Every time I post, I swear an internal oath not to mock the Europeans. It’s too easy. An uncommonly large number of times, I break this promise to myself. Something so bizarre, so smug, so morally exhibitionist comes up, that I can’t resist the urge.
Here’s a case in point. Fifty years ago, the Germans devastated Europe. The war which Hitler started, and his volk faithfully waged, killed tens of millions — people, I mean. Probably, a few million animals died as well — remember the cow in Picasso’s Guernica? Those were German bombers, killing that Spanish cow. (Granted, the bombers become a lightbulb in the painting — but that’s modern art’s problem, not mine.)
The matter of animals is important because, according to this item from the online Spiegel, German tourists are returning from Spain horrified by what they have witnessed: the sport of “quail catapulting.” What on earth is that? I have no idea, but for Spiegel it is a magnificent excuse to feel morally superior. The Spaniards get blamed for turpitude, not to mention for failing to meet those high German standards in the non-catapulting of quails.
Photos showing the quails, bred for the purpose and just a few weeks old, being pushed into a cannon, fired into the air and fired at with a shotgun were published in Germany’s Bild newspaper on Tuesday.
“Spain tends to defend behavior that is cruel to animals by arguing that it is part of its tradition and cultural heritage,” said Thomas Schroeder, director of the [German animal protection] federation, noting that animal rights groups routinely complain about bullfighting.
He noted that Spain was a top destination for German tourists, some of whom have come back with shocking accounts of the birds being mistreated in this way.
Herr Schroeder’s federation, the magazine smugly notes, is “Europe’s largest animal welfare society.” The days of Germans bombing Guernica’s cows are over. And to his credit, Schroeder is willing to grant some improvement in the anti-beastly behavior of the Spanish as well. For example:
Animal rights campaigners scored a success in 2000 when the village of Manganeses de la Polvorosa in northwestern Spain abandoned its annual custom of tossing a live goat from the church tower.
If goat-tossing is won, can quail-catapulting be far behind? Probably very far: even the noble Germans still indulge in “tomcat-poking” and “goose-clubbing,” according to the article. One comes to the edge of a judgment here — but these are Europeans. If they choose to poke tomcats in a sack or chuck goats off the church steeple, it must be a manifestation of their moral grandeur, and worldly sophistication.
(Too easy. . .)