about true relationships. Grow up people, relationships with humans is tough and that means that others will not always be at your lap licking your face. I mean is that what you really want, something with absolutely no control over their free will as to be perpetually kissing up to your low self esteem being? FIne, not for me. I don't know if this happens in all countries but I would bet that in Western countries with the collapse of a strong family structure, humans have started to rely on animals to fill the void that encompanies a life with no family and friends and now idea of how to truly deal with other human beings

Sent by Roy | 12:33 AM | 11-1-2007

Angela Schell says that animals can't take care of themselves. Huh? Long before man ever thought about bringing a dog or cat in to the house to "care" for it, they (the dogs and cats) were living independently. Man started this nonsense that animals must live in houses, eat designer pet food and see psychiatrists. If every human left the earth today, those pampered and cosseted animals would learn to fend for themselves again and would probably not even miss their humans.

Sent by Phyllis W. Allen | 2:54 PM | 11-1-2007

Why should love of humankind and love of animals be mutually exclusive? In my profession (veterinary medicine) we feel that by caring for and treating animals well we are honoring a basic human instinct: love for all creatures. I deeply love all animals, even the ones that would bite me given the chance. I also believe that all humans deserve the same respect and love, until proven otherwise. In veterinary medicine we have a code: Above all, do no harm. Michael Vick actions and John Ridley's comments both demean animals and the people who devote their lives to them. If you don't believe in caring for animals, then remain petless. But do not infect the rest of society with your ignorance. I would hope that Ridley can at least admit that regardless of the species, no one deserves to be harmed.

Sent by Hilary | 6:23 PM | 11-1-2007

Wow, I completely disagree with your article's point. You have mixed up two very different cases and come across as quite mean-spirited. Ellen is a pompous media figure who needs to spend more time volunteering at the animal shelter and less time show-boating over that very lucky little dog. Vick, on the other hand, is a person who has sadistically beaten and killed living creatures for sport. He deserves his punishment and so does anyone else who inflicts needless violence upon a human, dog, elephant, oak tree...why is human life deemed more valuable than any other living creature? We're the greediest, most devestating beings on earth...how about a bit more humility and empathy all around?

Sent by Jessica A. | 7:35 PM | 11-1-2007

I was never under the impression that Ellen's tears were because of a dog. It was my understanding that her tears were over the amount of distress the removal of the dog had caused the new owner of Iggy, the little girl, Ruby.

Mr. Ridley, you are evidently fortunate enough to have someone in your life to spend next to in the cemetery. I do not. I have no children and was abandoned by my husband who left me for a younger, sleeker edition. I have no siblings, and therefore no extended family. I have a dog. My dog is my family. I don't set a place for her at the table, I don't let her lick my plate. I don't dress her up. She knows she can't sleep on my pillow and she knows she can't run amok and have her own way. She digs, she rolls in mud, she takes great joy in sniffing ... she's a dog and I don't treat her like a human. However, I don't make a disticntion between how much I love her and how much I might love her if she were human.
Being blessed enough to have sustained intimate bonds with other humans, perhaps you have never been in the position where all you have left is your dog. I hope it never comes to this for you. For me, I feel blessed to have my dog, and when she's eventually gone, I will grieve and mourn her loss terribly, for she is my closest ally and is the only experience I have ever has with another living, breathing thing that loved me unconditionally.

Sent by Michele Harris | 1:00 PM | 11-2-2007

Who said a nation is judged by how it treats its women, children, elderly, and animals? Ouch!

Sent by Carolyn Nord | 5:52 PM | 11-2-2007

Regarding some of these posts but, excuse me, I think animals are more than capable of taking care of themselves. How did they survive all those eons without human beings to cater to their every need and still evolve into the domesticated people we have today. It's called instinct. If they "need" us it was because we forced them to through out own selfish needs, whether it be for companionship or work. Get a grip, people.

Sent by Bette | 7:24 PM | 11-2-2007

Maybe humans should be pets for a change. Oh, wait. We already tried that.

