Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Plea from Tracy Murphy

Tracy Murphy has a smile that literally radiates love - love of life, love of humanity, love of animals - everything. It is a smile you can read at midnight by. She is an animal rights activist from Cheektowaga, NY, which is just outside Buffalo. Recently this good and decent woman became incensed at the presence in that city of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus.

You would think that by the first decade of the twenty-first century, human beings might have evolved to the point where we would be able to share the planet with the animals that were also placed on this earth by God. I believe that they were not put here merely to amuse us or to feed us. Tracy Murphy shares that belief - passionately - and in an articulate voice which I won't even attempt to paraphrase.

The following is a composite of two different letters she recently wrote. One was to Mayor Byron Brown and the city council of Buffalo, the other was on the website,
` The Ringling Circus has left town, and I am here dumbfounded as to why we allow a business to perform in Buffalo that is clearly abusive to Asian elephants, an endangered species, as well as many other exotic and domestic animals. The inhumane treatment toward animals with whips, blow torches and bull hooks has been documented for years by many animal welfare agencies. Currently there is a Federal lawsuit against Ringling for illegal abusive treatment toward a protected endangered species, the elephants.

The animals are clearly kept in bondage and suffer greatly every day of their lives. Why can we not reach into our sense of common decency and ban these circuses with animals? I ask all of you this question and so do many others:

I care deeply for these elephants, as well as all the animals that are exploited in these circuses. I am not ashamed to stand up for every one of them, and if it takes standing on the street corners of Buffalo to collect thousands of petition signatures to help these animals, I will peacefully and proudly do that. I cannot think of any other way I would want to spend the rest of my life.

As Martin Luther King, Jr said, "One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Unfortunately, many people do not know who how brutal elephants and bears and other animals are treated in the Circus. During the show, everyone is smiling and happy. The animals seem like they are enjoying themselves with their trainers and having fun as well. This is the image that Ringling wants us to see. However, there is a dark side to the Ringling circus. The Asian elephants are chained for 19 hours a day where they can only lean forward and stand in their own urine. The bears have it just as bad and are kept in tiny cages, hardly having enough room to even turn around. These animals do become neurotic and it is evidenced in undercover video footage taken by many animal welfare agencies. Signs of neurotic behavior (going mad) are elephants and bears swaying their heads back and forth.

All of this is documented and can be viewed at the website:

When not in their prisons or bonded to heavy chains, they are being trained with the most cruel methods imaginable. Elephants are violently struck with a long handle with a sharp hook on the end. This is called a bullhook, and it tears into the sensitive skin of the elephant. The beatings are violently repeated until the elephant does the trick its trainer wants to be performed. Even after the training session, the trainers continue to beat the elephant with the bullhook to “keep them in line.”

There is no special bond between a trainer and an elephant as Ringling would want you to believe. There is only pain and suffering between a slave holder and slave. The bears do not have it any better. They are struck as well so they can perform tricks. But for a bear to jump through a hula hoop takes special effort. So the trainers burn the bottom of the bears' feet so they jump. This is the kind of suffering we indeed support if we go to the circus.

This is not about tradition. As Albert Schweitzer once said, “The thinking person must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another...."

Let freedom ring for these animals. Let freedom ring.
Tracy Murphy
Wish I'd said that, Lady Tracy! Animals cannot speak for themselves. They are damned lucky they have you speaking out on their behalf.

Love and Peace,

Tom Degan


Animals, Properties and the Law
by Gary Francione

In an e-mail I received this afternoon, Tracy told me:

"Gary is a distinguished professor of law at Rutger's University - a very smart man. I think this would be a good book to help open everyone's eyes to the little (or should I say "no") legal protection animals have. He bases that on the moral reasons animals should have rights and must not be considered property. If we continue to view animals as property, then we will never change our mindset toward them. Much like slavery and how slaves were once considered property. I still cannot believe we once did that in this country."


Tracy Murphy is to animal rights what Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi were to human rights. Here is a link to the website she is involved with:

The Buffalo Vegetarian Society

To read more recent postings on this positively subversive blog, please click on the link below:


Cheerio! Pip! Pip!


At 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure Tracy believes in what she's doing, but the fact that she's an "animal rights activist" tells me she represents a group or mindset with an agenda all their own (a little like the GOP and conservative crowd). Anyone who has seriously researched groups like PETA will know what I'm talking about - those who haven't will get their knickers all in a twist and start ranting in response to my comment.

All decent human beings should be very concerned about animal welfare and if these elephants are truly being abused then something should be done about it. But animal welfare and animal rights are two entirely different things, and should NEVER, EVER be confused.


At 12:40 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Hello, Kat....

Most animal rights activists are not the extremists portrayed by much of the print and electronic media. They are actually measured and thoughtful people. Tracy Murphy, I assure you, is in the latter category.

All the best,

Tom Degan

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Frodo, Warden of the Shire, said...

Frodo once confronted an individual amid a discussion about animal cruelty. Frodo argued that, in the King James version of the Bible, the word "dominion" was used to express Man's responsibility. Frodo assumed that any rational person would then see that God intended for Man to protect and defend his creation. Frodo sadly learned that others see the same word and interpret it to mean that they can do any damn thing they want, because God made them the Lord and Master.

