The staff of Princeton University's daily student-run newspaper apparently thinks cruelty to animals is fair game for comedy. This Monday, a blog called The Prox, on the paper's website, ran an article by Rebekah Shoemake titled "10 Reasons Squirrels Are The Worst." The post consists mostly of a series of .gif files with short allegedly humorous comments under them, illustrating reasons why the author does not like squirrels. Several of the .gifs were taken from viral videos, such as one in which a squirrel jumps on and wakes up a panda, and one where a squirrel is startled when it bursts a hanging water balloon. Ms. Shoemake also explains that during the recent winter vacation, squirrels got into her room and "trashed" it.
The end of the article takes a disturbingly dark turn. The last three .gif files show squirrels being hurled into the air by homemade squirrel catapult or slingshot devices. The slingshots in the second and third of the short videos look powerful enough that the squirrels were most likely injured or killed. In the second .gif the camera is at an angle where you can see the squirrel flying high into the air and then plummeting back to earth. In all three of the videos the squirrels were clearly lured onto the devices with food.
For obvious reasons, I am not showing the .gifs on this blog. I would not want to risk gratifying the sick people who made the videos. You can use the link above to view the Daily Princetonian article. I did a online search and discovered that there several videos on YouTube showing these and other "squirrel launchers" or "squirrel catapults." Of course, the videos don't show the aftermath, the squirrels dead or dying with broken bones and internal injuries.
I left a short comment on the Princetonian's article, and hope others will do the same. I have also expressed my disgust, and will continue to do so, to their Twitter feed @princetonian. I hope others will do the same.
At the very least, the Daily Princetonian should remove the article and let its readership know that cruelty to animals is not something to laugh about. The article's author, Rebekah Shoemake, makes it clear in her article that she finds the intentional maiming and killing of squirrels funny. In a mocking "disclaimer" at the end of the post, she makes clear that she is well aware of the consequences of the squirrel launching devices: "No squirrels were harmed in the making of this article... By me, that is. Squirrels were probably harmed in the making of the .gifs used. Please don't yell at me."
I think it's time to do some yelling. Cruelty to animals is not a laughing matter. Posting videos of animals being tortured, maimed, and killed as humor is not acceptable for any publication or website, much less for one run by one of the most pretigious univerities in the United States.