Sent by Aaron | 8:31 PM | 11-2-2007

Mr. Ridley's tirade is all you need to show you the crux of the problem. Many people have the belief that human beings are superior to animals and that gives us license to use or abuse them as we see fit. Animals are living creatures with emotions. The outrage against Michael Vick is simple: he killed his dogs for no good reason. Would he have brutalized a child so thoughtlessly? Probably not, yet somehow he thought it okay to kill a dog like this. Such a man is not superior to members of the animal kingdom, he is beneath them.

We need more compassion and kindness in this world. We humans cannot continue to show such a callous disregard to the creatures and world around us.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by how its animals are treated."

John Ridley pretends to have compassion for his fellow man, but his words tell me he doesn't.

Sent by Michael | 10:49 PM | 11-2-2007

You put into words what I've been trying to articulate for a long while. Being a lover of all sentient creatures, including human being, I reserve my outrage equally for those who hurt people and other animals. I don't get the people who value cats and dogs over human beings to the point where they just come off as plain crazy.

Sent by Audrey P. | 12:41 PM | 11-5-2007

Why does everyone ignore the fact that Marina traumatized two children. I don't think she have her life threatend. I did e-mail her and asked her if she stold candy from babies as well. I believe the woman to be a selfish snob. She knew she would stir somethting like this, her spokesman is a lawyer. Her complete lack of concern for those little girls speaks clearly of her character.

Sent by Wendy | 2:18 PM | 11-9-2007

When was the last time an animal lied to you, or stole from you, or made your life miserable. Humans do that to you, not domesticated animals. Get with it, animals were on earth first and will probably last longer than the human race which has pretty much messed up the environment for everything. Animals are not greedy and do not worship money. Humans would kill you for a pair of tennis shoes, or would kill five amish girls because he could, how sick is society - that sick.

Sent by Janalee Keegstra | 4:12 PM | 11-16-2007

Even though I disagree with the article, it seems to have provoked some real discussion. My beleif is that all life has value, whether human, animal, plant, bacteria, etc. People tend to forget, we are able to survive and thrive as a species, because of the interconnected web of life that provides us with everything we need, and everything we don't. Not to mention, we need it much more than it needs us.

I find these dismissals of animal life as somehow having less value, to be quite vein and inconsiderate. All life is precious, and therefore deserves our love and respect.

Sent by Sheldon | 2:40 PM | 11-18-2007

People have souls, animals dont. They have spirits like any living thing but certainly dont have a man/God relationship. By the way, I have 2 cats and 2 dogs, love them very much.

Sent by Jerry | 6:25 AM | 11-19-2007

Finally..someone with some rational thoughts...I can't take much more of these people. It's not even the animals fault, it's the people going so far. I truley feel there is some kind of emotional "unbalance" that these people are suffering from. Kuddos to you my friend!

Sent by Chloe Lewis | 2:28 PM | 11-28-2007

I do not believe that everything should come back to animals being chosen over people. I think that for some of us it is giving a voice to a cause that has none. It is so easy to think nothing of abusing a poor creature because your an ass who believes you are superior because you walk upright. In a peaceful world we would protect anyone human or animal .

Sent by tina | 3:04 AM | 11-29-2007

Just because I love animals does not mean I don't love people and just because you like people more than animals does not mean you care more about people than I do. You have a problem if you hate people simply because they love animals. You must hate a lot of people. Maybe you hate animal lovers because 99.9% of them are WHITE.

Sent by Kim | 12:45 AM | 12-2-2007

Okay, this is a bad comparison in the first place, the Vick thing and the Jones thing.

Yes, Jones is a horrible person for doing what he did.

But with Vick, you acted like he just kicked a dog. He analy electricuted dogs, starved them, and beat them. He made the dogs rip each other to shreds not only because he beat them to be violent, because they were so hungry the other dog was a meal. Does that not make him just as horrible as Jones?

Don't get me wrong-I agree with you for a majority of this post. However, it just seemed like you watered down Vick's offenses.

