Why cruelty video had to be aired
In the Scriptures, it is more often than not a lamb that is placed at the altar of sacrifice, a symbolic and most holy creature of this earth. But what took place on our island last week, perpetrated by those who are meant to represent the future of Bermuda, was most unholy.
Unholy. Vile. Depraved. Unadulterated evil.
The public outrage has been palpable over a video that has been circulated around the island showing a male youth torturing two infant lambs near Westover Farm in Sandys, while being egged on by an apparent male videographer with at least one young female in attendance.
The scenes are truly horrific and it took a fair bit of debate and introspection before The Royal Gazette took the decision to broaden the video’s reach by publishing it on Monday morning.
This was done primarily to expedite the apprehension of the persons responsible for those heinous acts and have them prosecuted.
Whether that is to the fullest extent of the law, believed to be 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine, remains to be seen but at the core of our ambition is that the perpetrators know in short order what they did was wrong and that they are to be held accountable for their actions.
While we readily accept that young people will make mistakes and that they should be given time to learn from them as part of their development, what cannot be overlooked is the callousness and ease with which these ones in particular were prepared to facilitate and accept the possible death of another being.
It was and is horrible viewing, and it has always been our plan to unpublish the video once the police have their men — and women — but until such time, it was considered a necessary evil.
To some extent that decision was taken out of our hands yesterday by YouTube — that paragon of social-media virtue — likely at the behest of Bermudian-based viewers who exercised their right to report the video as offensive.
We have also been subjected to a police complaint to go before the Media Council of Bermuda, which we also acknowledge but will dispute until the cows come home.
The Commissioner of Police’s concerns are respected but his hypothesis that the video might stir up emotions to such an extent that retribution could be taken against the accused, and get in the way of due process, betrays how brief the adopted Man of Kent’s time in Bermuda has been.
Once on island long enough, he will discover two things: that our social-media community’s bark is far worse than its bite, and that those who are most passionate against animal abuse can in no way be aligned with the criminal and otherwise antisocial element that has his officers chasing shadows.
People are angry and they have a right to vent their anger over what they saw, as opposed to us telling them what we saw. This was a case of the reality of our depravity in some circles being replayed before our eyes — at the breakfast table, in our living rooms, coming home to roost.
It is yet another chilling reminder of what society has become, what is accepted until a piercingly damning light is shone in its direction. The parents of those involved should be aghast at what was on display — if they are not, they are part of the problem.
The option was ours to disregard the YouTube ban and republish the video through other means until the police provide closure that results in punitive action — nothing less would seem adequate.
However, it is not our intention to go to war with Stephen Corbishley — he has made a promising start in his first nine months as successor to Michael DeSilva and has been a respected community partner — and so we will abstain from such action for now in the knowledge that we have placed due emphasis on an issue that is in the public interest.
This is a country that, in the main, adores its pets. We love pets almost as much as we used to love churches. If not for some rather obvious logistical drawbacks, “Bring A Pet to Work Day” could become a thing.
Starting tomorrow and continuing through the weekend, that love and admiration will reverberate throughout the grounds of the Botanical Gardens when the 80th Agricultural Exhibition gets under way with numerous animals on display, among other things.
What irony for the animal kingdom that the worst in us lies in such proximity to the best in us, eliciting recollections of a passage from George Orwell’s Animal Farm:
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
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Charles Smith (1932-2019)
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