Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Political pet preferences

with 5 comments

A commenter sent me an email not long ago, saying that he could predict various preferences simply from my being politically liberal. Some were obvious (against guns, support the ACLU, and the like), but one prediction surprised me: that I liked cats.

Now I do like cats, though that’s hardly a secret. Also dogs. Also parrots. Also fish in small aquaria. But in his view conservatives do not like cats. That puzzled me. Is there any truth to that?

BTW, he was wrong about guns: I like them, mostly as fascinating gadgets, and I read about them and have owned them. I do favor some gun restrictions—why sell .50-caliber sniper rifles to the general public? or assault rifles, for that matter? But I personally enjoy reading about gun innovations—the Glock, for example, which still in many mysteries/thrillers I read somehow has a safety which the protagonist or villain clicks off. And I enjoy deciding whether I would want a 10 mm or a .40 caliber Glock.

He was right about the Bill of Rights. I strongly support it (and I thought conservatives did as well), and thus support the ACLU in its active defense of the Bill of Rights.

Written by Leisureguy

2 September 2007 at 8:13 am

Posted in Cats, Democrats, GOP

5 Responses

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  1. I am mostly a conservative. I dislike cats, but not strongly. I just don’t want them as my pets. I have a dog and two parrots as pets. And I do support the Bill of Rights and all of the Constitution.

    FWIW, Tim


    Tim Cuthbertson

    3 September 2007 at 7:06 am

  2. Interesting post, but your supposition on .50 caliber (presumably .50BMG, since there are many other .50 caliber rounds out there, including muzzleloading firearms) begins from the wrong supposition — Why not sell .50 [BMG]-caliber sniper rifles to the general public?

    Not a single one has ever been used to commit a crime in the US. The smallest manageable rifle for this round weighs over 20 pounds and is about 4.5 – 5 feet long. Many other rifles–typically used as hunting rifles–are far more concealable, faster to shoot, and have the same effective range. In an urban environment, buildings and wind tunnels from urban infrastructure would actually make a .308 rifle or even a .243 more accurate and effective. Nor would banning ownership by private citizens affect in any way the ability of a criminal or terrorist to acquire one. Absent a good reason, the default position of a classically liberal government should be do do nothing.

    On the main point, I have seen far more bumper stickers stating “Cat: The Other White Meat” on cars at conservative/libertarian events than on my primarily leftist campus.



    3 September 2007 at 11:08 am

  3. You’re perfectly correct: I did mean the .50 BMG round—an awesome round, BTW. I do know that these rifles—heavy, unwieldy, and expensive—have not yet been used in the commission of a crime or—the real fear, I think—an assassination. But among their virtues are extremely long range and the ability to penetrate bulletproof cars and the like. Thus at the very least their sale and use should, I think, be closely regulated and monitored (much as is the sale of explosives). But I am not uneasy that people differ on this.

    BTW, speaking of regular sniper rifles (and snipers) let me recommend an enthralling and technical thriller on the subject, Point of Impact, by Stephen Hunter (subsequently made into a gaudy and stupid movie—stick with the book). (The link includes a few copies published as a condensed book—avoid those as well.)

    Back to cats: do you have any insight as to why conservatives dislike cats? I have one thought, but I’ll include it in the post I’m writing now.



    3 September 2007 at 12:36 pm

  4. I really liked your Lahti post and will respond there later, time permitting. On .50’s — there are so many other means of effective assassination that until there is a rash of shootings involving that rifle/round combination, the federal government should refrain from wasting scarce resources to regulate a non-problem. I’ve been fortunate enough to test fire rounds through automobiles and “bulletproof” barriers–there is no control on where the round goes once it hits the barrier.

    Off relatively uninteresting tactical issues, though, the anti-cat conservative coalition members I’ve spoken with regularly adopt one of several principled philosophical positions against cats:

    1. Cats have achieved the perfect Marxist communitariat and therefore must be eliminated lest they provide the dogs with revolutionary examples.

    2. Cats are one of the cute, fluffy animals that the animal rights crowd uses to justify governmental intrusions, such as mandatory licensing, mandatory vaccinations, mandatory spaying/neutering, etc. Many of these are laudable goals, but nonetheless this associates cats with leftist animal control organizations.

    3. In the same vein, animal rights are fundamentally contrary to conservative principles. There is absolutely nothing wrong from a conservative viewpoint with *animal welfare*–the obligation of sentient human beings to care for and maintain the welfare of animals that we bring into our use, custody, and care. But many see animal rights as a mechanism for either denigrating the rights of human beings, or for expanding the rights/entitlement mentality. An example of the former sense occurs when municipalities spend scarce resources promoting animal rights in their animal control facilities versus funding additional beds or meals for people at the local shelter. An example of the latter sense occurs when state decision making is made on the basis of “even dogs and cats have a right to decent care, so I should have free medical care.”

    4. Cats own their people. Conservative political philosophy in the U.S. is predicated upon individual autonomy, strong property rights, clear freedom of contract. Although there are obvious exceptions to the ownership of people by cats, cat owners who wear funky t-shirts regarding the cat-based servitude don’t help alter this perception.

    5. Bring the comments back to point 1, while cats receive according to their needs, in modern suburban/urban society they contribute nothing. Their primary occupation of rodent control has been outsourced to traps, poisons, those glue thingies that starve or suffocate the rodent, etc. Consequently, they have nothing to give other than the ability to lie in a warm patch of sunlight or smear their scent-laden fur upon the nearest heavily allergic person. Oddly, the same conservatives who dislike cats also tend to loathe pet or otherwise useless dogs while favoring dogs who can do something like fetch slippers or a beer.

    6. In my jurisprudence class every year, I give a lecture on the nature of promising, and whether a promise has moral force that requires its enforcement. The class always picks up on my hypothetical regarding breaking a promise to a dog versus a promise to a cat. With the exception of one or two cat-lovers, the class concludes that it is morally wrong to promise something to a dog (like “I’ll give you a bone if you’re good.”) and break that promise. It’s not wrong to break a promise to a cat, however, because “Cats are @$$(^*$’s”. Some people just don’t like cats.



    4 September 2007 at 3:29 pm

  5. Interesting. Point 5 is misleading, unless those holding it lead impoverished lives, with no paintings, no literature, no truck with anything that simply delivers pleasure. Megs (and Molly) actually contribute a great deal to our lives, as you undoubtedly know if you’re a reader of the blog.

    I understand that you’re simply reporting the views of some who don’t like cats, but this reason fails the rather simple test of making any sense at all. People who give this as a reason should be questioned about what they mean by “contribute” and whether, for example, it would make sense to spend money on items that contribute pleasure.



    5 September 2007 at 9:24 am

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