Sent by Gina | 8:46 AM | 12-19-2007

It is obvious when you say you like animals you mean they are tasty meat. Michael Vick is an evil individual for the horrendous things he did to those dogs, who knows what else he is capable of doing to other animals, including people, for fun. I thought NPR was supposed to be progressive in its thinking.

Sent by Nelson | 6:40 PM | 2-9-2008

I totally agree with you. People takes the "love for their pets" to extremes. One of the things I dislike the most is people living with their animals (which they call "pets"; they should call them kids). I've always had pets, but they lived outside because they are totally capable of doing it and adapt. But people for some reason thinks everything is cruel to a cat or a dog, to extremes like overfeeding them because "of course they are hungry" and making excuses like "fat animals get hungry too....!".
Despite the fact that personally living with a stinky, hairy poop machine is disgusting, the "I will wrap their christmas present" (and it is one of those pet toys) is way far off reality and what an animal is.

People is letting animals control their life, and I think it is extremely pathetic. When you are eating, animals are all over you, when you want to sleep they jump in your bed and bother you... what's that about???

Children are not even THAT spoiled!

I believe the value of the animals is
overestimated.

Sent by Angela | 12:53 PM | 2-10-2008

A legal contract is binding on the parties and must be adheared to or there are ramifications. Ellen and her partner should have reread their adoption contract before giving the dog away...even to a wonderful family that would appreciate the dog. Perhaps the adoption folks would have agreed to the new family and we wouldn't have to listen to such drivel. I have empathy for the adoption people because of the weight of the controversy dished out by the celebrity media especially when the situation could have been resolved with less attention and hatred.

Sent by Gary Nathanson | 6:26 PM | 2-10-2008

I am with you, Mr. Ridley. I remember a piece that ran on "The O'Reilly Factor" about two years ago, in which video was shown of PETA members equating animal cruelty to slavery--SLAVERY!!! The whole animal lover crowd bothers me because I see dogs with sweaters (God gave them fur, they don't need clothes). It bothers me because the whole "meat is murder" bunch can't ever just be vegetarians and leave the rest of us alone. They have to beat everyone else over the head with their nonsense. It still ruffles me to think that Michael Vick lost his whole career over dogfighting when the average Joe would simply have gone to court and paid a fine. However, the NFL and the other major sports leagues are full of guys who regularly beat their girlfriends and spouses, go to strip clubs and get involved in bar brawls, and yes, even get caught up in gun crimes. Yet, they are still able to return to the field as if nothing ever happened.

GET A GRIP.

Sent by Kimberly Allen | 10:36 AM | 2-11-2008

Oh, so the fact that someone takes time out of their day, celebrates their companions birthday, or has proclaimed their love for animals --- it makes them hated and an idiot? Hating on animals doesn't make you joe-cool.

Sent by AMBER | 1:45 AM | 2-21-2008

My dog is more important to me than 99% of humans. Funny, I've never been hurt by an animal, only by humans!

Sent by Lynne | 8:54 AM | 3-1-2008

We could all learn something from the love of a precious animal.

Sent by Animal Lover | 4:09 PM | 3-6-2008

Dogs don't 'love' you. They submit to you as their 'packleader'.

If your dog loves you so much, why do have put a leash on him?

Sent by Angel | 11:58 PM | 3-19-2008

They can't fight for themselves, so you fight, enslave, and control their lives for them?

Now Animals are fine by me. They're not equal to us on a mental scale. So they're not like us. And we exploit them, just as other animals exploit them.

We do what we need to do to survive just as they do.

Our consciences are clear on that. Ours are not, however, on how we treat each other, and the environment as a whole.

So go and bother someone about that at least, if you're so inclined to preach.

Sent by Mikhail | 7:03 PM | 5-15-2008

what you guys even talk about. Lets kill all human and animals. :)

Sent by SICK | 7:54 AM | 6-10-2008

Animal lovers are such hypocrites. They talk about how much they hate cruelty against animals, but im sure if their dog got fleas, they would use some chemical thingy to kill them. MURDERERS! hahaha
I personally don't care about animals: they're annoying and scary, i've never ever liked them. even thinking about them makes me feel a bit queasy. ew.

