Robert Crosland, the high school teacher who fed a puppy to a turtle in front of young teenagers, was found not guilty of animal cruelty this week.
Robert Crosland, the Preston Junior High School teacher, smiled as the verdict was read and afterward spoke publicly for the first time since the March ordeal.
“I would just like to thank all of the support that I’ve received,” he said. “I’d like to thank this community for staying behind me. It’s really what got me through all of this.”
Shane Reichert, an attorney representing Crosland, explained that what matters is not what people think about animals but what the law defines: "Regardless of whether it's a puppy, an elk, a deer, a coyote, a mouse or a rat, it doesn't matter in the eyes of the law. There is no distinction in the law between them and ... domestical animals."
Thanking the jury, Reichert air quoted the word "puppy" to emphasize how meaningless it is in legal terms to distinguish them from the live vermin usually fed to reptiles.
Also in the news this week is a Sheriff's deputy, Keenan Wallace, who shot a chihuahua to punish a man who refused to talk to him:
Here's the video, which, be warned, shows the cop shooting a tiny, obviously harmless dog. The dog survived.
"An internal investigation conducted by the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office found Wallace’s actions did not violate any policies or laws," of course, but they changed their minds and fired him after the media found out.
Wallace was a K9 officer.
Seeing these two stories back to back reminded me that the worst thing about the age of Trump is that it makes a virtue of cruelty. Casual cruelty, considered cruelty, cruelty from top to bottom. Flashes of cruelty where the cruelty is why, with no justification made beyond whatever impassive, contemptuous explanation of legality or policy gets it off the hook. Cruelty thrives at the margins — children, women, minorities, foreigners, animals — and now it goes without shame. The effect of the cameras and the internet is not to restrain cruelty but to free it and make clear the absense of consequences. When retaliation comes, it will be cruel.