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escribacat On March - 25 - 2010

The other day, a small trailer in my town caught fire. The woman inside woke up to a wall of flames and ran outside into the snow. Nine cats were also inside the trailer. Two cats ran out when the fireman opened the front door; he found two more just inside the door, dead. The others are still missing. A man also lived in the trailer but he was not home.

Three years ago I signed up to volunteer as a victim advocate with the local police department. Under the Victim Rights Act, which went into effect in 1993, all police departments must provide a certain level of assistance to victims and make sure they are kept informed to some degree of what’s going on with their case (if there is one). In some cities, the officers themselves perform this function, but other departments establish a Victim Services unit. In my town, there are two paid victim advocates and a group of volunteers.

The other morning I was called out to the scene of the trailer park fire. My job is to stay with the victim, provide emotional support and referrals. When I arrived, the fire was out but still smoking heavily. They had set up an enormous fan at the front door which was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself talk. Between the flames and smoke and water damage, the trailer was totalled. The woman, whom I will call Janet, was inside an ambulance truck. When I joined them, the EMT was trying to convince her to go to the hospital. She didn’t want to go because of her cats. A wet, smoke-smelling cat was running around inside the ambulance.

When I first began as an advocate, I had a fairly simplistic view of what a “victim” was — an innocent person who has been wronged somehow by another person’s criminal act. During the training, I worried that I might become too emotional in these situations, overwhelmed with sympathetic feelings. This somewhat starry-eyed vision bore little resemblance to reality.

As is often the case in situations like this, the police knew Janet and her boyfriend well. The police had been there on several occasions for domestic violence calls. The boyfriend was an alcoholic and became violent when drunk. As a result of their most recent altercation, the boyfriend now wore a SCRAM ankle bracelet, which is a gadget that automatically performs a blood-alcohol test about every half hour. The offender must call in periodically and upload the results of these tests. If the results show alcohol, the offender goes back to jail. It is a form of house arrest.

Inside the ambulance, Janet was wailing about her cats, about how the boyfriend was going to kill her, about how she needed her meds, about how she wasn’t smoking when the fire started. She still refused to go to the hospital. A police detective came in and questioned her. Janet said she got up that morning, had some breakfast and a cigarette in bed and went back to sleep. After telling this story, she continued to insist she hadn’t been smoking.

Janet is on oxygen full-time and her oxygen tanks had blown up inside the trailer. She smokes three packs of cigarettes a day, has COPD, emphysema, and back problems. She and her boyfriend are both on SSI and Medicaid. She appeared to be somewhat developmentally disabled, but that may have been due to too many years of hard living. The DA had been unable to try the boyfriend for the various DV charges against him because he was deemed incompetent. There was some form of restraining order that allowed them to continue living together as long as he didn’t drink.

Janet was not in physical shock, but she was traumatized. She frequently stared off into space. She could not focus. She would suddenly start wailing, then stop. This is normal behavior for someone in the middle of a traumatic event. One thing you learn as a victim advocate is which people need to be touched and which can’t stand to be touched. I’ve had people cling to me. I’ve hugged people, held their hands, stroked their hair. I even recall kissing the head of a woman who had lost her son. Janet was not one of these. Janet did not seem to know what “touching” or “comfort” was. I knew instinctively that touching her might bring on an angry swat.

Throughout that morning, I made phone calls. I called her doctor about getting all her numerous meds refilled. I called the boyfriend’s occupational therapist, where he had gone that morning. He said the boyfriend had left to go to his sister’s. I called the sister, who hadn’t seen him. Janet wanted me to find him, but she also said he was going to beat her up. She quickly became adept at coming up with new phone calls I needed to make for her. When we finally convinced her to go to the hospital, she even wanted me to sign her hospital forms. After one hour, she was ready to let me handle everything for her.

