Irrational Admiration and Hatred

I recently read and enjoyed Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant, a British writer who details his experience moving from an apartment in New York City to a dilapidated big house in rural Mississippi.  The book is interesting in its description of the many eccentric characters Grant encountered and in its examination of backward race relations in Mississippi.  I’ve lived in Georgia since 1976.  Grant’s description of current racial interactions in Mississippi reminds me of the Georgia I moved to then.  But Georgia has progressed.  Mississippi seems to be 40 years behind Georgia.


This book is the entertaining true story of a British writer who moves into an old house in rural Mississippi.

Of course, I was interested in Grant’s experiences with the nature of Mississippi, a region mostly consisting of farmland, swamp, forest, and fallow field.  His house is located on an oxbow lake, and the entire region is right in the middle of the Mississippi flyway–an important migratory route for birds.  I expected a fish out of water story, but Grant readily adapted to hunting, despite his supposed reluctance. Note this passage about a dove hunting “party:”

I missed the first three doves that came my way, and hit the fourth.  It fell to the ground still fluttering its wings in a wounded death panic.  I swallowed my horror, and following Mike’s example, I picked it up by the head and twirled it around to break its neck.  Its feathers were so soft, its beauty so ruined by blood and death.

I felt sad, upset, shaky, and proud all at the same time…The doves made such small, fast-moving unpredictable targets, a smudge of gray darting and veering, but I managed to bring down two more, and I started to feel the excitement of it, the quickening of the blood, the total adsorption in which I was trying to do.”

I’m not buying it.  How does an human being go from being “sad and upset” to excited in the space of a few paragraphs?  And why would someone feel proud over killing a small bird with a shotgun?  I think Grant is full of shit here because he was prepared to enjoy killing animals.  I also suspect he wanted to act like an hick in order to shock his pretentious city slicker friends. I’m not against hunting for food, and Grant chose to hunt deer in Mississippi for economic reasons–to put food on the table.  I’m not buying this either.  Deer hunting is not an economical way to put meat on the table.  Rifles cost hundreds of dollars and ammo adds interest to this bad “investment.”  Luckily for Grant, a neighbor loaned him a firearm.  But he still paid over $100 to have his deer processed.  Moreover, the time he spent hunting could have been spent working and making money.

I am opposed to killing animals for the hell of it.  Grant adapted the “killing animals for the hell of it” attitude rather too readily as well.  He slaughters armadillos, mistakenly thinking they are invasive pests.  Some people complain because armadillos dig holes in their yards.  But dogs dig holes in yards, and these same assholes would never think of shooting their dog because it dug an hole in their yard.  I hypothesize 9-banded armadillos are not invasive, but instead are the same species that lived in North America during the Pleistocene.  (See: )  Armadillos are merely recolonizing lost territory.  A study published in the Southeastern Naturalist determined killing armadillos is futile because other armadillos quickly replace the ones that are killed.  So the killing of armadillos serves no purpose.

Another animal that Grant kills for the hell of it is the cottonmouth water moccasin.  He also admits to accidentally killing nonvenomous snakes, an illegal act in most states.  He kills cottonmouths because he believes they are dangerous.  Yet, he allows his large German shepherd to roam the countryside at will where it could potentially encounter and kill a small child.  (Allowing his big dog to run loose is evidence that Grant is an hick at heart.)  This illustrates a common irrationality shared by many people.  (I also had a former neighbor who freaked out about a rattlesnake on one occasion, but he often allowed his pit bull terrier to run loose. What a shmuck.)  People hate and fear snakes, often killing them on sight.  People admire and love dogs.  But fatal dog attacks are more than 10 times as common as fatal snake bites in the U.S.  Dogs have killed an average of 32 people per year over the past 10 years, and 2/3rds of the victims have been children.  By contrast snakes have killed less than 3 people per year over the past decade in this country, and some of these cases were people who unnecessarily handled the snake, including nutty Pentecostals.  (And those religious snake bite victims might have survived if they would have put their faith in doctors instead of God.  They refused medical treatment.)  A number of years ago, a dog ripped off a 10 year old girl’s arm at the shoulder.  The case received national attention.  A few dozen people sent the girl sympathetic get well cards, while she was in the hospital.  Thousands of people sent letters to the dog shelter where the dog was being held, begging the authorities not to euthanize the animal and many offered to retrain it.  Not only do people love dogs and hate snakes, they love dogs more than they care about the well being of other people.  Anybody who lets their big dog run loose is an inconsiderate jerk and should spend time in jail.

Here’s a link to some photos of people who were attacked by dogs.  I don’t want to post them directly on my blog because they are disturbing. Note how dogs attack the face.  One photo shows a man with half his face literally torn off.

Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus).  Venomous snakes are much less dangerous than dogs.

Statistics reveal another example of irrational admiration and hate.   Drunk drivers are reviled, and doctors are greatly admired.  Drunk drivers were responsible for 9,967 deaths in 2014 in the U.S.  But a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates medical malpractice causes the premature deaths of 225,000 people per year in this country, making it the 3rd leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.  Another study, this 1 published in the Journal of Patient Safety, estimates medical malpractice is responsible for 440,000 annual deaths in the U.S., and millions more are severely injured each year.  Doctors and hospitals are far more dangerous than drunk drivers.  My wife has been disabled for 21 years because of a medical mistake.  My late father, a physician, always said, “stay away from doctors.”  So when you turn 50 and get that letter from the government urging you to get a colonoscopy, think twice about it.  I will never have that invasive procedure done.  Doctors are scarier than drunk drivers.  The volume of death and suffering they bestow is horrifying.










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3 Responses to “Irrational Admiration and Hatred”

  1. lizardmarsh Says:

    Great logic, as usual.

  2. tarnegolita Says:

    I very much enjoy reading your thought processes 🙂 I’m with you on the dogs! I love dogs, don’t get me wrong, but people don’t want to see what they are capable of. I live in a place where dogs are never leashed. I constantly fear for the life of my cats, rabbits and chickens and for the safety of my children. Not fun!

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