Cognitive Dissonance 

A fellow who killed a bunch of cats in California is going to jail for 16 years. 

The law-makers who are preparing the new healthcare bill are going on expensive vacations. 


49 thoughts on “Cognitive Dissonance ”

      1. Well, Clarissa, you’re the one who’s always saying that people are completely responsible for their own behavior under any and all circumstances — and I agree with you almost completely. (Severe psychotic mental illness do alter one’s self-control.)

        As Cliff posted below, it’s called agency. Human beings have a choice in their behavior, and animals don’t. In other words, animals are by nature innocent, and human beings aren’t.


        1. But humans are our own species. Shouldn’t we be more on the side of our own?

          Isn’t the real reason that it’s easier to love somebody without agency? Somebody you have all the power over?

          My friend had a boyfriend who was obsessed with fly fishing. When she asked why he preferred to spend time fishing, he said that it’s because fish don’t talk back. Not surprisingly, he had no friends and he’d never had a girlfriend before the age of 35.


          1. “Isn’t the real reason that it’s easier to love somebody without agency?”

            No, it isn’t. The reason is that “our own species” are responsible for their actions, and accountable for our misdeeds in a way that animals can never be — and people and animals should be judged and treated accordingly.

            Why do you think human beings were able to “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”? It wasn’t because any ancient deity gave them that right.

            It’s because of a unique brain power — the ability to think abstractly, to reason and apply logic, and create rules and laws that protect the individual and common good. Such laws have to be enforced if they are to be effective.

            That cat-killer won’t be in jail anywhere near 16 years, anyway. I’ll bet you — or any other takers on this website — a thousand dollars that he’ll be out in less than five years tops.


            1. A small reminder: we are talking about the decision to withdraw healthcare from great numbers of people. These people haven’t broken laws or committed any misdeeds proven in a court of law. The need to “judge” them outside of any legal proceeding is, frankly, bizarre.


              1. This is why I’d rather live in any state in the nation than in California. They put a person in jail for an insane period of time for a property crime. It’s medieval. What’s next, chopping people’s hands off for property crimes?

                But it’s all about protecting the lifestyle of aging boomer hippies. So boring.


  1. The cognitive dissonance comes from thinking of these as part of the same system.

    But I would assume (without looking up the gross specifics) that the cat murderer was sentenced under animal cruelty laws of the state he was in.

    I get that the CCCP had nothing like animal cruelty laws but they’re an established part of English speaking countries (a rather noble part I think).

    The lawmakers are part of the federal government and really unrelated to sentencing the cat executioner.

    Your post sounds a little like “How can it rain in Ireland when they’re putting a dam in a river in Italy?”.


    1. This is the same society. I see people who are cheering the sentence and who were expressing the “let them die” sentiments a few days ago on Facebook. It’s the same people.


      1. “I see people who are”

        .. oh that. That’s what I call the hierarchy of agency coming into play. Americans are very concerned about the welfare of animals attached to people partly because of their lack of agency.

        Adult humans are assumed to have agency and assumed to be ready and willing to bear the costs of that. A drug addict who repeatedly OD’s (and resists treatment) will be regarded as a de facto attempted suicide and past a certain point the thought is ‘let them get on with it already’. It’s the same reason they haven’t yet (I don’t think) put suicide nets on the Golden Gate. If a person chooses self-annihilation it’s not the state’s job to stop them forever. It’s like keeping a brain dead person on life support….

        Again you might not agree (I don’t) but it’s not that mystifying (in cultural terms). It’s also very ingrained (I imagine in all English speaking cultures) and not likely to be changed by rational (or abstract moral) arguments.


  2. I say this as a pet-owner who loves his cats dearly: It is disgusting to me how human life in this country is so cheap. Just look at the incarceration rates or the daily shootings of poor black people by the police, or the thousands of civilians killed abroad in pointless wars. But harm an animal, and people like Dreidel suddenly discover a moral compass.

    How can you muster so much compassion for animals but have none for your fellow humans? It has to be some sort of a sickness.


  3. “They put a person in jail for an insane period of time for a property crime. It’s medieval.”

    Cruelty to animals is NOT a property crime. (Even though pets and livestock are legally considered property, you’re not allowed to torture your own dog or cow.)

    Cruelty to animals is what’s medieval in this case.

    And like I said, the guy will be out of jail within five years, anyway.


  4. 100% in agreement with Dreidel and Cliff’s arguments here.

    I’ll also add that many times these animal-killers are sociopaths who’re ‘practicing’ on animals first before moving on to human victims later. So, there is an argument for these people being locked up, irrespective of your concern (or lack thereof) for animal welfare.


    1. You can’t lock people up preventatively. N was an arsonist in childhood, which is also a pop psych marker for becoming a serial killer. As we can see, he hasn’t become one.

      16 years! For a bunch of stupid cats. It’s insane.

      I tortured my dolls in very exotic ways when I was a kid, by the way. It’s evidence of being a traumatized child but not a predictor.


