Hey little dude. FYI, don't go to Alabama.

Yesterday, there was a wonderful story coming out of Kansas Law School (gavel bang: @VaultLaw). A student there is starting the first animal cruelty prosecution clinic in the country. That’s what the scholars call “awesome.” There are simply not enough lawyers who are even familiar with animal cruelty laws. If more people know how to go after people who abuse animals, these criminals are more likely to be identified and punished.

Unfortunately, there’s an email going around a law school down south which will illustrates just how important it is for the new Kansas program to succeed and provide a model for similar initiatives around the country. There are some sick a$$holes out there, and they need to be stopped…

I realize that I’m probably more sensitive to animal suffering than normal people. I literally have to change the channel whenever those damn Sarah McLachlan/ASPCA commercials come on because I can’t deal with all the pictures of unhappy animals. The other day I gave a homeless man five dollars — I can’t remember the face or even the race of the dude, but image of his too-thin, hungry dog is burned on my retina. I’m outside the mainstream on this issue; I get it.

But surely we can all agree that this Alabama law student is a disturbed dude. Here’s the setup. A law student law school staff member at the University of Alabama — we’ll call her her “Florence Nightingale” — sent out this mass email requesting assistance:

Yesterday afternoon, I found a hummingbird here at the Law School that had apparently flown into one of the windows. I have been feeding it and miraculously it is still alive. Oak Mountain State Park in Birmingham has a wildlife center and told me they would take it in and care for it if I could get the bird there. I was wondering if anyone is going to Birmingham this afternoon that wouldn’t mind dropping it off there.

Thank you. If I sent you this email more than once, please excuse it.

[Florence Nightingale]

Anytime you can help out a hyperactive little dinosaur during finals, it’s just something you have to do.

But instead of helping Nightingale (or simply ignoring her), a guy I’ll call “Charles Manson” (since this is how guys like that get started) sent out this utterly disturbing response, under his real name, to a list-serv that includes UA faculty and staff:

I find myself quite busy during finals so I do not have time to take a drive to Birmingham. However, thanks to my substantial hunting experience, I have found that small animals such as this bird “expire” very quickly and with minimal pain if they are placed on a hard surface and stomped on with great force. If this is performed correctly (which entails concentrating most of the force on the cranium) it actually doesn’t take all that much force and is a cheap, effective, and humane way to solve this dilemma.

Although I am busy studying, I would be willing to take the time to perform this task in the interest of ending the little guy’s suffering. I would take no pleasure in this act, save the pleasure that comes from ending the suffering of a wounded animal rather than prolonging its suffering before its ultimate demise. Let me know.

— Charles Manson

Doesn’t this remind you of the utterly depraved animal crush videos at issue in United States v. Stevens?

And you know what’s really sick? It seems that enough of the students there found this funny that Manson felt encouraged. People started joking about his “To Kill a Hummingbird” email, and he eventually sent this out:

For anyone interested, there will be a reception in the foyer tomorrow at Noon where I will be signing copies of the first chapter of my book and/or email. Here I come Harper Lee. Make room!!!!

Is this behavior normal in Alabama? I mean, of all the things that people will get dinged for on Character & Fitness, this is not one of them?

That’s why the Kansas program is important and necessary. We live in a world where this malevolent crap is viewed as funny by some people. When Manson grows up, we’re going to need lawyers and law enforcement trained to keep an eye on his ass.

UPDATE (4:30 PM): Lat here. We do not intend to suggest that everyone at Alabama Law — or, for that matter, everyone in the South — is indifferent to the well-being of animals. We extend our congratulations to the UA law students who recently prevailed at a moot court competition for animal rights law (a development already noted in the comments, but deserving of a shout-out here as well). From the announcement email:

Please join me in congratulating the University of Alabama School of Law’s Animal Rights Law Moot Court that earned first place last weekend in the 1st Annual National Animal Rights Law Moot Court Competition held at the University of Chicago School of Law.

Oralists Laura Morgan and Keren McElvy competed against UCLA in the semi-final round and the University of Chicago in the final round. Keren McElvy had the second highest individual score among all the competitors. Lane Bowen was the team manager and research assistant for the oral advocacy competition. Thanks to Professors Andreen and Elliott, and Jade Sipes for judging practice rounds, and to Dean Randall for his support for the team.

It’s nice to know that not everyone at UA Law shares Charles Manson’s feelings about our fine feathered friends.

Law student organizing animal cruelty clinic [Salina Journal News]


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