Janet’s “victimhood” went far deeper than the events of that day. Janet was helpless. She was incapable of taking care of herself and had been for many years. Therefore, the State had stepped in and basically played the role of her parent. Although the boyfriend had a sister who was his guardian, the State was also his parent.

From a political perspective, Janet and her boyfriend are everything that rightwing conservatives complain about. They rely on entitlements for their survival. They don’t even try to take care of themselves. They are not “deserving.” There is nothing lovable about them. When I climbed out of the ambulance to follow them to the hospital in my car, the first thing I saw was the animal control officer trudging through the snow with a small furry bundle in her arms. I asked her if it was alive and she shook her head. She was upset, knowing what possibly lay ahead for her inside the trailer.

At the hospital, Janet continued her periodic wailing for her cats. I am not using this verb lightly — she was wailing. I found myself watching her eyes for tears. I didn’t see any. I don’t know if this meant anything or not, but it seemed important to me at the time. By now, I did not feel real sympathy for her any more but I pretended to. I couldn’t imagine holding her and kissing her head as I did with that other woman who lost her son. Janet was also wailing for her narcotics.

While Janet got her lungs x-rayed, I waited for the Red Cross people to show up. In the case of fires, the Red Cross takes over and provides temporary food, clothing, and shelter. I met with the hospital social worker and we tried to figure out what would happen to Janet, where she would go when she left the hospital, and how she would get there. Janet ended up getting a taxi ride to the boyfriend’s sister’s house, paid for by the social worker’s office.

The next morning, I woke up thinking about the nine cats that lived in that tiny trailer. My first thought was that when Janet ran out, she did not leave the door open so they could escape too. I heard today that there may have been a cat door, so maybe the others escaped. I pictured them spending the freezing night out in the snow, their lungs damaged by smoke. I realized I was less concerned about Janet and than I was about the cats — the only true “innocent victims” that I so wanted to help when I became an advocate.

There is one saving grace in this story and that is that the State doesn’t care how lovable or unlovable Janet and her boyfriend are. The state isn’t turned off by their lives the way I was. The State won’t watch her eyes to see if she really cried. I had the luxury of passing judgment on her, but at the same time I was able to leave the hospital knowing that somehow, the various agencies that run her life will patch her back together again — find her a new place to live or get her into a home, buy her some new clothes, replace her exploded oxygen tanks and painkillers and anti-anxiety meds. Thankfully, we are a society that provides at least a minimum of care for those who don’t deserve it. That is precisely what makes us civilized.

Categories: News & Politics

85 Responses so far.

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  1. kesmarn says:

    E’cat, what a true, human, real, gorgeously written article.

    Oh God, have I been there. At work, at church, at the soup kitchen where I’ve volunteered.

    Mother Therese of Calcutta used to talk about serving Christ “in the distressing disguise of the poor.”

    As you (and many of us here) know all too well, and contrary to detached images of Reaganesque sentimentality, the poor are often…well, difficult. Sometimes they smell. Sometimes they endlessly, relentlessly seek to be the center of attention. Sometimes they pile up two or three plates of food for themselves before other people have had any at all. Sometimes they call you a fucking c--t, when they don’t get the money or drugs they’re looking for. Sometimes they steal your coat while you’re working the dishwasher at the soup kitchen and then you have to drive home in a blouse that’s a little damp with dishwater in the middle of January…you shiver all the way. Sometimes they display a creepy interest in the children of the church, and they have criminal records that make you worry. Sometimes they trash the restroom, for whatever unknown reason. Sometimes they demand that more coffee be served to them at their tables by octogenarians who are limping around after hip replacements, but still volunteering.


    And yet, people who serve the poor will often say they come home feeling that they’ve received more than they’ve given.

    Funny how that happens.

    It is good to be a liberal.

  2. javaz says:

    E’cat, thank you for sharing this story and I commend you for your selflessness in assisting others along with helping greyhounds.

    You may think that you judged this woman and her boyfriend, but the fact that you volunteer to help people and animals says differently about your innate compassion.

