George W. Bush blew up frogs
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2000:
MIDLAND, Texas––An alert for American
voters and humane educators everywhere
appeared on May 21 in the 61st through 64th paragraphs
of a 76-paragraph New York Times feature on
the childhood of Republican candidate for U.S. president
George W. Bush––if anyone noticed.
“One of the local rituals for children,”
reported Nicholas D. Kristof of life in Midland,
Texas, when George W. was a boy, “were meetings
with cookies and milk at the home of a nice old lady
who represented the SPCA. The cookies were
digested more thoroughly than the teachings.
“‘We were terrible to animals,’ recalled
[Bush pal Terry] Throckmorton, laughing. A dip
behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after
a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come
out. ‘Everybody would get BB guns and shoot
them,’ Throckmorton said. ‘Or we’d put firecrackers
in the frogs and throw them and blow them up.’”
Kristof made plain that “we” explicitly
included George W. Bush, and that George W., the
Safari Club International “Governor of the Year” in
1999 for his support of trophy hunting, was the
leader among the boys who did it.
George W. Bush, 54, apparently learned
hunting and alleged sportsmanship the National
Rifle Association way, from his father, former U.S.
President George H. Bush.
NRA vice president Kayne Robinson
boasted at a members-only meeting in early 2000
that Bush, if elected, would be “a president where
we work out of their office.”
That got some attention, along with the
role of NRA executive vice president Wayne
LaPierre in raising $250,000 at a recent Republican
Party fundraiser honoring Bush, and the Bush
record as Texas governor of signing bills allowing
people to carry concealed handguns and take guns to
church, and barring cities from suing gun-makers.
Yet no one, not even Representative Tom
Lantos (D-California), raised with reference to Bush
the character issue implicit in having recreationally
shot and blown up frogs––or talked about the failure
of humane education to dissuade Bush from cruelty
which must have been known by his famous father,
as the evidence would have been hard to conceal.
On May 25, however, Lantos and 20
other Representatives showed that they should have
recognized the character issue by introducing House
Concurrent Resolution 338. The resolution, according
to Lantos’ press release, urges “greater attention
to identifying and treating individuals who are guilty
of violence against animals because of the link
between abuse of animals and violence against
humans. In addition, it urges federal agencies to
further investigate the link between cruelty toward
animals and violence against humans.”
Offered Lantos, “It is common-sense
knowledge that any individual who harms animals
cruelly and deliberately is not otherwise well-adjusted.
A man who abuses the family dog or cat may
turn that violence on his spouse or children. Those
children involved in school shootings weren’t just
‘having fun’ or ‘just being boys’––they were
engaged in torturing and hurting animals. As a society,
we cannot overlook the fact that a person who
hurts animals is committing an act of violence and
may eventually turn on human beings.”
But the only people George W. Bush is
known to have had a part in killing were the 135
convicts whose executions he has authorized during
his five-and-a-half years as Texas governor. Bush
mocked the executed killer Karla Fae Tucker’s plea
for her life in a falsetto, and reportedly giggled
when asked by a journalist how he could send the
executed Gary Graham to die, when Graham’s
court-appointed attorney was judicially admonished
for sleeping through much of his trial.
If accused serial killer Robert Yates, 48,
of Spokane, Washington, had been caught and convicted
in Texas, he might have been among those
whose killing by lethal injection Bush approved.
If Bush and Yates had been closer in age
and geography, they might have been friends, sharing
their love of church, baseball, and––especially
––using their guns to kill small animals.
Instead Yates grew up in Oak Harbor,
Washington. An April 26 investigative report on
Yates’ youth by Jessie Stensland of the W h i d b e y
News-Times and South Whidbey Record buried mention
of Yates’ hunting in the 17th paragraph of 21.
Like George W. Bush, Yates evidently
graduated to trophy hunting. But instead of blasting
exotic species on Texas hunting ranches, he
allegedly hunted young suspected prostitutes. He
allegedly terrorized them, robbed them, and shot at
least 18 of them them at close range with a handgun.
Yates shares his background as a teenaged
hunter not only with George W. Bush but also with
at least 42 other adults and 35 teens who have been
charged with murder in recent years, whose hunting
backgrounds have surfaced––albeit often just barely
––in news coverage of their alleged crimes.
The Whidbey News-Times and S o u t h
Whidbey Record did not publish a letter by A N IMAL
PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton citing the statistics;
discussing the traits that studies have found
are often shared by hunters, serial killers, and child
abusers; and noting that early involvement in legal
sport hunting––not just illegal animal torture––also
was in the reported backgrounds of convicted school
massacre perpetrators Luke Woodham, Andrew
Golden, Mitchell Johnson, Kip Kinkel, Michael
Carneal, Barry Loukatis, and Evan Ramsey.
Press, public, and politicians who are just
barely beginning to recognize the link between illegal
violence against animals and violence against
humans remain far from understanding the distinction
between the inhibition about getting caught that
discourages illegality, and the inhibition about causing
suffering that George W. Bush’s humane education
teacher tried unsuccessfully to encourage.