So, the big issue here in Madison these days is the proposal to legalize the shooting of feral cats (CNN story here; activist site with fetching logo here). In related news, reports are that the TAA yesterday passed a resolution urging the university to allow cat-loving-vigilantes to shoot any supporters of the feral cat proposal who are found roaming around on campus. As you might imagine, the issue has brought out all sorts of Madisonians unable to comprehend what barbarous instinct the rural unwashed of Wisconsin must have to want to have the legal right to shoot feral cats.
An earlier version of the CNN story had a woman holding a sign that read "Too Cute to Kill." Which really says it all about at least one certain direction of animal rights discussion: instead of weighing the rights of different animals--after all, each feral cat does kill 20-50 songbirds, or whatever--on some calculus that considers the animals on their own terms, we should judge the issue in terms of the animals' capacity to provoke tender-hearted feelings in humans. Because, of course, the moral issues here are really ultimately all about us and what makes us feel good.
I grew up on a farm in Iowa. We had sheep. We had feral cats. If the feces from cats gets into hay, it can cause a pregnant ewe to abort. I do understand that baby lambs, however cute they may be, are not as cute as little-pretty-wittle-kitty. Even so, my dad shoots feral cats. His son takes no joy in this practice, but feels no remorse for it either. If I was persuaded that there was a reasonable alternative, I might feel differently.