Monday, January 20, 2003

Teresa Nielsen Hayden writes about animal hoarding --- people who live with dozens (or sometimes hundreds) of half-starved animals, packed into way too little space, insisting on their own good intentions ---

Hoarders say they love animals, and characteristically believe that they have exceptional insight where animals are concerned. They also believe they're "saving" them from certain euthanasia. They refuse to let them be adopted by others. Some can't even bear to relinquish their animals' corpses.

--- despite the obviously desperate condition of the animals they are keeping ---

To me, the most striking feature of the animal hoarder's psychology is their state of complete and utter denial . This is not your usual "Your father never did that, you don't understand what he was going through, and why do you insist on only remembering the bad things?" kind of denial. This is world-class craziness. Hoarders insist there's no problem, the house is just a little messy, and their critters are fine--even when the feces are a foot deep, animals are dropping dead and other animals are cannibalizing them, or the poor beasts have chronic infections that leave them with masses of scar tissue instead of eyes.

What, I wonder, would it look like if policymakers took this attitude toward the poor? They would confine the poor to live within confining rules which make them miserable, in everything from school curricula to reproductive health, ignoring evidence that the rules, far from doing good, actually left the poor as badly off or worse than in sections of the country that followed other policies. At the same time, they would be blind to the fact that poor people in the country are increasingly hungry and poorly housed. And, since we're talking people here, they'd do the same with money, which they'd try to divert away from the poor, lest the poor act for themselves to get out of their dependant state. And they would justify all that by claiming special insight into the conditions of the poor, as if they had a mental block on perceiving the real effects of their policies.

Folks, I give you Republicans, hoarders of the poor.

In the comments, readers wonder if she isn't raising this as a metaphor for the book-infested condition of their own abodes. Naaah... can't be. She's not talking about my huge collection of old computer manuals. Besides, that Fortran III manual might actually be valuable...


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