  3. PepeLepew says:

    Wow, what an amazing story.

    Just, wow!

  4. Vituperation says:

    My wife

    • escribacat says:

      Vit, I know where you are coming from. The issue of “helping” vs “enabling” is difficult and murky, at the very least. I don’t know the answer. I can think of cases in my life where it was clear that one person was enabling another and just prolonging the bad behavior. Once the enabling stopped, the bad behavior changed. It didn’t necessarily become “good behavior” but it improved.

      In the case like my story, it’s mostly a matter of triage nursing. The agencies keep these people afloat, but they certainly aren’t “fixing” them.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      I am not sure I understand your question, V — “What do people deserve?” I think they deserve at least what you and your co-workers did. And Bravo!!

      I have no need to try to fix anyone at this point. I am one of those people who gives the bum on the street whatever I can spare and don’t care how she or he spends it. I guess one could say I am enabling them, but I doubt that my spare change or couple of bucks — either withheld or given — is going to change them. I think old men and crusty-skinned women who stand on freeway off-ramps all day in the sun holding a sign have a pretty hard job too. And as for Smokey and his destructive — almost criminal behavior — well, sounds like he was already suffering a lot. To me though, there is no point in blaming--that could take us back in time for generations.

        • Khirad says:

          There’s a reason forgiveness is a core tenet in every major religion…

        • choicelady says:

          Vitupe -- you defined the essence of Christianity in one fell swoop. Everyone deserves forgiveness. We rarely fully understand anyone, even those we love, so trodding lightly on judgement is essential.

          That does NOT mean we don’t have the right to be vexed, annoyed, peeved, or downright angry at people, but we will never walk a mile in their shoes, so forgiveness is all. We express it not in making them our new BFF but in doing what we can to make sure they can go on, can survive, can live another day.

          It’s not much and it’s everything to take people as they come. That is the gift of acceptance that is the hub of Christ’s teachings. Judge not.

          You really nailed it. Rarely have read it done better. Thank you.

  5. choicelady says:

    Dear e-cat -- you’re amazing! That is so hard, especially when the victim is unlovable and so needy in ways that no one person can repair. I also found myself worrying about the cats as I read this, but I do agree with everyone -- what is this woman’s REAL story? How do we generate so many helpless and dependent people who cannot fend for themselves?

    I work with a group that brings women out of welfare into the community of the strong. It’s amazing to watch them testify about earning degrees and getting jobs -- with scars of abuse on their arms or gang tattoos on their necks. But why do we wait until kids are massively dysfunctional adults before there is massive intervention? Years ago when I thought I wanted to be a preschool teacher I worked in a wonderful preschool in the inner city of Indianapolis. We got those kids ready for school, helped settle their demons, and provided a caring environment for them. They ALL flourished. Then came the Reagan years, and the federal funding vanished. Most of the programs dried up -- and crime and dysfunction soared.

    When we live in a nation of YOYO -- you’re on your own -- and not community, when we blithely support charity but NOT justice, when we diss the government but turn our individual backs, then -- surprise! We get a Dickensian society with a tiny rich population and a growing one of dependence, drug use, emotional and mental illness. It’s not the government that creates weirdly out of tune people -- it’s the absence of any caring at all. By the time the abandoned child becomes the messed up adult, yes social services can stabilize but cannot fix the mess we allowed to grow.

    I believe in the “don’t just give a fish, teach fishing” or “hand up not hand out” principles not from a RW anger of “don’t bother me!” but from a point of view of justice. But we won’t spend the money on real education, social service interventions, etc. to assure healthy kids become healthy adults. Charity does not cut it -- it patches the immediate hurt and need, but justice helps people become independent and have self respect.

    You are doing GREAT things with the intervention for victims, but there are some things too great to fix, and this woman is one of them. Her needs have been allowed to grow, expand, engulf her as she as a functional person has been allowed to shrink, shrivel, disappear.

