I was out riding my bike the other day, up through Histon, back home through Milton. Nice ride for the time of year, by which I mean that I can enjoy the magnificent golden East Anglian evening sun that turns early Autumn in these parts a stunning mix of green and amber. And I've also got to deal with the carnage motoring plays on wild animals that are mown down in vast numbers while foraging through the litter of the close of summer, killed en masse, in their prime while trying to fatten up for dark months ahead.
After I'd swerved around a flattened hedgehog I slowed down to negotiate a badger who had car tracks through his midriff, before stopping to neck a pigeon who'd been winged by some motorist or other and who wasn't going to survive the resultant wounds for long. Indeed, on my short (urban) commute home I know I'll see the same three desiccating wild beasts on the tarmac that I saw on the way to work. The crime for which these animals paid the ultimate price? Being in the way of motons.
I'm not okay with this. It isn't reasonable to kill a wild (or domestic) animal because you're in a hurry - and that is all that is happening here. Imagine the following conversation.
"I ran over a fox on the way to work, couldn't help it on the main road it just stared at the headlights." you say to your colleague as you hand over her morning cup of tea.
"Oh, I know, its terrible isn't it?" She replies, taking the cuppa with the kind of smile that tells you tea really is the solution to all of your woes "I hit a pigeon at the weekend, I was sure it would fly out of the way but I was picking feathers out of my radiator grill later on."
Now re-phrase that a little.
"Travelling fast is important to me, so I drive such that I won't be able to adjust my course or speed to avoid killing innocent wild animals. As a result of that I killed a beautiful animal, a fox in fact, and I am in no way going to accept any responsibility for having done wrong".
Or lets put it another way.
"I punched a fox to death. I was out cycling and it risked slowing me down a little so I killed it in a way that is completely unsuitable for ensuring a clean painless death. Heck, it might still be suffering now, I've got no idea, why should I give a fuck?"
Does your colleague take the tea and share a Tea smile with you now? No? You mean because you implied that we are (or should be) responsible for our own actions you've broken the moton omerta and become outcast from their secret animal death cult?
Millions of animals are killed on our roads every year - estimates vary, but because we're in a society where mowing down creatures is considered just one of those things no one is keeping count. Whether its a vegan driving to work in his stereotypical Prius or a confirmed carnivore in a predictable Land Rover, each is guilty of being part of a culture that puts animal welfare at the bottom of their priority list. But its worse than that - around 6% of motorists go out of their way to kill animals with their cars. Yes, that does include you, 'animal lover' driving the dog for a walk in the country park.
Killing animals, voyeurism of harm... These are often thought of as early signs of psychopathy. So I'm forced to ask - are motorists, through being basically okay with activities that brutally and messily kill animals in vast numbers, collectively or individually sociopaths? Quite seriously, you're okay with killing warm blooded animals not to eat, or to have some useful product from, but merely as an inevitable side product of a daily activity that you could readily change such that this isn't the case any more? What the fuck is wrong with you?