Introduction: After writing this article a thought came to me (you may like to read the article first and come back to the intro). No one has mentioned this point. Sarah Palin’s 6-year-old-son Trig has Down syndrome and he is the main “player” in this online media story. Isn’t it unfair on Trig? I think Ms Palin’s insensitivity went further than a disrespect for animals. She seems to have disrespected her son too. She posted the photo on FB inviting comment, most of which were critical of her. Common sense dictates that she deserves the criticism and mine too.
And now for the story……
Is the photograph below an example of an insensitive attitude towards companion animals or is it something which is simply part of day-to-day life and acceptable? Neatly, the photograph seems to symbolically signify the dominion of man over animals and the way humans keep animals under foot. I wonder if Ms Palin noticed that when she took or saw the photo?
As mentioned, the person standing on the dog, using the dog as a step ladder is Sarah Palin’s son Trig. He is six years old and he has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. From the picture I would guess that he has a close relationship with his dog companion, Jill.
The picture was posted on the Facebook page of Sarah Palin with the message,
“May 2015 see stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward.”
So Sarah Palin saw nothing wrong with what her son was doing and thought that it was quite a nice picture, in fact; worthy of posting on Facebook and turning it into an image signifying something good that might happen in 2015.
By contrast, the president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, made the following comment,
“it’s odd that anyone – let alone a mother – would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo.”
The photograph crystallised the diverging attitudes towards animals in the USA. At one end of the spectrum is, what I regard as the extreme views of Ingrid Newkirk of PETA who, as I understand it, wants to do away with domestic animals completely. They have a purist attitude towards the relationship between human and animals and at the other of the spectrum we have the hunting, shooting Sarah Palin types. We’ve seen pictures of her hunting and she surely likes killing animals for fun. She must like guns and as one journalist says, “her m.o. include shooting large guns at large animals while sporting a large smile” (m.o. means ‘modus operandi’ – a way of doing things)
So who is correct in their assessment of the photograph? Obviously the answer depends on who you are but there has to be no doubt that gradually there is a trend towards a greater respect of animals in America. There are signs of this in all manner of small ways but progress is slow. This is my impression but other people may have a different viewpoint. If I am correct the photo will offend the majority.
The chief executive of PetSmart, David Lenhardt says that there is a gradual humanisation of pets. This, however, does not translate to a greater respect for animals in my opinion so it is an irrelevant comment.
My opinion is this. Sarah Palin is insensitive, hence the title to this article, and she totally fails to see any wrong in the photograph. Although it has to be said that this was an innocent event as far as I can tell. The boy was in the wrong standing on the family dog and he did it rather casually and carelessly, let’s say. That casual approach to respecting the dog may have more important consequences, however, later in life.
The photograph should not have been posted on Facebook (to protect the boy and avoid criticism) Palin should have gently chided her for what he did. That is my opinion but that said I don’t see this particular event as a very big issue but in some ways it does, as mentioned, crystallise the diverging views of American people in respect of their relationship with companion animals and animals in general.