People still cheer for Michael Vick, don't they?

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

I like this lady! What guts to stand up to "traditional" entertainment in this country.

The only circus I have attended in the last 30 yrs has been Cirque de Soleil. They have a very strict "no animal" policy. It is just very talented humans entertaining other humans. Brilliant!

Even though I have been a vegetarian for over 20 yrs, I have never joined PETA. They are too radical for me and their stunts are quite often embarrassing. I give regularly to the Humane Society and World Wildlife Fund instead.

I try to be an example by having friends and family over for wonderful home cooking. Most lean back in their chairs and smile and say, "If this is vegetarian, where do I sign up?" A way to a man's heart... etc.

Thanks for bringing folks like Tracy into the spotlight. She certainly deserves the attention for her selfless fight.


Jo in AZ

At 12:13 PM, Blogger cyndik said...

Tomato/ tomato it's all the same.
I agree that PETA can be a little "in your face" and extreme. All causes have their over zealous members. The cause is still the same. Cruelty is cruelty no matter what you call it.
Tracy, keep up the good work!

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

I applaud this courageous lady for having the guts to become mightily unpopular with kids and their parents who stare in awe at animals that have been badly mistreated. Good for her and good for you for bringing her efforts to our attention. I may post a link, so all my 10,000 followers can read it. ; )

At 4:46 PM, Blogger Anna Van Z said...

Kat, get a clue. By the way, would you be the same Kat as the blogger who works in a biomedical lab, using animals as disposable "tools"? If so, then you yourself are hardly an unbiased person without an agenda, are you?
And if not, you're clearly a victim of mainstream media's stereotypes and brainwashing efforts; the MSM operates on behalf of the industries that profit handsomely from all manner of animal exploitation, abuse, and death.
All humans "should" be concerned about animal welfare, but of course, as we know they are not. That's because most people are selfish, grasping little primates whose cruelty to other species knows no bounds - especially when there's a buck to made.
Since you and those of your ilk are clearly not part of the movement, you should most definitely refrain from spewing the uninformed blather you offer up in lieu of cogent commentary. Whether you or any of the other folks here like PETA or not isn't the issue. (They get theatrical and pull stunts to draw attention to the causes - which they wouldn't have to do if all the cognitively and ethically embryonic dull-wits out there actually thought for two seconds about anything other than themselves and their own species).
People like Tracy, and all the animal rights groups out there, have accomplished more to change things in this world than armchair critics like yourselves ever will.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

Great post. Tracy has the right idea. Early in my life, I remember telling my mother I didn't like circuses because the lions never seemed happy! Somehow, as young as I was, I didn't think the idea of a chair being waved around in front of a lion's face by a fella with a large whip was the right way to treat the "King of the Forest" and his ladies.

Tigers being made to jump through a burning ring didn't thrill me either.

The elephants too didn't seem very just wasn't very cool seeing them all dolled-up and being made to "sit-up." It all seemed silly. The huge and wondrous creatures deserve better.

Heck, clowns are scary enough - grown men hiding behind lots of make-up and acting very strange scared the bejeezus out of me! Those guys go out there with little dogs dressed in tutus hopping around on their hind legs while a smaller dog climbs on its back...yeah, that's natural behavior.

Enough about circuses though, what is truly needed is education early on with children about the right way to treat an animal! A certain respect for those animals larger then them is essential to avoid injury to either the child or the animal. They also need to respect those animals that are smaller then they are.

I recently came across 3 children ranging in age from 3-7 who wanted to make friends with my 80 pound Weimaraner, Eli. He's a friendly, well-trained pup but I noticed that he was over-eager with the 5 and 7 year olds to lean on them and displayed a little more energy with them then I thought might be safe. He could have easily knocked them over and caused quite a to-do!

The 3 year old though, this tiny little girl, she approached Eli with her right hand out with palm up and placed it just under the dog's chin while she slowly massaged his jowls with her left hand. He was instantly calm with her...and quite smitten with her. SOMEBODY taught her this, I could tell.

I remeber,too, some children's book from my youth in which an adult admonished a child that it wasn't polite to pull kitty's tail because kitty may get angry and hiss or bite. Not a bad lesson! Pulling a kitty's tail is about the least offense I can think of against cats...there are too many insane stories about what humans have thought to do to these regal creatures.

Let's just end this with a warning and something we've all probably heard before. Animal cruelty and abuse at an early age by a human child nearly always leads to cruelty and domestic abuse against fellow humans as adults. Somehow, it needs to be stopped before it even starts.

Let's teach the kids and well, every human we can to treat our fellow dwellers on this planet with respect and dignity. They make the Earth more beautiful and more livable...they certainly deserve it.


At 10:50 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Great posting, Mary!

I was never a big circus fan either - not for any humanitarian reason - it just bored me to pieces. Only in hindsight, through the influence of people like you and Tracy Murphy, did I get hip to what it was all about.


At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's great that the circus comes to town! Pump a few dollars in to the economy.

