23 January 2013

Saving lives, then taking dozens more

Some public acts turn the head, others the stomach. This is a case of the latter:

The Holley Fire Department, of upstate N.Y., is a bastion of life-saving volunteerism, comprised - according to its website - of a community of volunteers that has at their disposal two pumpers, a ladder truck, a grass fire/utility truck and other vehicles designed to preserve the sanctity of lives in peril. These are rescuers who on a moment's notice dispatch emergency medical services to care for their fellow residents whose lives and property are at risk - and, following moments of horror, sacrifice and personal sadness, also honor the fallen brethen who died honorably among them.

There is no question that putting one's life on the line, especially when rumuneration is little more than a thank you, is no mere trifle. Not everyone is capable of being moved by the volunteer spirit. It speaks to only a select few.

The same can be said about the killing spirit, particularly when the killing is done in cold blood - mass killings at movie theaters, shopping malls and too many schools have borne this truth recently. There are those who say such sort of hard-edged slaughter has to be nurtured, starting in childhood. Indeed, this very theory is central - even now - to our nation's hot-button debate on gun control, a dialectic being echoed here in New York State's Capitol building too.

So this leads to the question of why such a life-embracing team of courageous, unpaid souls would dispatch small children into the woods with loaded weapons to compete in something called "The Seventh Annual Squirrel Slam." Yes, this means six such contests have already preceded this one, leaving bags of kids' prized grey and red squirrel carcasses in their annual bloody wake.

What is the price of one life, anyway?

Inquire of the Holley Fire Department membership and by virtue of these volunteers' selfless deeds in safeguarding the human community, they will affirm that life is undoubtedly without price. It is worth saving at all costs and personal risk. Ask any firefighter's widow who lost half of her heart in a smoky blaze. Ask children whose father was overcome in the embrace of a building that collapsed around him.

But ask that question again on Sat., Feb. 16, and fire officials will tell you the price of one life: It is $50 cold cash. That's the top prize for the single fattest dead squirrel bagged by any child's gunshot. (And no cheating, folks: As the website advises "No internal packing or soaking of squirrels for added weight." You obviously cannot make one of these lives worth more than it is really worth.)

For a team effort, netting five dead squirrels, the reward is greater: The children get $200 to share among themselves. And in the spirit of progress, the good people of Holley's fire department have added a new category, making kids 14 and younger eligible to join in the slaughter. These prepubescent soldiers of fortune also qualify now to bring their dead fatties in for $50. Hey it sure beats waiting for that weekly allowance.

So Annie, get your gun. Better yet, get your tickets. They're $10 apiece from the volunteer rescuers of Holley and that price includes refreshments after the slaughtered animals have all been weighed. A mere $10. You can't even get a good movie ticket for that price.

Still, with $50 or more in hand, the victors can probably afford to go to the movies now and even treat their friends. Perhaps they'll take in a special screening of "The Hunger Games," watching teens just a few years older than themselves in that violent, dystopian Hollywood drama taking aim with their bows, arrows and guns. But this time, it will be on one another.

29 comments:

Unknown said...

Ugh! Hypocrisy is never ending and this does sicken and disgust that they are too blind to see or think that somehow they are above it to take another life of a species they don't understand. I hope that they are contacted that they are being watched from around the globe and that their actions are unconscionable.

Unknown said...

Ugh! Hypocrisy is never ending and this does sicken and disgust that they are too blind to see or think that somehow they are above it to take another life of a species they don't understand. I hope that they are contacted that they are being watched from around the globe and that their actions are unconscionable.

Unknown said...

Ugh! Hypocrisy is never ending and ever present. It is unbelievable to me that they are too blind to see or too oblivious to note the magnitude of their actions toward a species they don't understand but feel empowered to destroy. I hope they are notified that their actions are being watched from around the world and are found unconscionable. So sad and hope they cancel the event.

Mary Chasin said...

Thanks for all you are doing to raise awareness of this unbelievable event. It is beyond comprehension that anyone, let alone a first-responder, can consider this fun.

lori mellijne said...

sickening, sickening, sickening.

lori mellijne said...

sickening, sickening, sickening. I am in shock.

island rehabber said...

