25 May 2009

Ethical Cowboy Boots

Speaking of those boots. . . . .

We get creeped out when we read about those Nazi concentration camp commanders who had lamp shades and other articles fabricated out of human skin. However, we think nothing of walking around in cowboy boots fabricated from cowhide. Referring to the product as “hide” instead of “skin” helps, I think.

There are several very interesting aspects to this whole subject if you think about it. First of all, let us consider this from Genesis 1:26:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

Now if that is the way it happened, then there is absolutely nothing wrong in western religion with human beings slaughtering animals with impunity for any reason whatsoever, including, needless to say, the fabrication of cowboy boots. Indeed, we have then been given every right to slaughter creatures even unto the extinction of species. That is then the way God planned it.

This is illustrated by the non-Judeo-Christian plains Indians who killed only the buffalo they needed and then used every last bit of the dead buffalo. That is in contrast to the Judeo-Christian white men who killed millions of the buffalo for sport and left the carcasses to rot. Their God had given them a perfect right to do that. It is difficult for me to find scripture wherein Man is charged with husbandry of the earth, it creatures, and its resources rather than simple dominion over them. I am sure that is in there. It is just that I cannot find it, and I long ago lost patience with looking.

Now I am well aware that Hindus and related religions take an entirely different view and even hold cows sacred. But here is the cold fact of that matter. You could spend your entire adult life driving back and forth on Texas Ranch Road 1376 in your pickup truck at 95 miles per hour, dead drunk, 24 hours a day, and never hit a Hindu. An infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters would have a better chance of typing Hamlet.

So religion is not a problem as regards my cowboy boots. However, people make other ethical and moral arguments on this subject.

Of course I have always delighted in propping up the starving, freezing primitive man or woman in front of the vegetarian or the vegan or the animal rights person. If one or one's family are truly hungry or quite cold, clearly one should feel no compunction about slaughtering an available animal to eat or skinning an available animal and wrapping one's self in its hide. I mean, if the roles were reversed, you know damned well the animal would do that with you.

But what if the situation is not dire? What if alternatives are readily and easily available for sustenance or for warmth? Absent that scriptural authority, should we still feel free to slaughter our fellow vertibrates with impunity? Even in the role reversal situation, an animal does not kill human beings if somebody is throwing it fresh chunks of beef every day, except for that white tiger that tried to kill the magician in Las Vegas. I think we as a species are on the edge of a sea change in how we view this whole issue.

I repesented a couple once whose young daughter had become a hard core PETA activist. She was a lab raider. They wanted me to represent her; keep her out of jail. She was a tough, serious human being, I'm telling you. It is difficult to represent a person who does not give a shit whether they go to jail or not. She really did not care. In fact she felt that going to jail simply helped her to better prove her point. But that is a story for another day. . . . . .

And if you think about it, eating animal flesh and using animal hide for baggage, handbags, belts, coin purses, and cowboy boots are two entirely different questions. But we will leave talk of that distinction for another day also.

The simple fact is that I have trouble envisioning an appealing pair of plastic cowboy boots. The idea just does not work for me.

Now I can always rationalize the cowhide boots this way. Cows as we know them are human creations. Angus, Herefords, White Face, Holsteins, Jerseys, Guernseys would not exist were it not for Man's having created them. They do not occur in nature. You might find buffalo, gnus, elands, wildebeast, and warthogs in nature, but you will not find a Hereford in nature. Therefore, they would not even have their brief, artificially truncated life to enjoy were it not for the good graces of Man.

And so it follows, further, that we have a perfect right to slaughter them and do with the products of their bodies what we please. And they should thank us for whatever life they did have. Although, there has developed a predominant line of thought that we do not have the right to inflict needless suffering on them even though we continue to do that every day.

Where was I?

So there is nothing morally or ethically wrong with my cowboy boots made out of cowhide. But what about my python boots? Or lizard? Or whatever reptile's skin this is. Those creatures are not “man-made.” Let us assume it is python. Here was a peacable python—not one of those bastards that are overrunning the Everglades—undoubtedly minding his own business while he digested a rat, and some illiterate slope slaughtered him, skinned him, and sold his skin to some illiterate cracker who made my boots out of him. . . . . . . .the python, that is. . . . . . . . . and made my boots out of him when there were acres and acres of perfectly good cowhide available. And now I have had to glue his ass back together with Shoe Goo, which has to be doubly demeaning for that python.

I will let you know how the Shoe Goo works after it has set up for 72 hours.

Where was I?

The answer is obvious. The only python skin that ought be used to make cowboy boots is the skin of those bastards that are overruning the Everglades.

Now mark my words. Very soon someone is going to write me and tell me that the skin of those bastards that are overruning the Everglades is totally unsuitable for making cowboy boots.

Then someone is going to write me and tell me that somebody else is making cowboy boots now out of plastic that are beautiful boots and indistinguishable from genuine cowhide boots.

In which case I will stand corrected. Hell, I have stood corrected more often than not over my lifetime--when I was standing, that is. And there were occasions when I sat down corrected, too.

By the way, you will notice that hunters are also usually motorcycle hobbyists. But that, too, is a topic for discussion on another day.

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