Animals -- Iraq's Humblest Victims

The daily reports of explosions in Iraq are so dispiritingly alike that the ears prick up when there's something different. And this one was: the bomb blew up in the Baghdad pet market.

I heard the human dead and wounded figures, but I imagined the terrors of the creatures' sufferings - trapped in cages, mangled, dying.

And then someone sent me these videos -- more animal suffering and carnage. Accidental death is one thing, but the deliberate infliction of cruelty -- and taking pleasure in it -- is another and deplorable thing altogether. Why create pain and terror where there is so much, so gratuitously, already? And against yet more beings who, like children, cannot fight back?

These are ugly images: one link appears to show American forces throwing stones at an injured dog for fun, and two others are apparently of U.S. forces and perhaps others whooping and hollering as the lions in the Baghdad zoo are fed a live donkey -- all videotaped like an animal snuff movie.

Three quotes, all from different times and different places, come to mind:

First, Gandhi's, that "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.''

Then, Plutarch's: "Though boys throw stones at frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport, but in earnest.''

And last, Frederick Nietzsche's: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.''

No nation, no people can claim to be civilized that does not take all three to heart.

Here are the links, which contain graphic content