    We turn our backs on children when we could help. Then we turn our backs on teens when we could repair. And we turn our backs on the adults who are creepily needy. It takes you and the social services system and its pros every ounce of energy to keep her alive and grounded, when maybe, when she was a little girl, it would have just taken the care of one or two people helping her then. But we might have had to raise taxes, and we could not have that, could we?

    So we neglected her to make sure those with good income could have another iPod, and you’re picking up the debris as a volunteer.

    Brave new world.

    Thank you for who YOU are and what you do. It DOES matter.

    • escribacat says:

      Well said, choicelady. I agree that she is beyond repair. All the agencies involved will simply repair her like Humpty Dumpty. Your post is a really strong argument in favor of early childhood education — nipping these situations in the bud, so to speak. One thing I have learned is that the people that the police deal with are usually the same folks, over and over and over. And the saddest part is, they often have young kids who will probably grow up to be part of that same cycle — unless they are either helped or unless they have extremely strong will and character. I’ve been to a good number of homes now where I looked at the adorable little kids and thought, “I wish I could rescue you from this situation but I know I can’t.”

    • SueInCa says:

      I had a major confrontational(not by me)conversation about why we wait so long in my Community Relations course in Administration of Justice.

      We were talking about gangs, you know I live in a “upper middleclass” area and what it is like here. The attitudes of those kids was just perplexing to me. I heard comments like, “they are on their own”, “why can’t they just stop it”, “they get what they ask for”, “in Granite Bay there are no domestic violence, gang, drug or abuse cases”, or the best one “Why don’t they just move?” I offered the suggestion that perhaps the police community needed to start working with the younger generation and their parents. Stop the violence before they join, give them something else to do besides hang out on a street corner. Get involved and get the parents involved, make it easy for them, not make it difficult or at impossible times when they have to work.

      Out of a group of about 35 students, only 6 agreed with me and that included my professor. The rest said it was their own fault and if they wanted to get out, they could. Our professor was always saying, before you answer that, “pretend like you do not live in Rocklin or Roseville”, I kid you not. Amazing attitudes.

      • choicelady says:

        Whew -- Sue you have met the greatest frustration of our time: lack of empathy. I applaud you for sticking with this conversation. Not easy to do, not easy to hear. Used to live in Davis and was on the Hate Crimes Rapid Response team. After some hate incident, I used to go to candlelight vigils (don’t get me started about that) where I’d inevitably hear someone say, “How could this happen in Davis? It’s such a nice little town.” Gag me with a spoon. It’s a horrid and sanctimonious town that gives rise to hate by its imperious dismissal of “the other”.

        Some years ago, Rober Coles, the psychologist, wrote a book, “Children of Privilege” as part of his study of the world’s children. We are raising kids who have not a shred of understanding of other people who are growing into adults lacking the same. We are a nation that dismisses structural and systemic problems by telling the victims of same that they need “personal responsibility” to “snap out of it”. Because money DOES buy easy exit from trouble, they project everyone has unlimited choices.

        Being poor, especially being poor and a person of color, is damned hard work. EVERYTHING takes vastly more energy and time. And these kids in Granite Bayy, Roseville, and Rocklin hae no clue. And I have NO idea how to build empathy in them. Take them to a homeless camp, and let them hear the stories, and they come away thinking, “Well, I’d never let MYSELF get this way! I’d have done SOMETHING to get out of this!”

        But ASK what that somethng IS -- there is no answer. When I asked a blogger how people living near toxic waste dumps and power plants, with no groceries and only fast food joints around them -- how were these people supposed to “stay healthy” -- the anser was, “Move”. Never mind trying to figure out how you’d do that on $684 per month. Or on nothing.

        No -- don’t know how to combat that arrogance and disinterest in other people. Just do NOT know.

        I’d like to hear more about what happens in this class -- can you keep us updated? I already like your professor! I hope your deep compassion rubs off on some of these people!

