There's a wonderful story making the rounds about 10-year old Wendell Overton, who saved a cat from being tortured to death by a group of boys ages 5 to 13. You can watch the TV footage above.
It's a heartwarming tale. Writing at Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte thinks so too. But reading the comment threads on various posts, she noticed something interesting. The commenters congratulate Wendell on what a great kid he is or condemn both the cat-torturing kids and the society that allows their abhorrent behavior to flourish. But...
Missing from the discussion: Wondering if the cat was asking for it by being so cute and easy to torture. Blaming male hormones or implying that because it’s so sexually gratifying to torture a cat, some boys can’t help themselves. Making excuses for the cat torturers by saying that they don’t understand the difference between playing with a cat who wants to play with you and torturing it. Claiming that while cat torture is bad, we shouldn’t be too eager to punish the cat torturers.
A lot of people in comments said that we should teach boys not to torture cats, specifically noting cultural changes that could be instituted to prevent cat torture. These people were not subjected to an angry flame war where they were accused of being stupid, called by misogynist or racist names, or told that they should be tortured themselves until they understood that the only way to stop cat torture is for cats to defend themselves. It was understood that cats do try to defend themselves, but unfortunately, self-defense is sometimes not enough to prevent cat torture. It was accepted that cat torture is a crime that is cultural in origin, and that by changing the culture, we can prevent it.
By now it should be obvious where Marcotte is going. It's a brilliant analogy and a great read. So read the whole thing.