“We weep for a bird’s cry, but not for a fish’s blood. Blessed are those with a voice.” Mamoru Oshii

I came across this quote a couple days ago. It might have passed right by me if I had not heard a prominent politician on a Sunday news show the next day telling the interviewer that he was choosing to ignore the overwhelming majority of Americans on an issue he disagreed with them on. As soon as I heard him this quote raced back to me.

On issue after issue, it seems that politicians are embracing the arrogance and audacity to not just ignore the wishes of those who put them in office (we’re used to that) but to deny those wishes exist or even to reverse the explicit will of the voters. Time and again, the public is making itself heard on animal welfare issues. Time and again, politicians, our elected representatives, decide they will ignore, deny or reverse us.

When Pennsylvania voters demanded that puppy mills be changed and that we didn’t feel dogs were farming commodities, the politicians and bureaucrats found “regulatory” means to circumventing clear legislative prohibitions under the new Puppy Mill Law, such as no wire flooring. I’ll have to remind my daughters that “no means no”, unless they are dating a bureaucrat or a dog farmer.

In Missouri, where voters went around the politicians and went directly to the polls to adopt new puppy mill regulations in a majority vote, the legislature repealed and changed the law, and their Governor proudly signed it. Politicians love to harken to the Founding Fathers. I wonder what they would say to Missouri residents who are taxed yet clearly not represented.

In Pennsylvania and across the nation politicians are implementing laws which make documenting, reporting or even legally investigating reported violations of animal cruelty laws illegal. They claim the mantle of “protecting” farmers or our “bio-security”. But we know what they are doing. They are throwing a blanket over the public’s right to information itself. The strictest Constructionist might claim the First Amendment only applies to the Federal Government. But I think most Americans know illegitimate government censorship to protect big business when they see it.

In Pennsylvania, politicians first say there is no ground swell to ban pigeon shoots. Then, when there is an upheaval, they tell us we don’t have a right to the belief that these travesties need to go. They tell us they are looking out for the little guy and his right to hunt or bear arms. Sure, little guys like the NRA or private club owners who get rich inviting out-of-staters to Pennsylvania to get their cruelty on for money.

Times change and America’s views on what is acceptable has been changing steadily. It is time for politicians to recognize that.

We’re not talking about mob rule or violent populism. We know that majority rule is not always the best thing for the minority. But who exactly is the minority they are protecting when they protect animal cruelty?

Animal welfare advocates aren’t calling for lynchings or burning farms. We’re saying that some things, like pigeon shoots, aren’t hunting- end them. We’re saying that some things, like puppy mills, aren’t farming- close them. That community decision is no more unreasonable than when we said you can’t own people, you can’t keep women from voting, or that you can’t drown your dog in the river to get rid of him. Three, two, one hundred years ago, all these things were perfectly acceptable. Now they aren’t. Note to politicians: This isn’t radical change, it’s just change. Welcome to the wonderful modern world.

In the coming months there will be bills, votes, and decisions coming up in Pennsylvania on a pigeon shoot ban, on banning gas chamber euthanasia, on enforcement of the Puppy Mill law, and more. We’ve always said that we were here to give voice to the voiceless. We need to remember that if we don’t have a voice, our wishes will be ignored. Hell, they might be ignored anyway.

But if we don’t speak up now, often, and loudly (but politely), we’ll be nothing but a bloody fish to those who think their ballot victory allows them to ignore those who put them in Harrisburg.