    • Khirad says:

      Indeed, those that fall through the cracks early and often, end up costing our society in the long run, in more than just dollar signs.

      • SueInCa says:

        My argument exactly. Not leaving out the older ones who still could be saved, there is always that chance but give these kids something to keep them busy. There is so much that could be done.

  6. nellie says:

    Awesome, e’cat.

    I don’t even know what to say…

  7. SueInCa says:

    You have definitely made into the hall of fame of “women who stand up for wearing pants” (you know what I refer to). I think your work is extremely important to society. As you know I, too, am interested in Victim’s advocacy work. Too often in the events of a crime, the victim is forgotten except for the “witness” viability.

    The DA’s of this country are not generally subject matter experts in this part of the criminal process and do not prepare their witnesses properly or generally see them as a tool to use in prosecution. I know there are DA offices out there that do recognize this, our county here in No Calif has a division in the DA’s office. In it’s absence it is people like you that provide this generous and kind experience. Despite your personal thoughts, you reacted in the exact way you were trained to act with a victim. I applaud you for your service and someday I hope to be able to emulate it in my own area, paid or not.

    • escribacat says:

      ๐Ÿ˜† Women who stand up for wearing pants. Love it.

      Yes, I remember discussing this with you. The DA in my county also has one paid advocate. I think the Victim Rights Act applies to them too but I’m not sure about that. For obvious reasons, cops do NOT make good victim advocates. They are there to “process the scene” and are usually unaware of how they come off to victims, which is usually not great.

  8. SanityNow says:

    what a snap shot, escribacat.

    it is a strikingly honest testimony of how social legislation takes care of those who arguably would be denied help if this help were left up to the so called good graces of our community without that social legislation that conservatives decry.

    • escribacat says:

      Exactly, Sanity. The conservative mantras: “I will give when I want to give.” “Conservatives are more generous.”

      Without a legislated safety net, who will get help? The cute. The pure. The beautiful victims. The absolute innocents.

      All the rest — the vast majority — will languish.

      It’s like the idea of real love — the ability to love the unlovable and not just the lovable.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        They are, as always, full o’crap. Let’s say conservatives or their mega-churches DO help their own--and even others. Can they put out the fire? Of course not, but OK, that’s too facile. Can they provide rescue and sanctuary and a vet for the cats? NOPE. Can they provide shelter and clothing as the Red Cross does? Maybe-- for one or two people. But they certainly cannot provide a social worker. They cannot provide any professional services. They may be true do-gooders, but without any expertise, what help can they really offer?

        They are again living in a bucolic fantasy world of the Waltons. (Hmmm-- I bet that’s why they like those sickening paintings by Thomas Kincaid!) It’s nice to give people like Janet a cup of coffee and a blanket--heck, even a few items of clothing-- A band-aid. And then pat themselves on the back and walk away. Social services are in there for the long-run, and they are underfunded and not nearly as effective as they could be, but they are better than depending on the charity of the community.

        • escribacat says:

          Cher — yes, those Kincaid paintings! I am starting to think that the conservative mentality has something to do with an inability to face up to reality. They want to live in a clean, pretty world and in order to do so, just learn how to compartmentalize the ugly stuff out. Those Kincaid paintings are a perfect example of that.

          • boomer1949 says:


            The conservative mentality reminds me of Pleasantville (1998) and this is only a snippet…

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Or the Disney engineered ‘community’ Celebration, FL.

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            • Khirad says:

              Perfect. Classic movie.

              Also reminds me of an X-Files episode, Arcadia (hey, you guys have Star Trek trivia, I have X-Files) about an evil homeowners association -- the whole theme of which is about the authoritarian personality and bland conformity.

            • escribacat says:

              Love X-Files! Love that episode. Love Mulder’s pink shirt!

            • Khirad says:

              Hehe, Boomer, yes. It was our generational beacon for nerdom.