I am rendered speechless by this horror, and if Holley were not nine hours north of me I would be there and most likely get myself arrested, because I do have rage control issues when it comes to animal abuse. As always, you have captured my thoughts exactly into the beautiful and precise phrases you craft so well. I pray that our internet protest and phone calls will stop this thing, but deep down I know better. When I see something like this I know that humans, as a species, are lost.

squirrelmama said...

The despair over this is incredible, friends. For so many reasons. Island rehabber, I too wish there were not 9 hours distance, I'd be proud to be your cellmate!

Skippy Sheeskin said...

I am very upset about this. I have signed the petition that is circulating about this and hope it can be stopped.

Skippy Sheeskin said...

I am very upset by this. I have signed the petition that has been circulated and truly hope this is stopped. I cannot even tell you how how heartsick I am at reading this. Have you sent a copy of your article to them or to a local paper in their area for publication?

squirrelmama said...

Skippy, I have to be very careful about initiating any cross-publications, given that I am employed in the business. It's not something I can readily do myself.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this well-written, powerful commentary! I've shared it as widely as I can.

Anonymous said...

then there was the Holocaust, perfectly reasonable. Sick

tcgequine said...

Clueless. Insensitive. Offensive.

Leema Thomas said...

I am shell shocked. How sad that young kids are encouraged to engage in this "killing" especially when the nation is still reeling from Newton. Everyone has their rights....but not everything that is right-ful is beneficial 9to borrow from the Scriptures..)

Faithie Marie said...

You write beautifully about an ugly topic.

Faithie Marie said...

You write beautifully about an ugly thing.

squirrelmama said...

Thank you, I am glad this moved you as it did. It is a difficult topic to write about and even harder to comprehend - that it is real, not some bizarre fiction - but happening right here in the "real world." I just wish I knew why these things have to happen.

Anonymous said...

in late DEC 2012 , in Webster NY,near Holley NY, firefighters were ambushed, 2 murdered by a madman .. how other local firefighter can justify this violence is beyond me ... hateful . horrific . teaching children that it is ok to kill defensless animals ....."The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man"- Charles Darwin

squirrelmama said...

Yes this event in Holley truly dishonors those ambushed firefighters who apparently, according to news stories, had been set up by the gunman who they claim also set the fire. Firefighters of all people should know all too well the price violence exacts upon its victims.

Anonymous said...

It is horrifying to think of children being encouraged to indulge in this blood thirsty behavior.

Sid Soni said...

Insanely progressive or progressively insane.

Sad :(

Squirrel Lady of Town Lake said...

Thank you Caryn for this post! I will add the link for it on the Change.org petition site. We must all forge ahead and continue with the remaining days to eradicate this event. It is our duty to come to the aid of the little squirrels of Holley! Everyone... keep the faith and your love of these squirrel souls in your heart!

squirrelmama said...

More often than not I am embarrassed by what we, as a species, do to our fellow residents of the planet. Especially when it is done in the name of amusement, cruelty and profit.

Anita Marie said...

I pray that everyone who knows about this will work very hard to email the mayor's office up there in Holley,N.Y, the governor's office and so on. Also, I along with a lot of people I know are contacting the New York Times about it and asking them to print something on the outrage it has stirred up. You can contact them by sending letters to the editor.
letters@nytimes.com

This is so sick, that I haven't been able to think of anything else except to keep on gettin more people involved and there are plenty. We need many signatures on these petitions that are out there too. There such beautiful intelligent creatures that hurt no one.
We're sending kids the wrong message by allowing them to take part in such an event. They call this family entertainment! It's so horrible and I love these little animals so much.
Keep hounding them up there. The Humane Society is also aware of it, and has assured me they're on it.

anita

Diane Ogden said...

Sickins me and hurts as well. to think we would do such to "teach" our children violence instead of to respect all living things. Starts when they are young. And if you ask me, this is why there is little respect these days for well........just about anything. Hopefully enough will voice to end this stupidity! smh.

lgsquirrel said...

Gun Control! Gun Control! Gun Control!

Anonymous said...

There are 3 petitions please sign all 3 .Thanks

Anonymous said...

There are 3 petitions. Please sign all 3. 2@ change.org and also 1 @ care 2