      1. “16 years! For a bunch of stupid cats. It’s insane.”

        We’ll just disagree on that, and any other topic relating to animals. 🙂


        1. You really think 16 years is a normal sentence for this? If it were 16 months, ok, whatever. But years??? Serial rapists and murderers get less. Brock Turner got mere weeks.


          1. As Dreidel said, he’s going to serve a fraction of that sentence.

            I agree that sentencing guidelines here are all over the place. Poor people get jail time for shoplifting a $50 sweater, while wall street crooks run free.

            If this cat-killer were a rich guy, I’d bet he wouldn’t have served a single day in prison.


      2. “N was an arsonist in childhood…I tortured my dolls in very exotic ways.”

        I’m glad I don’t live next door to you! Anyone who has worked with violent offenders can tell you — accurately — that the best marker for future violent behavior is a history of violence in the past.

        That’s a psychological fact, accept it or not.


        1. ” that the best marker for future violent behavior is a history of violence in the past.”

          I don’t think that includes inanimate objects, violence against animals? Yeah a major red flag.


  5. I am experiencing Cognitive Dissonance now because of this story:

    Omar Khadr: Canada pays ex-Gitmo detainee who killed US soldier millions, but soldier’s widow may never see a dime

    Canada agreed to pay the former Guantanamo prisoner a reported $8 million in a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations. The settlement included an apology.

    The Canadian-born Khadr was 15 in 2002 when he tossed a grenade in a firefight that killed U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, a special forces medic.

    Tabitha Speer, the soldier’s widow, and Layne Morris, who was blinded in the firefight, won a $134 million wrongful-death default judgment against Khadr two years ago in Utah.

    Lawyers for the widow and Morris requested an order freezing Khadr’s assets, but last week a Canadian judge threw out the request, calling it “extraordinary.”

    The paper reported that the widow urged the jury to reject arguments that Khadr, the son of an Al Qaeda leader, deserved a break.

    “Everyone wants to say he’s the child, he’s the victim,” the widow said. “I don’t see that. My children are the victims.”


      1. The worst part is his family didn’t give him a better moral compass than to side with the fucking Taliban. He sided with them against his own country, fuck him to hell and back.


              1. \ A 15 year-teenager in a war context.

                Two 19-year-teenagers killed two Druze Israeli soldiers in Temple Mount terror attack just a few days ago. The attackers were Arab citizens of Israel, btw.

                If you google, you’ll find articles like

                “Knife found in bag of 17-year-old Palestinian girl; Stabbing attack thwarted”


                “Jerusalem stabbers were cousins, 13 and 15 years old. Doctors fight for life of 13-year-old victim, who was attacked as he rode his bike in Pisgat Zeev; 2nd victim in serious condition; older terrorist killed by police.”

                If somebody is a teenager (who is taught killing infidels is his life’s goal since birth), it does not mean s/he is not dangerous and cannot kill quite a few people. Modern world has the concept of teenager, (most?) Arab and African societies – aren’t really there yet.


            1. “Duly noted.”

              Just due process. Something that is clearly alien to your values. Looks like you’d be more comfortable living in a shithole monarchy in the middle east.


            2. The reason why the story is scandalous is that Trudeau tried to sneak the payout past the taxpayers without even trying to explain why any of this is the fault of taxpayers in Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia. He’s treating public funds like his own private money he can spend on his personal causes. And he does that constantly. It’s like he’s a feudal overlord. That’s what people are reacting against.

              Of course, torture is wrong and deeply immoral. But that’s not what the scandal is about. Canadians who are appalled by this don’t support torture or the war. They want transparency in politics.


              1. “without even trying to explain why any of this is the fault of taxpayers in Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia.”

                Well that would be a very tough sell, no wonder he tried to sneak it through.

                “he’s a feudal overlord”

                How any voter could listen to him for 30 seconds and vote for him…… just doesn’t compute.

                “who are appalled by this don’t support torture or the war. They want transparency in politics”

                I would like a lot more transparency about Guantanamo etc but that doesn’t mean 10 million dollar frickin payouts. Part of me feels sorry that he had such evil, vicious parents but he’s a de facto battlefield terrorist (even if underage…)


        1. Looks like your values are more in line with the middle eastern monarchies you seem to despise. Perhaps Khadr should’ve been beheaded on HBO pay-per-view for your maximum enjoyment.


      2. I read the Rolling Stone article and was disgusted with how every Arab terrorist was cast in the most positive light. One can be against torture, for due process and passionately against Bush decisions regarding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without trying one’s best to normalize Osama bin Laden. He is described as “a regular guy who liked volleyball and horse racing” who “had financial issues, issues with his kids.” Yes, I know some of those are quotes of other terrorists, but read the aticle and tell me Osama isn’t presented as a family man with wives and children, trying to make his teenagers to behave like an average American parent.