Sent by lola | 9:46 AM | 6-10-2008

A person has the right not to care about animals at all, but that person then needs to let them be. When they are slammed onto the ground until they die, we are talking about a whole other issue. I've seen video clips of dog hangings and its horrible. They know whats going on. They are trying to climb up the rope and are gasping desperately for air. They are experiencing pure terror just like we would. I personally don't care about a lot of humans, especially the ones that annoy me, but I can't consider them unimportant. Dogs may be unimportant to a lot of people but they sure as hell are not on this earth to be torchered and killed by us.

Sent by ALF | 1:19 AM | 6-22-2008

I would just like to say that I, as an animal lover, don't hate you, but pity you for your narrow-minded and naive views. Everyone has different views, morals, and thoughts. Some people like coke over pepsi, and some like animals over people. Grow up and get over it. It's life.

Sent by Andy Page | 4:35 PM | 7-7-2008

I find my pets to be way more valuable than any human I've ever met! I hate those people out there who think that animals lives aren't valuable or precious and are considered 'unimportant'. I just don't understand who could ever hit an animal!? I mean jeez if your pissed off or something go hit a punching bag or your pillow. I mean why hit a poor defenceless animal? If you really are a moron and love hitting animals and love getting pleasure from it then get your arse to Africa and hit a lion. I'm pretty sure the lion won't mind!!

have a nice day,

Amanda.

Sent by Amanda Pereira | 5:53 AM | 8-7-2008

I think any living thing, be it human or animal, deserves respect. I do not agree, however, that I should have to put up with unleashed dogs roaming freely like human beings every time I go for a jog in the local park. I am assaulted by maniacal dogs and obsessed pet lovers almost every time I enter a park or footpath. I have held my tongue on many occassions, when said pet lover allows his fun-loving animal to romp around the public trail. Not everyone believes that pooches are equals.

Sent by Ling Lu | 12:17 PM | 8-19-2008

LAME!
Animal lovers are the ones with heart.
LAME LOSER!

Sent by Samantha | 8:31 AM | 9-3-2008

Right on Brother,,,I actually beleive people who value animals more than other people have emotional issues from the past. They have been hurt or abandoned by humans so they prefer the loyal furry creatures instead. Really if you love animals more than your capacity to love mankind do some soul searching-something is up. Don't get me wrong, I love me some dogs & kitties and don't like to see them abused but I just do not elevate them above humanity. You were created to love and be in relationships with humans if you aren't somethings wrong.

Sent by karen | 7:54 PM | 9-4-2008

It's totally normal to love animals...but it is just plain wrong to place an animal's life over a human's. All sorts of animals have lived by themselves without human intervention for centuries. They do not need our help nor our pampering. Animal lovers are a bunch of hypocritical abused children. Do you think you can read Fifi's mind? Are you 110% positive that Fido wants to be held in your arms 24/7 or being dressed in ridiculous outfits, as if their fur isnt warm enough. The only animals worth giving a damn about are those who serve society like guide and police dogs or a cat who saved a family from fire by following its instincts. Animals are animals. They don't need cops, they don't need lawyers, and they certainly shouldn't need vets. Have you ignorant animal lovers seen how overly excited your dog or cat gets when they leave your house? Does their faces' expression tend to say "FREEEEDOOOOMMMM!!!". It is so ironic that an animal lover works for Pet Land and just stands there watching these poor dogs laying there in these small enclosures smelling their own feces for hours at a time wondering if they're ever gonna get out of there. I like animals. I admire them, but I have 3 kids and to me they are more valuable and greater than any pet out there, and if an animal gets in the middle of the road at night while I'm driving with my children....do you honestly think I'm going to screech to a halt or swerve to avoid hitting it? No sir, I'll be driving back to that road the next morning to see how many people after me have ran its carcass over. It's ok to love animals, but don't over-do it.

Sent by Rob Martin | 9:20 PM | 9-16-2008