Tuesday, June 14, 2011

SSGT Reckless, Korean War Hero

Last week was a lesson on Sports in my first grade classes, which is mainly a survey activity: teams are given a specific topic and they work together to devise three good survey questions to elicit the opinions of their classmates. Topics in sports include favorite sport, attendance at sports events, women in sports, etc. This year, gambling and game-fixing was included, due to the K-League scandal.

And Animals in Sports. I make that team ask some form of the question, Is it morally right to use animals for our entertainment? I make them ask because I want to know what Korean students think on this issue. I myself am a bit conflicted on it: I love the circus, elephant parades, dogs pushing prams and lion-tamers included, I have been to the racetrack a few times in my day, I even saw the cobra show in Thailand last month and uploaded video to Youtube! But I'm always a bit je ne sais quoi: it's one thing to use them for sustenance, another to force them to perform just for the purpose of relieving our ennui. Of course, being wild creatures, they'd probably be dead otherwise, rather than, say, populating lawn chairs at a clean yet inexpensive resort.

Interestingly, my students seem to be divided right down the middle: 50%, more or less, think it is uncool to treat/mistreat animals like this. Fast forward to today, when when one of my old (well, thirty or so) students posts the link at top on his FB--he's a horsey type from way back.

I'm wondering what my current students would think of this use of an animal, or this particular animal. What do you think? You can read more here: http://www.scuttlebuttsmallchow.com/mascreck.html

It's quite a story, but it ended pretty well for SSGT Reckless. One cannot say the same for many other animals drafted for military use, particularly bomb-carriers like the Soviet anti-tank dogs or the USA's Project Pigeon. Go to this Wikipedia article, scroll down to "As living bombs"--is a content warning here really necessary?


조안나 said...

cool video find! I've never heard of that horse but she seems pretty awesome, even if people were using her for their own needs.

Tuttle said...

Awesome, I too think! Don't misunderstand me, I use animals for my *needs* all the time. The qustion was more about frivolous uses like circuses and cobra shows. Mind you, the cobra show was an adjunct to the Buddhist temple next door which uses them in worship. Also consider that Korean War American soldiers were often no less drafted into service than Reckless was.

Chris said...

Having taken a few courses in control systems theory in my day, I have heard about the B.F. Skinner "Pigeon" project. One point not mentioned in that Wiki article, I remember reading in an technical journal that their testing revealed the birds pecked more accuately when fed a "hemp" product!

When you bring up this topic, you can't expect me NOT to quote Tom Lehrer: "It's not against any religion, to want to dispose of a pigeon...... When they see us coming, the birdies all try and hide, but they still go for peanuts, when coated with cyanide".


Chris said...

There is a similar category, animals which are raised and bred primarily for show. Dogs and special horses come to mind, where they are paraded around a, well, parade ground, and given prizes. Like an animal beauty contest. At least these animals live the reasonably leisure life of a pet between shows.

Then one could ask about pets in general. Aside from the cruelty of keeping dogs in a big city as we've discussed before, even still some people might argue that just domesticating an animal is cruel - though that's a bit of a stretch in my mind.

robyn said...

Love the Tom Lehrer quote, Chris! I live in rural Colorado, and have horses, dogs, cats and chickens. I raised rabbits for meat for a few years. I dont' think having/using animals is a bad thing, IF they are treated kindly and fairly, they understand what is expected of them, and they have a living area suitable for them.
Circuses--I no longer attend. At least those w/ animals--I love Cirque du Soleil! But then again, I've swum with "domesticated" dolphins and enjoyed the shows at Sea World. But I've also seen first-hand that the dolphins at dolphin swims LIKE interacting w/ people (as evidenced by one female who was to be given the chance to rest w/ her group in a back pool, and chose to stay out with the new group of people to swim with).

I think the cobra show was cruel. I have a problem w/ exploiting animals when they are not willing to be exploited. I'm not a fan of rodeo either.

Re: war animals--I'm glad that at least now the horses and dogs used by the military are returned to the US and "retired" instead of being left behind to die slowly in some foreign country.

An interesting lesson for your class!

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

Great little lesson. What a cool story about a brave soul. Thanks for sharing.

Tuttle said...

Regarding the cobra show, I'm a bit conflicted but mainly about the caged cobra-vs-mongoose face-off. The other stuff, well, the cobras may have gotten quite annoyed, but in nature they'd all be dead by now.

We always think of dogs as the first animals humans domesticated, but that isn't necessarily right--turns out they probably domesticated themselves. Early relationships go back 120,000 yrs or so, to a time when even the human lineage was still sorting itself. I still don't believe it's right to keep a Great Dane or even a lab in a small city apartment like mine.

robyn said...

Re: big dogs--some large breeds--Great Danes and greyhounds being good examples--are actually quite lethargic and would do well in an apartment, as long as they get walked daily. A lab would be ripping through your walls in short order. And a breed like an Australian Sheperd or Border Collie would simply go psycho. Or you would. =D