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Photo: Heart of an Artist

Chances are if we’re acquainted, you’ve tolerated me bringing up animal-related topics in daily conversation.

I’m interested in everything — what may start as a rant about ethical food choices or enrichment may shift to tool use and conservation in a matter of seconds. It’s fair to say I’m fascinated with the animal welfare side of things ( note: not necessarily “rights” in this context).

Yet what I don’t understand is this. The story, reported from my alma mater (sadly), details animal cruelty allegations against a student who is accused of killing mice for an art project. I think it’s safe to say that most people would label his actions disturbing and wrong.

But while reading, I wondered…

What distinguishes his act from people using mouse traps to kill mice in their homes?

Although one can argue differences of intentionality, I’m not sure what to think. This guy allegedly used a wooden board to achieve his goal. Most homeowners looking to get rid of their mousy friends use spring-loaded mouse traps.

Do you consider the two comparable? Is it fair to say that both cases required planning and forethought?

I definitely don’t defend this student’s actions, and I don’t think people who use mouse traps are evil (even though I support more humane alternatives to eradicating mice that use contraptions along these lines). I’m just wondering if anyone else finds this ethical comparison strange.

Why does a veil of cruelty make one case inherently wrong, while the other is seen as socially acceptable?

Do you think killing mice with mouse traps is ethical?

Any thoughts?

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About Me

Marianne is a science communicator working in Madison, Wis.

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