Ethical Feline Of The Year: Tara the Cat

The rescuer and  the rescued (photo from KERO, Bakersfield)

The rescuer and the rescued (photo from KERO, Bakersfield)

You may have seen this video already, but as I may never again have the opportunity to honor a member of one of nature’s least ethical creatures for exemplary ethical conduct, here is the amazing tale of Tara the Cat.

In Bakersfield, California, four-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo, who is mildly autistic, sat on his bicycle outside his family’s home when the neighbor’s chow-labrador mix, who “doesn’t like children or bicycles” according to his owners, escaped the yard through an open gate , saw the boy, and attacked him. Surveillance footage shows the dog grabbing the boy’s leg and pulling him to the ground, and beginning to shake him. The Triantafilo family cat, Tara, saw the attack and charged to the rescue, leaping on the dog and chasing him off.

The boy’s father posted the video of the jaw-dropping episode to YouTube, and you can see it below.

I have had cats and lived with cats, and one cat in particular, my wife’s Siamese, broke my heart when he died. Nonetheless, cats are nature’s sociopaths, charming but ultimately self-centered,  cruel and lacking in empathy. They are not pack animals or group oriented, and “loyalty” is not one of the characteristics that anyone would say distinguishes the species. There is a reason why the film “Cats and Dogs,” which posited that the two rival creatures were really alien races of superior intelligence secretly battling for dominance on Earth, cast the cats as the villains. Cats can’t be trusted, and there is no such thing as an ethical cat.

Or so we have always been told.

Tara (the video is not a hoax) is either an outlier, or this is just one more example of how scientists don’t understand animals as much as they think they do. She clearly places herself in danger to rescue the most vulnerable member of her family. The cat assessed what was happening, set out to rescue the child, and did it efficiently and well.

I have never heard of such a thing. There are other YouTube videos that show cats engaging in ambiguous conduct that is termed a rescue, but such episodes always involve the cat protecting itself or its general vicinity from an intruder. At first, I thought Tara’s video was staged, like “The Incredible Journey.” So far, it doesn’t appear to be.

Thus we have to conclude that, contrary to lore, conventional wisdom and propaganda from the Ministry of Dogs, cats—some cats, one cat, this cat—are capable of  conduct that in a human we would regard as altruistic, ethical and courageous acts. Tara not only rescued a little boy from serious harm, she also elevated the status and reputation of cats everywhere.

Now that’s an Ethics Hero.

And here’s the astonishing video:

__________________________

Facts: Daily Mirror, ABC

The Strange, Seldom Told Story of Ethics Hero Emeritus, Albert Göring (1895-1966)

Good brother, Bad brother.

Good brother, Bad brother.

The German and Israeli news media have recounted the exploits of Albert Göring recently , because he is under posthumous consideration for the highest honorary title conferred by the State of Israel, the “Righteous Among the Nations.” These are the heroes of the Holocaust, the brave individuals who risked their lives to foil Hitler’s Ultimate Solution. Since it was created in 1953, the title has been awarded to 24,356 people from 47 countries.

Göring is a strong candidate to join their ranks, for he saved many Jews from extermination during World War II. Honoring him would not be a difficult decision, except for one thing: he was the younger brother of one of Hitler’s vilest henchman, the architect of the death camps and master of the Gestapo, Hermann Göring.

Albert became disillusioned with the Nazis early in their rise to power and moved to Austria, where he frequently spoke out against Hitler and the Third Reich. He would have ended up in prison when the Germans took over Austria, but brother Hermann Goering, Hitler’s designated successor, believed that blood was thicker than genocide: he kept Albert out of the hands of the Gestapo, even though he knew his little brother was an enemy of the state.

Nobody knows exactly how many Jews and non-Jews Albert saved from his brother’s death camps, because Albert Göring himself didn’t know how many the people he helped. Continue reading

A Inconvenient Question About the Death of Walter Vance

"He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"

I have little to add to the tragedy of Walter Vance that can’t be found in the list of 15 Ethics Alarms about failures to rescue that I posted during the recent Penn State discussions. Vance was the shopper who collapsed in a South Charleston, West Virginia Target store during the Black Friday rush and was ignored by dozens of other shoppers, some of whom stepped over his body to seek more bargains. Vance later died.

I do have one little question, though.

I wonder how many of those shoppers who callously reacted to Vance’s peril with indifference told everyone who would listen earlier this month that had they witnessed Jerry Sandusky’s sexual assault on a child in the Penn State showers like Mike McQueary, they would have rushed to the rescue, even if it meant battling Sandusky.

My guess?

Every single one of them.

[More thanks to Rick Jones, who writes about the Vance episode here, and nudged me to comment on it too.]

The Titanic Principle and the Ethics of Helping the Desperate

A disturbing aspect of the Titanic disaster was that most of the lifeboats refused to pick up survivors in the water, the boat leaders fearing that the desperate swimmers would swamp the boats. I look on this sad incident as illustrating the problem of helping people in desperate need. How much risk and hardship should a potential rescuer be ready and willing to endure? Continue reading