The People & Lola the Cat vs Mary Bale


It’s been all over the papers, people have been outraged, politicians are racing to make comments conveying their ire; it might just be the most shocking piece of news since Baby P! This is of course the reaction to the woman (Mary Bale) who was recently fined for putting a neighbour’s cat into a bin.

This almost surreal incident has captured the imagination of the press and the twitterbooksphere, inspiring a range of emotions such as: shock, disgust, mild amusement, shock again, and then murderous rage – look at any book on the five stages of grief and you’ll find it listed under the ‘reactionary moron’ process. Yes indeed we Brits do have an odd relationship with animals, and when one is mistreated, by god we get angry!

Some however, have got so angry they’ve launched death threats against the woman in question. I’ve just had a look at Facebook, and there are several groups popping up demanding she be locked up, locked in a bin, or otherwise tried by ordeal.

I don’t know what is a more interesting or saddening symbol of our society; that a woman should be mean spirited enough to put a small friendly cat into a bin, or that the people of Britain should react in such a disproportionate flurry of rage?

I won’t deny the crime in itself was so ridiculous, that I actually laughed when I first saw it, whilst feeling a little bit sorry for Lola the cat. However nothing made me want to go out and violently assault the perpetrator for it. We’re talking about a cat after all, not a child or even (‘gasp’) a dog. She has been fined – a perfectly reasonable punishment considering the cat survived – and that should be an end to it. But being such a group of fist waving animal fanciers, we can’t just let it go at that it seems.

We are slowly becoming used to subjecting public figures to unpleasant punishments – after all just look at I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here – but the lines between celebrity and ‘joe public’ are becoming increasingly blurred as personal CCTV and the likes of You Tube, become more common. Now I don’t think people know how to react to crime, unless of course a criminal is sat on a ducking stool and dropped into gunge on national television.

Would people feel better for that? Probably for a bit, until they found out someone was bullying a duck in York, or something equally as innocuous. Then the collective public torches will really be firing up.

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