Yesterday I received a newsletter from United Animal Action. I was incredibly
saddened by their beginning account of Zig Zag. In my opinion, it deserves
to be read by anyone who has compassion. And all of us who really care should
ask the question "Why?" Here is Zig Zag's story:
"Zig Zag was minding his own business in south-central Los Angeles on one
warm day when, according to police reports and eyewitness accounts, five
young teens approached the Rottweiler mix, caught him and tied him up.
They took wooden boards with nails and beat him. Then they beat him with
a steel pipe. Bleeding and howling, Zig Zag lapsed into unconsciousness. But
the torture wasn't over. One of the youths poured boiling water over him until
he woke up. As he regained his senses, one of the teens poured lighter fluid
on him and set him afire. Zig Zag tried to run, but he was beaten again until
nearly every bone in his body was broken. When the police arrived, Zig Zag
crawled into their squad car and died."
I hope the saying that "What goes around will come around" will apply to these
incredibly cruel punks. If any teens deserved corporal punishment, in my opinion
these did. However, per the newsletter- the perpetrators in this case received
scant punishment and were quickly back on the streets, free to harm more
innocent animals. What kind of criminal justice system do we really have?
If you are not ashamed of these horrible "punks" I am. If you are not ashamed
of a justice system which failed Zig Zag, I am. If you are not ashamed of the
parents who may have spared the rod and spoiled the child, then I am.
If anybody is doing a doctoral thesis in Sociology or Psychology and needs a
subject - Here's one- "Is there merit in forgoing the use of corporal punishment
in today's modern world?" I want someone to find out how these teens were
raised. I want someone to explore their background and determine if corporal
punishment or the lack of it may have played a part in their cruel behavior to
Zig Zag. Were they raised by parents who believed in some restrained corporal
punishment when the offense merited it? Or were they raised by cruel parents
who battered them relentlessly? Or were they raised by parents who didn't think
there ever was justification for corporal punishment?
I believe that we should explore how we raise our children- especially those who
have turned out incredibly "wrong." Investigating the lives of cruel youths like
this may help us decide if our modern child -rearing practices and principles
are really working. I think it is a mistake to adopt a "one fits all" type of raising
children. I believe some children will benefit from some restrained corporal
punishment. Maybe, some will not, but most of all, I want to know how the
perpetrators of such incomparable cruelty to Zig Zag were raised.
I was also reminded today of the cruel case of Cheyenne Cherry which I wrote
about before on oped. This 17-year old and her 14-year old companion broke
into the home of a former roommate - trashing it and even much, much worse
still -the 14-year old put Tiger Lily - an 8-week old kitten into a 400 degree
oven. Cheyenne thought nothing of it, and they both left the apartment admitting
they didn't want to hear the cries of the kitten. If you go on the internet- one
of the links shows a smiling Cheyenne who was sentenced to one year in
prison. The 14-year old was remanded to Family Services for evaluation and
These two also need to be studied re their up-bringing. Was either of them ever
spanked? It seems to me that probably not. Had they been- perhaps they would
not have meted out such a cruel fate to an innocent little kitten who did them
I do believe there is wisdom in the Biblical injunction "Spare the rod; spoil the
child." You don't have to believe in the Bible to realize that history is on its
side. I would be the first to admit my mistake if there is a study done in this
regard and the findings show that the large group of people who are cruel to
animals were brought up in families which used corporal punishment reasonably.
I would also like to believe that the incidences of cruelty to Tiger Lily and Zig Zag
are rare. Please God, I hope so. But if we are raising teens of the calibre of
those who tortured Zig Zag and Tiger Lily, then we should look deeper into the
causes - whatever they are and one can well be the lack of corporal discipline
in early childhood.
I began to worry about our child-rearing ideas when I noticed a change
in the quality of students I was teaching. The elementary students I taught
in the 50's were very different from those in the 70's. The 50's children
were basically well-behaved, industrious, and above all - respectful of their
elders. I believe that these children had parents who didn't feel a deserved
spanking done with restraint would hurt and would even probably help them
develop a feeling of compassion for anyone feeling pain. I doubt that this period
spawned many bullies. At least I don't remember any being called to my
attention. Were there ever fights on the playground?- Probably, but nothing
even approaching the accounts of bullying cruelty I hear of today.
Substitute teaching in a high school in the 70's, I was saddened to see that
some of the students were less than respectful. This was culture shock for
me and yes, I realized then that I did not want to be in this environment
any longer. I didn't need to be subjected to their bad manners. What had
happened to the once basically well-behaved and respectful student? Was
this the time when the views of corporal punishment were being questioned?
I believe so. That's why I hope someone will someday undertake a study
re the wisdom of ignoring the Biblical injunction - "Spare the rod; spoil the
child." Of course this injunction is not meant to empower parents to
abuse their children. Always everything in moderation. Can't there
be a middle road with disciplining our children?