        Another example of an emotional manipulation. The facts:

        // terrorists led by Ayman al-Zawahiri suicide-bombed the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. According to Pakistani intelligence, much of al-Zawahiri’s operational funding had passed through Human Concern International. One of the vehicles used in the attack had been purchased by a Sudanese man living with the Khadrs.

        The description in the article of Omar Khadr’s father who worked in HCI and most likely knew everything about the terror attack:

        // a crippled old man primitively confined alongside murderers and armed robbers.

        Meaning, old(er) people shouldn’t be jailed, no matter what they do, and armed robbers are much worse than terrorists, so it’s an insult to the latter to be jailed with the former.

        If you still think Omar’s father was innocent – read this paragraph and continue claiming it with straight face:

        \ Ahmed said Khadr, Omar’s father, always said he did not want to die in bed. He wanted to be killed. When his children were very young, he told them, “If you love me, pray that I will get martyred.” Three times he asked Omar’s older brother Abdurahman to become a suicide bomber. It would bring honor to the family, he said. Abdurahman declined. Later, when Ahmed sensed that Abdurahman’s faith was weakening, he told him, “If you ever betray Islam, I will be the one to kill you.”


    1. Oh yeah, this is a huge story in Canada. The worst part is that Trudeau tried to hush it up. I can’t wait for him to pay millions in compensation to the serial murderer Homolka. She must be a victim of something.


    2. el: ‘Our snipers kill children playing soccer on the beach for fun, and you pussies are concerned about human rights and child torture? Pfffftt!’


  6. Turkey is being destroyed by Erdogan for decades to come:

    \ Turkey rolls out new school curriculum without Darwin
    Chairman of a teachers’ union in the country describes the changes as a huge step in the wrong direction for Turkey’s schools and an attempt to avoid raising ‘generations who ask questions.’

    The curriculum, effective from the start of the 2017-2018 school year, also obliges Turkey’s growing number of “Imam Hatip” religious schools to teach the concept of jihad as patriotic in spirit.

    “It is also our duty to fix what has been perceived as wrong. This is why the Islamic law class and basic fundamental religion lectures will include (lessons on) jihad,” Yilmaz told reporters. “The real meaning of jihad is loving your nation.”

    Mehhmet Balik, chairman of the Union of Education and Science Workers, condemned the new curriculum.

    “The new policies that ban the teaching of evolution and requiring all schools to have a prayer room, these actions destroy the principle of secularism and the scientific principles of education,” he said.

    Under the AKP, which came to power in 2002, the number of “Imam Hatip” religious schools has grown exponentially. Erdogan, who has roots in political Islam, attended one such school.,7340,L-4991221,00.html


  7. Another example from the Rolling Stone article which stood out to me is the claim that teenagers shouldn’t be imprisoned for a long time since “Teenagers change their identities and beliefs all the time, and they cannot develop a secure perspective in the isolation of captivity. ”

    Read the quoted by me paragraph describing Omar’s father and tell me that’s what Arab teens in certain parts of the world do.


    1. Rolling Stone publishes creative writing, i.e. fiction, and not journalism. An author takes a hot topic and writes a fantasy on the subject. I’m very surprised that people still try to read it as investigative journalism. It’s a completely different genre. I don’t read it because I’m not satisfied with the artistic quality of the pieces. But it makes no sense to evaluate them as if they laid claims to truth.


      1. \ An author takes a hot topic and writes a fantasy on the subject.

        When SB linked that article, I am sure he intended everybody to treat it as true investigative journalism, which I couldn’t do after reading it.

        I am also sure the writers and readers of Rolling Stone don’t see themselves dealing in fantasies on hot subjects. That’s why their claims need to be dissected.

        Also, even if you treat it as creative writing, why the need to whitewash terrorists? Osama is a usual person, Omar is a loving child with anger (forgot the exact expression) being alien to his character / true self. Why are the Western victims ignored, why terrorists are presented almost as a mixture of usual (Western) people, (almost) heroes and pity-inspiring victims?


        1. Remember that gang rape fantasy published by this very journal? People took it seriously and now it’s a huge mess.

          The readers want to read this kind of stuff so the magazine obliges. There is a magazine for sci fi lovers, mystery fans, etc. It’s the same kind of thing.

          People who are deeply terrified of terrorists feel relief when they see these terrorists infantilized and rendered symbolically impotent.


  8. The non-uniformed partisan terrorists attacking regular uniformed Israeli soldiers and U.S. forces in the Middle East without regard to any accepted rules of war are legally common criminals under the Geneva Conventions, and are not entitled to Geneva Convention protection.

    During WWII, captured partisan “irregulars” were routinely executed by the uniformed armies of every side after the partisans had committed atrocities against regular forces, and that extreme penalty was considered consistent with the rules of war. The rule was, old enough to carry a gun and fire at regular forces. old enough to face the firing squad. It was applied to female partisan terrorists as well.

    It that sensible rule were still in effect today, the on-going wars against both ISIS and Palestinian terrorism could be brought to an end much more expeditiously.


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