It's funny how the nutjob animal activists got rid of greyhound racing in Mass and humans lost over 600 jobs. Now these same freaks even have the nerve to ask the state to find/fund homes for the newly saved greyhounds. Otherwise, they get shipped to another state to race.

Spare me...

Harry from Mass

At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Wilma Lamb said...

Go Tracy!!! I was raised on a farm an only child and many times the animals were my playmates. My love for animals has continued into old age as I still have no immeidate family.
I just recently adopted cat number 11 in addition to one dog.
I cheer on the animal rights activists and wish them well. If only I could join them.
My pets are almost all spayed or neutered except for the 3 youngest who are too small.
I abhor the experiments in which animals are put thru horrible torture in the name of experiments, claiming animals do not have souls
Anyone who looks into those eyes knows better
The Bible says animals have souls. Chapter 11 of Numbers lists the animal souls
there are other place also

At 2:15 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Harry from Mass, it's unfortunate that you feel economic growth, no matter the intended or unintended consequences, should always take precedence over being the responsible overseer, and guardian, of all of Earth's other living creatures.

I have a better idea for you, Harry, for stimulating the economy. Why don't you, and your conservative-values friends, work to overcome the insane laws that label the chosen vocation of sex workers as criminal, along with repealing all criminal statutes regarding the personal cultivation and use of cannabis and other non-lethal, and natural, intoxicants.

I would think this would be embraced by you, and all free-market advocates. Speaking of a long overdue stimulant!

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Tracy Murphy said...


I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to spread the word to others on the abusive treatment of circus elephants. You are helping to make it possible for others to learn and understand why we must help to support banning animal acts in circuses.

Thank you,my friend.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

The Pleasure is all mine Lady Tracy.

This is probably the last message I'll be typing from the apartment I have lived in for the past eight years. I was just about to pack up the computer to send it to the new location when I got your message.

It's a pleasure helping you and your cause, Tracy Murphy. As I said to you in an earlier e-mail, it's a joy to live in the same century as you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have this crate of French post cards that has to go into the van.

Ta da!


At 9:38 AM, Blogger possumlady said...

Hi Tom,

I came by your blog through Darlene's Hodgepodge. Thanks so much for this past post. I completely agree.

My blog is usually a silly collection of stories about my cats but animals in circuses get my dander up like nothing else. Here is a link to a post about it from February of this year...

Again, thanks and thanks to Tracy for all her work!!

At 9:43 PM, Blogger cdkscully said...

Harry from Mass:

Interesting. So you are saying that these people have NO OTHER MEANS to support themselves? For them greyhound racing is their livelihood?

If greyhound racing is okay, what about dog fighting?

Oh wait, it's their only way to make a living so I guess it's okay in your eyes.

I'll remember that when someone is busted for prostitution. "But it's their body! Their property! It's the only living they know!"

::shakes head:: These are the types that need to obtain and education and get a real job instead of taking the "easy money way" out.

At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scully, it's not about livelihood. it's about having a job to support your family. What kind of a comment is that?

Unlike the people we support on welfare. These greyhound and circus employees have jobs.

Guardian, go ask the people of Buffalo if their city could use a shot in the arm once a year when the circus comes to town. What a hell hole Buffalo is (great liberal policies over the years has certainly helped that city).

Harry from Mass

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Actually, H quitarry, Buffalo has madee a comeback since I was lived there at the Laffayette Hotel in the early eighties. And its initial downfall had less to do with Liberal policies than with economics.


Tom Degan

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous WaimeaWidow said...

Anyone who thinks that circuses are fun & that the animals aren't abused ... learn about an episode in Hawaii where Tyke, the elephant, rampaged & killed. Keep up the good work, Tracy!

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Harry from Mass, you continue to dance around and evade my basic premise: Conservatives will never allow real economic reform when it collides with their puritan and hypocritically moral mindset. If corporations aren't able to dominate the marketplace, free market exchange is suddenly rejected in favor of camouflaged "family values" and other equally uncompromising innuendo.

Admit it, Harry, conservative economic values are baseless and pointless; they don't work in our highly complex society and world. Capitalism, as we've been led to believe exists, is dead. It has been dead for a long time.

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous LindaJean said...

Tom and Tracy:
Thanks for the words about circuses. I have written several letters over the years to my local paper's letters to the editor about circus cruelty. Needless to say, I have been labeled all kinds of things including PETA-lover, etc...

I have come to the conclusion that animal rights' is a very derogatory term in MSM so I tell people I am not in favor of animal rights, I am in favor of human obligations---humans have moral and ethical obligations to treat animals humanely and protect them from cruel practices that span the globe.

Well, here is my blog if interested.


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At 9:19 AM, Blogger Elissah said...

I'd like to point out that Tracy is not advocating banning circus's completely, just the ones that use animals that belong in the wild. Cirque do Soliel was an excellent example of how the circus can adapt to better suit the times.
I'm am not a crazy vegan or even vegetarian... I just try to do the right thing when I see something that is clearly wrong. It's called morals and ethics. Look it up those words Harry bc I'm pretty sure as of right now you're not familiar with them.

At 11:15 PM, Blogger Elephant E-ctivism said...

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