            • boomer1949 says:

              My daughter was an X-Files maniac. I think she can still recite dialogue. ๐Ÿ˜†

          • Khirad says:

            A lot of them look like White Heaven -- that exclusive country club in the sky.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              That’s a good one! Yeah, he has the same style as the cheesiest Jesus paintings= White Heaven!

            • Khirad says:

              Cher, are they not one-and-the-same? ๐Ÿ˜‰

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Oh, yeah. I think of it also as Kiddie Heaven. It reminds me of children’s book illustrations.

            • Khirad says:

              Or, have you ever seen the depictions of heaven in Watchtower or LDS pamphlets? Seriously, I need to find some if you haven’t.

          • SueInCa says:

            I absolutely detest the ones with the little lights on in the buildings/houses. So phony

        • SueInCa says:

          That is the conservative mantra, charity belongs in the public, not the government. They want it to go to the churches, like they are equipped to handle major emergencies or even minor ones. Like you say, they give out a blanket some food a pat on the head and walk away. We saw conservative compassion in a dark way with Katrina. That one still makes my blood boil.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Sue, I was just listening to a stand-up routine by Chris Rock, stumping for Obama in the primaries.

            He was saying that when Katrina happened, Bush was AWOL. But during the Malibu fires shortly thereafter, Bush was right there. Rock said: “Damn! He was helping them put out the fires! He was using Katrina water!”


            • SueInCa says:

              Chris Rock gets it. He said before the election, “vote for the guy with one house, he gets it”

      • SanityNow says:

        we see exactly how conservatives and the private sector would do it and that is exactly why we need to legislate social responsibility because they never will quite get around to fulfilling that promise of trickle down…

    • nellie says:

      Spot on SN. Exactly what a social contract (i.e., GOVERNMENT) is supposed to be all about.

      • SanityNow says:

        I love how the use of BIG GOVERNMENT and GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER some how imply that government isn’t run by fellow human being citizens and that somehow, if “they” are elected to government, there wouldn’t be any BIG GOVERNMENT or GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER.

  9. Chernynkaya says:

    E’cat, that made me cry. Thank you so very much for the service you do! My personal belief is that you, and all the other services involved with this tiny part of humanity, do God’s work--that this IS God. Whenever we pray, we are praying to the God that is in us, and we answer each others’ prayers. We each have within us the ability to be actual angels.

    But beyond that, you wrote so perfectly about these two broken people. I myself have a judgmental streak, but because of my own (numerous) shortcomings, I’ve softened up as I’ve gotten older. As Msbadger wrote, “There but for the grace of God…”

    I know that many, many people would see these folks as undeserving slackers. Not me. They are every bit as disabled as a quadruple amputee-- maybe even more so, because they are mentally and emotionally crippled. And being disabled does not automatically make one likable. So I am glad that those of us who simply cannot function get all the help they need. I am glad there there is such a safety net! Thank you again for your incredible heart.

    • escribacat says:

      Thanks, Cher. That’s exactly what I kept thinking over and over when I left the hospital and the Red Cross ladies had taken over (also volunteers). I’m so glad we take care of these people. I’m so glad there’s a safety net. I’m so glad we’re civilized.

    • Khirad says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Cher.

  10. Questinia says:

    You may find that your compassion would bloom afresh if you would know the background of this woman. Chances are there was an uglier story in her past than the one you just related.

    Amongst many other things, these people exhibit “learned helplessness”. Essentially that means that they are conditioned to not think for themselves because they have learned that there is no escape from their situation. They are helpless even when there is an opportunity for them to do something about it. Quite often they behave like children, i.e. they regress, when stressed.

    Helpless as a child, the woman bawled like a child who lost her Teddy Bear. Regression in an adult can be extremely unattractive and maintaining compassion requires a lot of patience and fortitude.

