Morality is not a question of ownership

26 Jul

Last week I read a letter to the editor of my local newspaper and was completely flabbergasted by what it said. The letter, signed Adam Freeman, was titled “My animals are my own business” Here is the contents of the letter in its entirety:

Does the city of Fargo care if I buy a chest of drawers and then burn it in my fireplace? Does the city care if I plant a flower garden and let it die without water? Why is it any different with an animal? Animals are property, aren’t they? A person is only punished for damaging another person’s property, not their own.

I was recently shocked by an article regarding a serious punishment for a person trying to kill his dog and failing. Did I miss something? Since when does society have jurisdiction over someone else’s private property?

This is America, right? We still observe the right of private property, don’t we? As my property, I’ll do what I wish with my animals, and no one can tell me otherwise, because it’s my right as defined by the U.S. Constitution.”

The article mentioned by the letter-writer involved a case where a man named Benjamin Stavaas had slit his dog’s throat and left the dog to die. Fortunately, a good samaritan found the dog before she died and the dog, miraculously, has recovered and is now under the care of an adoption agency. The man’s reason for leaving the dog for dead? He was angry that she didn’t listen to him.

You shouldn’t have to be an animal lover to know that something like this is morally wrong. Of course it is your right to burn a chest of drawers in your fireplace, though why anyone would want to do this is beyond me. However, your chest of drawers isn’t capable of feeling pain. Though the question of whether or not animals have emotion is a subject of debate in some circles, you don’t need to be a veterinary professional to know they feel pain, as anyone who has accidentally stepped on an animal’s tail or foot can testify. As a veterinary technician, I have seen the suffering of injured and sick animals. I have seen the results of abuse and neglect as well, and am horrified to know there are actually people in this world who believe it is ok to allow an animal to hurt provided it is your own pet. Sadly, I can’t deny that people like this are out there, even here in Fargo.

When I first read the letter, I thought that Adam Freeman must be a pseudonym. After all, the first name evoking the first man, created by God in His own image; the last name “Free-Man” so appropriate for a man claiming rights of ownership under the Constitution gives him the freedom to do as he wishes. As it turns out, he is a real person.  The forum located him for comment on a follow-up story regarding the ongoing case of Benjamin Stavaas. He maintains his opinion that Stavaas did nothing wrong, except that he did not make sure the dog was actually dead.

It’s amazing what a few minutes on the internet can tell you- according to one website, Adam Freeman is married with two kids, two dogs, and a cat. Now it is possible that there is more than one Adam Freeman in the area. I sincerely hope this is not the same man. It is bad enough that a man with this opinion would own pets, but that he should have children to whom he can pass on these ideals makes me sad beyond belief. If this is the case, I hope his wife is a positive influence and raises the children to respect life in a way their father clearly does not.

Statistics show that people who abuse animals or more likely to be violent towards other people. In fact, nearly all convicted serial killers are known to have tortured or killed animals when they were children. See the following link for more details (warning– some readers may find the content of this article disturbing):

Furthermore, ownership doesn’t put you above the law. If you set fire to your house, you will be charged with arson. If you drive your car too fast, you will get a ticket. If you deliberately cause harm to an animal, whether it is ‘yours’ or not, you have committed the crime of animal abuse.

So yes, Adam Freeman, you are missing something. Quite a lot, as it turns out.

I am truly sad for you; I doubt the man who wrote that letter is willing to change his mind, but perhaps all the letters written in response to yours will help convince you. If you truly have so little respect for animals, then you should not have them in your home. If you genuinely can not see what is wrong with causing deliberate harm to an animal, then perhaps you should consider counseling as well.


Posted by on July 26, 2010 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “Morality is not a question of ownership

  1. Jo Ann Ripplinger Wise

    July 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    AMEN – i couldn’t have said it better myself.

  2. Paul Franklin

    July 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    You bring up good points about burning down your house, although I suspect that it relates more to potential property damage to others than your own. I am fairly certain that you could get a burn permit to destroy your own house if you wanted, circumstances depending.

    I don’t agree with our esteemed letter writer, because it seems that he has missed a couple of key ideas about being a human. Compassion is one of those ideas, and compassion can’t be conditional.

    He might disagree with me, but I would be reluctant to consider him in any capacity as a good human being. He may be a wonderful father, a great husband, but if you can willingly show cruelty to other living things, that still means you have more road to travel.

  3. Lisa

    July 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I find it truly disturbing that anyone would equate a living, breathing, feeling, sentient being like a dog with a chest of drawers. Furthermore, I find it a sad commentary on our society that the Forum would even print such hate filled drivel…..

    Anyone with any sense of morality would know the difference….

  4. sparetimeadventures

    July 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    A lot of people had the same opinions back when certain people were considered property. I agree, I just can’t wrap my head around someone who would deliberately cause pain with no remorse. And I doubt Concordia is really happy to claim that Philosophy graduate as one of their own.
    On a similar topic, people who abuse their girl/boyfriend, spouse or kids also tend to use pets as hostages to keep the abused from leaving. I am suspicious of anyone who believes cruelty toward animals is OK.


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