    • escribacat says:

      Questinia — Yes, you are right. I was pretty shocked when she wanted me to sign her hospital forms for her. I was talking to the lead advocate about it later and she said that “Janet’s” social worker probably handled everything for her like that. Like dealing with a child, it was just easier to do it herself instead of prevail on Janet to do it. Janet truly had given up on herself.

      She was very much a child. When I first arrived, the officer in charge of the scene told me she was developmentally disabled. I’m not sure if that was true or not. I’ve met other people who acted the same way — long-time alcoholics. She wasn’t an alcoholic but seemed to be addicted to pain killers.

    • Khirad says:

      Oh yes, Q. I bet I can guess that woman’s history.

      Chances are…

      • Questinia says:

        … she was abused as a child and as an adult.

        • SueInCa says:

          The adult part is still going on with her boyfriend. Poor soul cannot break away from it.

          • escribacat says:

            She was also wailing for me to find the boyfriend — in between wailing that he was going to beat her up. As much as I felt like she couldn’t handle the human touch, I could also see she desperately feared losing the presence of the man, no matter how abusive.

            • nellie says:

              A seriously abused person, e. By others, herself, and her own choices. There was no way for you to tell what she really needed, wanted, or could handle. Maybe a professional who deals with her down the line will be able to make some headway with her.

              You are doing awesome work.

            • Khirad says:

              It was the touching part that sent alarm bells ringing for me, along with the nature of her current relationship.

              This, of course, isn’t necessarily always the case -- as seen in teenagers.

            • escribacat says:

              Interesting. I hadn’t thought of that. You are probably right.

  11. whatsthatsound says:

    What an extraordinary story, and what a great thing you are doing! Some would argue that nothing whatsoever should be done for Janet and people like her. Disciples of Ayn Rand would say neither life nor society owes her a thing. But I agree with you, it says GOOD things about the country that people like her will be tended to within the means at its disposal.


    • escribacat says:

      WTS, I don’t think Ayn Rand would bother herself over someone like Janet. I think Ayn Randians live in a carefully constructed universe that blocks out the unpretty. It’s quite a cowardly way to live.

  12. Khirad says:

    You should send that off to, I don’t know who, but that was definitely publishable!

  13. AdLib says:

    Bravo Escribacat!

    Also, the work you’ve volunteered reflects your wonderful character.

    As you illustrate, I think the ability to weigh our values in the situations we find ourselves in is natural and ultimately a good thing.

    When it comes to respecting others’ rights, it has nothing to do with respecting them for their choices but respecting the rights all human beings should be entitled to.

    Just as with the right of Freedom of Expression, one proves their genuine respect for a principle only when applying it to speech that conflicts with their personal opinions. A right or principle isn’t legit if it’s applied conditionally.

    It’s easy to champion the state taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves when the people concerned are “good” people but when they are objectionable, that’s where one’s principles are put to the test.

    Your closing line is perfect. Indeed, that is precisely what makes us civilized.

    • escribacat says:

      Thanks, adlib, and well said. How many conservatives have said, “I am willing to give when it’s MY idea.” I can guarantee you that nobody would volunteer to take care of these people. Others would step in to care for the innocent and lovable cats (as I wanted to do0, but not them. I am sure of it.

  14. msbadger says:

    Dear E-cat! What a story. Dear lord…. I have known people like that myself in my life, and it is indeed hard to maintain empathy for them; then again, I always remember, “There but for the grace of God go I.” I too am feeling sad for the cats; they are the true innocents as are all animals and children. Scenes like this are played out daily in our country, as we all know. Thank you for being a good human, and a good citizen, by doing this volunteer work. Thank you for sharing this story. Bless you, friend!

    • escribacat says:

      Msbadger, I know people like this too. I have a brother I grew up with who isn’t too far from this state. Even though I am almost always mad at him lately because of his dysfunction, there is still another part of me who realizes that he simply does not have the capabilities that I want him to have. It is not a case of willfull dysfunction.

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